Daryl Hall & John Oates Are On Our List of the Best Things in Life
Updated: Feb 9
Daryl Hall & John Oates Live in Dublin
Daryl Hall & John Oates
Are On Our List of the Best Things in Life
by Jay S. Jacobs
Daryl Hall and John Oates have had more than their share of highlights in a career that has spanned over 45 years. The guys met as students in Philadelphia’s Temple University and felt an immediate connection and a mutual love of rock and roll and blue-eyed soul. They were signed to a deal with Atlantic Records in 1972, releasing a few critically acclaimed but not overly popular albums. However, back in those days, record labels allowed bands to slowly build up a reputation, and a buzz was building around Hall & Oates’ live performances.
They moved over to RCA Records in 1975, and their RCA debut self-titled album housed their first smash hit – “Sara Smile.” Atlantic took advantage of their new-found popularity to re-release one of their earlier singles, “She’s Gone,” which followed “Sara” right up the charts. They had a few other hits periodically through the rest of the 70s, including the #1 single “Rich Girl” and other favorites like “Back Together Again” and “It’s A Laugh.”
However, it was the turn of the decade that launched Hall & Oates into the stratosphere. Their 1980 album Voices started the deluge of top ten hits with “Kiss on My List” and “You Make My Dreams.” The next year they followed up by the just as popular album Private Eyes, which topped the charts with the title track and “I Can’t Go For That (No Can Do).” The next year H20 added three more top tens – “Maneater,” “One on One” and “Family Man.” The hit parade continued through the decade – “Say It Isn’t So,” “Adult Education,” “Out of Touch” and many others.
The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame induction that they finally received this year was way overdue for arguably the biggest duo of the 70s and 80s.
While the guys have not done an album of original material since Do It For Love in 2003 (they also released an all-covers album in 2004 and a Christmas album in 2006), they have certainly been busy.
Daryl Hall has created the popular internet series Live at Daryl’s House, which is in its eighth year and is now also syndicated on broadcast TV. (Check out our earlier interview with Daryl specifically about starting the show.) He’s also done some solo albums. John Oates has also been busy, recording his own music and collaborating with other artists.
However, through it all, they never stopped touring as Daryl Hall & John Oates. They play multiple dates together each year, taking fans through their extensive songbook. The guys filmed a smoking hot concert performance in Ireland last year. Daryl Hall and John Oates Live in Dublin is getting a special one-night limited theatrical release on February 19 through Fathom Events, and then will be released on video on March 31 by Eagle Rock Entertainment.
We were recently able to take part in a conference call with the guys and some other media outlets to discuss their storied career and the release of Live in Dublin.
At this point in your guys’ career as a duo, you don’t really record anymore. You just perform live together. How do you guys view and treat the partnership?
Daryl Hall: John and I started as friends, back when we were teenagers. That friendship, because it was that before it was a musical or creative or business partnership, has sustained us. We’re friends. We’re friends first, partners second. We did all that work together, over that period of time. Through the ’70s and the ’80s, and into the ’90s, and even more recently, really.
John Oates: I think really you don’t have enough time [to record together]. That’s the first thing. (laughs) Secondly, we began to play live from the moment we got together. In fact, that’s what we did. In fact, that’s how we got together. We got together as a reaction to what we were doing with other people. Daryl was doing studio work in Philly and he had made some recordings with some people and he wasn’t satisfied or happy with that situation. I was playing in some blues bands and playing folk clubs and things like that. We got together almost as a reaction to all that, and we said, let’s just go play our individual songs together. You play a song. I’ll back you on guitar and I’ll play a song and you’ll back me on piano or mandolin or whatever. We started playing coffee houses and art galleries in South Philadelphia. That’s how we started our reputation. Really, we were a live group from the very beginning.
Daryl Hall: We have this body of work that we really enjoy playing. It’s hundreds of songs. And we like doing it. I guess that’s the bottom line answer, we like playing together. We like having a band together. We like playing our songs that we’ve created together. Even though we’re not doing anything currently together as far as new things go, what we’ve done in the past is certainly enough to sustain us.
John Oates: We never were anything but a live group, and to this day, we still are. Our recordings came, actually, after that. We started live. I think one of the reasons we’re still around is because we never stopped playing live ever.
The Dublin concert film, did it start out as something that you saw as being a theatrical release? You’ve done a few different live DVDs. What was the scale of the project and how did it come together?
Daryl Hall: We did a tour last summer. We did a UK and Ireland tour last summer, our European tour. I found out that we were playing in Dublin, I had played in the Olympic Theater in Dublin back in the ’90s as a Daryl Hall show. Not with John. My memory of that place was that it was an outrageous concert. There’s something about the crowd, about the room, that was, at that time, very magical to me and really special. When I found out that we were playing there, and that Hall and Oates had never played in Ireland ever, which is kind of strange but true, I suggested that we record and do something with it. Record the performance.
John Oates: I was surprised and not surprised by the audience’s reaction. The only reason I would say I was surprised is I had never played that particular venue. We’d never played in Ireland. I did a songwriter’s festival in Ireland a few years back but never played with Daryl. I knew that it was going to be an exciting night, having never played there. The venue was so cool and legendary. It had so much history. All the ingredients were in place for a great night and a great performance. Certainly, I think we captured it. The band was on fire and the crowd was into it.
Daryl Hall: The [music video] company Eagle Rock, who I’ve worked with before, they got on board and we decided we were going to film the project. Without any idea that what was going to happen happened. After we did it, it exceeded my expectations. It was just an outrageously good night. Not only was the band really on, but the crowd was just crazy. The company called Fathom, who puts these things for theatrical release, saw this performance, and they came to us and said, “We’d like to put this in theaters, if you’re into it.”
John Oates: You put all those ingredients together and you get something very special. I’m so glad we committed to filming this particular show. When you put your eggs in one basket and you say, okay, this is the night we’re going to film this concert. Let’s hope it’s a good one. Here again, all the stars aligned for that.
Daryl Hall: That’s really how it happened, very step by step. I knew it from the beginning that it was going to be a special night, and that’s what it turned out to be.
Fathom does a lot of these one night theatrical releases with a lot of rock bands. Green Day, Springsteen have all done it. Have you ever seen one of them and also what kind of experience you think that a fan will get watching it on the movie screen compared to seeing you guys live?
Daryl Hall: Well, I have not ever seen one because I pretty much never go to the movies. (chuckles) As far as what people will see, I think it’s a really good example of what we do. I was involved in the rough cuts and everything so I made sure that it really captured the moment. As much as you can without actually being in the room as it’s happening. It was a very … What’s the word I can use? A very loose and laid back and direct version of our show. I say this in the best way; we weren’t trying. We were just playing. We were there. There was no pressure. I don’t think anybody in the band felt pressured about it. It just felt like we were really just up there having a good time and experiencing the moment. That communicates in the show and I think that the audience will also experience that.
Not having seen it yet and not having seen you guys in the past few years, I wonder if you feel the concerts you do now like was captured on the Dublin film have a different feel from the shows that so many people saw during the ’80s?
Daryl Hall: It’s really different. A few of the things are different. Number one, back in those days, we were really concentrating on what was current to us at the time. In 1985, we would play music from what was going on in 1985 in our world. What we’ve done in the more recent past is that … our set, it varied. It changes night to night, and it comprises of songs that we’ve written over all of our career. We’ll mix songs from 1972 with songs from yesterday. In that respect, it’s a much more varied show and it doesn’t relate to just one moment in time or anything like that.
With your long career and so many classic songs, how do you decide which songs you wanted to perform in concert? Specifically to the Dublin show, knowing that people around the world were going to be seeing the show? Did that affect the set list at all?
John Oates: Not really. Not very much. That set list is capturing a moment in time. It’s the set list that Daryl and I have been working off of, with some variation, over the past year or so. It changes. It evolves. We drop certain songs. We add certain songs. But the core of the set are the big hits. In a way, I believe we have a professional responsibility to play those big hits. We’re proud of them. They’ve stood the test of time. That’s why they are the songs they are.
Daryl Hall: Our set list changes all the time. We put our set list together depending on what occasion we’re involved in. The mood of the room. It’s a very flexible thing. We sometimes change it on stage. We’ll say, let’s not play this. Let’s play that instead. As far as agreement, I think it’s the whole band agreement, really. We play what we feel is appropriate to the moment.
John Oates: In that regard, we have a really good problem. We have a lot of hits. We sneak in the deep tracks, and we do that because we like it and because we feel like it shows a little bit more of a broader scope of who we are and what we’ve accomplished over the years. I would like to go more in that direction one day, but the Dublin show is capturing the moment in time. If we do another DVD in two years or whatever, it’ll be a different moment in time. This is the band. This is the Hall and Oates band right now, right as it is today, with one of the best backing bands we’ve ever had. With Daryl and I, I think performing pretty well at the top of our games, so I think it’s a great moment to capture.
Daryl Hall: Our band, without any doubt in my mind, this is the best band we ever had. A lot of these guys have been with us for a long time and there’s a few new guys, but the combination is just the best. They understand us and we have a fantastic communication and understanding of the music. So I think it’s better than it ever was. I guess that’s the best way I could put it.
Tell me a little bit about the band, where they’re coming from, and what it was like playing with this group.
John Oates: I’m very stoked on this band. I’m very high on this band. Daryl and I have been very fortunate over the years to have incredible musicians surrounding us. They have been a big part of our success and what we’ve done over the years. I have to always give credit for the band, the various bands. This particular line up is really amazing.
Daryl Hall: The oldest member is Charlie DeChant, who plays saxophone and some keyboards. He’s been with us from almost the beginning, from 1975. He is by far the longest and oldest member of the band. Then let’s see. The second person would be Eliot Lewis is our keyboard player. I’ve known Eliot for a long time. He’s been with me for quite a long time too, since the ’90s. Klyde Jones, the bass player, I’ve known since the early ’90s and he’s played with us on and off for that period of time as well. He’s been a permanent member of the band more recently. Brian Dunne is a relatively recent drummer. I’d say now, it’s been about five-six years that he’s been with us.
John Oates: When our long-time collaborator and producer and friend, Tom “T-Bone” Wolk passed away, there was a period of time when I think we were playing as though he was there, even though he wasn’t there. It was this limbo where it was neither here nor there. As time passed, we had some new members join the band and as the new members joined, his legacy kind of faded away a bit and the new band took on their own personality. As they took on their own personality, I think it gave Daryl and I a renewed enthusiasm and a renewed inspiration for the older music, because they play it with such passion and they’re so good. The singing is absolutely off the charts. Some of the best singers … Every one of the singers in this band could be a lead singer in any band.
Daryl Hall: Shane Theriot is the newest member. He’s the guitar player. After the death of my friend T-Bone, who played guitar, we had a bit of a scuffle to see who was going to take his place. For a while, Paul Pesco was playing guitar and now Shane has taken that role and done an amazing job. Did I miss anybody? I don’t think so. That’s the band.
John Oates: Like I said, I’m very high on this line up. I think capturing this line up for the Dublin DVD was a really amazing thing to do, and I think it really represents where we’re at right now, who we are, and where we’re coming from.
Does the relationship with the songs and the music change over the years? Do the songs feel different to you now than they did in ‘75, ‘85, ‘95, whenever you did them?
Daryl Hall: Some of these songs that we play and still deal with, the songs that I wrote when I was 21 years old. Twenty years old. Twenty-two. My life has changed. What was real has become ironic, and what was ironic has become real. All these kinds of things. Life changes the perception of the songs. What surprises me is how a lot of these songs that I wrote when I was a kid seem to have come true in my later life. That constantly surprises me.
John Oates: That’s the beauty of a well-crafted and well-written song. It can be interpreted and re-imagined in a lot of different ways. That’s why our songs have been sampled so many times and they’ve stood the test of time. It’s all about the meat and potatoes, about if the song really got it, do you know? Can you sit there with an acoustic guitar or a piano and play that song for someone and achieve the same emotional impact that you can do by fleshing it out with a complete production and a recording? Here again, all about the songs.
Was there a particular point in time that music began to speak to you?
John Oates: From birth. Really, honestly. I started singing when I was a little kid. I have a recording of me singing “Here Comes Peter Cottontail” when I was two years old at Coney Island Amusement Park in New York. Then I have another recording of me at the same amusement park when I was about eight or nine, singing “All Shook Up.” I’ve been playing guitar since, I think, six years old. It’s just been part of my DNA, I guess.
This year is the 35th anniversary for Voices. What’s your 2015 take on that? That really was a kickstarter album for your guys.
John Oates: It’s a very important album. I would rank that probably in the three or four most important albums we’ve ever made for a lot of reasons. One, it was the first album we produced ourselves. It was a chance for us to stand on our own creative feet, for better or worse, which is always exciting and scary at the same time. For us, it worked out very well. It set the tone for what we would do for the decade of the ’80s. It coincided with the birth of MTV and videos.
Daryl Hall: I always knew that I was going to be doing it for a long time. I was trained in it. It’s my greatest love and preoccupation in my life. The fact that I’m still doing it and with a certain kind of strength is great. It’s not surprising, but it’s great. I’m very happy that it’s crossed generations. There’s a certain timeless quality to the music that seems to resonate with people of all ages, even young kids now. It’s all very fulfilling, to tell you the truth.
John Oates: Here again, it’s almost like a perfect storm of creativity all coming together on that album. Daryl and I knew. It was the first, as I said, first album we really produced by ourselves, so we felt like, okay, this is really going to be, we’re going to represent who we really are with no filter. That’s why that album [became a favorite]. It had a lot of good songs as well so…
On a scale of 1-10, how much influence did the Sound of Philadelphia have on you guys?
John Oates: You’re talking about the Sound of Philadelphia in terms of Gamble & Huff? We were contemporaries of Gamble & Huff. We grew up around the same time. We started making records. They were a little ahead of us, but not much. There was a point where we were in Philadelphia and we were going to either have to leave Philadelphia and carve our own path or join Gamble & Huff, basically. The Sound of Philadelphia to me is a much broader subject than just R&B. The Sound of Philadelphia has to do with folk music. It has to do with traditional American music, Philadelphia Folk Festival, and things that really mattered to me as a kid growing up there and being influenced. Also the sound of the street. The doo-wop, the street corner harmony, the Jerry Blavat [a legendary Philly DJ], teenage dances, the Uptown Theater, the R&B scene. It’s a huge subject. All that stuff comes into play.
Do you prefer Pat’s or Geno’s when you come back to Philadelphia?
John Oates: (laughs) I don’t prefer any cheesesteaks anymore. I think my age has prevented me from enjoying that decadent luxury.
You guys are so well-known for your hits and you perform most of the big ones in this show. How do you guys keep those songs fresh for yourselves after so many decades of playing them?
Daryl Hall: All of our songs we play in our set. Not just the hits but including the hits. They evolve. As we evolve, as band members change … [You have to] Walk away from them sometimes. One of the good things is if we don’t play for even a month, when we come back to it, something different happens. We have the kind of band that we have an almost telepathic ability to change things on the spot, evolve things and make things different all the time.
John Oates: We’re lucky. The songs hold up. That’s what it’s all about. The songs actually hold up. We don’t have to do anything. The subtleties in the performance and subtleties by the band, little parts that someone might add in spontaneously, will trigger certain things. Things that we do on stage spontaneously will become canonized into the set list. That’s something that just happens. We also intersperse our set with some deep tracks, which also gives a little bit better overview on the big catalog, the amazing catalog of music we created over the last 40 years.
Daryl Hall: Plus, there is a built-in improvisation in the music, just because of the kind of music I write. Soul music, there’s a lot of freedom in it. All those factors, they allow it to be fresh. We drop songs and we don’t play them for a while and we bring songs that are more obscure in and all those kinds of things. It just keeps it all fresh.
There was a period of time where Hall and Oates were not as fashionable as they are again. How does an artist withstand that period of time?
John Oates: By not identifying your self worth and your own value by commercial success. Artists and people whose self worth is completely intrinsically linked to their commercial success are doomed to fail. I’ve never thought of myself that way and I know Daryl doesn’t either. We cared about being musicians. Every decision we ever made from the time we started pretty much has been what will allow us to continue to do what we love to do and what we were born to do. When you use that as your starting point, as your criteria for decision-making, you don’t fall into the trap of worrying about whether you have a hit or not. If we had to go back to clubs, we’d go back to clubs. We did that periodically. We went from stadiums to clubs and back to stadiums. Now we’re doing the same thing. I play clubs every night. I think it’s fantastic. Then I play big venues with Daryl and that’s fantastic too. You just have to believe in yourself and fortunately for us, we had enough commercial success to give us that foundation to do that.
In terms of different eras of Hall and Oates’ discography, are there parts of it that you prefer, or that John prefers? ’70s, ’80s …
Daryl Hall: I think we’re both partial to the ’70s as a musical time in general. I think of all the eras that we’ve worked together, it’s definitely within. I think that ’70s music is the time that interests us the most. That’s just personal taste. I guess that’s the answer to that, but other than that, I mean, it’s really a cross-section of our whole writing career. We just draw from anything that moves us at the moment.
Not all of your contemporaries have gotten better with time. What has been the key for you? How is it that at this point in your guys’ career, you guys are as capable on stage as you are?
Daryl Hall: It’s hard for me to compare myself to other people. It depends what you start with. I can be cool, but it really does. Depends what you start with. If you start with innate, I don’t know, gifts, then those gifts can sustain you. I’m a real singer. I’m not a song stylist. I’m a singer. So’s John. We’re trained musicians…
John Oates: Thanks, Daryl.
Daryl Hall: What?
John Oates: I said thanks for saying I’m a singer. (laughs)
Daryl Hall: Oh, okay. Well, thanks for cutting me off.
John Oates: I’m sorry, man.
Talk a little bit about the generational appeal of your music. I’m sure now you’ve seen the fan base grow and change. I’m sure now you’re seeing parents even be able to bring their children into this, especially the live shows.
John Oates: I saw that in the ’70s, believe it or not. (laughs) Daryl and I noticed right away when we began to start playing live in the early ’70s, before we had any hits. We would look out in the crowd, even if it was a small little coffee house or a small club or whatever. We always had young people and old people. We had people who were way older than us, back in the early ’70s, and we had people who were younger than us. It’s always been that way.
You guys are hot again, especially over the last five years. You’ve really caught on with young people, with hipsters. How does such a timeless band reinvent itself in the digital age?
Daryl Hall: Well, I can say it very simply. Live From Daryl’s House. It all happens coincidentally with my show. I think that I started, and as far as dealing with modern technology, dealing the digital age or whatever, dealing with the Internet. It happened because the Internet happened and allowed it to happen. It’s a show that showcases me in a timeless way, working with young people, working with veterans, playing every kind of music you can imagine. I think that perception has carried over into a new perception of what I do with John as well. I really do see that there’s an immediate correlation between that show and the resurgence of our popularity.
John Oates: I believe that it has to do with the songs that we write. I think we appeal to people on a universal level, in some way. There’s something about the things that we talk about that seems to not be tied to age and generation. The younger generation who’s rediscovered us now is an open-minded generation because they’re not being force-fed what’s hip and what’s supposed to be good by rock journalism and by mainstream big business record companies.
A lot of artists today are using apps, whether it’s social media apps like Facebook and Twitter, or even things like SnapChat and dating apps to promote their albums. What are your thoughts on that? Is that something that you guys are looking to do more of?
Daryl Hall: The way to communicate any idea now, you’d have to use a million different things. You have to use whatever’s there. You can’t just expect that you’re going to put out a CD and have people go out and buy it or anything like that. So. the answer’s yes. Anything that I can do and need to do to get the people whatever I put out there, I will be involved in doing. That’s for sure.
John Oates: They have the Internet. They have the world at their disposal. They can research anything they want. They can find any kind of music they want from all different styles and eras. They just care about good music. Whatever touches them and moves them. I think that’s one of the most positive things about the new digital generation. Maybe that’s why they’ve latched on to us because here, again, our songs seem to stand the test of time.
We’ve seen so many changes within the music industry over the years. Probably one of the biggest ones is seeing the uprise of social media and all that. Of these changes, which one has probably had the biggest effect on you personally?
John Oates: Just musicians’ ability to basically make a living from their creative skills. I’m a professional musician. I’ve been a professional musician for a long, long time. I believe that creativity has value and copyrights have value. I don’t believe it should be free. In that regard, I wish there was better ways of selling our music. Unfortunately, I think the music business establishment, the old guard, blew it when the digital revolution began and didn’t see the writing on the wall. Unfortunate for a whole generation of musicians to come. Not so bad for me and Daryl because we already have a built-in fan base and we have a legacy. I work with a lot of younger musicians and I feel their pain. I see how difficult it is for them to break through. It’s a very complicated subject.
When you and Daryl are on the road, are you guys using apps on your phones?
John Oates: Not much. When it comes to that sort of thing and social media, I’m a Luddite when it comes to that. I just use my phone to make phone calls. I check my texts and my emails. That’s about it.
There’s always been a lot of talk about how people are back into Hall and Oates because of nostalgia. It struck me that they’re just hungry for decent songwriting again. I was wondering what you thought about that.
John Oates: I think you’re probably right. We started out as songwriters. We have always looked at ourselves as songwriters, in addition to the other things that we do, performers and singers and players and producers and record makers, etc. At the core of everything is the songs and you know, I look back on things like the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and stuff and I seriously doubt whether we would have ever been inducted in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame if it wasn’t for the songs we wrote. Therefore, I will agree with you on that for sure.
You guys finally got inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum. Talk a little bit about the induction itself and what life has been like after it. Has it changed at all in anyway or what have things been like in the wake of that?
Daryl Hall: Well, that’s a hard question to answer. I probably don’t have that many good things to say about any of it. I’m not a big fan of the concert for the Hall. The ceremony is rather tedious, to say the least, and my life hasn’t changed a bit afterwards.
You guys are going to be playing at the White House on February 22nd. How did that come about? What do you think of it? Are you going to dedicate “Private Eyes” to the NSA?
Daryl Hall: (laughs) They asked us. That’s how it came about. We were summoned, I guess you’d call it. I got an email from the Press Secretary. It said, would you guys like to play at the White House? And we said yes. Simple as that. We’re playing a conference of the Governor’s Ball is what we’re playing. I don’t think I’m going to be dedicating anything. (laughs again)
John, obviously you and Daryl have mined this incredible soul music from America that’s really one of the greatest exports to the world. Why is it so important for us as a musical community to pay tribute to a lot of these living legends that are still around, the Little Richards, the Chuck Berrys and all them, let them really know what they meant to us and show them love?
John Oates: Well, that’s a very good point. I’m with you 100%. They are the direct link to a legacy of American popular music that, as you prefaced your question with, has really changed the world. It’s been, in my estimation, and I know I have my own opinion on things, but I think it’s without a doubt one of the greatest exports that America’s ever given to the world. It’s done nothing but create a positive image for America. It doesn’t do anyone any harm. It’s certainly changed popular culture in the Western world. That’s a pretty heavy contribution to history, in a way. I’m glad I feel like Daryl and I are part of that. We’re proud to be part of it and the people who paved the way for us should be recognized and honored and appreciated during their lifetime as much as possible.
What did you think about the disco era when it crept in in the late ’70s?
John Oates: What did I think about it? I thought that it was great that there was a style of music that made people want to go the clubs and dance, but I wasn’t interested in making it. Anything that kept the music business moving forward, I thought was a good thing. (laughs) But it wasn’t for Daryl and I. We didn’t want to become disco artists. We really try to do what we did best and stick to what we’re all about. Like I said, trends have come and gone. There’s been grunge and there’s been the boy bands and all sorts of things over the past few decades. But we have our own niche and what we do is what we do.
You mentioned your TV show, Live From Daryl’s House. Is there someone that you haven’t had on the show that you would love to see?
Daryl Hall: I have no wish list. I learn so much from each experience and every show is to some degree a blind date. Even if I know the artist, it’s still a bit of a blind date. You never know what’s going to happen. I can’t say I wish somebody would be there because whoever’s there is interesting enough for me. I really don’t have a wish list or a person that I could say, oh man, I wish that person was on, because I’m happy with everybody who’s there.
John, you had collaborated with Handsome Boy Modeling School and I was curious how you ended up with Prince Paul and those guys.
John Oates: (laughs) I got a call to come and try to do a collaborative effort with them. I was in New York and I went to the studio. We wrote a song and recorded it in one day. That was it. Then I didn’t hear anything for quite a while, and the album came out quite a while later. At least six months later. Then there it was. It was fun. I like working with unique people who try to do different things. It was quite a while ago.
Well, you got some street cred with that one.
John Oates: Oh, I did? Good.
You perform with some of the biggest names in music. Who would you like to perform with, if given the chance, or who would you like to have performed with who’s no longer with us?
John Oates: Curtis Mayfield and Doc Watson. Doc Watson died a few years ago, two years ago, I believe. Two and a half. Curtis Mayfield died, I guess, about ten years ago. More. They were two of my heroes and people I patterned myself after, in terms of guitar playing and singing, so yes.
I know you had mentioned how frequently your songs have been sampled because they are absolute classics. I don’t know if you’re familiar with the rapper Watsky, but one of his big hits was called “Rich Girl” and it sampled your song. How do you feel about being sampled in rap music?
John Oates: Oh, I think it’s great. The records we made, the songs we wrote, they represent our musical point of view. Once that’s done, it’s done. It’s there forever. I think it’s fantastic to hear people’s reinterpretations. If our music is stimulating and inspiring enough for someone to actually care about it, to want to do something unique with it, that’s a compliment unto itself. Yeah, I’m very happy about that. I think it’s great. I like the idea of getting credit for being sampled and getting compensated for it as well. That’s also a nice part of it as well. In the end, it’s all about someone caring enough about your music to try to make it live on.
As you said, touring still continues to be something that you and John clearly want to do together. Does that not extend to recording new music? Why is touring so high a priority and recording new music not?
Daryl Hall: The touring has to do with what we did when we were together and at a period of time in our lives. Right now, we have grown into a place where we’re very individualistic, more than we ever were. We are our own people. I don’t think either one of us has any particular desire to sit in a room and try writing songs with the other guy. We didn’t even really do that that much through our whole career, but we did share album space and stage time. In that respect, we are very much together. We’re together for the sake of that, really, and because we like doing it.
You’re touring solo with your most recent album as well. How is it different playing songs out there without Daryl and do you tend to do more solo stuff there or do you mix your solo stuff with band stuff?
John Oates: My solo shows are totally solo. Every once in a while, I’ll do a different interpretation, like I’ll do a Delta blues version of “Maneater” or something like that, and I’ll do an acoustic version of “She’s Gone,” but my solo shows are all solo. People come to see what I’m doing now. If you want to see Hall and Oates, why see half of Hall and Oates? That’s the way I look at it. Come see a Hall and Oates show and you get the real thing, but if you want to see what I’m up to and the kind of things that I’m into on my own, then it’s a completely different experience. I like it that way. I think that’s as it should be.
You moved to Nashville. That seems like that was when some of the real burst of songwriting started. What do you think has happened here that’s really put you on a roll creatively?
John Oates: First of all, thank you. I think you’re right on the money in terms of where you’re coming from with it. It’s a little bit deeper than that. Our son was born in 1996 and we decided to take him on the road with us and keep our family together and home school him. For 13 years, he traveled with us. During that period of time, I wanted to be a father and I didn’t want to stop playing so I basically played with Daryl and tried to be the best father I could and be around for him. At 13, he decided to go to a boarding school. Once he went to a boarding school, my wife and I were kind of empty nesters all of a sudden. We moved to Nashville and that’s when it all started for me. I began to rediscover my earliest musical roots, the things that made me want to be a guitar player and a singer from childhood. I found a community who was very supportive and really coming from the same place as me. I found a kindred spirit in Nashville that I could draw from and the Americana community, the blues. Not so much traditional mainstream country, because that’s not where I’m coming from, but Nashville just has so many amazing musicians and so many great genres.
Daryl Hall: If I want to write a song, or record a song, I just go in and do it, and so does John. I don’t call him up and say, come on and join me on this. It’s just one of those things. Life changes. People move on. Time moves on. People develop. They grow as people, the whole thing, become more individualistic, I think, as you get older. All those factors are … I’m sure they lead to the separateness of us.
John Oates: Once I got there and began to make friends and feel comfortable, everything started happening. I surrounded myself with amazing musicians and songwriters. It’s just like anything. You surround yourself with good people and good things happen. I think that’s why I began to more prolific and I also realized that the bar was set very high in Nashville for musicianship. I began to practice in Woodshed. I began to take myself a lot more seriously because my name would get my in the door, but the only way to hang at the party was to be good. I thought I was pretty good, but not as good as I could be, and so I worked very hard at being better.
I know you have a few summer dates already penciled in but are you and John planning a more extensive summer tour?
Daryl Hall: Well, no. We play all the time. I mean, I have so much going on in my life between television shows and everything else that we don’t have any time for any long tours. What we do is we constantly tour for short periods of time. We go out for a week, ten days, something like that. That happens just about every month we do that. Nothing particularly long coming up in the summer.
What are you up to now? You did that very interesting period of putting out a song at a time.
John Oates: I did that in March of 2013. I released six or seven digital singles from Good Road to Follow. That became a solo album. Then my current project’s called Another Good Road, which is a DVD version of that music. I wanted to extend the life of that music because I was very proud of it, so I did a DVD, which is being currently played on Palladium. It’s available. I went into a studio in Nashville with a lot of the players and singers who I perform with and record with. We cut it live. It’s kind of a documentar