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Daryl Hall: Grilled

On his enduring catalog, the Internet business model and a proposed jukebox musical.

The first Daryl Hall & John Oates box set will be released Oct. 6, a four-CD set that starts with Hall’s work in the Temptones in 1966 and chronicles the entire 37-year recording career of the biggest-selling pop duo in history.

The duo continues to tour the world and will appear in Los Angeles on Sept. 2 at the Nokia Theater.


In the last 18 months, Daryl Hall has developed and produced a unique performance-based show on his Web site, Livefromdarylshouse.com that partners Hall with guest singers and bands. Partners have been mostly younger stars, among them Parachute, Plain White T’s, KT Tunstall and Eric Hutchinson, though he has also shot segments at his upstate New York home with John Oates and Smokey Robinson.


With “(500) Days of Summer” positioning Hall & Oates’ 1980 hit “You Make My Dreams” as the ultimate state of romantic bliss, it seemed like a good time to chat with Hall about his catalog, the Internet and a proposed jukebox musical.

The box set was moved to the fall from the spring which allowed you to be more involved in the project. What’s the ultimate point you want the box set to put across?
A lot of box sets are put together by record companies and many don’t have the input from the artist, which should be the point of the whole thing. As soon as I heard they were doing this I wanted to get involved because I wanted it to be my version of what’s important. I wanted it to have things that meant something to the arc of my life creatively. You have to put the hits on there, but it’s the other songs that are really important.

 

Were there specific songs you went in with?
They had a master list and when I got involved I threw away the master list. It was not indicative of what I am. Yes, I wrote all of those songs, but the set didn’t explain me the way I want to be explained. They wanted to use outtakes and I was able to dig up about 16 (live and studio recordings) that no one has ever heard. There are a to of lesser-known songs.

 

Do you anticipate this project having an effect on your concerts?
It makes me think that when when John and I play with the band to promote this box set, we can pull out these songs. Expect to her us say ‘Here’s a song you probably never heard us play live.’ Right now, we pull out (obscure) things out a lot more than other bands. Now it will have a purpose.

 

You have been able to really explore your extensive catalog on the Live From Daryl’s House shows. It was really interesting watching you with Smokey Robinson. That one had a really different dynamic.
It was me being the acolyte. I did one, and it hasn’t been shown yet, with Todd Rundgren and there’s a little bit of similarity there. I’ve known Todd forever, we’re the same age, so it’s like the one with John Oates. With Smokey, when I was 14, I was idolizing him, learning every note he ever sang.

 

It really reversed the situation I am usually in — I’m the godfather and these kids are getting the lesson from me.
In watching the outtakes, I see that I’m a different person than I normally am with the younger guys, a little more nervous and skittish. At the same time, I think we were relating as veteran to veteran, talking about experiences we share in a way that’s not let out in the public that much.

 

There’s a level of interaction that you don’t get in any other music shows. Too often they want peer to peer and they don’t get the cross-generational element you provide. That’s partially, I think, why people are responding to it.
I agree with you. I see these other shows and they’re much more conservative. Like Elvis Costello’s (“Spectacle”). Then you have “Crossroads,” which is sort of the same. The whole idea is to show the natural behind the scenes actions of musicians when they work together. It’s not the act you see onstage; the audience becomes part of the band almost.

 

We see you, Smokey and the band talking in the studio and around the dinner table. The conversations are about song structures and how the two of you sing, but there’s also talk about other artists, like Stevie Wonder, and music in general. That level of discourse is not available with the younger guests. You did an episode with members of the Doors, but this one was the one where we really got to see you exploring music that had an effect on you as a youngster.
Each episode has its own dynamic. In my brain I make a subject for each one and with Smokey, the subject was the interaction. I think that helps make the show unique.

 

Any discussions about what’s next for the show? Does it go beyond the Internet?
We’re in the process of negotiating a television deal and the Internet network Hulu. When I started this show, I was hoping things like (Hulu) would start – the more that the Internet has things that resemble networks, the better we’ll be.

 

What we’re doing with Live From Daryl’s House, is a traditional way of putting things out, you get people to go to a site, which was the only option two years ago when I did my first one. This is a pioneering transitional time.

 

Any concern about how to monetize the program?
In a world where everything is free you have to figure out a new way to monetize. Sponsorship will be key. Eventually I want to put these things out for sale. I don’t like to talk about things until they happen but the television stuff is pretty far along.

 

There’s also talk of a Broadway show. Anything you can comment on?
Two great writers came up with a very dramatic story. There is no producer yet.

 

All of these things add up a level of control that you don’t see enough artists exert.

 

You recently switched to a new booking agent, UTA, and a new manager, Jonathan Wolfson. Was there a specific moment when you said you needed change?
I wouldn’t say there was one moment, but I know (when I realized I needed to be in control). Back in 1980 (after making the disco-oriented “X-Static”) we said we’re tired of people telling us what we should sound like. Once we had that revelation we acted on it.

 

That was the first sort of change I had made like that and it started our whole run in the 1980s (16 top 20 singles, five of which went to No. 1). I have been in the music business since I was a teenager and I came up in the hard-assed, rough and tumble, Philadelphia-New York street world. You have to be tough.

 

I learned from mistakes and getting screwed over and over and trying to follow everyone’s agenda except my agenda and John’s agenda. I finally woke up.