Former Men at Work singer Colin Hay on reinvention and optimism
"My fans are getting younger and it gives me life"
Published: March 17, 2011
Without any means of distribution, Hay still moved forward, refusing to stop making records. He created his own label, Lazy Eye Records, which allowed him to produce and own his music. In 2003, he took his unique ownership formula even further by incorporating outside record labels as third parties.
"I license the product and the albums - in other words, I still own them - but I license them to Compass [Records] and they manufacture and put the albums out through different distribution labels," Hay says. "It's like a partnership. They're a real label and have an infrastructure that I don't."
The nature of this partnership, a result of Hay's perseverance, is much like that of the relationship Hay formed with Scrubs star Zach Braff: When Braff convinced the show's producer, Bill Lawrence, to use Hay's songs in a 2002 episode, a younger generation was introduced to Hay's music. In 2004, Hay's mournful track, "I Just Don't Think I'll Ever Get Over You," was featured on the Grammy award-winning soundtrack to Garden State, which Braff wrote, directed and starred in. The sudden attention attracted both new and old fans.
"The fans seem to be getting younger which is very exciting for me. Not that I have anything against older people, but they tend not to go out anymore. And they tend to remember me from when they were young. And that's kind of where they want me to stay, but it doesn't really serve me well," Hay says. "I'm interested in what I'm doing today so it's good for me that a younger generation has picked up on what I'm doing. It gives you more life. It gives you more purpose and excitement about what you're doing today."
While his solo albums haven't exactly topped the charts, Hay's loyalty to his optimistic philosophy keeps him churning out new material.
"We tend to look backward or look forward, and never really look at the present moment to find some kind of meaning," Hay says.
"We can get really caught up in the past, making judgments of ourselves - things we've done or things we didn't do, things we want to do."
Correction, March 28, 2011: The original version suggested that "Overkill" was among the songs that merited Men At Work the Best New Artist Grammy. The song was released in 1983 but was part of the group's second album, Cargo.
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