John Oates, one half of the most successful duo in music history, doesn’t feel like there’s much of a place in the world these days. “Don’t get me wrong, I still love the idea of an album, but I don’t know if the world has time for it anymore,” he told us during a recent visit to VH1 headquarters here in New York City. To that end, he’s decided to eschew the traditional method of writing and recording material —hole up in a studio for a few months with a few collaborators, then release 10-12 of those songs packaged together in the LP format— and instead embraced the digital future on his new project, The Good Road To Follow. Starting in June, Oates will begin offering a year-long subscription to fans through his website that will give them access to one single each month, tracks that he has worked on with the likes of Ryan Tedder (OneRepublic), Nathan David Chapman (Taylor Swift), Hot Chelle Rae and more.
“When I was a kid in the early ’50s, the only thing that mattered to me was singles,” Oates explained. “I looked forward to going to my little record store in the little town I lived in in Pennsylvania and buying that little ’45, saving my money up and bringing it home and playing it until the grooves wore out. But then of course in the ’60s and the ’70s, the album became the holy grail. It became what you wanted to do — write a group of songs that were cohesive, that had flow, that had a feel to them.”
“Well, you know, the world has moved on, as we all know,” he astutely notes. “Digital delivery systems and the virtual world has sped up our universe and our way of thinking, our way of working, our way of acting, our way of relating to each other, and music has followed suit. And, in a way, it’s come back to the beginning. It’s back to singles as far as I’m concerned.”