Daryl Hall holds open house for musicians
Daryl Hall's latest venture has him happily housebound. The Philadelphia native, who along with John Oates refined blue-eyed soul as Hall & Oates, has been welcoming old and new pals since November to his various residences (in New York state, London and, soon, Maine) to perform on his Internet Webcast, Live From Daryl's House, available at www.livefromdaryls house.com.
Daryl Hall's latest venture has him happily housebound.
The Philadelphia native, who along with John Oates refined blue-eyed soul as Hall & Oates, has been welcoming old and new pals since November to his various residences (in New York state, London and, soon, Maine) to perform on his Internet Webcast, Live From Daryl's House, available at www.livefromdaryls house.com.
Hall's guests have included Nick Lowe, KT Tunstall and Gym Class Heroes' Travis McCoy. And what do they do at Daryl's House? Versions of his hits like "Sara Smile" and "She's Gone." Maybe their own songs, too. It's a free-for-all that finds Hall successfully doing his own thing after being with Oates since 1972, although the duo still perform together.
With the Internet in full flower and Hall healthier than ever after a bout with Lyme disease in 2005, the singer-songwriter will play the first solo show of his career at the Keswick Theatre in Glenside on Saturday night. Philadelphia singer-songwriter Mutlu is opening.
Hall talked in a question-and-answer session about the state of his career.
Question: Playing without John is a rarity. Is Live From Daryl's House that successful that you're moved to play by yourself?
Answer: It is. It's as if I've created a solo career in a different kind of way. I'm not trying to compete with myself. These shows deconstruct what I do. I think it's an interactive emotional experience. The audience is a fly on the wall as opposed to sitting in a seat going through their routine, like on the show.
Q: You tried doing solo stuff before, between '77 and '80, and it didn't happen, really. The record company [RCA] gave you problems for recording unusual material [Sacred Songs]. Do you resent that it didn't happen earlier?
A: My career's been a series of frustrations, to tell you the truth, in spite of the successes. It's frustrating to try to break new ground when you're dealing with gatekeepers. The way the business was until recently was that it was controlled by label execs, radio programmers, rock writers.
Q: What were you waiting for beyond the rise of the Internet?
A: The fall of the record business. A new generation of people interested in what I do - artists, especially. That's the best thing that could've happened to me, when new artists go, "Hey, he's an influence. I want to work with him."
Q: You self-funded Live From Daryl's House, right? Was it all your idea?
A: Yes and yes. No one has any part of this. I always had this idea of, like, a front-porch session. After I'd already played the world I thought it'd be funny if the world came to my stoop. It was that simple. Let people come to me rather than me trying to be everywhere at once.
Q: Which the Internet allows you anyway.
A: Exactly. There were also the more practical reasons.
Q: Like getting sick with Lyme disease.
A: It's true. I couldn't tour then. I spent a year of not feeling very good. At the time, I wondered if I'd ever really get back to where I ever was and how could I make music without having to slog around playing 200 gigs a year. Luckily, that's no longer a factor because I'm well now. But the concept stuck.
Q: You're bringing these people into your home. Silly question: which house? I know you have a few.
A: Not a dumb question. I have a practical answer for you. It costs a lot of money to make these things, so when I'm here - 90 miles north of Manhattan - I'm in striking distance of my production crew and musicians. It's easy. I did one in my house in London. I have a beach house in Maine I'm looking forward to breaking in. I just got rid of a house in the Bahamas, but I'd like to get another one. Daryl's House is a state of mind.
Q: Hearing these people take on your songs - new guys in Gym Class Heroes, old heads like Nick Lowe - you have to have a favorite.
A: Not a favorite. Everyone who I'm working with brings something special. I've always strived to work with exceptions to the rule. I'm looking for artists with the eternal spark who can bring something interesting to the table.
Q: Not to make you sound like you've gone all Daft Punk, but musically do you see yourself doing something different from all else that you've done, something more futuristic?
A: I do actually. Because of all the guests I'm having on the show. They're artists, old and new, who, I think, are exceptions to the rule. That's how I've always worked and collaborated. By interacting with them, that creates a new sound. Will it affect what I record next if I do a solo album? I don't know. It's all so seamless to me now. All I know is that doing this on the Internet allows me to have a raw, very close feeling to each song.
Q: Do you feel like an icon?
A: Icons are religious symbols. People have pictures of saints that they pray to. If people want to pray to me, I'll listen. [Hall laughs.]
Q: So artists come to your house. What if they make a mess? Who's cleaning?
A: Well, I love the happy accident. I love collaboration - from Robert Fripp, Eddie Kendricks, Sara Allen, and Dave Stewart to John Oates. I like writing songs with people. I like doing it alone. I love taking chances. I love working with people you wouldn't expect and having results work out great. So, I threw my money down and took a chance on an Internet show.