interview by Michael “Ant Man” McCarthy
Any self-respecting fan of ’80s metal will surely recall Ted Poley as the charismatic lead singer of Danger Danger, the band with the similarly titled big singles “Naughty Naughty” and “Bang Bang.” Perhaps I should remind you that he had the best blonde hair of the era? I remember wishing that I had hair like his back then when I was forced to have short hair to please the nuns at my Catholic High School. Ted had – and still has – truly awesome hair. Seriously though, Danger Danger were better than you would have expected a band with those silly song titles to be, more like Bon Jovi and Europe than, well, most other hair bands out there. (I’m not going to throw anybody under the bus because I pretty much love them all.) For a period of time in the ’90s, Ted was out of Danger Danger and fronted his own fantastic band called Bone Machine, who released some fantastic music; their album Dogs is well-worth the 30 bucks you’ll pay on eBay for it. (I know a lot about this because I was publishing ANT, The Only Cool Zine That Bites, a hair metal zine, in the mid ’90s and interviewed Ted several times.) In the years since, he’s returned to Danger Danger, which he’s been fronting again for a dozen years, during which time they’ve release their best album to date, Revolve. Now he’s releasing his third solo album, Beyond The Fade, on May 13th via Frontiers Music and you can expect a fun and inspiring record that splits the difference between Danger Danger, early Bon Jovi and Journey.
MM: I really love “Hands of Love” and “Higher.” I think you’ve got an album of the year contender if the rest of the album is that good.
TP: Oh, man, you are awesome. I appreciate it. And you want to know something? The rest is even better, I think.
TP: Yeah. They’re a great label. I love the label. They pick what they want to come out when they want it to come out. But, in my personal opinion, I’m very excited because if people like this I think the stuff that’s still left on the record is some of the strongest stuff.
MM: How did the solo album come about? Did Serafino from Frontiers just call you up and say let’s make an album?
TP: Yeah. I’ve been working for Frontiers on and off for, gosh, I think fifteen years. Since the beginning. Twenty years, I don’t know. A long time. I’ve had a longtime relationship with them. A few years ago they started asking me if I wanted to do a solo record. Another one. It took a little while for me to really – I actually didn’t do it because they offered to make one – I had been collecting songs anyway and then the time was right for me and then they did actually offer, if I wanted to make a new solo record. I then agreed. At least I didn’t have to scramble and find songs at that point because I had already been preparing one for many years.
MM: You worked with producer Alessandro Del Vecchio on the album. I was only familiar with him from Hardline, but has he produced a bunch of records?
TP: Oh, yeah, he’s done hundreds of records. A lot of them for Frontiers. And the best thing about this one is he gave me a really free hand in being able to co-produce so that it sounds different from all of his other records. They all sound great, but this is very different. So, it was a lot of fun working with him. He was really generous in that regard.
MM: I understand you guys went back and forth on Skype working on ideas before you actually went out to Italy?
TP: Yup. Yup. That’s how I did all of the pre-production by Skype. I would see him in the mornings. It would be afternoon in Italy. We would get the work done for the day and then he would send me tracks that they would record – some music tracks – and I could better explain what I wanted changed. Talking on video it’s great because I could pick up a guitar or I could pick up a drum or a tambourine or something and show just exactly what I wanted done and they would go back and change things the way I wanted and that was great and then when we finally got it all together and it came time to do the vocals I thought the best way to do it was to be in the same room at the same time. Not just send files like [people do] a lot of times. Of course, people do it because it’s cheaper. It cost me thousands to go live in Italy, and to fly to Italy and the whole thing, but it was worth it. It was a lot of fun working with him. The record sounds 100 times better because I went and also because I was able to play like a little kid. I play all sorts of instruments. So, I was able to add a little keyboard part here – I played keyboards on the record – or a drum fill here. He let me actually play. It was fun.
MM: That’s right – I just remembered you got your start as a drummer.
TP: Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah. And the drumming on this record is truly awesome. He actually did the drumming on this record. And that’s one of the things I like about it because it doesn’t sound like a programmed drum record. It’s real cool.
MM: When did you record it? From when to when?
TP: That’s a good question. I don’t remember, actually. We probably started a year ago with me sending him songs and everything. I did all of my work in ten days in Italy. All the vocals. And that was last November. I rented a small apartment there, which was really cool. I didn’t want to stay in a hotel. I wanted to be able to come home late and cook and watch movies and stuff. So, that was fun. I had a little apartment with a kitchen in Italy. I’d go shopping – they have the best food there.
MM: Was it tough to come back after spending time there?
TP: No, I love being home. I barely leave my house. I have like agoraphobia. When I leave my house it’s always on a flight. I go somewhere. I play and then I do something big and I come home. Me and the cats. But, no, I love being there but there’s nothing I love better than just being at home.
MM: Do you still live in Jersey?
TP: No, Pennsylvania now.
MM: So, are there any plans to tour behind the new album?
TP: I always tour now. As a matter of fact, my solo career’s been doing so well. It’s fun to still be in Danger Danger and get to do solo stuff, too. I have bands around the world stashed in different countries so I don’t have to pay for too many flights. I have a great U.S. solo band, which we’re actually rehearsing tonight for upcoming shows and I’m always on tour whether it’s in Danger Danger or solo, just to stay in shape. I love playing. I love seeing the fans. I have a lot of solo stuff coming up. I have a really good agent and I’ll be keeping an eye out in the U.S. I do a lot of stuff usually in Europe. A lot lately in Sweden and other places, but now I’m stepping it up in the U.S. a little bit this year and next year.
MM: One thing you might want to look into is Mohegan Sun Casino in Connecticut. They have a club called the Wolf Den and they’ll have Stryper and Nelson one month, Slaughter and Skid Row the next month.
TP: That’s awesome. That would be more for Danger Danger, which would be great. It’s tough. We don’t play too much [because] every time we play we have to import my guitar player from Sweden then it becomes, you know… [Laughs] It’s tough to do a one off show for us. It’s very expensive flying a guy in.
MM: When you do solo stuff do you do any Danger Danger songs?
TP: Yup, I do some Danger Danger songs. I do them different ways and we do different Danger Danger songs than you’d hear at a regular Danger Danger show. I try to keep it very different so my solo stuff doesn’t compete with Danger Danger stuff. It’s a lot of fun. People always need to hear certain songs, which is fine. But you’ll never hear solo stuff or anything outside the realm of Danger Danger at a Danger Danger show. But at my shows, you never know what’s gonna happen. We do a little bit of everything. It’s fun.
MM: You’ve got a duet on the album. How do you say her name? Is it Issa?
TP: Issa from Sweden. Yup, she’s a great singer. She’s awesome. She’s on the Frontiers label. She’s been a friend of mine for a long, long time and when I decided I wanted to do a duet on this CD she was awesome. She sang great and it’s kind of fun to sing with somebody else.
MM: That’s called “The Perfect Crime,” right?
TP: Yeah. I guess you don’t have an advance of the whole CD, just the first two songs?
MM: Yeah, exactly.
TP: But if you’re reviewing it sometimes – they didn’t give you a link to it or something? Maybe if you asked them.
MM: I asked them but they’re not making it available yet. I think they’re afraid people will copy it and put it out there and stuff.
TP: Yeah, I understand. It’s for everybody’s best interest. I get it. It’s because it’s still a little bit out. It’s not til May thirteenth.
MM: They did list the credits for the album in one of the press releases and it looked like you were the only one who wasn’t Italian working on it?
TP: I think so. That’s pretty funny though. Good observation. You know what? I never even thought of it that way. I think I am the only one. [Laughs] But now I’m considered partially Italian because I’m accepted. Because I didn’t just go on vacation. I actually lived there. That counts.
MM: The press released mentioned Tom and James Martin from Vega and Tony Bruno were a couple of the songwriters.
TP: Yup. Absolutely. Tom and James, I always write with them. Actually, on a couple of my records. For years and years I’ve known them. They’re really great. I love the band Vega. Really great guys. Great songwriters. And then Tony Bruno co-wrote “Hands of Love” with Joe Lynn Turner. That was a song I’d been waiting to sing for twenty five years.
TP: It was a demo a long time ago that a cool band called “The Blonz” covered, but I always wanted to sing it anyway. Now that I had a chance to do some big vocals I wanted to do that song. And Joe Lynn Turner, he’s a close friend. I’ve known him also for about thirty years. He’s a great guy. I love him. He’s like a hero and it’s so cool to be able to hang out with one of my heroes. I just love him, so when I told him I was doing his song he was really happy about that. So, it’s kind of cool doing it. He’s my friend, so it’s neat.
MM: It’s funny that it dates back that far because I was going to say it sounds like something Jon Bon Jovi and Desmond Child would have written in ’86 or something.
TP: Yup, but recorded with today’s technology. If I’d done it back then it would have taken weeks to do the vocals. On that song if you listen to the background vocals there’s about 85 tracks of background vocals. Just for the chorus, to make it huge. It’s sort of a retro sounding cool hair band anthem song but with modern technology.
MM: Did you record all of the background vocals or did you have any backing singers on it?
TP: No, we did it. It was me and Alessandro who did all of the vocals, I believe. And, of course, Issa did a lot on her song. That’s pretty much it, I think. We didn’t have any outside singers, really, because we’re all singers.
MM: On the electronic press kit on Youtube there are snippets of some of the other songs and one in particular, “Stars,” sounded really heavy to me. How many songs are in the vein?
TP: Actually, “Stars” is cool. It’s not really heavy. It’s big though. Again, there’s so many tracks of background vocals. It’s almost like a big choir singing that one. That’s one of my favorite tracks on the whole record. I actually hope that they’ll release that as one of the singles eventually and people get to hear that because that’s a really cool song. I don’t know how to describe it. It’s just this big song.
This is a classic Danger Danger video from the early ’90s. [OK, the video is pretty lame in retrospect, but the song holds up quite nicely if you like heavy metal power ballads.]
MM: You came up with the album title Beyond The Fade?
TP: Yup. I pretty much had a heavy hand in almost everything. Alessandro turned the knobs and definitely arranged and did a lot of production but a lot of the ideas came from my head, so I named it. And they gave me pretty much free reign to name it what I wanted to name it and pick the songs and do whatever. Frontiers trust me. When I delivered it they really loved it.
MM: What’s the meaning behind the name?
TP: It’s Beyond The Fade because our music should have turned gray and faded already. Its natural death was like 1993 or something. Once grunge started. And I just think it’s pretty cool that I can still make music of that kind. Like you said, songs like “Hands of Love”and things I want to do. If it was milk it was way past the expiration date. [Laughs] Our music. So, this is what happens if you’re beyond the fade, you know what I mean?
MM: I know you’ve played some of those Frontiers Rock Festivals. How big are those shows?
TP: Oh, they’re a lot of fun. People come from so many countries. Dozens of countries. It’s really cool because Europe is like the United States here. It’s like playing a gig in the States. You can travel travel just a little distance to another country, so you get a lot of people. It’s big in a way that there’s, yeah, you know, a couple of thousand people. It’s not hundreds of thousands of people, but it’s big in a way that if you love this kind of music it’s a great party. I wish I was there this year. I’ve been for the past couple of years. This year I will skip and hopefully be back next year but I really like that show. It’s great. Frontiers is awesome.
MM: I’ll have to try to make it out there sometime.
TP: It’s fun. Like the cruises they do now, like the Monsters of Rock cruise, that’s killer. That’s been really good, too, for my career with the solo stuff. I’ve made a lot of good fans. I’ve done a lot of good shows on those cruises and the fans are just so cool.
MM: I was going to ask you if you did any of those cruises.
TP: Yeah. Monsters is the one I’m loyal to. I’ll be on the Monster with the west coast one this year. I’ve done about, gosh, I don’t even know how many of them. Lots of them. So much fun. And there’s a lot of interaction with the fans. It’s really great. I’ve got the west coast one in October and next year Danger Danger will be on the east coast in, I guess it’s the Spring. Actually, before that. I don’t know when it goes out. I’m gonna have to look. But that’ll be pretty cool. I guess I’ll have two cruises. Before and after the holidays. I’ve had worse jobs.
MM: So, Bruno and one of the other guys from Danger Danger and Paul Laine are doing an album called The Defiants and they’re on the same label as you. That must be a trip.
TP: Yeah, it wasn’t planned that both records would come out at the same time, but I took longer on mine than expected and they pushed theirs up earlier than expected because they wanted them to play their festival. So, by a twist of fate, both albums are coming out basically almost at the same time. I just tell people that it was on purpose. Of course, what they really want out of all of us is a new Danger Danger record, you know? [Both laugh] So, in the meantime, while we’re fucking around, we’re doing all these other fun things. But I tell people they came out at the same time on purpose, that it’s a new technology that Bruno and I have developed where if you put both of our CDs on on separate CD players at the same exact time and time it just right, play both of them, and it turns into the new Danger Danger.
MM: [Laughs] That’s funny.
TP: I just told him about that yesterday. I said, I don’t know what the fuck to say in these interviews. [Both laugh] We’re good friends now. We talk all the time. And swapped each other’s new records and I liked his and he liked mine. It was really cool. It’s a lot of fun these days. But I was talking to him just yesterday about that and he’s like, yeah, I don’t know what to say. People like it if you’re controversial but there’s nothing controversial. We’re all having fun, making money doing what we want. So, I came up with the concept like if you put them both on at the same time it’s the new Danger Danger record. He was laughing. So, we’re gonna go with that.
MM: Are there plans to make a new Danger Danger album at some point?
TP: I don’t know. [Laughs] We tour a lot and there’s always the thought. We know that people want it and two out of three of us want to do it. I don’t want to throw the third guy under the bus. But, you never know. [Coughs] I’ve got bronchitis. Never get on a flight. I always get crying baby airlines. I get the crying baby next to me and I get off being sick. I think anybody under three years old should have to be FedEx-ed. [Both laugh] You can write that. You can write all of this. I know I’m being recorded.
MM: One thing that’s different about the music industry these days is all the streaming services, which a lot of people I talk to aren’t too happy about. What are your feelings about them?
TP: I have no feelings anymore about it. There’s nothing you can do. It’s a horrible business. It’s not a great business to make money in. It’s a good thing I’m already famous because I would never have the patience for it now. [Laughs] But, really, it’s kind of a shitty business. It’s fun for the fans because it’s like a field day for everybody. It’s like winning the lottery. They get all of the free music they want and they can get it for almost nothing. And if I was a kid I would have loved it because I had to save up and go out and buy a record. Of course, there was the radio but they didn’t really play anything that I liked too much. But I would’ve loved it. To tell you the truth, with the internet, with all of the free music and the free porn I would’ve never would’ve really developed into anything. [Both laugh] I would’ve just stayed home all day watching porn and listening to free music and I would have been a total fucking waste of a human being. But that’s pretty much what I would’ve done when I was a kid. Now I’m too busy. But I think it’s great on that end of it. But if you’re the guy that’s losing all the money on it then I guess – what are you gonna do? I can’t change it. So, in a way, it’s great because I have a video – in the old days it was on MTV maybe twice a day or three times a day if you were on the countdown, but now it’s on Youtube 24 hours a day. If they want to see it, it’s cool. They can see it. anytime. So, in a way, it’s really good. Like I said, it’s really good for the fans. And pornographers. [Both laugh]
MM: Well, you know, the funny thing is that I was just reading something the other day and it was saying that there’s all this free porn on the internet but the porn industry is actually showing record numbers, getting like bigger and bigger every year.
TP: Yeah, I don’t understand why people would pay for porn. I don’t understand it personally. I mean, I pay for music. I subscribe to stuff like, you know, XM Sirius for my car. I love the satellite radio. So, I’m still paying for music, but, oh man, I would never pay for porn. [Laughs] It’s all free, man. Who would pay for that? Plus, I could listen to music all day and porn would be a very short term investment. [Both laugh]
MM: At the same time Spotify has been taking off, vinyl has been making a bigger and bigger comeback over the past ten years and it’s quite popular right now to that end. Are you into vinyl at all?
TP: Um, nope. ‘Cause I grew up with it and I remember how crappy it really was compared to CDs. Even though, yeah, mp3s sound like shit, but a good wav, like a CD, there’s nothing better. It sounds better than any record. I don’t care what you say. Mostly, if you’re missing something in sound you can make up for that. If you’re a real high end audio guy then put some pre-amps in and some EQ and you can get the bottom and make it sound warm. You can run it through some tube pre-amps. There’s a lot of things you can do, but there’s nothing better [than CDs]. It’s like having a master almost, if they mastered it in the beginning correctly. You can’t do better than that. And a record, every time you play a record, you’re damaging it. Because the whole nature of a record is you’re scraping a diamond across the grooves. It will never sound as good as you’re hearing it at this particular time. They will always sound worse every time. So, I think it’s all hype. It’s just people are bored. What’s next, I’m gonna release an 8 track and then – remember the songs used to change in the middle?
MM: Yeah, I do.
TP: And with the cassette, you’d make a cassette and hope it didn’t run out on the one side.
MM: Yeah. Now, at the end of our interviews we always ask a few random questions. What was the first album you bought with your own money?
TP: Goodbye Yellow Brick Road by Elton John. And I had to hide it because it was a lot of money as a kid and I was afraid my parents would yell at me because I spent that much money. When they’d go to work I’d play it on their stereo and hide it at the end of the day.
Eric Carr is was a drummer in Kiss until his untimely death. I believe this album was completed after he died. I’m curious to hear the whole thing after hearing this gem.
MM: What was the last movie you watched?
TP: Probably on an airplane. Let me think, what was the last movie I watched. That’s a good question. I don’t have time for movies at home. So, I watch them on airplanes. Um, that’s a good question.
MM: What was the last one you watched that you really enjoyed?
TP: You know what? I go back to certain movies that I like. I think I watched Tropic Thunder. I carry a little mini-projector that projects a 60 inch HD screen on a wall because I can carry that in my luggage. When I was in Italy every night I’d come home and unwind after a day at the studio and I watched Tropic Thunder for like the ninth time. I love that movie. It’s pretty funny.
MM: What song is stuck in your head right now?
TP: Oh, man, stuff that’s not even gonna be released for another year or two. I’m actually working on two new CDs, totally different projects, and when I do that it’s very, very hard to listen to anything else. Because I saturate myself with the art, and then I learn it, but I’m really into a new band called Degreed from Sweden. They’re fucking amazing guys. I love them. Pick up their new CD. It’s called Dead But Not Forgotten. Yeah, they’re great.
MM: Rocky or Rambo?
TP: Rambo, absolutely. He shoots guns, man, c’mon. [Laughs] There is no comparison.
MM: Finally, what’s the most disturbing gift you’ve ever received from a fan?
TP: Crabs! Yeah, lice. [Laughs] Yeah, crabs, yeah. That was pretty disturbing. [Laughs] Let’s call it an unintended gift. Back in the way old days. Back then it was as simple as getting the right shampoo and goodbye. Nowadays shit will probably kill you. The stuff they’re coming up with now, I don’t even want to know. I can cover myself with tattoos now. That’s all I do.
Special Thanks to Ted Poley for taking the time to do this interview — even though he didn’t seem to remember me! Thanks also to Jon Freeman, one of the coolest dudes on the planet, for setting it up!
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