Ten Foot Pole are a California based punk band that have been playing together since 1994. Originally signed to Epitaph their releases throughout the 90’s formed part of the hugely influential wave of Epitaph and Fat Wreck Chords bands that enjoyed success throughout Australia. After a long 15 year absence the guys are set to tour Australia again bringing a mix of old and new material to audiences and promising a solid live show that’ll satisfy die hard 90’s punk fans and newcomers alike.
How’s things for Ten Foot Pole, are you guys excited about coming to Australia?
Yeah we’re just kind of excited about doing anything, it’s nice to have something to look forward to and especially somewhere exotic, for us Australia is quite a ways away. I get to go pretty frequently as a sound engineer but the other guys in the band are not able to travel a whole lot so that’s pretty cool that we get to take a little trip to Australia, the other side of the world.
What have you guys been up to for the last few years?
I’ve been working as a sound engineer so that’s been my primary focus, running around doing sound for other bands and events and. Our guitar player is in another band’ Red Devil Squadron’ and then he’s also a DJ so he gets to be around music a lot, our bass player is in another band called ‘The Implants’ as is our drummer, our drummer’s also has been touring with other bands, he was in Voodoo Glow Skulls and Death By Stereo recently so all of us are kind of in and around music all the time but it’s fun that we get to go back to Ten Foot Pole cos it’s been a while. It’s always nice to change it up and do some different songs.
So what made you guys decide to tour now after so many years?
For me, my main priority is to be a good sound engineer and to be busy as a sound guy I basically have to be available all the time because when somebody needs you it doesn’t matter what your schedule is it matters what their schedule is so if I make any commitments when somebody calls with a big tour opportunity for me I might miss out on it because of my commitments. So for that reason I haven’t done much band stuff because I’m afraid that as soon as I book a Ten Foot Pole show some big artist will call me to go on tour and I’ll have to say ‘no I have a Ten Foot Pole show’ so in this case I was already going to Australia because I’m doing sound for Beck so since I was already going to Australia I figured there’s not likely to be anybody who calls me the week after that tour so I just took that little week afterwards and set it aside to do a Ten Foot Pole slot.
What can fans expect from the show, will you be playing a lot of old stuff?
We have a set list that we’ve been rehearsing a bit and it’s pretty much a few songs from every record, some records have more than others, for whatever reason they’ve become favourites but it’s pretty much a core of songs that are better known and then some that we play because they’re our favourites but it’s a mix, I guess there’s only one song from Swill so far but other than that there’s at least like two or three songs from every record.
Is this the beginning of a new era for the band of being a bit more active or is just a one off thing?
Well I don’t know what the future holds, I wouldn’t make any promises or predictions it’s just something that happens to line up right now and that doesn’t mean that things won’t line up in the future now that we have a band ready to go and rehearsing and doing shows. It’s all about timing, I like doing the band as long as it’s fun, as long we’re getting along and people are coming to the shows so it really depends how it goes, if we have a great time on this and the timing works out that we could do more things then that’d be great. It’s really all about scheduling, if I’m not doing anything I’m not going to book a Ten Foot Pole tour in the middle of the month because that would block my real job, but if I have a bunch of real jobs lined up with some breaks between them then I could plan Ten Foot Pole shows in the vacations. In my business, I’ll give you an example, there’s this artist Prince who hired me and that was a huge opportunity. I was completely free and could work for him except this one time in the week that I was supposed to go to Japan with Ten Foot Pole and sure enough even though I told them that just before I was supposed to go I got this call from his assistant saying Prince is wondering if there’s any way that you can stay and do these shows and I had to say no because I wasn’t going to let down our Japanese promoters but part of me was really nervous about because for me doing sound for an artist like Prince is a huge opportunity and by saying no to him that means he’s going to hire someone else. Luckily for me he hired some old sound guy and it just reminded him of why he chose not to work with that sound guy in the first place so I ended up getting my job back but it could have easily gone the other way. So for me to work with an artist at that level, he was on the Superbowl, he was on Saturday Night Live, high profile gigs and I wouldn’t have got to experience that if during my little Ten Foot Pole tour he found a different sound guy. So that’s basically it, the band is fun but don’t want it to block what my primary goal is of being able to do sound for a living and feed my family without having to get a day job.
So what led you guys towards playing with Liberation Front?
Our promoter booked the other bands on the tour so we’re just totally going his judgement, we don’t know too many people in Australia so if we tried to decide we might pick people who weren’t friendly or had a bad reputation, who knows, so we let him pick the bands who would do best.
When Rev and Unleashed were coming out what was the inspiration around those albums?
I don’t think that I think about things much differently as time goes by, at the time we were thinking about meeting girls playing fun music having fun with whatever our hobbies were, be it motorcycles or snowboarding, some of the guys were into skateboarding, I don’t recall any big overlying inspirations. I guess with lyric writing in the album Rev there’s some funky religious undertones as I was coming to the acceptance of the idea that there probably isn’t a god, so there’s kind of a feeling of being short changed since I was brought up thinking there was love and peace and justice in the universe and then being faced with ‘well that’s probably all a bunch of myths so I should just get used to the idea that probably none of that is going to happen’. That left a bit of a feeling of disappointment. So there’s some songs like ‘world’s best dad ‘ or ‘old man; that are kind of like letting go of that, I guess you could call it a coming of age but also a melancholy attitude towards growing up, kind of accepting the harsh reality of life that we’re probably out here on our own and the good guys don’t always win and the bad guys get rich and live really nice lives.
Is there anything that’s been a highlight for you guys?
There’s a lot of little highlights and little victories and conflicts we kind of went through, I kind of felt like there was a lot of great moments, especially now looking back there were so many different years and so many different people in the band and different experiences that we had. There were a lot of good days and a lot of rough days and rather than look at it as though we hit some peak and that was the greatest time in the world I kind of see it as it’s just fun and I’d like to have a lot more fun doing it in future. Whatever I can do to make it things more exciting and fun and just living in the moment not thinking too much about the future or the past, just having a good time and, you know, it’s punk rock, it’s fairly silly and we just go out there and have a good time and hope that some people come and enjoy some songs.
Are there any plans to record again in future?
I think if we’re driven to write music and we think we have something worthy of the massive investment it would take to get an album out the we’d do it. It really comes down to not so much how much money it would take to record but how much time, the last album was maybe hundreds or even thousands of hours of time put in to it and at the end of the day it comes down to whether we’re driven. If I’m writing songs and I just have a feeling like this song is so good that I can’t imagine not sharing it with people then I’ll probably spend the time that it would take to get an album out but so far I’ve felt that about a couple of new songs but I haven’t built an album worth of work where I say this body of work is worth one thousand hours. But if we get to that point we’ll do it.
Is it surprising how much some of those early albums connected with people?
Yeah it’s all a mystery to me, sometimes that’s surprising and then other stuff is surprising like how did we work so hard at making music but we weren’t able to write a hit song that people embraced, how come we never made it on to a bigger forum, it really seems like a mystery to me. Being a sound guy I run into massive artists who have huge hits and it’s interesting to see them as just regular people and think what was different about their musical career vs my musical career. Of course talent has a lot to do with it or lack there of but that being said a lot of my friends who have even been in the band have found different levels of success in other bands. The one that comes to mind is Chris Schifflen playing in Foo Fighters, a mega band really and one of our own that played some guitar on Unleashed. I don’t know how it works I guess just luck, we were in the right place at the right time when Epitaph was putting out music people listened to and I think if music is a certain level of quality and enough people listen to it, it’ll find an audience.
Great man, well I hope the tour goes well.
Thanks man, we’re really excited to get out there, Ten Foot Pole I think has always been a band that sounds better live and our fans always seem to be friendly people so hopefully we have a good crowd and people have a good time and we can do it again sometime.
Cool, well thanks so much for you time, all the best man.
Well thank you, hope to see you there, take care.