What contemporary pop artists do you feel are writing great songs?
My son is 13 so when we are in the car I listen to a lot of pop radio. I’m pretty impressed with a lot of the stuff that is going on. I like what Pink is doing whether it’s her writing the songs or somebody else writing them for her. There’s so many talented people out there I wouldn’t know where to start. I like the Fray and I think Kate Perry has some great pop songs. And of course there’s a lot of crap too, but there has always been.
A lot of younger hip bands are citing you and Daryl as influences these days, especially the more synth and drum machine-driven ‘80s stuff. Would you ever consider breaking out the old drum machine and going back to that sound as opposed the more stripped-down early ‘70s acoustic approach you guys are doing now?
I would never say never, but it would be like re-tread, we already did that. And as far as a lot of the bands who mention us don’t necessarily sound like us as much as they use that ‘80s production as a jumping off point to do their own thing. We think of ourselves as songwriters and it’s all about showcasing the songs. We also like the whole sensibility of that early ‘70s singer/songwriter Abandoned Luncheonette period.
Your guitar style has never been very flashy, just the right notes in the right spots like on ‘I Can’t Go For That (No Can Do).’ Who are your influences when it comes to playing the guitar?
Mainly traditional and folk music. I am a big fan of Doc Watson and Mississippi John Hurt as well as Curtis Mayfield. I have never been a technical player, I’m more of a rhythm player. I’ll be playing the Canyon Club (Agoura Hills, CA) this Saturday night. I’ll be dipping back into folk and traditional blues numbers I haven’t played in 40 years, as well as my solo material.
Are you planning on doing a full-scale solo tour at any point down the road?
I like to play shows whenever and don’t feel driven to go on tour. I’ve recently played with the Neville Brothers, The Meters, Blues Traveler, Dave Navarro’s new band Camp Freddy, Bob Segar’s sax player Alto Reed, blue grass player Steve Cropper, and country star Jimmy Wayne.
You are also involved in an interesting series of live shows called ‘The Story-Behind-The-Song Series.’ Tell me a little about that.
It started in a really unique way, about four years ago I got invited to address the songwriting department at Berklee College of Music in Boston. So I prepared this very rough idea based on the old classic Hall & Oates hits and talked about them from a fan’s perspective, but in that particular instance a real musical perspective because I was talking to musicians. And as I did it I realized, ‘Wow! fans would enjoy this, too.’ So I tempered it and changed it for non-technical audiences. It really only works in an intimate environment where the audience can call out there favorite songs. I have mainly been doing them in the Aspen area but plan on doing more in other cities in the near future.