The Boom! Brothers

From Doo-Wop to Hip-Hop, Hall plus Oates equals Hits. Daryl and John share their secrets of songwriting, clothes shopping and barbequeing. Your Private Eye: David Keeps.

Smack dab in the middle of Greenwich Village, Electric Ladyland Studio still bears the silly psychedelic decorations that were there when Jimi Hendrix made the place famous. But Daryl Hall and John Oates insist that the place isn't haunted. "Well," Daryl demurs, "sometimes we do feel a vibe now and then."
The guys are in the midst of recording their latest smash
Big Bam Boom-- "it's groovatious," John gushes--and settle in on the mooshy sofas in one of the listening rooms to answer a few questions. After 16 years of friendship and over a decade in the charts together, Hall and Oates probably think they've answered every last question, except, perhaps for these. . .

WHICH OF YOUR PARTNER'S QUALITIES DO YOU WISH YOU HAD?
Daryl:
The ability to dive, to do a flip off the diving board. He's very astute when it comes to that, and I can't even describe what I look like trying to dive.
John: I wish I could see over crowds and small groups of people.
Daryl: Yeah! Then I wouldn't have to crouch down in pictures all the time.
John: I wouldn't wish this on anybody.
DO YOU THINK SUCCESS HAS SPOILED HIM?
Daryl:
No, not at all.
John: Sex has spoiled Daryl but not success.
HOW DID YOU FIRST MEET?
Daryl:
We first met in West Philadelphia in 1968. We got in the middle of a fight at a record hop--I have no idea what the fight was about. I guess the Greek letters on one gang's jackets didn't appeal to the other gang. We both beat it out the back and met on the elevator while leaving the place rather quickly.
WHAT DID HE LOOK LIKE THEN?
John:
Pretty much the way he looks now except he had short hair then, with sideburns. They were big in those days. I grew up in Pennsylvania, only fifteen miles away from Daryl where all the local kids with a German background looked like he did. It was a normal look.
Daryl: He had sideburns, and short hair on its way to long. We were both in transition. Yeah, he had a mustache then. I think he was born with the thing.
WHAT WAS YOUR FIRST IMPRESSION OF THE GUY?
Daryl:
Same as everybody's--I thought he was a short Spanish person. Of course, he's not Spanish. He's Moorish which gives him that look.
John: Well, before we met I had heard and seen him sing so I knew he was good. We both liked the same kinds of music so it was a sort of instant rapport. I was just glad to meet somebody outside of my group of small town friends who was into music. Somebody else who had aspirations to do something more than sing at a record hop.
ON YOUR OWN, WHAT WAS YOUR FIRST RECORD?
John:
In 1966, "I Need Your Love" by The Masters, on Crimson Records out of Philadelphia.
Daryl: In 1966, with the Temptones. It was called "Girl I Love You." Provocative title, eh? It made it onto some of the black stations in Philly but the white ones wouldn't play it.
WHAT WOULD YOU NEVER ALLOW YOUR PARTNER TO PLAY ON STAGE?
Daryl:
Clarinet. Not only can't he play it, but I hate clarinets.
John: Autoharp.
Daryl: Hey, there's a guy playing autoharp out front right now for food. His name's Jim.
WHAT'S THE BEST SONG THE OTHER GUY'S EVER WRITTEN?
Daryl:
There are certain ones I like more than others but I'd have a hard time choosing a favorite. "How Does It Feel To Be Back?" is one.
John: That is a hard question. I'd pick "No Can Do." (You mean "I Can't Go For That"--Song Words Editor.)
NOW THE WORST SONG. . .
Daryl:
I can answer for both of us.
John: Yeah, that's easy, that's easy.
Daryl: "Love Hurts, Love Heals" is the worst song John ever wrote.
John: I'd disagree with that. There's a few: "Never Learn" wasn't exactly a biggie. For Daryl, it had to be "Winged Bull" (laughter). They were both on the worst album we've ever done--Beauty On A Back Street. That was in the '70s, the Dark Ages.
IS THERE ANYTHING YOU'D LIKE TO DO OVER AGAIN?
John:
Change our name. I don't know what to, but something better. We should have an easier name to pronounce.
Daryl: Our name is unpronounceable outside of the U.S. and England. A guy from Paris came here to interview us and he stood outside for half an hour because he couldn't say my name into the buzzer. He was hitting the button and saying "Daarrrrullha." The receptionist thought he was crazy so she wouldn't let him in.
WHAT'S THE WORST THING YOU'VE EVER READ ABOUT THE OTHER?
John:
I don't know but I guarantee it was written in England.
Daryl: All bad things are usually written in England. There's a more extreme attitude there when it comes to describing things--both good and bad.
WERE YOU EVER INTO PUNK ROCK?
Daryl:
We've always been into New York rock in its various manifestations. We used to go see the Dolls at the Mercer Arts Center and stuff like that so we were aware of it. I wouldn't say involved in it, but involved in the mood.
HAVE YOU EVER GONE ON VACATION TOGETHER?
Daryl:
Jamaica and where else? It was such a long time ago. . .
John: The thing is that we travel so much together that it wouldn't be a vacation. You get off the road and you're going to turn around and travel again?
WERE YOU EVER ROOMATES?
Daryl:
Sure, for years. We lived in the same apartments from 1968 to 1978. We relocated from Philadelphia to New York City in 1970.
WHEN YOU HAVE EACH OTHER OVER FOR DINNER, WHAT DO YOU COOK?
Daryl:
I usually don't cook when John comes over to dinner. I have other slaves to do it. Actually, the last few times I did barbeque some steaks. I have a very intricate BBQ technique, using different kinds of wood chips.
John: I do the same for him. We're BBQ freaks.
DO YOU BUY EACH OTHER BIRTHDAY PRESENTS?
Daryl:
Sometimes but not usually. Occasionally we just get each other something small. What did you give me this year? I think I gave you a book. . . no, you gave me a book that I had already.
John: Yeah, I gave him The Name Of The Rose by Umberto Eco but he had already read it. So I took it back and read it myself.
WHAT HOBBY DO YOU HAVE THAT HE DOESN'T?
John:
I race cars.
Daryl: Right now, I'm involved in designing various T-shirts. This one I have on is just a simple tie-dye but I do more intricate ones. Yeah, I like doing different handicrafts, but not basketweaving or lanyard making.
John: How about door making?
Daryl: Yeah, I've made some doors in my time. Hammers and nails, some measuring tape and some sauce. . . you need a hole, though.
WHAT DO YOU GUYS THINK OF CULTURE CLUB?
Daryl:
I like Smokey Robinson and so does Boy George, so I guess we have something in common.
John: I like their uniforms.
YOU'VE JUST BEEN ELECTED PRESIDENT. THE ONLY CATCH IS THAT YOU HAVE TO TAKE HIM ALONG. WHAT WILL HE DO IN YOUR ADMINISTRATION?
John:
I'd make Daryl my Minister of Arts and Leisure. Then I'd abdicate the throne on the first day. . . just like I did in tenth grade when I was elected class treasurer.
Daryl: I'd make John stand in front of me at all times. If I got to be President someone would definitely be shooting at me.
A MOB OF SCREAMING FANS HAVE JUST TORN OFF ALL YOUR PARTNER'S CLOTHES. WHERE WOULD YOU TAKE HIM SHOPPING?
Daryl:
Depends on where it happened. In New York City, right here on 8th Street somewhere. I'd get him the same kind of clothes he has on now. Keep him comfortable. Now you answer.
John: I would take Daryl to his house because it's not far from here. He has plenty of stuff he could change into.
HAVE YOU EVER BOTH DATED THE SAME GIRL?
Daryl:
We've dated together and separately. The same girl, at the same time sometimes. It's happened.
DREAM DOUBLE DATE: WHO, WHERE AND WHAT?
John:
Dream date? Dream date? Dream date!!!!
Daryl: Where would I go? The Beverly Hills Hotel. . .
John: Bungalow Number Six. . .
Daryl: Dream date? Depends on what kind of "date" you mean. If we're going to that hotel bungalow I'd have to take Beverly D'Angelo. For both of us.

-END-

Back to the Rock Page
They were both on the worst album we've ever done--Beauty On A Back Street. That was in the '70s, the Dark Ages.
IS THERE ANYTHING YOU'D LIKE TO DO OVER AGAIN?
John:
Change our name. I don't know what to, but something better. We should have an easier name to pronounce.
Daryl: Our name is unpronounceable outside of the U.S. and England. A guy from Paris came here to interview us and he stood outside for half an hour because he couldn't say my name into the buzzer. He was hitting the button and saying "Daarrrrullha." The receptionist thought he was crazy so she wouldn't let him in.
WHAT'S THE WORST THING YOU'VE EVER READ ABOUT THE OTHER?
John:
I don't know but I guarantee it was written in England.
Daryl: All bad things are usually written in England. There's a more extreme attitude there when it comes to describing things--both good and bad.
WERE YOU EVER INTO PUNK ROCK?
Daryl:
We've always been into New York rock in its various manifestations. We used to go see the Dolls at the Mercer Arts Center and stuff like that so we were aware of it. I wouldn't say involved in it, but involved in the mood.
HAVE YOU EVER GONE ON VACATION TOGETHER?
Daryl:
Jamaica and where else? It was such a long time ago. . .
John: The thing is that we travel so much together that it wouldn't be a vacation. You get off the road and you're going to turn around and travel again?
WERE YOU EVER ROOMATES?
Daryl:
Sure, for years. We lived in the same apartments from 1968 to 1978. We relocated from Philadelphia to New York City in 1970.
WHEN YOU HAVE EACH OTHER OVER FOR DINNER, WHAT DO YOU COOK?
Daryl:
I usually don't cook when John comes over to dinner. I have other slaves to do it. Actually, the last few times I did barbeque some steaks. I have a very intricate BBQ technique, using different kinds of wood chips.
John: I do the same for him. We're BBQ freaks.
DO YOU BUY EACH OTHER BIRTHDAY PRESENTS?
Daryl:
Sometimes but not usually. Occasionally we just get each other something small. What did you give me this year? I think I gave you a book. . . no, you gave me a book that I had already.
John: Yeah, I gave him The Name Of The Rose by Umberto Eco but he had already read it. So I took it back and read it myself.
WHAT HOBBY DO YOU HAVE THAT HE DOESN'T?
John:
I race cars.
Daryl: Right now, I'm involved in designing various T-shirts. This one I have on is just a simple tie-dye but I do more intricate ones. Yeah, I like doing different handicrafts, but not basketweaving or lanyard making.
John: How about door making?
Daryl: Yeah, I've made some doors in my time. Hammers and nails, some measuring tape and some sauce. . . you need a hole, though.
WHAT DO YOU GUYS THINK OF CULTURE CLUB?
Daryl:
I like Smokey Robinson and so does Boy George, so I guess we have something in common.
John: I like their uniforms.
YOU'VE JUST BEEN ELECTED PRESIDENT. THE ONLY CATCH IS THAT YOU HAVE TO TAKE HIM ALONG. WHAT WILL HE DO IN YOUR ADMINISTRATION?
John:
I'd make Daryl my Minister of Arts and Leisure. Then I'd abdicate the throne on the first day. . . just like I did in tenth grade when I was elected class treasurer.
Daryl: I'd make John stand in front of me at all times. If I got to be President someone would definitely be shooting at me.
A MOB OF SCREAMING FANS HAVE JUST TORN OFF ALL YOUR PARTNER'S CLOTHES. WHERE WOULD YOU TAKE HIM SHOPPING?
Daryl:
Depends on where it happened. In New York City, right here on 8th Street somewhere. I'd get him the same kind of clothes he has on now. Keep him comfortable. Now you answer.
John: I would take Daryl to his house because it's not far from here. He has plenty of stuff he could change into.
HAVE YOU EVER BOTH DATED THE SAME GIRL?
Daryl:
We've dated together and separately. The same girl, at the same time sometimes. It's happened.
DREAM DOUBLE DATE: WHO, WHERE AND WHAT?
John:
Dream date? Dream date? Dream date!!!!
Daryl: Where would I go? The Beverly Hills Hotel. . .
John: Bungalow Number Six. . .
Daryl: Dream date? Depends on what kind of "date" you mean. If we're going to that hotel bungalow I'd have to take Beverly D'Angelo. For both of us.

-END-

Back to the Rock Page