A few months ago, I had the great pleasure of speaking with Mike McColgan of Street Dogs regarding their brand new studio album, State of Grace. Unfortunately, the publication I was writing it for has disbanded its paper distribution, so this interview never got published. I've been extremely busy the last few weeks so I've been neglecting my blog-writing duties, but I thought any fans of Street Dogs might enjoy this.
Mr. McColgan was an extremely well-spoken and down-to-earth guy, and between my Chi-CAH-go and his BAH-ston accents, even a cautious listener might not have been able to discern the topic of conversation. I've done you the favor of translating it to standard English below.
For those of you who don't know Mike McColgan, he's the original lead singer of the Dropkick Murphys, but left to pursue a career as a firefighter. But as any true musician, he couldn't help himself and returned to the faith.
Street Dogs' State of Grace was released on July 8th and is available in stores now.
You guys are working in the studio right now. So what should fans be expecting out of the new album?
I think they should be expecting a mean heavy uplifting powerful record that is sort of like a wrestling match between Thin Lizzie, ACDC, Stiff Little Fingers, the Clancy Brothers, Bloc Party, and TV on the Radio. It’s going to be a mix and match of a bunch of different influences just all coming together for about eleven or twelve songs. I feel like it’s going to be a real mean, powerful record. It’s no musical stretch, but it’s mean and I think our fans are going to be happy.
So you guys are working with Ted Hutt on that album, whom you also worked with on Faded American Dream. Is he more hands on compared to producers you may have worked with in the past?
Way more hands on as far as sound and tweaking and just painstakingly going about the process of getting things right. He challenges the group lyrically and sonically to its wits’ end until we have the best possible songs and the best possible ideas to present. He’s absolutely nothing short of amazing.
You guys just signed to Hellcat recently. How’d that end up coming to fruition?
In 2005, when we were at the Vans Warped Tour, Tim Armstrong approached us and he said that he had interest in doing a record with us. But, at the time, we were held up with another label. We owed our last label another record, which was Faded American Dream. When we completed FAD, we started talking again with Hellcat, Chris LaSalle, and Tim Armstrong. We worked out a deal, and now we’re working on our first release with them. We couldn’t be happier because we feel it’s a label that gets us, understands us, and knows what we’re about. They’re in it for all the right reasons. I mean, they stand behind their bands. The people who run the label have been in the music business and have been on the road before and have done this for a living, so they know what it all entails. They’re very sincere about what they’re doing. They have all the right motives.
You guys are very vocal about your Boston
Bostonheritage. What does the city mean to you, especially when it comes to how you convey that loyalty in your music?
city has a tremendous amount of history, being the first established city in
the United States of America
United States of Americaand pretty much being the epicenter of American history. From its earliest evolution until now, a lot has gone on. There’s a lot that hangs over you when you go up there: the specter of history, local politics, the sports teams.
I was born into an Irish-American home. That experience is conveyed through the lyrics and screeches out of the speakers, through the guitars, bass, and drums. It’s not even a conscious thing; we write about it because it’s what we’ve been through and what we know…it’s what I know. That continues to go on from record to record. It’s not even an overt, mapped-out, preconceived thing. It just sort of happens organically when you write songs.
You guys have toured with a ton of awesome bands. To name a few: Flogging Molly, Bouncing Souls, Social D, Bad Religion. The list goes on. What was the best experience that you had on tour?
I’d say touring with the Bouncing Souls was probably the best experience because those guys are so real, so down-to-earth, and so approachable. They’re so true to their fans it’s amazing. To watch how they conducted themselves on and off the stage was pretty inspiring. Going on the Gold (Record) tour in 2006 was just fucking amazing. It was an honor. We consider those guys close friends, and going on that tour was definitely a highlight for Street Dogs.
Now, the obligatory punk rock question. Do you feel like the old guard of punk rock is all that’s left of the genre? How do you feel about the way punk has evolved over the years?
I have no problem with how music – whether it’s punk, rock, folk, pop, disco – has evolved. Music evolves how it evolves and the scene evolves how it evolves. That’s just something that happens naturally over the course of time. Some people like it. Some people don’t. I don’t really put too much scrutiny or thought into it. In Street Dogs, our major concern is writing the best songs humanly possible and performing them live at the most frenetic and crazy pace we can. Going up onstage every night and chasing the best performance of our lives, you know? It sounds a little over the top but it’s true. We really feel that if that’s not the motive of a band every night (to have the best possible show of your life), then you should give it up. People take valuable time out of their own lives to go see you play, and they pay hard-earned money (which isn’t going around much these days). That’s what we care about. Everybody has their opinions on genres, music, bands they love, bands they don’t like, and bands that made it and shouldn’t have made it. We could talk all day long about that question. I stay focused on what we’re doing and try to make that as good as humanly possible.
I appreciate you taking some time out with me Mike, and I’m stoked for the new record. Any details on the album before we wrap it up?
Yeah. The working title for the release is State of Grace, and the probable release date is July 8. When we start the Vans Warped Tour on June 20, we’ll have the album with us. You can get it earlier than July 8 if you come and see us on the Tour. We can’t wait to get it done and get it out there.