INTERVIEW WITH TED POLEY
Date: May 13, 2016
Interviewer: Ruben Mosqueda
Singer Ted Poley and the hard rock New Jersey act Danger Danger popped up on our radar in 1989 with the release of their self-titled debut album. The record featured standout tracks “Naughty Naughty,” “Bang Bang,” and “Rock America.” While Danger Danger was more akin to Journey or Night Ranger with their music leaning more toward AOR; they were lumped in with the ‘glam’ acts of the day.
Riding high on the success of the debut record, the band enlisted producer Erwin Musper to help on the new record. The album was titled ‘Screw It’ and didn’t stray too far from the debut although the guitar was grittier and there were moments where Danger Danger drifted into ‘Warrant’ territory. The record wasn’t as well received though there are some great moments on ‘Screw It’ such as “Monkey Business,” “Slipped Her the Big One,” and “Horny S.O.B.”
When it came to record the follow up ‘Cockroach’ in 1993, there was a falling out between Poley and the band. He left and the album was shelved though the vocals later recut with new vocalist Paul Laine. In a rather unprecedented move, the album finally saw the light of day in 2001 as a double album with one disc featuring Laine on vocals while the other featured Poley on vocals. Since then, Poley has reunited with his former bandmates and they’ve reconciled their differences. Poley has also released solo music with ‘Collateral Damage’ in 2006 and ‘Smile’ in 2007 as well as music with Bone Machine.
Poley has just released a new solo album entitled ‘Beyond The Fade’ via Frontiers Records. It’s a glorious record that is a throwback to the ‘fun’ times that were the ’80s. It’s full of memorable hooks, layered background vocals and the songs just make you feel good. It’s an amazing record. “I think we should all be thankful that there’s a label out there like Frontiers that still cares about this music and is releasing this kind of music. I’m sure nine out of ten records they release don’t make money but they do it because they love this music,” says Poley of current label. Poley took some time to catch up with us to talk about the record. Enjoy and as always feel free to post comments and share this interview with others.
Sleaze Roxx: You have a great new record ‘Beyond the Fade.’ I imagine the response has been pretty good to it?
Ted Poley: Thank you for saying that about the record. The reviews have been awesome and I had signed copies of the album through my site and we sold them all in record time! I wanted to do something for the hard core fans that wanted a signed copy. I thought those would last for a couple weeks but we sold out in two days [laughs]! I think it’s driven by the positive reviews and the videos that Frontiers has released. It’s been awesome.
Sleaze Roxx: Frontiers did a brilliant job in selecting the songs to launch the record. “Higher” came first and “Let’s Start Something” came later.
Ted Poley: Yeah, they know what they’re doing. They did ask for my input. I picked other songs and they said “Nah, we’re going to do these!” I was ‘okay.’ [laughs] My picks were “Stars” and “Everything We Are.” I liked how all the songs came out so ultimately in the end it didn’t matter to me which songs we shot videos for.
Sleaze Roxx: You get approached by Frontiers and Alessandro Del Vecchio about recording a new solo album. I imagine there were a lot of songs to sift through to find the best ones for the album? Were you allowed to take liberties with the songs at all?
Ted Poley: We went through about 60 songs and I had 100% control over everything down to the last drum beat all the way to sketching the album cover. Frontiers trusted me and didn’t give me any direction at all. It was great to know that they trusted my judgement — they didn’t ask to hear anything before the album was delivered. When they got it, they were pleasantly surprised. They’ve made this album a priority. It must mean they really like it. When it comes down to it, if you like the record, I’m responsible. If you don’t like the record, I’m also responsible. There isn’t a thing on ‘Beyond the Fade’ that I would change.
I collect songs and I have been doing this for years. I had about 30 songs written by the Martin brothers [Tom & James from Vega] which we picked through. Some we rearranged and I added my input to and those made the record. I love those guys. They have a new CD coming out the same week so they are competing with themselves! [laughs]
Sleaze Roxx: So was ‘Beyond the Fade’ recorded as a unit with all involved or through exchanging files online?
Ted Poley: Oh no! I had control over that as well and I insisted that we record together in the studio. I flew to Milan, Italy and worked there for 10 days. It was great working with Alessandro. We recorded the vocals then I would tweak some of the songs and add keyboards or drum fills. It was a lot of fun making this record. We spent the money on working together rather than sending files electronically and it was worth it as you can hear.
Sleaze Roxx: Your video for “Let’s Start Something” kills me. You’re nothing but smiles. The song is upbeat. It’s catchy. The hook is incredible. I love it. I hate you!
Ted Poley: [Laughs] I wanted to show the studio and Alessandro and I working together. It was shot on the last day of recording. We did a live show and recorded a video [“Higher”] and it [“Let’s Start Something”] was shot the next day. I was exhausted. We knew we needed to shoot another video. It was fun. You can see us cracking up because we were ‘punch drunk’ and exhausted from the night before. It’s nothing more than me in my pajamas in the studio! [laughs]
Sleaze Roxx: While I have you on the phone, I would be insane not to ask you some Danger Danger questions. What are some memories you have about recording the debut record? Sadly the band issued the debut and follow up right before the changing of the guard.
Ted Poley: That was magical. It was my first ‘big’ record deal. We all lived in a condo in New Jersey where we were recording the album. The songs were very cool. If you’ve heard the demos, the versions that made the record were very close to the original demos.
Like you said, we came out at about ‘a quarter till grunge.’ About 15 minutes after we came out, everyone was wearing flannel and goatees [laughs]! That was that. They flicked the ‘off switch’ and that was that and it was over. I have no regrets. It was a really special time. I really like that first record. We worked with Lance Quinn who had worked with Bon Jovi. As a matter of fact, Obie O’Brien who was one of Bon Jovi’s engineers stopped by the studio and he told us that [Jon] Bon Jovi liked the studio so much that he bought it [laughs]! Thankfully, he allowed us to finish recording the album before he moved all the (recording) equipment into his house [laughs]!
I do think we were the last band to record there. After we were done, they moved the mixing board into his basement. Obie actually asked me to come with him to Jon’s house because he was in the basement framing it in preparation for the equipment to be moved in. Obie says “Hey Ted you wanna go to Jon’s house?!” I said “Yeah, I would love to go to Jon’s house!” [laughs] Oh, that was so awesome because it was at the peak of ‘Jon Bon Joviness.’ It was surreal. Obie was close to Jon so we get to the gate. The gate opens, we walked through the property through the garage. I saw Jon’s vintage and sports cars and then got to see where the studio would be.
There was Jon walking around barefooted and he was the nicest guy you could ever meet! He bought us lunch from an Italian restaurant and he stuck me in his office and played me the ‘New Jersey’ album which they’d just completed. It was the ultimate Bon Jovi experience thanks to Obie O’Brien. Little did I know what was coming! [laughs]
Sleaze Roxx: I remember the videos for the debut getting regular rotation on Dial MTV. How did that feel like? I can’t even begin to imagine what that’s like?
Ted Poley: I fucking miss that shit! [laughs hysterically] That was the best! I’m not going to bullshit you man. That’s everything you ever wanted.
Sleaze Roxx: Any memories of the ‘Screw It’ record?
Ted Poley: When we did that record, it was the beginning of the musical shift. By the time we set out to record the ‘Cockroach’ record, we were there. We spent a lot of money on that “Monkey Business” video! [laughs] We should have invested that on an apartment building! We spent somewhere in the area of two to three hundred thousand dollars on that video. I might have seen it played 2-3 times on MTV at three in the morning. It’s an awesome video for its time but honestly an apartment building would have been a better investment! [laughs]
We used Erwin Musper who gave us a little less slick of a sound. Lance [Quinn] gave us an early Bon Jovi like sound. I don’t know that it was a ‘conscious’ decision to move to a different sound at the time. I couldn’t have cared less. I was too busy getting laid! [laughs] Don’t get me wrong, I’m a musician but there was a lot going on at the time to keep me occupied.
Sleaze Roxx: Last thing, have you ever approached by an established band to audition to be their vocalist?
Ted Poley: I was by a couple really cool bands. Nothing that I think I would take to the next level. At one point right after I left Danger Danger, I got a call from a really cool band called Royal Hunt. I liked them but I liked them without me! [laughs]