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John Oates Releases ‘Pushin’ A Rock’ as New Face of Movember Campaign

The iconic mustache is back after decades away from the songwriter's face
John Oates (and his mustache) is back. (Photo by Matt Christine)

The first thing everyone remembers about John Oates is his iconic mustache. As half of seminal pop duo Hall & Oates, he helped pen “Rich Girl,” “Maneater,” and more — embedding him deep within pop culture since the two emerged in the halcyon sunshine days of the mid-’60s. But beyond all of the musical success, there was just something about that iconic mustache that remains in our collective mind as a society. Now, 60 years after the facial hair guardian emerged in the zeitgeist, Oates is bringing it back this November to support the Movember campaign, whose angle of mental health awareness aligns with Oates’ new single, “Pushin’ A Rock.”

The single first began rattling in Oates’ head back in 2016, a few years after recording his 2014 album Good Road to Follow, which found him working with his favorite producers and engineers, including Nathan Chapman. The duo recorded “Pushin’ A Rock” together, but Oates didn’t love how it turned out.

“I think we nailed the idea of the song, but I didn’t make the right record at the time,” Oates tells SPIN IMPACT. During COVID, Oates had ample time to revisit some of his songs that weren’t released and stumbled upon “Pushin’ A Rock.” He reached out to Chapman, who helped him update the sound and style to more accurately reflect the times we live in.

“I was inspired by the Greek myth of Sisyphus, and Nathan came up with the idea of, ‘When it rolls back down, just roll with it, roll with it, roll with it,’” Oates says. “In the original song, I don’t think we emphasized that enough. I thought that was the best part of the song, honestly, and it was Nathan’s idea. I wanted to emphasize and feature that aspect of the hook, and I think we nailed that this time around.”



The song is a reflection of Oates’ career in music — a reevaluation of his priorities as an artist and how he wants to ride off into the sunset.

“Most artists want to stay as contemporary and current as they can,” Oates says. “But at the same time, with COVID, I got a chance to stay home for the first time in many, many years and get off the treadmill of touring all the time and things like that. I had a chance to reflect and to really think about how I wanted to go on with the final stage of my life.”

While considering their mortality may be a dark thought for some, Oates saw it as an opportunity to invigorate this new chapter of music with vitality and true purpose. “I don’t think I have too many more stages left, and I just want to make the most of them,” he says with a laugh.

“Pushin’ A Rock” was a good reminder to Oates that he still wanted to move forward and keep improving as an artist and a man.

“This idea of going up against insurmountable odds has been a philosophy and a theme for me for my whole life,” Oates says. “Without sounding too flip, one of my favorite sayings is ’When you can see the light at the end of the tunnel, you’re still in the fucking tunnel.’”

But while Oates wants his impact to be reflected through his music, he also wants to see it in tangible, real-world ways as he embraces his later years. That’s why he decided to team up with Movember, the annual movement that asks men to grow out their mustaches in order to spread awareness for mental health, prostate cancer, testicular cancer, and other illnesses that specifically affect men.

“Since I’m one of the major poster children of facial hair, I guess it seems like a very natural connection,” he says, admitting that it wasn’t initially an easy decision. “Back in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, I shaved off my mustache because I wanted to reinvent myself. And in a way, I never thought I’d grow it back. It became symbolic of the guy I used to be.”

The re-emergence of John Oates’ signature look is also a firm reminder to himself that he’s as proud of his life and career now as he’s ever been.

“I’m just more confident now.”