John Oates talks mustaches, music and upcoming Hall & Oates concert in Charleston

Special to Lowcountry CurrentDecember 6, 2012 

It seemed somewhat appropriate that our interview with John Oates took place in late Movember.

After all, Oates' bushy mustache seems as part of Hall & Oates's legacy as monstrous singles such as "Rich Girl," "She's Gone," "Kiss on My List" and "Maneater."

But while those aforementioned hits -- and many others from the '70s and '80s -- have endured, Oates' 'stache has not.

In fact, Oates has been less hirsute since the early '80s, though (embarrassing) album covers, music videos and even the self-sanctioned Internet animated series J-Stache -- based on ... you guessed it -- makes it immortal.

Of course, there's a lot more to Oates than former facial hair. Even though Hall & Oates haven't been creatively prolific collectively in years, the duo is busier than ever with individual pursuits, as well as touring well into next year. In advance of Hall & Oates' show Dec. 12 at North Charleston Performing Arts Center, Lowcountry Current spoke to Oates about plans for the release of his forthcoming solo album, for whom he's often mistaken and his thoughts on the comedy duo Garfunkel and Oates.

Question. It's been eight years since Hall & Oates released a traditional studio album. Any plans for new music?

Answer. No, not really. Our creative juices are flowing in individual directions, there's no doubt about that. Daryl's TV show (the webcast "Live from Daryl's House") is really important to him. And I'm currently recording a new album as we speak that I'm going to put out in a really unique way. I can't really talk about it right now, but I'm trying to break some ground with the way I'm going to distribute (it).

Q. When is your album coming out?

A. Well, if I tell you, then I'll be giving away the surprise. I'll preface it by saying this: I've finally accepted the fact that people in this world, with the way the world moves, with the distractions and the things that are out there, no one really has time to absorb an album anymore. What I'm trying to do is put out an album in doses that people can absorb a little at a time, and if people like the results, they still have the opportunity to buy it in its entirety. And that's what I'll be doing over the next year. So the album itself won't come out until 2014, but the music's going to come out this March.

Q. When you're on tour, do you get a lot of odd, deep-cut requests?

A. The hardcore fans go out of their way to request the most obscure songs they can think of. It's like a badge of honor kind of thing. We have a really good problem: We have a whole set of hits, and people come to hear those songs and we have to respect that. We feature (1973's) "Abandoned Luncheonette" a lot because it's a very important album. It really started our career, and we both really love that album.

Q. What other celebrities do people often confuse you with?

A. Everyone used to tell me I looked like Boy Gary (Gary Dell'Abate from "The Howard Stern Show") and vice versa, but I haven't had a mustache in 30 years. So it's not really much of an issue anymore. Now I just look like an old short guy.

Q. What's the strangest place you've been recognized?

A. When you're in the bathroom of a restaurant ... and some guy in a stall is next to you looking over and asks you for an autograph, that's the most inconvenient time.

Q. Are you familiar with the comedy duo Garfunkel and Oates?

A. They're very good friends of mine.

Q. How did that happen?

A. I had heard about them, and then I emailed them out of the blue, introduced myself and said I was going to sue them for using my name, and that's how we met. Then, I asked them to open a show for me at one of my solo shows in California and they were really cool. I invited them out to my songwriters' festival in Aspen (Aspen Songwriters Festival), and ever since then we've hit it off and I've sat in with them. They're just great people. They're really funny, smart, cool and a lot of fun.

Q. And you dropped the lawsuit?

A. Yeah, I dropped the lawsuit.

Q. Does it offend you that even in that incarnation you have second title?

A. It's my lot in life. In my family, I'm actually third, so it's OK.

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