Mike McColganPirates Press Records
By Ashley N. Milholland on August 7th, 2015 at Phone
Boston’s The Street Dogs are no strangers to the festival circuit; but this month they’ll be adding a new festival to their list of appearances as they open for The Dead Kennedys on the first annual Hi Fi Rock Fest in Long Beach, California on Sept. 26th.
We catch up with frontman Mike McColgan to discuss his working class ethos, the festival and the future of The Street Dogs.
Also remember to enter to win tickets to the festival here.
Street Dogs were formed in 2002. In 1998, you left the Dropkick Murphys, and went to work for the Boston Fire Department. What made you decided to embark on this new venture?
My uncle Kevin was a career Firefighter and on the line for 30 years. When I was young, I worked with his engine company, Engine 18, and I was really enamored and fascinated with the fire service. In 1999, I took the test and got contacted. I told the guys that I was gonna pursue that and I wished them the best of luck. I am really happy and super proud of those guys and the success that they’ve realized and they’re all great guys. So, for me to have been in Dropkick Murphys and serve on the Boston Fire Department for a time, now in Street Dogs for five records; I’m a grateful man.
By leaving Dropkick Murphys to work for the Boston Fire Department, there was a certain transition where you became a working class man at the Boston Fire Department.
Yeah, pretty much. It is a working class occupation and it’s a great job and I was lucky to have done it.
What is the difference between being a musician and touring versus having a working class occupation?
The aspect of travel and touring is different; you’re in a different place everyday. That is the overriding difference between the two occupations such as being a firefighter first responder and being a singer in a touring band; but regimentation and preparation, being able to operate under stressful conditions—those similarities are both there, too.
The 1st Annual Hi-Fi Rock Fest coming September 26, 2015, in California, and Street Dogs are one of the headliners for the fest. I know that the band, in the past, has played other festivals, such as Van’s Warped Tour; Bamboozle Fest; and fests in Europe. Is there anything different you hope to bring to Hi-Fi Rock Fest, since it is the fest’s 1st annual show?
We are very excited to be playing Hi-Fi Rock Fest on September 26th in Long Beach alongside bands like Nayked Raygun and Dead Kennedys. We love California; we love Long Beach, a lot. Our band is going to bring a lot of energy, be intense and engage the crowd to get involved; so everybody can have a good time.
Street Dogs supports the organization Oxfam America. Tell us about this organization.
An organization like Oxfam wants to feed people, teach people who are impoverished and without means to feed themselves and help cultivate people by helping them grow food and become self-sustaining. It’s a great organization and we’ve supported it for a long time now. They’re just trying to help people. I mean, at the end of the day, no matter who you are or what station of life you walk out of, helping people is better than hurting them.
What hope do you have to help better society or make changes in society through your music?
I don’t know if we’re gonna change anything in society. If listeners get involved in something positive that can empower people and help people for a force of good. If we can do that for one or two people; we’d be really happy.
Has anyone ever come up to the band and said, “You’ve impacted my life?”
Yeah, I think veterans more so than anybody else, and the working class identify with our message. Everyday, hard working people – union or non-union people can identify with our message, which is that, people from all walks of life should be treated fairly, equitably, and paid reasonably well. I think our music has always been about social justice, human rights and people having a say, embracing their democratic right to vote and be a force of good.
Growing up in the Boston area, around age 14, was there anything you saw happening towards the working class that has influenced you in your ideals and your way of thinking to this day?
When people had a labor union supporting them, and had a labor union negotiating for them, to get them better benefits, fair and equitable wages—I noticed that people could afford houses, clothed their family, have health care, drive automobiles and have a good way of life and realize the American dream.
Any plans to release new music?
There are some b-sides we want to release along with a live album. Plus, we are planning on working on a new album in the fall of this year. We want to release all of our records on vinyl via Pirates Press and re-master them. So, yeah there will be some new releases coming.
Do you still work on your side project FM359?
Yes, we do still have that and we are playing on recording music for FM359 down the line.
Do you have any advice for the youth today on how to keep steady and stay humble?
Don’t give up. Don’t underwrite the value of a college education, or military service. Military service opens up so many opportunities for both men and women; both professionally and economically.