For Colin Hay, there is little comparison between Men at Work and his own success as a solo singer-songwriter. "I've been playing solo since I was 14 years old," Hay tells Orlando Weekly during a quick phone chat ahead of his upcoming show at the Plaza Live. "Men at Work broke up in 1984. That's a long time. I don't think about it since it was so long ago. Men at Work lasted for four years. I've been on my own for so long now that I don't really think what it was like when I was in Men at Work, you know?"
Along with his current tour and upcoming album, Fierce Mercy, Hay stays busy screening his documentary, Waiting for My Real Life in film festivals across the country. "I was approached by Nate Gowtham and Aaron Faulls. They had a treatment that they wanted to do and it seemed to fit with my touring schedule. I had already started stuff with another friend of mine from Australia, but it wasn't really going anywhere. Then Nate and Aaron came along when it seemed like the right time."
Exposing his toughest challenges and brightest achievements, Waiting for My Real Life lets us peek into the rollercoaster ride of Hay's life and career, through loops and dips of megastardom, lawsuits, family crises and solo accomplishments. "Well, you just got to roll with the punches, whatever happens."
Although it was initially released in 2015, Hay sees a clear connection between the documentary and the new album. "The film has been ready for a little while. ... The record [is] ready to go for March 3. It is powerful having them come out at the same time as they complement one another."
Hay's favorite song on the record is called "Frozen Fields of Snow," but it's from a different song that he takes the title. "A term that my songwriting partner [used] led to a song called 'The Last to Know,' one of the songs on the album.
"On a personal level, it could be a tap on the shoulder from the universe, telling you to look out for yourself. It could be a health scare, or on a macro level, the climate telling us we need to take care of the planet. Otherwise, there are extremely serious environmental challenges that we are facing at the moment. We get a lot of fierce reminders of those things," Hay says. "It's an interesting phrase. I like the weight to it."
When asked about inspiration for the rest of the songs he simply replies, "I try and write the best songs that I can. There's all kind of songs about different things. I don't think of songs in terms of topics. I'm just trying to be as creative as possible."
Besides a repertoire of songs that encompass his entire career and his impeccable singing voice, fans of Hay's live shows look forward to his storytelling and humor, like "the perks" of life after prostate cancer, for example.
With any great performer, timing is everything, and Hay handles it like a tried-and-true master who's been through it and seen it all. He holds the audience captive, baring just enough of his soul to keep us enthralled. His secret? "It's my job. It's what I enjoy doing."
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