Can We Stop Trying to Win? was born out of frustration with the competitive winner-take-all paradigm that has us at each other’s throats when we could be working together to make things better overall. This is the first single from the upcoming album to be released later this year.
Ten Foot Pole originated as Nardcore (Oxnard hardcore scene) band Scared Straight, with an ill-fated first US tour in 1985 with Ill Repute, which ended early in Pittsburgh due to the car and both bands’ gear getting stolen. The straight-edge vibe uptight sounding title was swapped for the more fun Ten Foot Pole moniker in 1993, just before the first European tour—many copies of the Swill album from that tour have Scared Straight scratched out or covered by a TFP sticker, a typical DIY move, fit for a band that played in squats, bars and youth centers. The album Rev, released on Epitaph Records in 1994, and touring with NOFX and Face to Face, caught the attention of the 90’s punk fans that preferred not-quite-radio-friendly tunes and DIY shows. Dennis Jagard, the principle songwriter/guitarist, took over singing duties from Chicago White Sox baseball pitcher Scott Radinsky, allowing the band to tour relentlessly for a decade, as well as churning out more underground favorite albums such as Unleashed, Insider, Bad Mother Trucker and Subliminable Messages—a staggering collection of double-time beats, power chords and punk anthems.
Starting in the mid-2000s, the band took a break when Dennis became the personal sound engineer for Prince, as gigs like the Superbowl required some focus. Dennis’ audio career developed into touring with artists such as Jimmy Eat World, and “Weird Al” Yankovic; Dennis began a daily ritual of singing old and new songs with an acoustic guitar, on sidewalks, parking lots, breweries or other random places while touring the world with other artists. The combination of daily writing and performing, and a few TFP tours shoehorned in between audio gigs, led to a string of recent releases starting with Setlist in 2017—mostly re-recorded old songs, kind of a best-of collection intended to give new fans a convenient, great-sounding summary of the past. In 2019, the album Escalating Quickly rocked an eclectic vibe, pushing genre boundaries running the gamut from metal riffs, to poppy punk anthems, dueling guitar solos, and a sprinkling of keyboards all the way to a full acoustic song—keeping things fresh and interesting to avoid falling into a rut caused by limiting genre expectations, an intentional move to claim some artistic freedom.
Dennis applied his road-learned audio skills to mixing and producing Simmer Down, making it a DIY but great sounding acoustic guitar-based record including old and new songs. As many TFP songs started out on acoustic guitar, Simmer Down gives a glimpse of what a new TFP song sounds like before the band adds distorted guitars and cranks it up a notch. The acoustic shows are known as much for heartfelt performances as for spontaneous monologues, sometimes mid-song, including notes about the songs, the band’s past, or even audio career anecdotes, such as getting a nickname from Prince, to make every show an intimate experience.
Ten Foot Pole’s friendly/approachable vibe, relatable lyrics, conversational stage banter and extensive touring have led to a modest but very devoted fanbase.
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