Music makes Hay shine

CLAUDE HAY

Tonight

Heritage Hotel, Bulli

Tickets: www.oztix.com.au, $15 at the door

Constant touring can be a lonely life for a musician - even more so if you're one-man band Claude Hay.

The talented musician estimates he is on the road for 11 months of the year, clocking up close to 100,000 kilometres. So far in 2012 he has toured Poland, France, the United Kingdom, and the US, and is now making his way across the vast landscape of Australia.

Though he admits he can go a little mad and talk to himself when away from his Blue Mountains home for long stretches of time, he says travelling across the country isn't too bad when he's in his personalised motor home.

Hay loathes the blandness of hotels he is forced to live in when performing overseas, so he transformed a beat-up van into a home away from home in Australia, adding a bed, shower, kitchenette, space for storing his equipment, and a mini-bar to make touring a little more comfortable.

"I wanted something comfy - really just a base for a musician. All the gear goes under the bed, I can store it really easily, it has a PA system and a mini-bar, everything I need," he says.

"It does feel like I've come home every time I get in it."

Aside from transforming his van, which he says he would struggle to ever part with, handyman Hay builds his own instruments to make his one-man performances easier, including Stella, a banjo crossed with a guitar made out of a Kmart baking tin and a modified sitar.

The classic picture of a one-man band is a slightly odd gentleman crashing around the footpath with an accordion, harmonica and perhaps some cymbals, but Hay is more creative than that.

He plays several different instruments live, usually only looping a bass line on the top half of his hand-built, two-necked electric guitar Betty.

"My right foot does the kick drum and snare drum, my left foot's playing the cymbals and I'm just playing guitar, kind of looks like a tap dance," he chuckles.

"It's quite hectic at times, very high energy, but it's good fun and keeps me on my feet, so to speak."

It takes him months to perfect the synching of instruments.

"You do have a lot of limitations, but at the same time that can push you in a different way and I like building instruments to suit the looping thing." Hay says.

Although he is well-known as a blues and roots man, Hay's latest album, I Love Hate You, is edgier and harder than his acclaimed and much-played 2010 offering Deep Fried Satisfied.

Much of I Love Hate you was written when he was making his way across the US southern states.

"It definitely has a harder edge to it. It's brought out some of my older influences and it's quite refreshing to go back to that." he explains.

If you're writing about something that bugs you, electric distorted guitar makes it really easy to get that across."

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