Danger Danger released their self-titled debut in 1989. Since that time, the band has weathered several line-up changes, legal problems, and a changing music market. Drummer Steve West created the band back in 1987, and Danger Danger continues to remain his top professional priority. Recently, West spoke to Bring Back Glam! about a new deal with Frontiers Records, a chance to play Rocklahoma 2008, the problem with "Don't Walk Away" and an album of all new material. Transcription follows.
Bring Back Glam!: You just signed with Frontier’s Records. Tell me about that.
Steve West: Yes we did. We’ve been getting offers for years from them…they’ve been interested in Danger Danger making a new record once we got Ted (Poley, vocals) back in the band. I don’t know if you're familiar but he was out of the band after our third record in 1993 and we got back together a couple years ago. We were just going to play live – we never planned on making another Danger Danger record with him and we kept getting offers…and the fans were asking for a new record… Actually, it got to the point where the offers were really good and the fans really wanted to hear some new music, so we said “let’s do a new record and see what happens.” We’re trying to get the record written and recorded in the next couple of months.
BBG!: Can you tell me more about the new record?
SW: We have no album title and we’ve got about 11 songs written, pretty much. They are half, three quarters of each song done.
BBG!: It seems like Danger Danger tours Japan a lot.
SW: That’s really not true. There is that impression. At one time we were really popular there. We were back there two years ago for the first time since 1992. It had been 12, 13 years…once Ted got back in the band, people were interested again. We had an offer to go to Japan, so we went. I’m sure we’ll go back once this new record is out. Honestly we spend more time in Europe than anywhere else.
BBG!: Which countries in Europe?
SW: It seems like…Spain. We’re playing a festival there in March. Also the U.K., Greece, Sweden. We were just in Germany a couple months back. It keeps growing and we’ve been really fortunate. We’ve got some good fans out there.
BBG!: Why do you think Danger Danger is so popular in those countries?
SW: I don’t know. It’s bizarre and random. Certain places…the sound, the vibe of the band. I guess people relate to what we do. Here in the States it’s a little undercover, but in some places we’re quite viable and even “new.” I guess it’s a different mindset over there, in certain countries. It’s hard for fans here to even find out about what we’re doing or to see us, but not so in other countries.
BBG!: Do you want to tour the U.S.?
SW: I would love to…it’s just hard. We can’t get on a bus anymore. I’ve got three guys in the band that are married and have family lives, with commitments and they just can’t get away for long periods of time. Used to be, back in the day, we were on the road for a year and a half and it was no problem because no one needed to be anywhere. We lived out of our suitcases. Unfortunately, we can’t do that now…I’m the only one that could do that, but that’s not going to help anyone. The guys like to go out for about two weeks at a time. Unfortunately, financially it’s not that good. There’s a lot of expenses…so we pick and choose where we play.
BBG!: You used the word “unfortunately” a lot, even when talking about your personal life. Did you make the choice to not have a family for your band?
SW: No, it wasn’t a career choice. It was a lifestyle choice. I like being single and having no commitments and being able to do whatever I want to do and not having to answer to anybody. The other guys are married and they are happy and that’s great for them.
BBG!: Will Danger Danger play Rocklahoma?
SW: At this moment, I don’t know. That’s all I can say.
BBG!: So you were asked?
SW: We were. I don’t know what will happen at this point. An offer was made. We haven’t committed to anything. We’d love to do it…if we can work it out, we’ll be there.
BBG!: What was the time slot offer?
SW: I can’t discuss any of that. It was vague. That’s one of the reasons we passed on the first offer from an agent. We want to know exactly what’s going on…so we can make a good decision. We’re still working it out.
BBG!: Is it still hard to support yourself as a professional musician?
SW: Oh, yeah. These days it’s hard to support yourself doing anything. We’ve been fortunate. We set things up the best we could. We started our own label in 1995 (Low Dice Records) and we’ve got our own studio and we make the records, manufacture them, we license our records out to different labels around the world – and we play. We’re lucky; we don’t have normal day jobs. Everyone has something on the side to make more money. None of us are becoming multimillionaires doing this, but we do make a good living.
BBG!: What is your side work?
SW: Well, Bruno (Ravel, bassist) and myself [sic] are partners and we write for other people. We do songs, jingles or if someone needs music for a show. We’ve written for the New York Yankees and songs for MTV and both Gene Simmons and Tommy Lee’s television shows. We also do music for commercials. The main focus is our band.
BBG!: I’ve decided “Don’t Walk Away” is about the best power ballad ever recorded.
SW: That is a very heady statement to make. It’s a little bizarre in one way. I don’t consider that song a power ballad. I think it’s a great song…I love the song. It’s the one that got away unfortunately.
BBG!: How do you mean?
SW: “Don’t Walk Away” was the career ender right there. Most of the bands from the 80s didn’t have big success until they put ballads out. The ballad seemed to skyrocket bands and helped sell a lot of records. Unfortunately for us, we didn’t have a ballad. We only had two videos, and they were both rock songs. After our second single “Bang Bang,” which was a top 50 song, we wanted to release “Don’t Walk Away.” That was going to be our ballad. It was going to take us to the next level – finally. The record (Danger Danger) had been out for over a year, and the label wanted us to just make a new record. I really believe that things might have been different…well, the review in Billboard magazine at the time… that song got an amazing review. We thought it was a great song. Radio started playing it. The label didn’t want to get behind it. They were like “We’re focusing on Celine Dion, a new chick we’ve got. You guys go make a new record.” That was the end of it.
BBG!: Are you nervous about releasing a new album in this music market?
SW: No. I have no expectations. I’ve been releasing records since 1995 and I’m not getting on the Billboard charts. I’m not making videos and I don’t care. I make the records for the fans and for myself. I could sell one record or a million – it’s not going to change my life. Well, a million records might change my life, but I don’t lose any sleep over it. It’s out of my hands. All we really want to do…is try to make the best record we can make.Steve West on Myspace
Photo credit: Steve West via Myspace.