I’d interviewed John years ago, and had a chance to catch up with him and his new solo venture and tour supporting the release of Mississippi Mile.   Half of the most potent rock/soul duo to hit the airwaves, John has always piled his passion into his solo projects.  

Note: Bassist Michael Jude wanted me to relate that he was playing a custom bass made by former Lakland Bass partner, Hugh McFarland.   Sounded great, I might add!  

RE: Robert Engleman
JO: John Oates

RE- How’s the tour going?   JO- Great so far.   This is only our fourth show, but these are great musicians, and a great bunch of fun guys who are like a family.   They make it easy!   We are going to lean a lot on the new album, and will do some early H&O from Abandoned Luncheonette.   I want people to enjoy the show, and we will continue to arrange our set list and review what works, and what we should change.  

RE- You’re known for having an extensive R&B background.   What made you choose to concentrate on blues for this solo album?   JO- A lot of people don’t know my background before H&O.   I actually played a lot of blues early on.   I met Daryl when I was 19, and had already been playing guitar for five years.   I had been playing in blues, R&B, and folk bands.   It just seemed like the right time to revisit the genre.   It’s like baby food.   I have more maturity now, and am fortunate to be an independent artist.   RE- Sort of like John Mellancamp doing No Better Than This, where he took a few musicians and visited various haunts plugging in a few amps and a microphone and recorded some blues.   JO- Exactly.   We pretty much did the same thing.   That’s how this type of music is meant to be played.   We basically sat around in a circle and did everything in one-two takes, with live vocals.   We pretty much captured everything the first time, with few re-dubs, and no postproduction.   RE- I like this album, and really liked the last one.   JO- Thanks.   My last album (1,000 Miles Of Life) was serious in both the tone and approach.   This album is a reaction to the last one.  

RE- I know you and the rest of the guys miss the presence of T-Bone (Tom T-Bone Wolk, longtime H&O bassist and collaborator that recently passed away).   I met him years ago, and he was just a great guy.   JO- He was an unbelievable talent, and a great friend.   He was the best musician I’ve ever been around.   He just had that sensibility and ability to play.   Every part I play, I stop and think, how would T-Bone play it?   He left a legacy, and I just try to reach that level!   RE- If you could be onstage with one person living or dead, who would you pick?   JO- That’s a tough question.   Probably, Curtis Mayfield, or Mississippi John Hurt.   I actually played with him in my friend’s living room.   I have his guitar, and actually played it on the first two Hall & Oates albums!   RE- Favorite song?   JO- It’s hard to pick just one.   RE- What comes to mind?   JO- Well, if you’re going to make me pick just one, Doc Watson’s Deep River Blues.   RE- How about your favorite H&O song?   JO- That’s very difficult to answer.   I would probably say, She’s Gone.   It was the song that made us, but it also defines Daryl and me as being separate entities.  

RE- What are you listening to now?   JO- Things like Mumford & Sons, and Elizabeth Cook, people that are playing what I feel is authentic American music.   Like with most good music; you have to keep an open mind.   It’s like the old saying that you can’t judge a book by its cover.   I love jazz, and even bluegrass.   Jerry Douglas is great.   RE- What’s your next project?   JO- (Laughs) Give me a chance, this is only our fourth show doing this material!   RE- (Laughs) I understand that, but one thing makes you think of something else, and then all of a sudden it’s an idea! JO- Well, I’m going to enjoy this for now.   Actually, my wife and I have a house in Nashville.   RE- Okay.   JO- We’ll be spending more time down there, and I’ll be doing some writing.   It won’t necessarily be Country though!   RE- Thank you!  

RE- At this point, what’s your advice to young musicians?   JO- I’d tell them, do what I do.   Learn from the masters.   Try and sound like artists you admire, and then get your own identity from there!


Leave a Reply