'Men at Work' singer Colin Hay, talks new cover album ahead of Ridgefield show

Photo of Andrew DaRosa

For four decades, singer-songwriter Colin Hay has made a name in pop culture as both an accomplished solo musician and the vocalist for the hit 80s band, Men at Work.

The aforementioned group’s 1981 hit “Down Under” shaped the music video landscape with its play on MTV and helped the group reach stratospheric heights, including a Grammy Award for Best New Artist. However, when Men at Work parted ways in 1986, Hay continued to write and perform, putting 13 studio albums under his belt since 1987.

Colin Hay of Men at Work at the Park West in Chicago, Illinois, September 21, 1982.

Colin Hay of Men at Work at the Park West in Chicago, Illinois, September 21, 1982.

Paul Natkin/Getty Images

Hay's 13th album, “I Just Don’t Know What To Do With Myself,” which is comprised of all cover songs, will be released on Aug. 6. In celebration of the latest album, Hay will be performing a show with the Colin Hay Band at the Ridgefield Playhouse on Aug. 13.

Hay said in a phone interview that he hopes the album allow people to “revisit those songs through someone else’s interpretation of them.”

Covers include The Beatles’ “Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown)” and “Across the Universe” as well as Glen Campbell’s “Wichita Lineman” and Gerry and the Pacemakers “Don’t Let the Sun Catch You Crying.”

According to Hay, the last song was a catalyst in putting the album together after the death of Gerry Marden in January 2021. 

“I started recording songs that had some impact on me during various stages in my life,” said Hay. “It was very emotional as well for some of it because...you don’t even realize the impact it has on you until you sit down and play them. Then all these feelings come back about what they mean to you.”

Hay recorded the album at his home studio, which was a change of pace for him since he normally only spends three to four weeks at home while in a normal touring year.

“I almost felt guilty for the fact that I was using the time to work. It was a bit of a luxury for me,” Hay said.

With rehearsals already logged for the tour, Hay said he is itching to get back to touring. However, just as with many touring musicians, the delta variant of the COVID-19 virus is weighing on his mind.

“It’s concerning,” Hay said. “I think we’ll just have to be as careful as we can and do all those things that we were doing last year which is wearing masks while you’re inside and keeping your distance.” Hay added that everyone in the band and crew is fully-vaccinated.

READ MORE: The ultimate guide to Connecticut's concerts and music venues

Hay’s “I Just Don’t Know What To Do With Myself” tour will kick off on Aug. 4 with a performance in Cape Cod, Mass., and will continue until mid-September.

Colin Hay's newest album, "I Just Don't Know What To Do With Myself," releases on Aug. 6.

Colin Hay's newest album, "I Just Don't Know What To Do With Myself," releases on Aug. 6.

Courtesy of Compass Records

Once Hay wraps up his tour, he will set his eyes on the release of a new studio album in 2022 as well as a Spring tour in support of the effort.

“I feel like I’m just starting to hit my stride in terms of performance, and in terms of performing and writing,” Hay said. “I feel like my best is ahead of me. It may or may not be but that’s the way I feel.”

Hay joins other legacy artists who are gracing the stage of the Ridgefield Playhouse in the coming months. New wave rockers Squeeze will be appearing at the theater on Aug. 4 and 10, while Ringo Starr and the All Star Band member, Todd Rundgren, will be performing on Oct. 4 and 5.

“The audiences will take whatever we give them because it’s been so long. I think they’ll be well up for it,” Hay said. “It’s like when you go to a party. You want to see a few friends. You want to see some familiar faces but you want to meet some new people as well.”