LOS ANGELES, August 28, 2008—For John Oates, longtime member of music’s best-selling duo of all time Daryl Hall & John Oates, his second solo album, 1000 Miles of Life, scheduled for release on September 23rd on PS Records in association with U-Watch/DKE Records and distributed by ICON Music Entertainment Services, was a labor of love and devotion, a summary of his three decades as a professional musician. Amazon.com will have an exclusive digital version of 1000 Miles of Life starting on September 9th up until the September 23rd street date, when it will become available in all digital and retail outlets.
“It was a wake-up call for me,” says John about the album, his second solo effort and first since 2002’s Phunk Shui. “After 30-plus years devoting myself to my art and craft, I needed to make a musical statement that someday I could look back on and realize, at that moment of time, I did exactly what I wanted to do. I’ve never written songs like this. I was on this inspirational roll. There was an urgency to it. I realized that I had no more time in my life for rehearsals… and I took that energy into the studio.”
John dedicates the album to three inspired individuals who had recently passed away, but were major influences in his career—producer Arif Mardin (who produced Hall & Oates’ first two albums on Atlantic Records), Jerry Lynn Williams (a writer who contributed songs to Eric Clapton, Bonnie Raitt and B.B. King, among others) and his original guitar mentor Jerry Ricks, who introduced him to the roots blues/folk scene in Philadelphia in the late 60s.
To prepare for the album, Oates traveled to Nashville and hooked up with veteran engineer Bil VornDick (“The guy had the keys to every studio in town,” marvels John). It was Bil’s recording technique for acoustic instruments that gives the record the airy quality reminiscent of classic albums from the past. The next step was to bring in the crème de la crème of the city’s session players, including bluegrass legends Bela Fleck, Jerry Douglas and Sam Bush, “I wanted players who knew how to frame a song,” says John, “Who knew how to take a lyric and enhance it.”
Co-produced by John with Jed Leiber, son of legendary songwriter Jerry Leiber, the album features eight orginal new songs, most of which were written this past year. In addition, there is an outstanding version of the Jerry Lynn Williams’ classic “Sending Me Angels” perfomed with the Blind Boys of Alabama as well as John’s interpretation of Daniel Lanois’ “Sometimes”. The new songs are complimented by the beautiful ballad, “I Found Love,” a folky ballad he wrote for his wife in 1993 as well as a new take on “Change of Season” originally recorded in the late 1980s.
Among the new tracks listen to “Ghost Town,” inspired by his visit to a post-Hurricane Katrina New Orleans, this standout track with its atmospheric, cinematic feel, is a highlight of 1000 Miles of Life, featuring a plaintive banjo solo by Fleck, Blues Traveler’s John Popper on harp and an eerie New Orleans funeral march coda which seems to arise right out of the mist.
“When I went to the city, we got a chance to hang out in those neighborhoods destroyed by the hurricane,” says John. “I was shocked and embarrassed by the fact that two years later, a major American city could be left in that state of chaos. That really affected me. People losing their city but not losing their heart.”
Some of the other guests on the album include The Blind Boys of Alabama (“Sending Me Angels”), John Popper, (“Ghost Town”) Bekka Bramlett (“Carved in Stone”) and her mom Bonnie Bramlett of Delaney and Bonnie fame (“1000 Miles of Life”) as well as legendary guitarist Steve Cropper, longtime Hall & Oates band member T Bone Wolk, Jed Leiber on keyboards, string meister Jonathan Yudkin, bassists Michael Rhodes and Mark Fain, pedal steel and electric guitarist Dan Dugmore, drummers Doug Belote, Chad Cromwell and Shannon Forrest, percussionist Eric Darken, guitarists Tom and Bob Britt as well as Nathan Paul Chapman. Basic tracks were recorded in Nashville, vocals and guitars were laid down at Great Divide Studios in Aspen and the album was mixed back in L.A. at Leiber’s Nightbird Studios at The Sunset Marquis.
“I did everything on blind faith and gut feeling, but it worked like a charm,” says John. “The project began to take on this incredible momentum. There was a creative energy that carried the project through. Every musician dedicated themselves to these songs. It was the most effortless, joyful, inspirational playing I’ve experienced since recording Abandoned Luncheonette. There was a special chemistry… a special moment in time.”
Now that it’s finished, Oates is confident the process of recording a solo album will only enhance the music he makes with Hall and Oates.
“Doing this album is good for both of us,” he says. “When we do come back together, we bring those experiences to what we do, which makes it even better. But this is a very personal record for me and, without a doubt, the highlight of my recording career.”