Fri. Jul 19th, 2024

Daryl Hall Talks Solo Project ‘D,’ Dave Stewart, and John Oates Split

As he prepares to release his new album, D, Daryl Hall is well aware of how long of a gap there’s been — 11 years, in fact, since Laughing Down Crying.

“It has been a long time,” Hall, who released a compilation, Before After, in 2022, acknowledged to Billboard shortly before starting his current tour with Elvis Costello. “I couldn’t believe how long ago (Laughing Down Crying) was. I dunno — time flies. I’ve been busy with various things and trying to do what I was doing, and the years just flew by.”

The nine-track D — which drops Friday, June 21 — itself has been “a long time coming” as well. Hall began working on it a year and a half ago on Harbor Island with co-producer and longtime friend Dave Stewart of Eurythmics fame. There was no sense of urgency in the process, either, according to Hall.

“We took breaks from it and all that,” Hall explained. “I’d go down there; I have a house in the Bahamas and so does Dave, around the corner. It was really just the two of us, with an engineer (Jesse Samier). We pretty much worked in one-month increments; we’d do a month, then I went away — I was on the road for a year — then I’d come back and we’d do another month and then it was just kind of tying things together, which we did fairly recently.

“I think in some respects it was better to take breaks, ’cause every time we’d jump back into it it’d be fresh. It was all very spontaneous, very happy, not a lot of thought, really. It was just ‘Don’t think, just do,’ and (D) is what came out of it.”

While Hall, Stewart and Samier played nearly all the instruments on D, they would “just bring somebody in” for other parts, including backing vocalists, while Darrell Freeman was tapped to send synthesizer parts from Atlanta and longtime Hall & Oates saxophonist Charlie DeChant contributed to “Why Do You Want to Do That (To My Head).” Hall says the relaxed island environment gave the songs a particular kind of vibe, easy to hear in the soul-flacked “Too Much Information,” “Can’t Say No to You,” “Walking In Between Raindrops,” “Break It Down to the Real Thing” and “Not the Way I Thought it Was,” the D track most likely to be associated with Hall & Oates.

That tone counters what Hall calls a “very personal” album — and one that, with its lyrical reflections on relationships, mortality and world order, is not always as breezy and smooth as the music.

“The album is a complete thought,” said Hall, “and we organized the songs to go through a journey with it. We hit sort of a bottom place with ‘I’d Rather Be a Fool’ — that song is totally autobiographical — and then start coming back up again to the new, better world. We didn’t write the songs with that in mind, but when we realized what we had we put it together into a story, in a progression.”

The D title, meanwhile, pulls from Hall’s nickname. “My friends call me D, so I said, ‘OK, why not? I’ll call it my nickname.”

For Hall, D also represents something of a new era. While he and John Oates toured together through 2022, their schism as a duo became public in recent years — and particularly last fall, when Hall filed suit against Oates over issues related to the latter’s plan to see his share of Hall & Oates‘ publishing to Primary Wave Music. Both have said they’re unlikely to ever reunite and are going about their businesses as full-time solo artists.

“John and I did not have a creative relationship for decades; the last song I write with John was in 2000 and that was with somebody else,” Hall says. “We toured and we toured and we toured, and it was very restrictive to me, and to John. The real truth of it all is John just said one day he didn’t want to do it anymore. I said ‘OK,’ but the problem is (Oates) didn’t make the parting and breakup easy, and that’s where the difficulties lay and still lay, and that’s all it is.

“I always say I’ve been a solo artist my whole life, I was just working with John, mostly.”

Being on his own full-time now is liberating, according to Hall. “That’s exactly how I’m looking at it,” he acknowledged. “I can’t speak for John ’cause I haven’t spoken to him in a long, long time, but I think that’s how he feels, too. And good on both of us. I can still play all the songs that I wrote over the years, under my own name as well as under the Hall & Oates name. It frees me, really. It frees me up.”

He’s ready to continue on that path, too. With D coming out Hall is already making plans for its follow-up, starting on his next trip to Harbor Island in January. In the meantime he’s happy to be on the road with Costello, for whom he provided a guest vocal on the 1984 single “The Only Flame in Town.”

“I think it’s a great combination,” Hall says. “It’s a lot of good music, a lot of good songs. I met Elvis around the same time as (Stewart), actually — early ’80s or something. We have mutual friends and we’ve traveled in and out of the same circles over the years. He’s a complicated guy musically and personally, but in the most interesting of ways.”

Hall is also continuing to renovate homes — he’s working on one now, in fact — and he’s moving forward with his acclaimed performance series Live From Daryl’s House after re-launching it last year as a web series on YouTube. “We’re talking about, instead of doing whole seasons just maybe doing two (episodes) at a time and putting them out,” Hall says. “So every once in awhile we’ll throw a couple out there; that way it doesn’t take too much time out of other things I’m doing, ’cause it really does take time. So that’s the plan; I don’t know who (the next episodes) will be yet, but it’ll probably be just a couple of new things coming out.”

By Michael

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