Jamiroquai returns after lengthy break

Jay Kay of Jamiroquai performs during Budapest's Sziget Music Festival on an island in the Danube River August 14, 2008. REUTERS/Karoly Arvai

LONDON (Billboard) - By his own admission, Jason Kay and his band Jamiroquai have been away for a long time. But four years after a hits collection completed his contractual obligations to Sony Music, which signed him in 1992, he’s finally ready for his comeback.

Kay spent his hiatus training to become a helicopter pilot. It’s the latest obsession for the self-confessed adrenaline junkie, along with a prized collection of automobiles at his 80-acre Buckinghamshire estate, located west of London.

But it hasn’t all been thrill-seeking during the break. Kay applied the same rigor and passion to the recording of Jamiroquai’s new album. “Rock Dust Light Star,” which will be released worldwide outside of North America on November 1 on Mercury/Universal. Canada follows November 9, with a U.S. release date that’s to be determined for 2011.

Recorded largely in his home studio, it’s something of a back-to-basics affair, by his standards. In all, Kay spent almost two years and “half a million quid” making the album.

Two different singles will offer fans a preview of the album. Internationally, the fast-paced “White Knuckle Ride” -- featuring Kay showing off his piloting skills in the video -- started rolling out August 23, hitting No. 1 in Italy and also charting in the Netherlands and Switzerland.

“White Knuckle Ride” has been picking up specialist airplay in the United Kingdom, but the official single there is sun-kissed ballad “Blue Skies.”

Jamiroquai has career album sales of 2.6 million in the United States, according to Nielsen SoundScan, and 4.4 million in the United Kingdom, according to the Official Charts Co. Hit singles included “Cosmic Girl” and the Grammy Award-winning “Virtual Insanity.”

Once dubbed “the cat in the hat” -- he still wears a variety of elaborate headgear onstage -- Kay is also full of jittery enthusiasm about resuming touring, although he says things will be more “laid-back” than the hyperactive performances of old.

“At 40 years old you don’t want to be doing stuff that you did when you were 19,” he says. “You’ve got to grow with the music. Even I forget ‘Cosmic Girl’ was 13 years ago. A lot changes in that time.”