The hits are on his list
When Daryl Hall and John Oates aren't on the road playing the pop hits that made them household names ("Maneater" and "Sara Smile," to name two), Oates chills in Aspen, Colo., where he's begun hosting a songwriters' live concert series dubbed "The Story Behind the Songs." Recent guests have included country-pop tunesmiths Patty Griffin and Scotty Emerick. "I've been making a lot of new friends and reaching back into that Americana world that I had left behind," he said by phone from Aspen last week. Last year he put out a rootsy solo album, "1000 Miles of Life." "I feel like I have the best of all worlds," Oates said. "I can go out and play with Daryl [as they're doing at the Orpheum Theatre tomorrow] and we have a great legacy that people love, and then I can do something completely different and people seem to accept that, too."
Q. No lie: I heard three Hall & Oates songs on the way to work today, which made me wonder what you do when you hear your songs on the radio.
A. Ooh, ka-ching, ka-ching, ka-ching. Another 35 cents in my pocket. (Laughs.) I just listen kind of curiously, analytically. . . . I don't listen and all of a sudden start waxing sentimental about how I was sitting in the studio and the inspiration for the hand claps in "Private Eyes" came to me. (Laughs.)
Q. So I heard this was more of an unplugged tour - true?
A. I think it's more in the approach than it is the actual instrumentation. It's definitely a little more acoustic-oriented. We're going back to some of the older '70s songs, more of the "Abandoned Luncheonette" material. At the same time we play the songs that a lot of people expect.
Q. Have you seen the "Yacht Rock" Web series that spoofs you guys and other soft rockers?
A. Not only have I seen it, I met those guys. They came backstage to one of our shows in LA. I think it's hysterical. I'm very open-minded about things like that. (Laughs.)
Q. Good, because I remember hearing that someone was planning a wacky detective show on which your mustache solved crimes.
A. That's still in the works, believe it or not. It's a great concept looking for a home. It's called "J-Stache." I'm actually involved in it. (Laughs.)
Q. You haven't had a mustache in years; why do you think it captured people's imaginations?
A. I don't know how to put it. My mustache has become some sort of symbol of a certain era. (Laughs.)
Q. But you feel comfortable without it?
A. Oh yeah. It was a very conscious choice, and I don't think you have enough time to go into the deep-seated meaning of it all. (Laughs.) It was like I was shedding my skin and moving on in my life.