Interview by Jason Setnyk | Photo by Pascal Duchesne
Cornwall, Ontario – An upcoming event is sure to bring back memories of the golden era of punk rock, as Dennis Jagard, the talented songwriter, guitarist, and singer of Ten Foot Pole, will be playing a short intimate acoustic set at Bud’s Records and Kool Things. This highly anticipated live performance will take place on Thursday, August 3, 2023, at 7 PM, promising an evening filled with punk rock nostalgia and incredible music.
Ten Foot Pole has a long and storied history within the hardcore punk scene, originating in the 1980s as the band Scared Straight in the Oxnard California Hardcore scene. Since then, the band’s lineup and musical style have evolved, with Ten Foot Pole being credited for helping to create the genre of 90s skate punk. With their releases on Epitaph Records and extensive tours alongside iconic bands like NOFX, Face to Face, No Use for a Name, and Millencolin, Ten Foot Pole secured their place as influential figures in the punk rock landscape. Their hit song “ADD” even graced the Punk O’Rama Volume 3 compilation, further solidifying their prominence.
In the 2000s, the band’s touring pace may have slowed down, but that did not deter Dennis Jagard’s musical journey. In addition to his role as the band’s frontman, Dennis also found success as a concert sound engineer, working with acclaimed artists such as Prince, Jimmy Eat World, and “Weird Al” Yankovic. Despite the busy schedule, new Ten Foot Pole music continued to flow, and Dennis even embarked on acoustic shows and songs, a reflection of his parallel career in the audio engineering world.
Dennis Jagard and Ten Foot Pole fans are in for a treat as he takes the stage at Bud’s Records. The performance promises a short yet energetic set list, lasting about 15 to 20 minutes, packed with acoustic renditions of classic punk rock anthems. Following the performance, attendees will have the opportunity to meet Dennis personally, purchase band merchandise, and have items signed by the artist.
“We would like to say how excited we are at hosting our first in-store concert and are shocked to have been asked first by an artist from Chicago. Hopefully, this opens up more requests to come to play here at Bud’s from different artists,” said Jason Lavoie of Bud’s Records, clearly thrilled about the upcoming event. “August 4, the store will remain open until the event ends. We look forward to seeing you all there.”
Five Questions with The Seeker
1 – Can you tell us about the inspiration behind the music video for “Sequel” and why it’s your favorite so far?
“Sequel is a song I love to play and sing, probably because of the soaring melody and sad yet hopeful vibe. I want to do a rare thing and not overshare about the lyrics because I want people to be able to imagine it in their own lives rather than know about the exact situation I had in mind. For example, of an unusual interpretation, the first idea for the video, in 2020, was supposed to be a beautiful sunset walk with my old best friend, doggie Echo, along a canyon road above Boise. And sadly, Echo’s health suddenly deteriorated, and she passed away before we took a walk. So I shelved the video idea for years due to the sad memory until I was recently in Quebec doing some acoustic shows. People of Punk Rock Records reminded me that we wanted to do a video for that song, so we did a very simple shoot, unlike many of the adventurous old TFP vids. Still, it turned out well due to the skills of video director Paul Di Giacomo.”
2 – With the upcoming “Winning” Canada 2023 tour, what can fans expect from your live performances? Are there any surprises or special moments planned?
“It wouldn’t be a surprise if I told you! We are getting together to rehearse soon, and at that point, we’ll polish the songs and plan any shenanigans. I’m just grateful to have the supportive people (family, bandmates, label, booking agent, promoters, and audience) that made a 20-show tour across Canada possible! We are very excited to get back to it and hope for a safe and fun trek to every town we could convince a promoter to host us!”
3 – As one of the influential bands in the skate punk music scene in the 1990s, how does it feel to unveil the Subliminable Messages and Rev skateboard decks? What was the idea behind creating these limited-edition decks?
“We are grateful that People of Punk Rock Records embraced us and have been so supportive! Besides those beautiful decks, they have helped with many different things, from art to web design to tour management, with highlights including re-releasing Subliminable Messages vinyl, making incredible quality merch, and running an international mail-order company. I can’t thank them enough, as their boundless energy and support have made it possible to keep releasing music and touring!”
4 – Can you share some memories from your early days in the skate punk scene? How has the scene evolved since then, and how does Ten Foot Pole fit into the current punk landscape?
“My memory of the skatepunk scene includes my admission of being a bit of a poser. I tried skating a bit, but not very far in, I guess 1983, I broke my wrist skating in an empty pool at age 14 (my wheel got hitched on the light, and I landed on my skate, which shot out, sending me quickly down to my wrist). I spent the summer with a cast, so I gave up trying to be a skilled skater because I didn’t want to be sidelined and unable to play the guitar. One of our first gigs, I don’t recall if we were called Scared Straight yet, was at a roller rink battle of the bands. Still, I couldn’t fully practice because of the cast, and I eventually broke off the parts holding my hand in place so I could practice guitar, even if sitting on a couch at an odd angle. It worked, though, at least the first week, we beat out several other bands, I presume because of our enthusiasm much more than our musical skills. So, I guess that was 40 years ago, and I’m still in the same band; though members and even band names have changed, it’s still the evolution of that project. I can’t speak for the “scene” or “current punk landscape” because I only see things from my perspective, mostly either with my band or on tour with major artists. Certainly, our shows have much more friendly crowds than in the 1980s, but a lot of that could be that people who like my lyrics tend to be less likely to carry a shiv than the punks that went to our shows in Hollywood in the ’80s.”
5 – The intimate acoustic set and meet and greet at Bud’s Records in Cornwall is a unique opportunity for fans. What made you incorporate these acoustic performances into your tour, and how do they differ from your regular live shows?
“My main career has been touring around with artists including Prince, Jimmy Eat World, “Weird Al” Yankovic, and AFI. I started playing acoustic guitar versions of my songs on the road, since I was alone and playing electric guitar didn’t feel inspiring without the band. I got some positive support from people that opened my eyes to the possibility that people would enjoy my solo act, and some even prefer those intimate versions of the songs. One turning point, I remember being in South America, possibly Buenos Aires, and I was singing in a closet at a Jimmy Eat World show during my dinner break. A local guy was standing outside the door, and said he loved it. Then he mentioned there were a bunch of people standing outside that might like it, so I walked out and did a song, maybe “I Don’t Want to Go” or something, with a big sing-along chorus. Suddenly dozens of people who didn’t even know of TFP were singing along to my song! Since then, I’ve done quite a few shows, and I enjoy the intimacy of acoustic, the chance to tell stories without my bandmates complaining, and the excitement of being able to play loud or soft, fast or slow, beautiful or slamming. And since I can do acoustic shows alone, I am using them to have fun and raise awareness, essentially busking my way to band practice in Quebec. And then, after all that intimate acoustic music and too many Prince stories, I’ll be excited to join my bandmates, and revel in raging drums and guitars, and get back to the 90s skate punk party that TFP shows have become!”
In addition to the acoustic performance in Cornwall, Ten Foot Pole will be playing Sunday, September 17, at the Dominion Tavern in Ottawa, and Tuesday, September 18, at the Broom Factory in Kingston. Follow Ten Foot Pole on Facebook for their latest news.