Ask Les Hall to name one thing everyone should know about him, and he will tell you: “I beat Dan Marino at arm-wrestling!” This answer reveals much about his character and his attitude towards his career. Les Hall loves to win. He is driven to excel at any task he undertakes, from arm-wrestling to Guitar Hero, but perhaps most importantly his mastery of multiple musical instruments, performing, recording, music production, film-scoring, computers, technology…
He tackles every aspect of his diverse interests with airtight determination and a ruthless drive to succeed. He described his perfectionist (often obsessive) attitude as having a profound impact on the music he generates. Despite many successes, he is refreshingly down-to-earth, not inclined to self-promote or acclaim. Our conversation was sprinkled with his characteristic, sarcastic sense of humor, self-deprecating wit, and highly infectious laugh.
It is just 6pm on a Saturday at Goatfeathers, an hour of the day in which Hall claims he does not usually exist. Between sips from a pint of Stella, he intelligently and articulately delivers insightful and thoughtful answers to each of my questions. The raspy-voiced musician’s chiseled features are set off by a pinstriped “top-hat device” resting on his head. He radiates rock star quality æ exuding authentic rock-and-roll appeal, but without the pomp. We discussed everything from Ambien to Zappa (his greatest musical influence). Every topic he discussed with acute self-awareness, realism, and honesty.
But what else should you know about Les Hall? He prefers to play “loud, obnoxious nonsense”, and is obsessed with striped socks and hates eating. He loves Apple computers and symmetry, and he would never own a restaurant, write jingles, or sell cars. He claims to cook great food while sleepwalking, but never remembers the recipes. Hall cannot leave the house without his iPhone, cigarettes, lighter, but will not carry a wallet in his back-pocket as it disturbs his feeling of symmetry. I asked Hall what he would rescue from his burning house or studio, to which he replied, “Second to any life-form, my vintage guitars.”
Les Hall is a Columbia, SC native, and after many years away he has recently returned home from what he described as “the endless party that is L.A.” to focus on creating new material in his downtown studio. Hall represents the wealth of local home-grown talent present in Columbia’s bourgeoning, ever-changing music scene. What sets him apart is that he has seemingly recorded and performed with all-manner of talent, but he has emerged from the local pool and landed in the mainstream.
Hall’s résumé reads like a who’s-who of hot local and national acts, working across wide-ranging musical genres with an impressive and diverse catalog of names including Crossfade, Trey Anastasio, Rob Zombie, and Howie Day, to name but a few. When asked his favorite artists to work with, Hall answered: “Too many to mention.”
Music has been a part of Hall’s life from an early age. “My parents were always very supportive of my ambition to become a musician, but they wanted me to have a back up-plan,” he explained. “Having a back up-plan seemed like admitting that I didn’t believe in myself enough to succeed – so I never made one”.
Luckily for us, for now he plans to continue realizing his dreams right here in Columbia.