I’m Dennis Jagard—singer, songwriter, guitarist of Ten Foot Pole (90’s melodic skate punk Epitaph style band). I’ve been in the band since we started in the 80’s as Scared Straight. My day job is a touring concert sound mixer; notable main customers include Prince, “Weird Al” Yankovic, Jimmy Eat World, and AFI.
Westside Story 1961 – OST
As a kid in the 70’s I loved a lot of music—Beatles, ELO, Donna Summer, Van Halen, Bee Gees, etc. But I always seemed to come back to musicals such as Grease and eventually Les Miserables, possibly because I had 6 sisters. But from the moment the Jets and Sharks were finger snapping and running around NYC, they had my attention… and I could sing every word from I Feel Pretty to Cool. I especially loved the ensemble parts and rounds when vocals would layer and collide in songs like Tonight. I wanted to be all the guys, would forever be in love with Maria, and deeply felt the tragic foolishness of tribalism. Later in Ten Foot Pole I tried to have fun with vocal rounds and acapella parts like in Wanna Be Alone and Don’t be a Dick. Reliving my childhood has never been more fun and tragic.
Agression – Don’t be Mistaken
The gentle 70’s eventually gave way to a love of distorted guitar as I listened to Black Sabbath’s Iron Man nearly daily, but still had time for AC/DC’s Highway to Hell and a smattering of Judas Priest and Iron Maiden. But suddenly all of that seemed too theatrical and insincere when I embraced what I considered raw and honest punk acts like 7 Seconds, Fear, Youth Brigade and Minor Threat. My favorite, the one that was easiest to remember the words and melodies, was Agression, Don’t be Mistaken. Their music was so good that I forgave them for the band name misspelling, which was tough for a 6th grade spelling bee champ 😉 But in their amazing lyrics, catchy melodies and simple chord progressions I realized that music didn’t need to be complex to have an impact—I wanted to sing real songs about real things, so I joined with some guys in 1983 and started a band that has evolved into Ten Foot Pole, still cranking out tunes in 2019!
Nirvana: MTV Unplugged in NY
It’s hard to narrow things down to three records, especially since I have spent thousands of hours in various genres enjoying Marilyn Manson to The Cure to Radiohead, not to mention our skate punk buddies such as No Use for a Name, NOFX and Face to Face. But I think one record that changed my path substantially is Nirvana: MTV Unplugged in NY
I loved Nirvana, and can still remember the moment I heard Smells Like Teen Spirit on the radio for the first time! But in the long run, I couldn’t really listen to a complete Nirvana record… but I could put the unplugged album on repeat all day. That proved that I not only enjoy acoustic tunes, but I guess in many ways I prefer acoustic music. Eventually I started playing acoustic guitar, and now do a Ten Foot Pole Acoustic show which I enjoy as much or more than our full band concerts. There’s something intimate, honest and transparent about a vocal and an acoustic guitar. It’s my favorite way to write songs, and my favorite way (usually) to play. Thanks to Kurt, RIP, for showing me the path!
Photograph by Martin Labonte.
Ten Foot Pole is a pop punk/skate punk band from Boise, Idaho, USA.
Links to hear TFP music, as well as check tour dates and support the band are at TenFootPole.com