KISSFAQ Interview With Ted Poley
Ted Poley sits with KISSFAQ.com to talk about Danger Danger, his solo career, and life on the road with KISS.
CHRIS : Hi Ted. Thanks so much for your time. It’s a pleasure to talk to you. Let’s start way back, even before Danger Danger. Maybe some people don’t know, but you didn’t start out as a lead singer, but had your first taste of success drumming for the band Prophet. What led you to leave Prophet and move on to become the lead singer of Danger Danger?
TED : I sang on the D2 demos when I was still in Prophet. I loved the songs and the sound of the band so I quit Prophet, which I loved, and went with my heart.
CHRIS : It’s funny how everyone in some ways ends up being considered an overnight success. In Danger Danger’s case you guys came out of nowhere and released your debut album, which got you a lot of attention on radio and MTV right out of the gate. What was it like to be thrust into the spotlight so relatively quickly?
TED : It took me over 15 years to become an overnight success! I started playing classical piano at age four. Nothing happens overnight except possibly changing your life by getting someone you just met pregnant. Wear protection rockers!
CHRIS : Danger Danger landed the slot touring with KISS, both on their Hot In The Shade tour and again on the following Revenge tour. The guys must have liked you to bring you right back again on their very next outing. How did you get along with the guys in KISS and do you have any funny tales from the road with them? I’ve heard the tale of Gene wanting money from you for towels you tossed into the audience, and of course there is the Paul Stanley “TED POLEY!!!” story, and we’ll get to that one more a little later. Do you have any other interesting tales from your time with any of the guys from KISS?
TED : Of course touring with my heroes was the experience of a lifetime. It was great but Paul made it ever more cooler. Sometimes we would be in our dressing room and there would be a knock on the door and we would open it to find Paul Stanley standing there like a waiter with a huge tray of shrimp from their dressing room. He knew that the closest our band was going to get to shrimp on this tour was when we played near the coast. He was so cool. I love Paul. I always wanted to be Paul since I was like 14.
They liked us, we were entertaining to them,they thought we were cool, and they used to play with us when it was convenient for them, sort of like a cat plays with a toy mouse, they do what they want and the mouse just sort of hopes that it's not gonna hurt too much.
Gene used to love to hit me in the head with guitar picks. It was nothing personal. He liked me or we wouldn't have done a second show with them. He just had amazing aim and liked to show off that talent.
He is like William Fuckin' Tell. He could shoot an apple off your head at 50 yards with a guitar pick. One time I was out by the soundboard at sound-check and Gene was pick tossing so I opened my mouth as a target and he threw a pick halfway across an empty arena and hit me right in the forehead. Good thing it didn't knock out a tooth or fly down my throat. There's a lot of momentum behind one of those things when it gets going. Another time, they were in the middle of a song in concert and I was talking to some girl in the first few rows off to the side, trying to get either weed or a blowjob or both, and Gene took aim and again unleashed one of his "picks of fury" hitting me in the head again.
When we toured England and Scotland with them and had a day off, Gene and Paul took us out bowling. Gene told us to bet some money and try to beat him at bowling. He doesn't "ask" anything, he just "tells" you what is going to happen next. We had to pick our best guy so we picked Kasey Smith who was the best athlete. We had to take our food money and pool it all together and throw down $200, and Gene put $200 and they battled it out on the Alley of Fate. Gene throws bowling balls like softballs down the alley that don't even hit the floor until halfway down the alley and then the pins smash REALLY hard. Reminded me of Fred Flintstone throwing a huge rock ball, but as if Fred was a millionaire and could just "buy it if he breaks it". Anyway, Kasey beat him and got the money.
How was that for KISS stories? I have more but am saving them for my own book.
CHRIS : Very cool. As a drummer, and as someone who got the chance to watch both Eric Carr and Eric Singer on stage and off, what were your thoughts on both as performers?
TED : Loved watching both. Carr was always very nice to me and I knew Singer from touring with Alice Cooper when he was drumming for Alice.
I later finished one of Eric Carr's unfinished demos and it's on my Greatest Hits Vol 2 CD available directly from me. I only sell it on E-Bay. Search seller ID tedpoley1 to get a CD, our song is on there. It is called "Just Cant Wait". I sang it and made the vocal melody to go with the tracks which were discovered only on one cassette tape. The quality of the recording was very poor but it was all that we had to work with so we used that tape as the backing music and I added the vocals. I hope Eric would have liked what I did with it. I think that Bruce Kulick plays on the song too.
CHRIS : In a lot of ways the Hot In The Shade & Revenge tours were night and day. On the Hot In The Shade tour KISS were seeing a bit of a resurgence. They had a top 10 single and the tour did very well for them. Then the Revenge tour came and the album didn’t really sell as well as they’d hoped and the tour wasn’t a big draw either. Did you see any major difference in the attitude of the guys, specifically Paul & Gene showing disappointment in the tour’s performance?
TED : No, they were always professionals.
CHRIS : I guess a similar question could be asked about the difference in the state of Danger Danger from that first tour with KISS to the second. Changing times, and let’s be honest MTV deciding to declare what is cool and what isn’t didn’t help, caused a drop in popularity for you guys from the time of your debut disc to the time you put out your follow-up “Screw It!”. Hell, to my knowledge I don’t think MTV ever even played the “Monkey Business” video. How was the attitude of Danger Danger different in 1992 from what it was like when on that first tour with KISS?
TED : Someone flicked the power switch and the lights went off.
CHRIS : So, now we move on to 1993 and the Cockroach sessions. It is at this point that the split between you and the band happened which caused the completed album to be scrapped for years. The guys got Paul Laine in the band and re-did the album, but it remained in limbo for many years until a deluxe edition was eventually released featuring both Paul’s version and yours. When you look back at the Cockroach album and trying to put aside any hard feelings that may have existed at the time, what do you think of your version of that album today?
TED : The original version is my version, the other version with Paul is his interpretation of what I came up with for melody. Paul is a nice guy and great singer but I prefer when he does his own thing, not mine. (Laughs).
CHRIS : Going back a little bit to the debut album, I’ve always been surprised and felt that your label dropped the ball with you. The debut album came out and made a pretty quick splash, then “Bang Bang” was issued as a single/video and did even better than “Naughty Naughty” did. Yet there wasn’t much further push given to really make that album an even bigger success.
After “Bang Bang” did so well on MTV and the band were on the rise I never understood why there wasn’t another single/video released, at least not here in America for MTV to add to their rotation. I could easily see one of the typical life on the road type of videos being made for “Rock America” or you could have gone the ballad route with a track like “One Step From Paradise”. Another hit single could have really raised the debut album's stock at that point. Was there any hope for something else to be put out and the label just didn’t want to, or were you guys simply ready to move on to the next album.?
TED : I agree with you. That was a BIG argument at the time and I agree with you 1000%. If we had released a ballad we would have gone platinum, but we got big fast and the label told us to go back and record again instead of releasing a ballad with a video and then promoting that, which would have delayed the next CD by a year. It was a huge mistake. I knew it at the time and it caused a huge fight in the band but I was outvoted and the band chose to kiss the record companies ass and do what they told us and that one single move cost us the game.
We also spent about $300,000 on that "Monkey Business" video. It's fucking amazing. It has it ALL! I think MTV showed it maybe twice, at 3AM. We should have taken that money and invested in real estate.
$300,000. Thats alot of money for a monkey to ride a motorcycle through the jungle. Oh yeah, we had a lot of expensive pyro too.
CHRIS : After the split with Danger Danger, you certainly kept busy. The world was a different place back then. We didn’t have the internet like we have it now, so keeping up with your favorite rock star wasn’t quite as easy to do back then as it is now. We relied on getting information from Metal Edge magazine and word of mouth. Being a fellow Jersey guy, I remember seeing you performing on a local New Jersey cable video show called Video Spotlight doing an acoustic version of your Bone Machine track “Missing You” and that was actually the first time I’d seen you since the split with Danger Danger. Actually, bringing that up now, I’m pretty sure I have that performance on VHS somewhere. I’m going to have to go look that up and check that out again.
Anyway, even though you released a lot of material in the years away from Danger Danger, how difficult was it for you to keep your name out there during those years?
TED : Not difficult at all because I wasn't trying to do that at all. I didn't care about fame or money. That dream was shot down already. I was just making my own music and doing tour dates just as I always did before D2. I didn't care about fame. I got really into my band Bone Machine which is still the best band I ever had. The "Disappearing Inc." CD is my favorite of all time that I have ever done. Long before Auto-Tune was invented and done on ADAT machines. It's a gem. It won many awards. It's now out of print and sells for a lot of money on E-Bay but I have some of the songs on my greatest hits CDs. I own the rights and will reprint it someday.
CHRIS : About a decade ago you returned to Danger Danger. How did you guys manage to put the past aside and get together again?
TED : They probably just wanted to play the bigger venues again so they asked me back. When I rejoined, our first show was at Sweden Rock in front of 10,000 people. Their ticket sales for Madrid, Spain for example went from approximately 300 tickets sold to 1,100 plus when I came back with them. I am not a better singer than anyone, but I am the original singer and that's what fans want to hear. They want the voice that they loved when they first heard the songs, so I work very hard to keep in shape vocally so that I can still hit a lot of the high notes live. It's getting harder the older I get (laughs).
CHRIS : In addition to being back in Danger Danger, you have also been able to keep a solo career going. Personally, I look at your 2006 album “Collateral Damage” as a highlight in your recording career. That album is simply a gem from start to finish. What kind of reaction have you heard from fans towards your solo work in comparison to their attitudes towards Danger Danger’s albums?
TED : Thanks for the nice words. "Smile" is also a great one and I am working on a brand new CD now for Frontiers. It's going to be fucking awesome. My fans seem to really enjoy my solo stuff. They come to my solo shows and they buy the CDs so I guess I am doing the right thing by them. I appreciate their support so much. The fans are the reason I still do this.
CHRIS : In 2009 Danger Danger finally put out another studio album with you, and I have to say that “Revolve” was one of the best from that year. It kept the feeling of the Danger Danger albums from back in the day without being what would be considered a retro or nostalgia album. Was the band pleased by the fan reaction to “Revolve” and what are the chances of a follow-up?
TED : "Revolve" in my opinion was the BEST D2 CD of all time. It sounds amazing thanks to Bruno's production and the songs are so good. Chances of a follow-up? I would love to do it and I have discussed it with other members, but we have one "hold out" so without the team it won't happen. But maybe that will change someday before we all die of old age. You never know.
CHRIS : Old Danger Danger albums continue to be re-released on a pretty regular basis, so there is certainly a market for you guys. What do you think about any of the various re-issues that have come out in recent years and have you had input on them? I remember back when sites like E-Bay were in their infancy that CDs like “Down And Dirty Live!” were considered very rare and sometimes were selling for $100 a pop. Yet now I have that album not only on the stand-alone disc that I’ve had for years, but I also have those tracks available as bonus tracks on the 2014 Rock Candy remaster of the debut disc & as a bonus disc on the 2003 2-Disc re-issue of “Screw It!”.
TED : I have nothing to do with them nor do I profit from any, but I am happy if the fans like them. I got one copy of each from the company.
CHRIS : Do you guys have anything else in the can from your original run that might see a retro release down the road? I know there are some good professionally shot concerts out there that perhaps you have in better condition than what has been out there in trading circles. You have never put out a DVD, and actually if you don’t count the “Down And Dirty Live!” EP, Danger Danger don’t have a full live album out with you on vocals. Is there any chance of some type of non studio album release? How about the promo videos? I assume you guys have to have a better quality version of the “Monkey Business” clip than the versions I’ve seen.
TED : Even I can not predict what is coming in the future for this band. It's always an adventure!
CHRIS : What did you think of the finished version of C.C. Banana’s “Ted Poley” track from the Vinnie Vincent tribute album “Kiss My Ankh”? For those reading who aren't aware, the story of this track goes back to Paul seeing you backstage at a show and shouting your name to the tune of "Unholy".
TED : Yes, C.C. was my friend and did an amazing job writing and singing that song. He is gone now. I miss him a lot. RIP C.C.
CHRIS : You finished the incomplete Eric Carr demo for the track “Just Can’t Wait” that appears on the Eric Carr “Unfinished Business” disc as well as on your own 2014 “Greatest Hits Volume 2” disc. How did you get involved in the project of completing this song?
TED : I was asked by Eric's sister to do it. Of course I wanted to do it for Eric's memory and his fans.
CHRIS : Do you have any other projects going on at the moment that you’d like to tell us about? I hope to see more of you, be it solo or continuing on with Danger Danger.
TED : Thanks. I am doing a lot of live shows. I love to play on the Monsters of Rock cruises and also all around the world. Solo and with D2. I am also working on a new solo CD for late 2015. See you soon!
CHRIS : Ted, thanks again for your time. Do you have any particular websites you’d like to push where fans can keep up with you and what you are up to?
TED : Thank you, and thank you fans, and please buy my CD. I will autograph it for you and even send you one of my custom guitar picks as a gift.
Buy my CD on E-Bay.
http://www.ebay.com/itm/NEW-TED-POLEY-G ... ory=176984" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
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