For this "5 and Dime" interview, I talked on the phone on November 19, 2006, with musical artist Patrick Hall. He chatted on his cell phone from Los Angeles while waiting to board a cruise ship heading to the Mexican Riviera. Sitting here in a cold and blustery New Jersey, and as much as I'm looking forward to cooking Thanksgiving dinner for my family, a cruise to Mexico sounds pretty inviting.
Your musical journey, so far, has had a few interesting stops along the way: a church in Arkansas when you were growing up, pre-med classes at John Brown University, the lounges of Las Vegas, and a stint as a contestant on "American Idol." As you look in the mirror at the musician and person you are today, how did those parts of your journey influence you?
The church gives people a great appreciation for music, and one of music's main purposes, which is to evoke an emotion. Singing and playing at an early age in church, I realized that music could do that, and that I could do it to people with my music. In our small church, by age sixteen, I was either leading a quartet or playing piano or selecting the material of the day. My time as a student shaped my personality, it gave me a sense of responsibility, and I developed a real connection to people on a personal level. It helped me get a business head, which in the entertainment industry is not such a bad thing to have. As far as my musical career, "American Idol" has been very influential. I was leading up to a musical career, and it showed me that I could do it, that I had something to gain by the exposure to the masses. The Las Vegas music scene that I was in was not the big shows and productions, but the lounge acts. They were high traffic situations in more intimate settings. I learned that in Las Vegas, many of the people are great musicians but they are happy with a status quo in their music. They keep up with what's new in the music industry, but they are not that creative. They have a cover-band attitude and I enjoy that type of music. I'll be the first one to sit down and have a few drinks while listening to a cover band playing great music. But I wanted something more for me; I wanted to be fresh, creative, and original. I always knew that I'd have to go somewhere other than Las Vegas to get the attention for my type of music.
At your website, www.patrickhall.net, and your MySpace page, www.myspace.com/patrickhallfan, people can hear your music but I'd like you to describe your music.
What folks will find at those sites is just a taste of what's to come. My music is new and fresh, but man, you can tell I have an old soul. I'm trying to add new flavor to an older feel of music. With my music you'll find great musicianship, you'll hear catchy, upbeat stuff, and some really thick ballads with lyrics that'll break your heart. My songs come from my heart and my soul. I think both the young public and the seasoned ear will find something they enjoy in my music. It's kind of neo-old school rock and roll. I've heard my music being compared to Rob Thomas, Maroon 5, and that I'm the closest thing to a modern Kenny Loggins or George Michael. I hear that more than anything, and that's a good thing because I grew up listening to them. There's a real angst in the way they deliver a song.
Right now, you have a CD single available called "One For The Ages," and it comes with various re-mixes as well as a music video. Where can fans go to purchase it? Also, if that song was written about your experiences on "American Idol" and the process of trying to win at anything in life, how does that song motivate you for the future and help with the healing process?
The best way to buy a copy of the CD single is to stop by my website and follow the link to CDBaby. Those tracks will be up on all of the digital sources later this week.
The primary thing that the song "One For The Ages" did was "cleanse my soul" following my experiences on "American Idol." A lot of people will have similar feelings when they get involved with something that is so much bigger than them. There's a natural letdown at first, but then you've got to lift your head back up and keep plugging. This song says it all in that regard. There's a line that goes "Critics are everywhere, the people are just staring at me, and my old friend isn't anywhere around." My "friend" is my piano, my instrument, and almost my crutch. My ability to perform at my best hinges on having my piano. There's no shame in that. You won't find Eric Clapton, Elton John, or Billy Joel performing without their instrument. I felt like I was missing something on "American Idol."
The success or feedback I receive from "One For The Ages" will only be a small part of my motivation and inspiration when I start writing again. The biggest inspiration will be the life I lead between now and then and the life that I'm exposed to from others.
Let's jump ahead to 2007 and talk about your debut record, also titled "One For The Ages." When's it scheduled for release and where will it be sold?
It should be released mid-to-late February. We're shooting for a release date that is one year to the day from when I was eliminated on "American Idol." As far as distribution, we have a great retail partner in Wal-Mart. I'm an Arkansas boy and that's where they are headquartered. They've been very generous, and they're anxious to help.
Most of the songs on this record were in the works or created before the song "One For The Ages," but they were polished up or finished after that. This record paints a pretty good picture of my life up to "American Idol," with the pinnacle being the title track. Another song, "Once Upon a Lifetime," is a mid-tempo fun track that was inspired by the sudden death of my mother nine years ago. She was a perfectly healthy and beautiful woman one day, and we didn't have her the next after she suffered a brain aneurysm. The song talks about all the things you would've done, could've done, and should've done if you knew what would happen the next day. It was written from my heart and soul, with deep lyrical content, and fun rhythms behind it.
What should fans expect from you as far as live performance?
Scheduling of tour dates is being worked on as we speak. We're looking at a few different touring possibilities and most of them are pushing toward a small band. I have a core group out of Arkansas who will tour with me regionally, and some other great guys on the East Coast and West Coast whom I'll work with in those venues. I'm most comfortable with a piano and a small band whom I can interact with easily. That's where I tend to shine.