I adore Hall, but he and interviewer Chris Dahlen give themselves too much credit for Hall & Oates' purported indie cred. In the context of an act that scored a Number One, a couple of Top Tens, and several charting small hits, the late seventies period during which they released stuff like Along the Red Ledge and X-Static were just fallow commercially (and, what do I know, artistically too); they stayed on a major label and eventually prospered, hugely. As a result, this interview largely ignores the eighties, which is bizarre: imagine interviewing John Lennon and asking him about the Cavern Club and recording Mind Games, while devoting one question to the Beatles. As one of the greatest beneficiaries of generational revisionism, H&O's big hits (it's difficult for those who weren't in the U.S. at the time to imagine how omnipresent those hits were) really did synthesize all that was au courant and underground: glacial synth pop, the stirrings of Big Chill-inspired sixties nostalgia, Arthur Baker dub.
I find his arrogance for once cute, a sign of enormous self-confidence and pride, even in this bit where he answers the perennial what-does-John-do question:
We are not an equal duo, and never have been. I'm 90% and he's 10%, and that's the way it is. And he'd say the same thing. He has plenty of ideas, he's a finisher, he's a good musician, he is an attention-to-detail person. He is overshadowed by me because I'm such a strong vocal personality. I also always believed that you can only have one singer in a band. The ping-pong thing doesn't work. We're not the Bobbsey Twins. He stands there, he's the quiet one – it's sort of like Jagger-Richards or something. And I'm out there banging away. And I'm much more prolific than him. I have much more energy than him. He's more lazy than me – [laughs] – in music. But he's a meticulous person.