Known for hits from his time in the Hall of Fame duo Hall and Oates including “You Make My Dreams Come True,” “Rich Girl” and “Private Eyes,” Daryl Hall is on a solo tour heading to Madison’s Orpheum Theater on Nov. 27. He hopped on the phone with The Daily Cardinal to discuss his tour, his music, his monthly free web show “Live from Daryl’s House” and more.
So what's it like to be back on tour?
Business as usual.
Business as usual?
I'm never not on tour!
So what's had to change over the years about the show or the music?
Well, okay, first of all, this is a solo show. I've been doing this for a year and I'm having an amazingly fun time with it all. It's great. The audience — I've seen a lot of smiling faces. It's very much like a "Life at Daryl's House" performance in its own way. It's got that feeling and it's just fun to do.
And what's it like to be on the road with [opening artist and fellow member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame] Todd Rundgren?
Well, Todd's an old friend. I've known Todd since we were kids. And so there's nothing new about my relationship with him. It's very comfortable and easy to do. My band backs him up and he backs me up on my set — we sing together. He's a kindred spirit. I've always been close with Todd, and we've worked a lot together over the years.
What do you want people to walk away from your shows thinking?
That they heard amazing music. And they were uplifted and smiled. That they saw, they saw the essence of sort of what "Daryl’s House" is all about and what Daryl Hall is all about. Like that.
And what goes into creating a show that has that "Daryl's House" essence?
It's all very loose and spontaneous in its own way. It has to do with the look of the show, or you know, the stage set, which mimics that TV show stage set — that kind of thing. It's just a feeling. It's kind of indescribable. I try and break down the fourth wall as much as possible and engage the audience in what I'm doing. I've always done that. That's all part of my kind of performance.
You mentioned spontaneity, but is there like a setlist ahead of time? And what goes into making that or is it really more spontaneous than that?
In this case, no, we can't. The main reason is because of our lighting. We have to coordinate our lighting with the song so we can't really just jump around all over the place. If it wasn't for that case, we probably would just play whatever we felt like playing but we're restricted in that respect to some form of setlist.
What goes into that setlist in terms of using that to help create those feelings you were describing [of spontaneity and uplift]?
It's a mixture of things. I try to create moods with whatever I'm doing. The performance has a certain kind of dynamic. It rises and falls and has different kinds of mood shifts and swings. That's something, again, that I've always done. And in this case it's no different. I mix songs, I play a couple songs I wrote with Hall and Oates. I'm playing various songs from the compilation album that I have out — all my solo work and things like that. So it's a real mixture, really, a mixture of moods and songs.
And what inspired you to make [your recent solo album] "BeforeAfter"?
I have this body of work — and I've been doing it forever, you know, for a long, long time — I call it a parallel career to what a lot of people know from my music, and I thought it was time. If not now, when? It was time to release that body of work — or at least a great big part of it — a compilation of that body of work and add that to my creative mix and then tour and perform with it. It's as simple as that.
Here's some fun ones. If you had to listen to one song for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Oh, God, that would be … you asking me to describe hell. One song over and over again in my head? That happens all too often. I have songs that go around and around without stopping.
And what would you say comes first: the music or the lyrics?
There's no pattern to the way I write. Sometimes I'll have a phrase or sometimes I'll have a complete. Sometimes I'll have a groove. Sometimes I'll have a chord pattern. On a couple of songs, they almost come together simultaneously. So you know, there really isn't a pattern. I do it every which way.
Is there anything you wish you got asked about [in interviews]?
Well, I'm asked so many different things. I can't think of anything that I want to be asked about that I'm not asked about. You know, you got me on that one. I can't think of anything. People have asked me a million different things, and I'm just glad that people are interested in it. I try to come up with answers … except for this time, which I can't come up with one.
[You've said before that] some of the chords you use are Philadelphia chords. What makes a chord a Philadelphia chord and have a Philadelphia sound?
Oh boy, a Philadelphia chord — it's actually more like Philadelphia chord progressions. It's [more than] just one chord. Although I will say the major seven and the major nine are really important Philadelphia music sounds and minor sevens and things like that. But I mean, that's very technical stuff. But it's a certain — Philadelphia music, like all regional music, has its own personality. And it has a lot to do with … if you take a composer like [Thom Bell], who was one of the great Philadelphia composers, and the way he put chord patterns together, there's a lot of surprises, and a lot of relatively complicated patterns.
If you listen to my song "Private Eyes" you'll see what I mean. And that's very similar to the kind of musical progression or surprises that Tommy Bell would've put. And then Gamble and Huff, who are the other famous people of the Philadelphia sound, they were a little more traditional. But again, it's a certain kind of chord pattern that defines that region. If you listen to my music, you hear it all the way through, and that's the best way I could put it.
Ok this might be a deep cut as well. You've mentioned that the first record you bought was Ike and Tina Turner back in 1961. How did it feel to back [Tina Turner] and Jagger at Live Aid in 1985?
It was a pretty transcendent experience, because I was in the middle of all this. It was, you know, we were closing the show. I had done my set, brought two of the Temptations out that — they were still out there. And then we brought Tina out and Mick came out. I sort of played sideman there for a little bit. It was one of those moments where I realized what was happening at the time. A lot of things happen in retrospect: Where you go, "Oh, well, what I did back then [was a key moment]." In this case, it was now — I know what's happening. I know what I'm doing is going to be remembered, is going to be down in history. And that's very rare, certainly in my life musically. It was pretty amazing.
As you know, we're a college paper. Is there anything you wish you knew when you were a college-aged person or maybe some advice you'd like to offer to college kids?
Well, I wish I knew everything. I wish I knew what I knew now when I was 20 years old. Keep your ears open and your eyes open. And don't formulate any opinions too quickly — because they change.
And here's another fun one: Have you ever seen John Oates without his mustache?
I've seen John without his pants on.
So what should fans look forward to at your show?
A lot of fun: A great musical experience, a lot of great music [and] amazing musicians.
Daryl Hall will be performing at the Orpheum Theater in Madison on Sunday, Nov. 27.
Jeffrey Brown is a former Arts Editor for the Daily Cardinal. He writes for The Beet occasionally and does some drawing and photography too. He is a senior majoring in Sociology. Do not feed him after midnight.