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Street Dogs Bio

Street Dogs
Band members
Mike McColgan - Vocals Johnny Rioux - Bass Marcus Hollar - Guitar Joe Sirois Drums Tobe Bean - Guitar


When Street Dogs frontman Mike McColgan sings about his viewpoints on the war in Iraq or about heroes that have made sacrifices for a better life, he really means it. That's because McColgan isn't just another scowling kid on stage, screaming songs about the president. A Gulf War Army veteran having served as part of an artillery crew in Iraq during Operations Desert Storm and Desert Shield, McColgan walks the walk when he talks his talk.

On the Street Dogs' latest (and third) album, Fading American Dream, McColgan is placing all his thoughts, emotions and inclinations - political and otherwise - out on the line for all to hear. From the touching, semi-autobiographical depiction of a soldier's last days ("Final Transmission") to the organic, no-holds barred "Shards of Life," which reflects on the horrors of war, the Street Dogs latest is about full disclosure.

McColgan's history, both musically and personally, make him a powerful and uniquely credible leader for the Street Dogs. Mike helped launch seminal Irish punk rock act the Dropkick Murphys and performed with the act during its earliest days, only to leave the punk rock world to serve his community as a Boston fire fighter. His duty to his country sent him overseas during the first Gulf conflicts as a member of the US Army. McColgan realized, however, that his days in music weren't over. Enter bassist Johnny Rioux, who together with McColgan created the Street Dogs in 2002, simply to do something for fun. The release of the band's debut album, Savin Hill, quickly proved to the members of the Street Dogs that their seemingly informal musical project had turned into something that punk rock fans began taking seriously.

"We realized how many people missed Mike and missed what he had to say," says Rioux. "But our biggest problem was that we didn't have a line-up that was totally roadworthy at that point. We had some fill-in drummers for a while until Joe Sirois, whom I had known from the [Mighty Mighty] Bosstones for a number of years, came into the band." The Street Dogs lineup was finally secured with the addition of guitarists Marcus Hollar and Tobe Bean III.

With the right players in place, the Street Dogs took their act to the streets, bringing their road-wise sound to cities across the nation on a full-time level, with rousing receptions everywhere they went. An amalgam of Sirois' ska background, Rioux's street punk upbringing and McColgan's Irish punk experience, the Street Dogs had devised a style that was distinctively its own.

"We're trying to carry the torch for our forefathers," says Rioux. "Obviously, the biggest one would be The Clash. I don't know if there's a day that goes by that I don't think somebody's asking themselves, 'What would Joe Strummer do?' Our influences go deeper than punk people like Billy Bragg, Woody Guthrie, Bob Dylan and Bob Marley - the list goes on and on."

2005 saw the Street Dogs release their second album in the form of Back To The World. A more polished sound than their debut, Back To The World added more ammunition to the act's arsenal, delving into a wider range of topics and cementing the Street Dogs into the current punk soil even further.

Immediately after the album's release, the quintet began penning their third record. With endless amount of fodder and inspiration from the current state of politics, the war in the Middle East and the plight of the working class, ideas flowed like water and the band penned nearly two dozen songs to consider for their future release.

The bands search for a producer led them to Ted Hutt, a longtime veteran of the punk scene that had recently worked on records for the Bouncing Souls and Flogging Molly. Hutt was exactly what the Street Dogs had been looking for in terms of shaping their next release. McColgan notes that working with Hutt gave the band a chance to re-explore some of their strengths that they might have otherwise placed on the back burner during the making of Back To The World.

"Ted pushed us further," says Rioux. "He's been to our shows and was familiar with our records. He found elements in both of those things, and did great job of combining the energy of our live shows with the more organic approach of our first record."

The resulting 13-track album, Fading American Dream, finds the Street Dogs pushing their creative boundaries, not only sonically, but also in the albums dominant political messages. McColgan sings about potentially controversial topics, like government publicists for hire in selling a war to the world ("Sell Your Lies") and the absurdity of oxymoronic fundamentalist religious mentality ("The Decency Police"). Additionally, songs about the struggles of the common man and woman and the challenges they face, by way of war or labor conditions, are also emphasized throughout the release. Despite the seriousness of the album's prevailing theme, the Street Dogs occasionally lighten the mood by mixing in songs steer clear of politics, songs like "Fatty" and "Tobe's Got A Drinking Problem." Additional topics addressed on Fading American Dream include songs about workers' rights and drug addiction.

One of McColgan's best works to date is the introspective "Final Transmission," which he says relates closely to his personal experiences on the battleground. "I used to keep a picture of my family and a note in my helmet," says McColgan. "That's something that I haven't forgotten and kind of tied that into what's going on today. I feel like what's going on today is far more complex and tragic, so much more difficult and dangerous than when I was there for Desert Storm. It doesn't even compare in scope. [The war] is economically motivated and I think the loss of soldiers is catastrophic. I empathize with them and I pray for them. I want to see them come home safe and sound, and as soon as humanly possible. That's just my opinion and that doesn't make me anti-American or anti-patriotic."

In fact, the members of the Street Dogs are quick to note that they aren't about shoving their specific political views down listeners' throats via the songs on Fading American Dream. To the contrary, the band simply hopes to stir the collective conscience of its audience, causing them to think and reflect on our current state of affairs.

"We're doing it in a way that if anyone listens to our record, it'll make them think and relate to their own personal positions and life," says Rioux. "We've always ridden the fine line of being very anti-war and anti the current war while being very pro-soldier and supporting the servicemen that are trying to get a college education and make a better life. They're not writing the laws that are putting America into these ridiculous wars, they're just taking orders. We get a consistent response from servicemen and women that the songs that we're writing hit home with them one hundred percent."

"We are advocates for the idea that all people should have a shot at the American dream while enjoying their existence," says McColgan. "Today in America it feels to some extent that these precepts and ideals have been lost and made unattainable for a great number of every day people. Our new release attempts to speak about that in a number of different ways. I also feel that we have firmly established that we're more than just a vanity project. We are a tangible band and we mean business. And this album strives to make an impact and talk about different things, conveying them as powerfully as possible through the songs."

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