Daryl Hall and John Oates have produced 18 albums. They have 16 top-10 hits — six of them No. 1s. The pair has sold more than 14 million albums.
With a hybrid of rock ‘n’ roll and rhythm and blues, the duo became a sensation and one of the top acts in all of pop in the ’80s and ’90s.
And with songs like “Maneater,” “Kiss On My List,” “Private Eyes,” “Rich Girl” and many, many, many others, Hall and Oates are still filling arenas.
We caught up with Oates before the pair appeared at the CenturyLink Center.
Q: What’s it like having so many beloved songs?
A: Daryl and I are proud of the body of work that we’ve accomplished. We have a great problem: We have tons of hits. People want to hear those songs. In a sense, it’s a professional responsibility to play those hits. At the same time, we’re proud of them, but we try to include a couple others.
Q: So you’re not sick of them? Some artists say they are.
A: I’m not sick of it because it’s a good song. If it was a crappy song, I’d definitely be sick of it. They really are good songs. The proof is in the fact that they’ve endured. There’s a younger generation that wants to hear them.
We’re playing arenas to 10 or 15,000 people. And they’re not old fans. They’re a lot of young new fans. That’s right there a compliment in itself.
Q: How do you choose the rest of the setlist?
A: They’re usually songs where I’m singing lead. Since I didn’t sing on a lot of the big hits, it’s kind of my little solo spot.
There’s tons of them. We have 400 songs. We could do an entire tour of deep cuts. In the show last year, we pulled out a song from the “War Babies” album called “Is It a Star.” We don’t do any songs from the “War Babies” album. To cover our bases a little bit and give people a little bit more complete picture, we pulled out that song.
Q: What was the songwriting process between you and Daryl like?
A: It was always the same. We both looked at ourselves as two individuals from every point of view. One of us would always have an idea, then the other one would jump in at whatever level was required. Sometimes it would be an equitable collaboration. Sometimes it wouldn’t. I might come in as more of an editor. It might be better if we did this here. There were no rules.
Q: Did anything ever change a lot? I once read that “Maneater” was a reggae song that turned out totally different.
A: I’m doing a solo tour right now and doing “Maneater” as a reggae song. It’s what it would have been like if I hadn’t listened to Daryl.
Daryl heard the song objectively. I was playing the chorus as a reggae song. He said, “It might be a really huge hit if we do it this way.” To be honest, he was right. I’m glad I listen to him. It was a huge smash.