NEW YORK (Billboard) - John Oates wants people to know that he is nothing like what he was when he had a mustache.
The musician, half of veteran “rock and soul” duo Hall & Oates, is firm about the distinction, because if things go as planned, his mustachioed image could appear on TV in cartoon form kicking ass, rocking out and wearing tight pink pants.
Independent publisher Primary Wave Music Publishing, which owns a majority stake in most of the biggest hits in the Hall & Oates catalog, is shopping a cartoon titled “J-Stache” that further illustrates the dichotomy. The show would portray Oates as a modern-day family man who finds himself enticed back to the rock-star life by his mustache, which is voiced by comedian Dave Attell.
The project hasn’t yet found a broadcast partner, but it’s a good example of the sometimes surprising ways that music rights holders seek to monetize their content.
“In a cartoon setting, the mustache has its own personality,” Oates says from Aspen, Colorado, where he’s finishing his latest solo album. “Just as I‘m represented as the John Oates of today, the mustache is the John Oates of yesterday. The focus of the music will be on the back catalog, but it’s an open-ended situation. There’s even talk of the mustache trying to bring new bands into the picture.”
The aim is to complete the pilot, which Primary Wave estimates will be between six and 10 minutes long, in the next two months. It will portray Oates opening a new wing of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame that focuses on mustachioed musicians. Suddenly, a dying David Crosby appears, and with his last breath warns Oates of a mysterious secret group of mustache wearers bent on killing other mustache wearers. As actor Tom Selleck attempts to escape from the latest murder scene, Oates summons his own mustache with a fist pump that simultaneously changes his clothes from conservative attire to tight pink pants and white boots.
The idea for a TV show came to Primary Wave senior creative director Evan Duby while watching a Hall & Oates show in late 2007. “I said to myself that this guy could be a pop icon on a completely different level. I wanted to be part of bringing John Oates to a younger generation.”
Hall & Oates have appeared only twice on the Billboard Hot 100 since 1991. But the duo has enjoyed a newfound cachet of hipness in recent years thanks in part to satirical online video series “Yacht Rock,” which affectionately lampooned soft rock stars from the late ‘70s and early ‘80s.
The goal is to find not only a broadcast partner for the show, but also marketing alliances with consumer product brands, such as an energy drink, electric shaver or men’s deodorant.
As one network executive who has seen the two-minute trailer says, “These guys are approaching the publishing business from a new angle. They’re taking rich copyrights and doing something innovative with them.”