You would think having Daryl Hall as your father would—at the very least—open a few doors for you in the music industry.
Not so though for Daryl's only biological child, son Darren Hall, who says his father has never offered him any help, assistance, or even encouragement, as he struggles to launch his music career.
Darren was conceived during a one night stand between his mother, Andrea Zabloski, and Daryl Hall—and although the courts forced Hall to pay child support for his son he had zero contact with him while he was growing up—in fact, Darren met his dad for the first time at the age of 18.
Sadly, even after meeting, their relationship never flourished and the father and son no longer have any contact.
In an exclusive interview with Popdust, Darren opens up about his fractured relationship with his famous father, his financial struggles and his bid to became a music legend in his own right.
Popdust: Tell us about your mom and dad—how did they meet? What was their relationship?
Darren Hall: I don't know that you'd call it a relationship…She went to a concert, he saw her and thought she was cute…that's not a new story. That was it, just the one time.
Popdust: Tell us about your relationship with your dad—from when you were born to modern day.
Darren Hall: I didn't have a relationship with my dad at all growing up. I knew who he was, saw his videos on TV, music on the radio, but I didn't know him at all. I met him for the first time at 18 for maybe 10 minutes—my cousin set up the meeting without telling me. It was a little weird, very awkward…like a photo op.
I suppose after that I thought the door was open and maybe he'd call me or whatever, but that never happened. I had to track him down again several years later. I saw he was doing a show in LA and figured I had nothing to lose, so I went to his website, emailed the webmaster, went through a few people and got hooked up with tickets. Met him there, we chatted after the show, and he invited me out to New York. I was ecstatic at the time, you know, I figured I'd be out there learning the music scene, jamming, meeting people, whatnot. He gave me a job doing construction, which was pretty disappointing. I got to go to London for a while, which was cool, but not really why I was out there.
I wanted to get to know him you know, and it just didn't feel like that's what he wanted. Like he was too busy, and I had to fit into his existing schedule if I wanted to interact with him. Not like I was special in any way to him, which I suppose I'm not. After that, I asked for a job on tour, I wanted to get involved with music. He gave me a job selling merchandize at shows, which means you set up before the show starts and work through, then tear down after the show, so that meant I had zero actual contact with any part of the show that had anything to do with music. Just the merchandize bitch. That was not awesome.
I suppose I could have handled it better. I was angry, so I kinda fucked off. Slept in late, almost missed a gig once. I was behaving badly to a degree, but I was 23 and I suppose we all act like idiots sometimes.
Popdust: Did something happen to cause your estrangement? Was there a catalytic event of any kind?
Darren Hall: I wouldn't say there was one catalytic event per se, just a lot of little things. Like the stuff I was saying before, I was on the road but I barely saw him, he traveled separately from the crew. I was making a salary, but maybe $1,800 monthly, my rent was $1,200, so that doesn't leave much to live on. I was frustrated and a bit angry that I was kinda having this experience, but I was having it from the outside. Like we'd go on a shopping trip and that would entail me following him around watching him buy clothes or books or whatever. That was our main activity, my following him around doing his activities.
I suppose the "final straw" for me was an offhand comment he made, I don't know if he even knows I heard it. We were at a big family dinner at a B&B and I was sitting down at one end of the table with aunts and uncles, my dad was in the center with his wife and her two kids. The bill came and one of the kids picked up the check and said jokingly, “don't worry Daryl, I got this," like a 12-year-old is going to buy dinner. It was funny. So he tousles the kid's hair and says, "I can't wait for the day when you can actually grab the check." My heart dropped, I was like, “that's what you say to your son? That's his son… I'll never have that kind of relationship with him." I left maybe a week later.
Popdust: When did he cut you off financially? Was he supportive up till that point?
Darren Hall: I don't know that I could say I was ever cut ON financially. He paid a small amount of child support growing up, but even that was grudging—the court case is online, look it up if you want, he basically argued that he lived a 'Walden like' lifestyle, you know, very spartan, and that's how he wanted his kids to grow up, so he out lawyered my mom and got the amount reduced to something like $800 a month, not even 1% of his income.
He has a BMW, a jet, an island and an indoor swimming pool, so I don't know that Thoreau would agree with his interpretation of spartan, but I suppose it's not my place to demand things never given. I just, you know, I grew up in poverty, kinda. Not like Africa poverty, but federal poverty line, goodwill and hand me downs and school lunches. Moving from house to house because my mom couldn't afford rent. That's what really pisses me off, not that I had to grow up that way, for all I know it made me who I am….I would not change my experience—but I saw my mom struggle, she had 3 other kids besides me, and there was just never enough. A lot of messed up stuff happened, stuff that doesn't happen to kids in homes with enough support. I feel for them and her more than anything. That's why I'm gonna make it, I'm going to take care of the things he never did.
Popdust: Did he help you at all with your music career/did he encourage you and support you?
Darren Hall: Quite the opposite, he never really seemed to care that I was doing music…almost discouraged it. I remember having a conversation where he basically said, “Well, ya know, music is really a hard business to get into, not like it was before, so many people doing it, it's hard to stand out from the crowd" …as if to say, “you're not that special kid, better get a day job."
Whether that's true or not, (and it very well may be) that doesn't seem like the thing you're supposed to say to your kid. I remember the first fathers' day, I had never celebrated it (no reason, right?) and I didn't know what to get him—he's got everything he ever wanted—so I wrote a silly song, recorded it on my macbook. I thought it was cute, personal. Like my adult version of a macaroni card. I sent it to him, and all he had to say was "the recording sounds pretty amateur." I mean, I wrote and recorded it in like 4 hours, through the build in mic on my computer, it wasn't supposed to be GOOD, you know? That wasn't the point. Whatever, that was the first and last fathers day gift I ever got him.
Popdust: Would you define him as a “deadbeat dad"? If yes, why?
Darren Hall: Well, I don't know that I'd say that. I think the traditional definition of a deadbeat dad is the guy that won't even pay his child support. He paid that, I suppose. But emotionally, supportively, I mean…he just wasn't there. Even a deadbeat dad rolls through every other Christmas with a gas station action figure and promises to be back soon. I didn't even get that, not that I'm complaining, really. I think it's easier to not have anything at all than to have something and lose it. I used to fantasize at orchestra concerts and plays I was in that he'd be standing in the back—that I'd see him for just a second. That was when I was younger, though. By high school I knew not to expect anything.
Popdust: Have you spoken to him recently? If so what happened?
Darren Hall: Not really recently. The last contact I had with him was maybe 4 years ago. He did something I thought was pretty despicable to a mutual friend, and I wrote an email telling him as much. I think I got pretty heated, I definitely told him he had no 'stones'… to man up to his responsibilities. I'll never forget his reply, it was:
"this isn't even worth talking about. you've had your chances. You don't know what stones are."
Word for word, that's what he told me. Like sons have a certain amount of chances before you get to write them off. This isn't even worth talking about…he couldn't have said it any clearer. So that was that, I'm living my life, he's living his.
Popdust: Is there anything you would like to say to him/anything you would like him to know?
Darren Hall: I suppose I'd like to say that I'm always here. I've always been here, I've always been open, but I'm not going to be the one pushing for this anymore. I've tried to connect, our whole relationship has been me putting it out there and him failing to grab it, and I guess all I've ever wanted is him to come to me. Him to show interest in what I'm doing without being told or guilted into doing so. Not like I'm an obligation, like I'm wanted.
I had a gallery in LA for a while, the first thing that I really accomplished that I started on my own (well, with friends, but you know, seeing something you work for come to fruition) It would have meant the world to me had he come to visit. I invited him, he was in LA plenty of times for tapings and whatever. He never came. I guess I'd like him to show up, in whatever context you want to take that.
Popdust: Do you think you will—would you like to—have a relationship with him in the future?
Darren Hall: I guess I already kinda answered that just now, but I mean, of course. I want to have kids some day, I want them to know their family, that side of it, like I never have. But not on the terms I've experienced before, not in this awkward arms length kind of way. I'm an all or nothing guy, I get right in there. If anything, I miss the rest of his family, my grandma and grandpa, aunt and uncle on that side. I suppose it's mostly on me for not maintaining that contact, but he kinda runs the show out there, and it was just too hard for me to keep a foot in that world with our relationship being what it is.
Popdust: Tell us about your financial struggles/breaking into the music business
Darren Hall: Well, I've never really had any money of any kind, and that hasn't changed. Like I said, my mom's side, we're not well off. My mom got married, she's supported now, which is amazing, she deserves it, but they have enough to keep food in the house and fuel in the furnace, not much else. My family, my mom and grandma really have sacrificed a lot to help me chase my dream.
There was a time I had a steady job and was making enough to survive, but the music suffered, never enough time. I suppose I made the choice that I'd rather play music and be free to write and create, even if that means I'm scraping for rent and food, but that's my choice, and I'll sleep in the bed I made. I haven't been to a doctor in….I can't even remember. Same with the dentist. I take my cats to the vet before I handle myself, and even then, I only pay half the bill and let the rest go to collections. I'm a utilitarian, I'll do what I have to do to survive, and when you're at the bottom of Mazlow's pyramid, that means food, shelter, health for my baby kitties before anything else.
But I mean, to get this album done, to take the next step in my career, I'd do anything. I sold a guitar he gave me, I normally hate selling instruments, or anything I use to create, but I never played it, and I didn't NEED it. Everything must go you know? It's all just stuff. The ability to change lives, to give my loved ones and others chances and things I never had, that's what I want. I'm finally in a position with help from friends and contacts to make that happen.
Popdust: Tell us about your music—influences—plans for the future
Darren Hall: I never know how to talk about my music…it's a part of me surely, separate, but not separate. I'm a pretty goofy guy, I like to have fun, I'm generally very positive, with brief bouts of reclusive depression that are lessening as I age and gain perspective. But my music is more serious, a more direct expression of who I am and my experiences. It's simple melodically, but deceptively so, the more you listen, the more complicated it becomes, and I suppose that pretty accurately describes me as well. My influences are all over. I was raised in church, so I had a lot of church music, simple chords, 1 4 5 kinda stuff. And I loved Irish music, I played violin for years. Music is everywhere, in everything we do, in the car, at the store, in movies, at home. My influence is everything.
Plans for the future are to conquer the world, of course! I've got the album in the works, and a few other music projects. And I'm designing a video game with a design school in San Francisco, which is amazing. All very hush hush right now, but it's going to be the next big thing, let me tell you. I suppose that's my future, always moving from one idea to the next. I want to do so much, to be so much, and the first step for me has always been to get my music out there to facilitate that. I've got something to say, and it's the thing I'm best at naturally, so I figure, why not start there?
You can learn more about Darren by visiting his website DarrenHallMusic.