Australian band Men at Work broke out in the early 1980s to become one of the biggest pop acts in the world. Their quirky hits “Down Under” and “Who Can It Be Now?” and accompanying music videos were ubiquitous in ’81 and ’82. Surprisingly, following the parade of hits and massive success, the group disbanded in 1986 after releasing only three albums.
That’s when the group’s frontman — singer, songwriter, and musician Colin Hay — embarked on a very different journey. He ultimately left Australia, moved to the hills of Los Angeles, and became a highly respected and successful solo artist. But the music he created with Men at Work remains just as iconic 40 years later.
In the first episode of The Story Behind the Song podcast, host Peter Csathy interviews Hay for a trip back to Men at Work’s heyday. The pair discuss the classic smash “Down Under” off the band’s 1981 debut album, Business as Usual. As always on TSBTS, the guest musician also reveals the story behind one of their personal favorite tracks from their own catalog; Hay chooses “Waiting for My Real Life to Begin,” a song which had two very different versions released on two separate solo albums seven years apart.
Csathy and Hay spoke over Zoom, with the latter calling in from his home in Topanga Canyon, a rare tranquil, spiritual part of Los Angeles. It is in this serene environment that the two venture into Hay’s thoughtful, deep, and engaging mind for an interview that becomes deeply personal.
Listen to the podcast above, or check out the full video of the discussion below. Then, make sure you’re subscribed to The Story Behind the Song to catch each episode of the monthly series. You can also keep an eye on the Consequence Podcast Network for updates on all our podcasts.
Theme music courtesy of Juan Pieczanski.