Southwold: Play Latitude Festival? Hall and Oates can go for that

Daryl Hall and John Oates. Photo by Mick Rock

Daryl Hall and John Oates. Photo by Mick Rock - Credit: Archant

Recent Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame inductees Hall and Oates make an exclusive UK festival appearance at this year’s Latitude. Well, I say Hall and Oates...

Daryl Hall and John Oates. Photo by Mick Rock

Daryl Hall and John Oates. Photo by Mick Rock - Credit: Archant

“We had the name on the mailbox of the first apartment we shared together, Hall and Oates, that’s what it was,” John Oates points out.“Take a look at every album that we’ve ever made, you will never see the words Hall and Oates ever. You will see Daryl Hall and John Oates. We purposely have always used our full names because we consider ourselves to be two individual artists working together.

“That has enabled us to not only work together for a long time, it’s also enabled us to do individual projects and feel like we’re independent of each other. It might seem like a subtlety but it’s actually very important. It (Hall and Oates) is just easier to say I guess,” he laughs.

With more than 30 years of trans-atlantic chart hits to draw on, they’re looking forward to their BBC Radio 6 Music Stage set on Saturday. Whether it’s big festivals or small rooms, what’s gratifying after all these years is having a new army of young fans who love the music they’ve created - from Sara Smile and Maneater to I Can’t Go For That.

“As I’ve gotten older I’ve really begun to appreciate even more the body of work Daryl and I have created together... I look at it from a songwriter’s point of view and when you’re a songwriter your goal is to write a song that hopefully will stand the test of time.

“Every time you write a song your ultimate goal should be that and we’ve been fortunate and blessed enough to write a number of those type of songs, so it’s a pretty heady achievement and I’m very proud of it.”

Both Temple University students, both part of Philadelphia’s then very small music scene, their bands were on the radio round the same time so they knew who each other were. As for working together, they have two rival gangs shooting at each other to thank for that.

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“A radio station was having a teenage dance in a very bad dangerous neighbourhood in Philadelphia, of which there were many in those days. Daryl and I were backstage about to go on (with their respective bands) when a gang fight broke out... that was Philadelphia in the 1960s.”

Oates joined Hall’s group as a back-up guitar player after his own group split. When that band broke up the two started hanging out and shared apartments while working separately. Eventually they started writing songs together and the rest is history.

It took them time to find their sound though.

“We made four albums before we had our first hit, in this day and age that would be something that would never happen; a record company allowing an artist the creative freedom and not have success,” admits Oates. “In our era we were able to do that because the record company believed in us as artists, not just as a commercial entity.”

It proved a wise choice, their songs have provided the soundtrack to many people’s lives over the years.

“Capturing a feeling that, somehow, is universal enough to transcend generations and time, that’s a very difficult thing to do, something to aspire to. So here again we have these songs that still continue to sound good and we play them out of respect for our audience who come to hear them.

“We play them with pride and passion and you know, I’m not bored with them. I think the fact that Daryl and I have been able to carve out individual careers independently of Hall and Oates has allowed us to keep our creative juice fresh so when we come back to the older material we approach it without a jaded or old attitude,” says Oates, whose’s just released latest solo album Good Road To Follow.

Starting as a year-long series of digital singles, it’s culminated in a three-disc set of genre-specific EPs aptly named Route 1, Route 2 and Route 3.

Ignoring musical barriers, he’s collaborated with some of the world’s brightest music makers on the cross-genre musical trip ranging from Grammy winning songwriter-producer-rocker Ryan Tedder of OneRepublic, pop band Hot Chelle Rae, country music icon Vince Gill and Americana legends Jerry Douglas and Jim Lauderdale.

“This project has been a labour of love. Almost every song was recorded with a different producer and a different co-writer so I got to step into the worlds of so many creative and inspiring people. Some of whom I have worked with in the past and some folks that I’d never met.

“I reached out to the songwriters, musicians and producers I respect and asked them if they would work with me on one individual song. Each song became an intense and focused creative was a pure collaboration from beginning to end, a very eclectic collection of music.”

Oates says crowds coming along to the BBC Radio 6 Music Stage can expect the usual suspects in terms of hits, plus some surprises, from him and Hall, who have sold more albums than any other duo in music history.

“We always throw in some cool album cuts and things we like to do that are above and beyond the normal big hits, but Hall and Oates has a very good problem - we have a lot of hits.”