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Hall & Oates keep the rock 'n' soul alive, together and separately

By Gary Graff
Digital First Media/@GraffonMusic

Posted: Sunday, September 21, 2014

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A Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction is nothing to be taken lightly.

But it’s also nothing to dwell on — at least not for Daryl Hall & John Oates.

Long considered one of the glaring omissions from the Rock Hall ranks, the Philadelphia-formed duo got its due in April, commemorating 43 years of musicmaking that’s included 18 albums and 16 Top 10 hits as well as a previous induction into the Songwriters Hall of Fame. But you won’t find it on Hall’s list of, as the song says, “the best things in life.”

“It, to me, was a tedious night,” says Hall (nee Hohl), 67, who met Oates at Philadelphia’s Adelphi Ballroom in 1967 while both, in separate bands at the time, were fleeing a battle of the bands that had erupted into gang violence. “I’m glad I was inducted because it’s nice to be part of something, but I don’t get along with that world and I have nothing really important to say about it. I don’t judge anything from that stuff.”

Oates, for his part, was “there with bells on,” but he says the years spent waiting (the duo had been eligible since 1997) dampened the duo’s enthusiasm a bit.

“We’re both kind of the same way; it’s been a long time where we haven’t been in the picture and we haven’t been considered, and so we didn’t dwell on it,” he explains. “I felt that the Rock Hall, the powers that be, had a point of view, and I believe that we didn’t fit into that point of view and it didn’t bother me because if that’s how it is, that’s how it is. It’s like saying you want to play golf at this really exclusive country club, but you don’t make it. You don’t wear the right suit, you don’t work at the right law firm or whatever.

“Everybody has rules and regulations. I’m a very pragmatic person. I only focus on things I can have an effect on.”

For that reason, Hall and Oates prefer to focus on the present, And each has plenty in their sights at the moment.

Hall has spent the past six years building “Live From Daryl’s House,” an initially webcast program that’s now seen on the Viacom networks VH1, VH1 Classic and Palladia, in which he teams with other artists — including an episode with Oates — for some intimate collaborations. The show started at his home in Millerton, N.Y., but it’s moved to a Daryl’s House club in nearby Pawling, which will open during October. Three episodes of the program have already been taped there.

“It’s actually a combination, if you want, of my construction abilities and my musical thing and my interest in food,” says Hall, who also hosts “Daryl’s Restoration Over-Hall” on the DIY network. “A lot of people were saying, ‘Why don’t you do something that has the feeling of the show, only the public can come to it. So that’s the club; I basically created the mood of my house in a building with a fantastic restaurant and the same acts that play on the show.

“It’s a sort of running, rolling Daryl’s House experience that people can participate in. It just feels like the same place.”

His TV projects have kept Hall busy, but he’s also in the midst of making a new solo album, his sixth overall and first since 2011’s “Laughing Down Crying.”

“I’m just trying to find some time to go into the studio,” Hall says. “I have new songs and I want to put them down and do something with them.

“You know, the bands that come on the show, their attitudes and their musical styles, I absorb all that. It can’t help but somehow wear off on me, whether it’s consciously or unconsciously, and it’s always interesting to hear how that comes out in my music.”

Oates, 65, hasn’t had any trouble putting out new music — in fact, he’s been on a tear, thanks to Good Road To Follow, a monthly series of singles that started last year with “Stand Strong” and also has included collaborations with Hot Chelle Rae, OneRepublic’s Ryan Tedder, Vince Gill and others.

“I realized if I’m not really making an album, I don’t have to be concerned about things like stylistic consistency, pacing, a coherent mood. All that stuff goes out the window,” explains Oates, who also combined the songs onto three EPs. “I have a wide range of interests and like a lot of different kinds of music, and I have a lot of friends who play in different styles. So I really can do whatever I want.”

As a duo, however, Hall & Oates remain creatively apart. Their last album together was 2006’s “Home For Christmas,” which was preceded by a covers collection, “Our Kind of Soul,” in 2004. They haven’t recorded an album of all-new material since 2003’s “Do It For Love,” and while Hall & Oates are happy to play shows every year, they don’t really foresee making new music together again.

“I think we grew apart in terms of working together in that capacity,” Oates explains. “I think we just accepted our legacy and we don’t think about it in any other way.” Hall adds that, “We’re such individuals, and we worked together for all those years, and the older you get the more you become yourself, and neither one of us feels the need to combine those things.

“We’re very different people. We walk different paths. We share a fantastic past and we’re doing that all the time, so when new things come along I think we’re both interested in exploring things on our own.”

• Daryl Hall & John Oates and Mutlu

• 7:30 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 21

• Freedom Hill Amphitheatre, 14900 Metropolitan Pkwy., Sterling Heights

• Tickets are $82.50 pavilion, $23 lawn

• Call 586-268-5100 or visit www.freedomhill.net

Web Site: www.freedomhill.net

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