Ted Poley: One Last Role Of The Dice
Singer Ted Poley has been around long enough that he's witnessed and seen first hand the ups and downs of the music industry. Are the recent down's enough to put him into retirement? And all about his new album with Gerhard Pichler - "Big".
So Ted, here we are - why is this the last Poley-Pichler album?
Well, that's a sad way to start out an interview!
Actually, my friend, partner and guitar player of 3 years has gotten a big taste of the sad realities of the music business and has decided not to continue along this path in life, so he is heading home to his native Austria to pursue a more "fair" career and I don't blame him.
I wish him the best of luck in whatever he ends up doing, he is very intelligent and will do well no matter what he chooses. We achieved a lot in just 3 years and I will miss working with him in the future, I hope to still keep our friendship going and I would love to keep doing some songwriting together but it will be harder because of the distance.
Its a sad time for me. Since the team of POLEY/PICHLER will be split up, this will be our last CD unfortunately. Possibly my last as well too, unless something good comes along. We tried our best and are very proud of the music that we made, especially this new CD "BIG". We never had any sort of a budget for any of our projects, but the songwriting kept getting better and better. Its a real shame how we've been treated in this business.
I guess I am used to it by now, but I think it was a real dream killer for him.
I am very glad we had this chance together though, I wouldn't trade it for anything.
We learned a lot from working with each other. Hope everyone reading this will go out and buy the new CD, it really is our best.
Go back to the start, you have 2 albums under your belts - how does the process start for the Big album?
Actually we have 3 prior to this one if you count the acoustic CD. The process usually starts when we finish the previous CD, like Lovemetal. Gerhard will play me an idea of his and I will take it and come up with a melody and lyrics and we usually demo it and work on a final version.
Do you write the songs first, or head into the studio and write?
We start once we have a few songs, head into the studio and while recording those songs, we continue to write, so it actually takes a year to write and record a good CD. This last CD was cool to do because usually, in the past, Gerhard would have all the music recorded, and I had to fit my parts and melodies into his set format. This time we both worked more as a team and I could change some chords here and there, and we could edit parts so that if I felt I wanted a song to go in a certain direction, we would take it in that direction , instead of being restricted to what was already on tape. The songs reflect that and are better for it I think.
Now, you guys did the whole album yourselves. What was the recording budget?
We are and have always been unsigned, we just are left to ourselves to make a CD and then license it to a willing company, We always take a loss.
This time, we had to pay for all of the recording costs ourselves with our company and the sales of our other CD's. Now that the company is basically over, I am personally pretty far in debt from the BIG CD. Luckily we has the help of our friends, our wonderful band mates Joe Slattery, Marty Brasington, and Laura Diamond, who recorded this CD by donating their time and talents, otherwise, we could not have afforded to record it.
So how did you make it work on such a limited budget? Take us through how you recorded all the parts....
Instead of running out the clock in a real studio, we purchased a digital recording system and set up a studio in my house, which consisted of a live room and the mixing suite, with tie lines running through the walls so that the band could rehearse the song and then stay in that room and we would just plug them into the recording gear and do the basic tracks live as a unit.
This gave the CD a very tight, very cohesive sound, as the band was basically recording the rhythm tracks live.
They almost always got it right on the first or second take. Then we would fix up any glitches by punching in a few bass notes or keyboard parts after we got a good take. After they went home, Gerhard and I would take time and do the guitar layers, leads and I would do the lead vocals, and best of all spend a lot of time layering all those background vocals, the most I have ever had on any record. That was the most fun for me, coming up with cool background vocal parts and having the flexibility to lay down tons of layers.
And how about the mix? Did you do that yourselves also?
We did almost everything ourselves, Gerhard would do the "hands on" mixing while we both co-produced how it should sound, he is a great engineer.
I know what I want something to sound like, but I don't know the equipment well enough to turn the knobs. So I would say "make it sound like this" or "more delay" , "raise the volume", and we would agree on what should happen and he would make the moves to get the sound. We tried a lot of new different ideas of both of ours, and a lot worked and some didn't so we would change it. The only thing that we couldn't do was master it at the end, so we asked Gerhard's friend Horst to polish our diamond, and he did a really nice job.
Last time you had Tony Harnell stop by - Any guests on this album?
Not this time, but still I do love Tony! It is purely the band and I am very proud of everyone's performances.
We really didn't have time to start calling in friends on this one, we started out making the CD for Now and Then Records, and spent our own money, with the pending advance in mind to recoup, but in the middle of the project, they pulled the plug on us so we had to just finish as best we could with no hope of any monetary relief. We charged a lot on our credit card to finish the CD.
By then we really loved the songs and wanted to finish it regardless of label support or lack of it. We truly love what we do, that's why its so hard on us when critics nit pick over a snare drum sound or something stupid like that. They don't realize that it was like a miracle that we got it finished at all!
Tell us about the songs - what they are about:
This song is about how I feel that my wife is like a parachute to me, she saves me when I am "falling" and her love for me saves me on a daily basis, I get depressed a lot especially these days, and if she wasn't here for me, I don't know what would have happened.
· I Love You
Once again, inspired by my Love for my wife (there's a lot of that on this CD!) I write about my real feelings and experiences, and since she is the biggest best part of my life now, I am usually thinking about her when I write.
· Elton John
That one is pretty obvious, when I was a kid I was more into music than anything else, and one of the first artists that I loved was Sir Elton. This is my tribute to that great man. His songs and his playing and singing are still among my favorites. I always wanted to meet him but I don't think that's going to happen anymore.
· You're The One
Wife song once again, this song is more about when we first met and I fell in love with her. It works for anyone who is in that stage of their lives.
· How Many Nights
Wife song again, sorry.
· Let Me Out
This song is pure fantasy. I love to collect toys and this song is about a doll who falls in love with his collector and is forced to watch her from the confines of his box, through the cellophane window in the box. I tried to think of what he would say to plead with her, if he could. It's the doll singing his frustration over not being able to play with her or be with her/his still "mint in the box and is very frustrated. It's a fun song.
· Darkest Hour
This is about my own depression and again the fact that my wife is here for me even when I cant take it any longer, I think of her and she makes me smile. Sort of a hopeful song in a way, I guess, yet dark. Hopefully listeners can relate and know that even in the worst of times you can think back to some of the better times and get through it.
· Stuck On You
Gee, can you guess? Wife again. I have a lot of love for that woman! Are you all bored yet?! Its actually got a great sexy groove and its a good song to "fool around" to!
· Better Off Dead
See all of the above! From the title you would think that its a suicide song, but the lyrics" better off dead, than living without you" say it all.
· Don't Spread Your Lies
This one is about all the crap and hateful people on the internet. I think that the internet is a huge piece of crap, some good can come of it but most people use and abuse it to anonymously scam other people and ruin other good people with lies.
That's the worst part of it, everyone can get their words read around the world, true or not, and sometimes no matter how ridiculous, other people will believe them. Its about people in my real life that I have met, and been cool to, and then I read the worst stuff that they post, for whatever reasons.
Looking forward to being in the UK again shortly?
Yes, very much, I hate to think that it will be my last trip over, as a singer, but it probably will be. I have always loved to tour the U.K, I love the people and I even love the food! I want to visit sometime and go to Canterbury with my wife, its such a cool place, I have been there a few times, but I really don't see much hope for me in this business anymore for the future, in Europe or the U.S., as things look now, I plan to retire within a year or so and maybe go back to school for something, as soon as i can figure out what else I can do, its been over 25 years that i have devoted to my failed career as a musician and I am not sure what else there is for me out there, so I hope the fans will come out and see me and say goodbye.
What's next up for Ted Poley then? Solo album?
I don't think so. I have tons of cool songs and will always love to write and demo them, but I have never had the luck that others have had, I have never been paid for any of my hard work in any of my bands, including the big one, so unless there is a company that is willing to actually pay me something to record again, BIG" will be my last CD as it looks now.
Still serious about retirement then?
Yes, I am just not sure when. For the rest of this and next year, I plan to do a lot more touring in the U.S. with my same band and with the addition of our new guitar player Steve Massa, as the original voice of D2,singing the classics from those days and from all of my projects, Bone Machine, Melodica, Poley/Pichler.
I will be hoping beyond hope that something comes along that can keep me doing music, but for now, I have exhausted every trick if could think of doing it this long, and paying for the privilege myself. Steve is a great talent and we sound so great as a live band that its still a lot of fun. As they say, its not over till the fat lady sings, but I can see her now standing at the side of the stage, and she's warming up her voice!
What might you do if you do retire from music Ted? I'm sure people don't want you to...
I wake up every day with a panic attack because I really don't know the answer to that question.. I sort of spent my whole life, even as a kid, working on my craft and its the BIG question, to which I don't currently have an answer. If anyone out there has any job opportunities for me, I would very much love to hear from them!
I haven't asked you this until now, but in your opinion, what went wrong with the first Melodica album?
We were green then, we had no outside help or input and we tried our best, some people had problems with some of the production and those comments may or may not be valid, but you cant deny that there are some really good songs on there like "Take Me Away" and "Never Let You Go", "Hardest Part Of Love" and others too. I think that the critics expected too much from me, they never understood that after I was fired from Danger Danger, I could only try and do my best with what I had to work with, but I didn't have to direction of a knowledgeable producer that comes with big budgets. I still think that its a better CD than some I have heard, but I guess my fans and critics felt I was capable of so much more than I really was at the time. Its clear to see that we have since learned a lot, and each release has gotten better and better since that rough beginning. Without it we wouldn't have gotten as far as we did, so in a way, it was a blessing in disguise, the critics taught us how to be tough and how to make better records along the way.
What are Ted Poley's favorite 10 albums of all time?
There are a lot more than ten of them, but in no particular order:
Boulevard - Into The Street
Faith and Desire - s/t
Icon -Night of the crime
Elton john -Goodbye Yellow Brick Road", and "Captain Fantastic"
any Dan Reed CD
Def Leppard - Euphoria, Adrenalize, especially Slang and X
Starship - Love among the Cannibals
Hall and Oates - Big Bam Boom and Ooh Yeah
TNT - Intuition
Bruce Hornsby's first 3
Kings X (the 1st one and "Faith Hope Love?")
The 1st Enuff Znuff!
Sorry I went over the limit of 10!
And what are you listening to right now?
Def leppard X
So Ted, thanks for taking the time to answer these - God Bless!
God Bless us all!
Anything you would like to add?
Just a BIG thank you to all of my fans and friends for whom I have sacrificed the better part of my life trying to bring them some great music and I hope that it has meant something special to them, as they are so special and mean so much to me.
And I would ask them to visit my website www.tedpoley.com and please buy something so that I can pay off some of my debt, its newly rebuilt and ordering is a lot easier and there are some fun new items for sale, as well as photos and tour dates.
Thank you all for a great ride. And thank you Andrew for your wonderful website, your continued support and your nice review of BIG.