Colin Hay may be best known as the lead singer for Men At Work, the platinum selling Australian band that topped worldwide charts in the 80s with anthems like "Down Under", "Overkill", and "Who Can It Be Now?" Hay's justifiably proud of his place in pop history, but since moving to Los Angeles in 1989, he's made 11 solo albums and is confident that Gathering Mercury is the best of the lot.
Hay recorded and produced the ten songs on Gathering Mercury in his home studio, with the help of drummer Randy Cooke, bassist Joe Karnes, and guitarist Sean Woostenhulme, from his touring band and friends like bass player Jimmy Earl and pianist Jeff Babko from Jimmy Kimmel's band, drummer Charlie Paxson, Cuban percussionist Luis Conte (Madonna, Ray Charles) and his wife Cecilia Noel on backing vocals. The arrangements feature Hay's quizzical, instantly recognizable tenor supported by acoustic instruments and melodic electric guitar accents. The album was beautifully mixed by long time friend and composer/producer Chad Fischer.
The tunes on Gathering Mercury are deeply affecting, but never maudlin. Despite the often serious subject matter, they're full of optimism. "It's not a conscious thing and may have to do with the Scottish mentality. We deal with darkness by shining a light on it. It doesn't diminish the charge of the feeling, it just makes it easier to deal with".
Although he's one of Australia's best-known exports, Colin Hay was born in Kilwinning, Scotland. "I wasn't in bands as a boy", he recalls, "but I was surrounded by music. My mom and dad had a music shop, so there were instruments everywhere. The Hit Parade list came in every Monday morning, so obviously I knew The Beatles, The Kinks, The Rolling Stones, The Who, Screaming Lord Sutch, Gerry and the Pacemakers, Freddie And The Dreamers and, of course, Cliff Richard. I started playing guitar when I was 12".