For better or worse, the music has changed drastically over the past three decades. From vinyl to 8-track to cassette to CD; from record stores to Napster to iTunes; from full albums to singles. Indeed, today’s music scene in no way resembles what it looked like 30 years ago.
Which brings us to John Oates, one part of the legendary rock and soul duo Hall & Oates and one of the great Mustached Americans in modern times.
Oates’ latest project — A Good Road To Follow – is a collection of original songs that will be released once a month in a series of digital singles beginning today. You can purchase the first song on Oate’s iTunes store here or on his Amazon store here. The styles of the tracks cross many musical genres and each has a unique story, all written or co-written by Oates in collaboration with top artists and producers including Vince Gill, Ryan Tedder (OneRepublic), Nathan Chapman (Taylor Swift), Hot Chelle Rae, Tommy Simms (Eric Clapton), Bleu McAuley, Mike Henderson (Steel Drivers), Tom Bukovac, Teddy Morgan (Kevin Costner) Pete Huttlinger and Tim Lauer. He was also able to work with Nashville songwriting legends like Pat Alger, Craig Wiseman and Jim Lauderdale.
We caught up with Oates at Mons Venus adult entertainment venue in Tampa, Fla. (per our request) to discuss his latest project and see how many $20 bills we could lose in one sitting.
AMI: So what have you been up to lately?
Oates: Well right now just hanging out with you and getting into trouble… and stop asking me for another $20!
AMI: We’re intrigued by the GRTF project but why a series of singles?
Oates: At this point it seems that the album, as a medium, is quickly becoming a thing of the past. Don’t get me wrong, I love listening to an album’s worth of music, but the digital world has given people the freedom to download and create their own personal playlists.
AMI: How did it all come together?
Oates: I reached out to the songwriters, musicians and producers that I respect and asked them if they would work with me on one individual song. It was a pure collaboration from writing to recording. My idea was to share an intense creative experience and not get bogged down in a long drawn out album project.
AMI: In your mind, what can fans most look forward to from this project?
Oates: Some surprising famous guests, cool collaborations and covering adventurous musical territory…at least for me. The folks I worked with brought out things in me that I’d never done before especially in my vocal performances. Not to mention every song is different so if you don’t like the one I’m releasing this month just wait ’til next month.
AMI: You’re a pretty optimistic guy but does it depress you at all when you see what’s happened to the music industry?
Oates: Not at all. I think its important to embrace changes rather than lock into old ways of doing things. The virtual world has provided multiple new ways of reaching fans. I’m rather encouraged that the music business has come full circle and returned to being driven by singles but in a more modern way.
AMI: Are you touring in support of this project? What’s your road schedule like for the foreseeable future?
Oates: I’ve dedicated 2013 to working on Hall & Oates touring with Daryl. Next year will be my chance to play the new songs live especially since by that time folks will have had a chance to hear a bunch of new songs.
AMI: Obviously, nothing can really top when you played ‘Stache Bash 2009 in St. louis. How often do you reminisce about that night? Daily? Weekly?
Oates: It was a night I’ll long remember — contortionists mixed with girls with mustaches is my idea of a fun evening.
AMI: And speaking of “Reminiscing,” did you ever want to just punch all of the members of the Little River Band in the head for that song?
Oates: Which song?
AMI: Never mind. Let’s get back to GRTF. Who the hell cares about Little River Band. We’ll assume all or most of the songs for the project are done. Any thoughts on what’s next?
Oates: I have recorded enough songs to get me through a year and a half at least and who says the road has to end? There will be exits and potholes along the way but I see a beautiful sunset way out there in the distance.
AMI: Lastly, as a celebrity the public has this notion that they know you — from who you are to what you care about to what makes you tick. Tell us one thing that people really don’t “get” about John Oates?
Oates: That I’m either shorter or taller than they probably think I am and I was born a musician and have no intentions of stopping now ! That and thank you!
AMI: You’re welcome. Just saying.
Be sure to check out our past interview with Oates here and watch below for a trip back to the 2009 ‘Stache Bash featuring his solo band.