Throwback Thursday to an interview with Ten Foot Pole! We took a look through the archives of San Diego Punk to bring you throwback interviews and reviews from our history. Today we picked an interview with Dennis of Ten Foot Pole from October 2002!
Original interview by Matt Pierce
Ten Foot Pole has been around for many years, and as you will read, they went through some hard times. With all that behind them, still can rock out. This interview will explain their history, and where they are now. While you are reading this interview, be sure to be listening to their new CD, Bad Mother Trucker!
San Diego Punk: So Dennis, what have you been up to?
Dennis: Well, I have been up to, well, it’s my wedding anniversary and I am looking for something to buy my wife. I am sure you have seen a few Simpsons episodes where he is like, ‘Oh no, I didn’t forget!’ He goes to the car, you hear it peel out. It’s hard thinking of what to get.
San Diego Punk: You’re done with touring right now, right?
Dennis: Yeah, we came back form the VooDoo Glow Skulls tour about a month ago. So we have just been practicing the new songs, because we haven’t played the new songs live yet.
San Diego Punk: Are you going to go back on tour?
Dennis: Yeah, I think we set it up so our first show is around Halloween. It’s probably seven weeks, with one of the weeks in Canada. I think we come to San Diego the first Friday/Saturday of November. (Saturday, November 2nd.)
Matt: Do you know who you will be playing with?
Dennis: No, we are just planning the whole thing, checking in with venues and get that all booked, and then we will be looking around, seeing what bands are available and want to do it.
San Diego Punk: Will you guys be headlining it?
Dennis: Yeah, unless NOFX calls up and asks if we want to open for them.
San Diego Punk: Yeah, you guys have opened up for some pretty amazing bands.
Dennis: Yeah, we have been around for a while. Some bands that are pretty big now have opened for us. Like Blink 182.
San Diego Punk: I remember Bad Religion opened up for Blink 182 like two years ago.
Dennis: Yeah, that reminds me of a story where, Bad Religion and Green Day were on tour. And the guys of Bad Religion were complaining, saying, these guys are snotty. And everyone was telling them, be careful, don’t be too uptight. And then sure enough, Green Day got huge. You never know, you know. We just keep on doing what were doing, and hope people like it.
San Diego Punk: Hopefully sooner or later bands will be coming up to you asking if they can open for you.
Dennis: Yeah, it’s actually cool to see bands like Blink 182, who were, to put it delicately, beginner musicians. It was pretty rough, but they were always funny guys. But they were, pretty much, just trying to copy NOFX. To watch them go though the roads and become huge has been really cool.
San Diego Punk: So this next tour is going to be small clubs around the country?
Dennis: Yeah, we haven’t headlined in a while, so we don’t really know what to expect. Its better to play a crowded show in a club then an empty show in a coliseum.
San Diego Punk: Do you think you could ever play some big shows?
Dennis: Well, yeah, we have played some festivals in Europe, with a lot of people, with other bands, like The Offspring. But it’s fun to play small venues, where you can see everybody.
San Diego Punk: So where have you guys been all this time? I remember buying the Insider CD and then I heard nothing of you until now.
Dennis: The Insider CD came out in ’99 and we were on tour for about six months. Tony and Glen bailed out about then, because we were working really hard, and not making that much money, so… We would get in fights on the road, they said it wasn’t fun anymore, so they said screw it and left. So we got a new drummer and bass player and then we went on the Punk O Rama tour with Millencolin, and that was a really good tour. Right after that our bass player died. We got a phone call saying he is sick, he might be dead, and, what do you do with a phone call like that? So that took some time to deal with. (He had an enlarged heart, which he kept a secret to everyone.) So we found new guys in a reasonable amount of time, but also, at that time, Epitaph dropped us. We had a three album deal, and we did three albums, and after that it is up to them to decide if we stay or if we go. Well, we worked real hard and we did our best, and I don’t think we were an embarrassment to them.
San Diego Punk: Yeah I got the new record, and I think its good.
San Diego Punk: You can tell that it is really well produced. Like the CD quality of it is perfect.
Dennis: Oh really do you like the quality?
San Diego Punk: Well…
Dennis: Because some of the guys in the band were like, take this out or fix this. Some people would think Ryan Green’s style of producing sounds cleaner, tighter sound.
San Diego Punk: Yeah, I like your old style, where it sounds a bit grungier, not perfect sounding. But then you get sick of that, and you want something that sounds good, and this CD does that.
Dennis: To be honest I don’t care about the production; I just care if the songs are good, so I just spend all my time writing songs.
San Diego Punk: Yeah I think the way you write lyrics is awesome, it’s not the regular political or I hate my parents type of writing style, I mean, you have songs called “Plastic”, and “Giving Gravity a Hand”, I think its really cool.
Dennis: Cool, yeah, I hope people will like it, I did a lot of writing and a lot of work, and if people don’t like the new record and don’t come to our shows to support us, I am going to have to get a new job. I work other jobs…
San Diego Punk: You do?
Dennis: Oh yeah, big time, but I do it only so I can do the band. I have invested everything I have into the band basically. If people like it and buy the record, then I can survive, or else I am going to have to find a way to pay off all the loans.
San Diego Punk: What is your other job?
Dennis: I am a sound engineer. Tonight I am doing a ballet in downtown LA for these two ballets from Mexico. So I am basically in charge of the sound system. Its hard to pay for all of the expenses, when we go on tour we will make a few bucks, if we are lucky, but all the legal stuff and paying for all of it, it adds up. Like last time we were on tour we had to buy a new radiator for our van, and that is coming out of our pockets.
San Diego Punk: I read that one time when you were on tour your station wagon with all your gear got stolen.
Dennis: That was a long time ago. We were called Scared Straight back then.
San Diego Punk: But you changed it because kids though you were straight edge band?
Dennis: Yeah, but now that you think of it, I was “straight edge’ back then. I was a dogmatic one, I wasn’t out there preaching it, I just happened to be a clean-cut kid. Then I had some friends that were quote “punk” and we would get drunk and beat each other up and party and that kinda convinced me to not drink anymore. So we were in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and someone decided they wanted to borrow our station wagon and while they were at it they hauled away all of Scared Straight’s gear. Yeah those were pretty punk rock days. You know you’re punk when the signer for the headliner plays drums for the opener. (Laughter).
San Diego Punk: So your new CD, why did you call it Bad Mother Trucker?
Dennis: It was just random; one thing I learned is that it is hard for this band to agree on an album cover and an album title. It’s hard to get four guys to agree on anything. Like whether the song is good, or the music. But the album cover represents like the past year of music.
San Diego Punk: It took you a year to record this album?
Dennis: No, just writing it and getting ready to record. It was a year of writing and rehearsing. But also in the meantime we were making demos and looking for a new record label. The actual recording took three weeks.
San Diego Punk: Any songs you like personally?
Dennis: Yeah I like different songs on different days. I think my favorite so far is “Nova Scotia”. I just like making different sounds, and it’s hard to get four different guys to agree on.
San Diego Punk: What CDs do you listen to?
Dennis: I do sound for many different things, so I am open to many different styles; I have done sound for world music and hip-hop. I am sucker for pop so I like stuff like Pink. And of course I like the punk rock stuff, my favorite bands are probably No Use For A Name, No Fun at All, and Minor Threat. In my CD player I have Ice Cube: The Predator.
San Diego Punk: Do you have the new No Use For a Name CD?
Dennis: Yeah my brother just bought it for me for my birthday.
San Diego Punk: When is your birthday?
Dennis: July 26th.
San Diego Punk: How old are you now?
Dennis: Heeeey. Easy there. No, I am 19 now.
San Diego Punk: No way.
Dennis: Did you know my birthday is the same day as Madonna and Mick Jagger’s?
San Diego Punk: Are you guys going to have a single or make a video or anything?
Dennis: I don’t know, I think we will make a video, if Victory wants to pay for it, then we are down! I think we were talking about the song “Armchair Quarterback”.
San Diego Punk: Oh yeah, I like the song “Happy Daze”. It is uplifting, and really catchy, especially with the intro.
Dennis: Really? That’s funny I just read a review where some guy was like, the worst song on the album is “Happy Daze”.
San Diego Punk: He is probably one of those in the pit/I only like music that makes me mad type of guys.
Dennis: I think with Ten Foot Pole, usually with most of our albums, there is a song that some people like and others don’t, we don’t really have a hit.
San Diego Punk: Well there is “The Getaway” and “A.D.D.”, both songs that were on Punk O Rama compilations.
Dennis: But every night on the tour we would get a bunch of different songs requested to us, their isn’t a core group of songs that we are like, ok, these are the hits.
San Diego Punk: All right, thanks for spending the time talking with me.
Dennis: Yeah it was cool, hope to see you at the show.
I was lucky enough to catch Ten Foot Pole at the Epicentre on November 2nd. They rocked so hard, Dennis acted like he had A.D.D., he was jumping off everything, and moving around so much he could barely keep his mouth near the mic to sing. It was an amazing show, they opened with “A.D.D.”, played some songs off Rev and Bad Mother Trucker, and ended with “The Getaway”. It was a great concert, be sure to see them next time they are here!