Off-duty from Men at Work
By GINA VIVINETTO
© St. Petersburg Times, published April 26, 2001
10 PRESSING QUESTIONS
You know Colin Hay from his successful stint in the early 1980s with Aussie rock band Men at Work. Hay, 47, has been crafting smart solo pop albums for a while now, the latest being the catchy Going Somewhere. He also recently toured with his old mates from Men at Work, delighting fans nostalgic for the 1980s. From his home in sunny Los Angeles, Hay answers 10 Pressing Questions.
Colin Hay: The only thing I ask for is hot water and chamomile tea and honey. Even that, I dont get.
(1) You introduced a generation to Vegemite sandwiches in the song Down Under. How do you plead?
Sorry about that. (Laughs.) I plead innocent, actually. It wasn't my intention. Still today people talk to me about Vegemite sandwiches.
It's very salty.
I don't like it myself. It's pretty rugged. Not for the faint-hearted, that's for sure. You have to start eating it very young, build up a tolerance to it.
(2) Do you watch Survivor? It's in the Outback now.
I've seen one episode when I was 'round a friend's house. I can see why people watch it, but I can't be bothered.
How would you do if you were a castaway?
Oh, I have no idea. I can chop wood.
(3) Your songs tell stories, with characters and names and plots. Who's your songwriting influence?
Above all others, the band that influenced me the most was the Beatles. A lot of people say that, but I keep going back to them. I lived in Scotland until I was 14. My mother and father owned a music store, and I listened to a lot of Beatles. Also, the Kinks, the Who, the Rolling Stones.
I always liked John Lennon. I read one of his books, A Spaniard in the Works, when I was younger. It really made me laugh a lot. I love McCartney as well. The beauty of those guys is that they wrote together, they wrote alone. They had a healthy competition between them.
Did the Beatles' quirky lyrics, their sense of humor, inspire your own?
Well, I do like to have a bit of a laugh, so that's probably in-built. After the Beatles broke up, in Australia we had Monty Python on television in the 1970s. That sort of carried on a mantle of poking fun at the establishment for me. It was all very exciting. The Beatles were around when the old guard and imperial Britain was falling apart. There was immense hope and immense positivity about the future.
(4) Are you one of those demanding musicians with very specific backstage demands?
No, no, the only thing I ask for is hot water and chamomile tea and honey. Even that, I don't get. (Laughs.) Lemon and honey, that's really all I want. But, I suppose you can get all Spinal Tap with your lemons. (Imitates snotty rock star): "I can't have them sliced. Not sliced."
(5) If you had a time machine, where in history would you go?
I think I'd go forward.
Ooh! You're the only one who has ever said that!
Yeah, I'd go forward, on this planet. From what I can see of the others, they look pretty dull. You'd wander 'round the moon, then go, "Hmm, all right, let's go."
(6) What's your worst habit?
Biting the skin around my fingernails. It's a nervous thing.
It's not that gross.
(7) Do you read?
I'm in the middle of Harry Potter at the moment, which I'm loving and apparently everyone else is. I like to read, especially on tour. Gives me something to do.
(8) Do you give money to panhandlers or tell them to get a job?
I tend to put my hand in my pocket. But, every situation is different. Although I never say, "Get a job." I haven't got one myself.
(9) What was the worst thing about the 1980s?
The weird dances. Do you remember? And wearing keyboards around your neck.
(10) What's the nicest thing anyone's ever done for you on your birthday?
My father gave me a car when I was 21, a Ford Cortina. He didn't have a lot of money. It cost him $800. He had a big ribbon around it, made of toilet paper.
Colin Hay performs at 8 p.m. Saturday at the Octagon Arts Center at the Unitarian Universalists of Clearwater, 2470 Nursery Road. Hay's performance will be recorded for an upcoming live album. $18 advance, $21 day of show. (727) 531-7704.
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