About Street Dogs
"We can speak of riots and petrol bombs and revolutions all day long, but if we fail to organize we'll waste our life on protest songs." - Joe Strummer
Virtually everyone in the punk rock world knows who the STREET DOGS are. Many know what they stand for, but millions of people out there have yet to find out that this is a band out there fighting for them. "Not without a purpose, not without a fight!" is the real-life battle-cry from these real-life champions of the common man & woman.
Although more than a decade has passed since this band of brothers strung together their first lineup in Boston back in 2002, it was clear from that moment that this would be more a force, and a family, than simply a band.
Mike McColgan, a veteran of the (first) Gulf War and original frontman of Boston's infamous DROPKICK MURPHY'S, needed an outlet for his musical drive and ambition after having left DKM only a few years prior. The current Boston fireman teamed up with Rob Guidotti, Michelle Paulus, and Jeff Erna to start what would become something incredibly special, and definitely something giving McColgan that platform to explore his passions through music.
The foursome recorded a demo in Early 2002, which quickly circulated and created a heavy buzz in the punk scene. Playing live in the little spare time the group had from their jobs and lives proved to be a tough task, but they finally managed their first show in December 2002, at Abbey Lounge in Somerville MA (just outside of Boston). The momentum the band would see from this moment onward, especially in regards to the impact that their live performances have on people, would truly start to define them.
Continuing to realize that STREET DOGS had serious potential to become a full-time band, Michelle Paulus left the band to work full-time with her own band, THE DENTS. This void in early 2003 brought Johnny Rioux into the picture, which ended up solidifying the true core of what this family would eventually become. Rioux's work in artist management and hands-on production work for countless bands, as well as his own musical tenure in the legendary American Oi! band THE BRUISERS made his attitude and contributions exactly what this band needed.
On the strength of the demo's buzz, and an unbelievable response to what regional shows these guys could slip away from work to play, offers and recording contracts (many unsolicited) started rolling in. The music world could see that people liked being sung at from eye level, and perhaps some people really didn't want their music and their music's lyrics candy-coated and formulated only to sell things. Rather than cave to dollar signs and bring in "talented" (expensive) music industry gurus to help them concoct some scheme to sell a million records, they decided keeping things on their level was the smartest and most appropriate course of action. Signing to upstart indie Crosscheck Records, the band set out to release the seminal powerhouse debut album "Savin Hill".
No gimmicks, no tweedle-dee-dee, no fluff - the music that the STREET DOGS were creating was real - it was from the heart, from the soul. Whatever emotion a situation and mood set in place, STREET DOGS fired back with the power to uplift and bring a sense of intelligent, hopeful optimism to the room. The sheer talent and unbelievable songwriting that keeps this from being just another band is brought to another level when McColgan's powerful lyrics and stage presence are intertwined with it. Fists in the air, and choruses sung back in perfect time, its clear that people caught in this storm are changed and enlightened by the experience. They are the STREET DOGS ARMY.
This lineup, with the new album on board, take it's legitimate maiden voyage, touring all over the US with The Briggs in 2003. Lots of other labels' A&R people (some of whom had offered to release the new record) started coming to the shows - impressed by the strength of "Savin Hill"'s sales, and the overall feedback and fan support was truly overwhelming. Realizing that this was definitely a worthwhile endeavor, Mike McColgan opted to take a leave of absence from Boston Fire Dept. and Johnny Rioux from his artist management position, pursuing STREET DOGS full-time. Needing a dedicated core to treat this love like the job it was becoming, Joe Sirois joined the band on drums, and Marcus Hollar came aboard as an additional lead guitarist, both bringing new life and a bit of their own style to this still-developing powerhouse.
In 2004, Street Dogs went on the "Punk Voter Tour" with Flogging Molly across the US. They not only appreciated the company of another motivated and professional group in Flogging Molly, they treasured the opportunity to be a part of something that brought their music, and "real life" closer together - as the tour focused on making sure that everyone voted in the national election (especially apathetic and cynical punks and skins, and other American kids), or at least knew why it was important to. Whether that tour made a huge difference or not on a political level is irrelevant. What those crowds saw were bands giving it their all, day-in and day-out, and in doing so, acting like real people and interacting with the fans daily, all over the country. People, general people, were starting to recognize that STREET DOGS were more than a band.
STREET DOGS also hailed the opportunity to take the show overseas, and engaged the invitation to embark on a European tour with Flogging Molly as well. Tobe Bean jumped on board as rhythm guitarist, and without question another page was turned in this exciting story. Shortly after this hugely successful tour, the band signed another recording contract, this time a two album deal, with indie DRT records. 2004 ended with the band playing the first annual "Wreck The Halls" shows, in its birthplace and home away from home, Boston MA. This holiday show has gone on to become a yearly staple in Boston for the group, and more recently also a succesful nationwide tour. This first one though, in 2004, was one of the best highlights that a band could end a year on. Hailed as a truly legendary weekend for Bostonians and STREET DOGS ARMY alike, it would truly be a sign of the great things down the road ahead of them.
The release of the highly vaunted and fan beloved album "Back To The World" kicked off 2005 in style, as did a 9 week tour of the US with So. Cal punk icons SOCIAL DISTORTION. Touring at a frenetic pace for 8 months, STREET DOGS became closer than ever; a true band of brothers, and met up with everyone - embracing fantastic and truly memorable shows (and parties) with THE BRIEFS, TIGER ARMY, MILLENCOLIN, THE LAWRENCE ARMS, the BOUNCING SOULS, and of course and their first stint on the Vans Warped Tour. Not giving it time to let off steam, the year closed by beginning work on the followup to "Back To The World," enlisting arguably (and certainly in their eyes) the best and most valuable producer in the music industry, Ted Hutt.
Carrying on that tradition of racking up the miles, much of 2006 including continuous touring alongside the likes of luminaries RANCID, BAD RELIGION and the iconic Oi!/Streetpunk legends COCK SPARRER. The critically acclaimed "before its time" album entitled "Fading American Dream" was released in September, and had the band taking to task the death of the American Dream, war profiteering, corporate greed and the downward spiral of the labor movement. Moreso than ever, the band was making sure that everyone knew they wore their integrity, their ideals, and their credibility on their sleeves.
Paul Rucker soon joined up as the drummer, and the band undertook an 8 week tour with the legendary BOUNCING SOULS. Various headlining tours throughout the remainder of the year kept the band busy in America, Canada, Europe, and for the first time STREET DOGS ARMY went recruiting in Japan. To make things even more exciting, 2007 rolled out with a supporting slot for the indomitable, groundbreaking and legendary celtic punk forefathers, THE POGUES. On top of their musical achievements and opportunities, this band of brothers was beginning to see how STREET DOGS would open up other ways for them to achieve goals outside of music. The band itself began engaging in activism, becoming involved with advocacy for international relief agency Oxfam as well as other noble and charitable efforts.
Amidst all of this, and somehow staying on the road virtually non-stop in '06-'07, the group also decided to sign a two-record deal with Hellcat Records. McColgan's relationship with Tim Armstrong (Hellcat/RANCID) dated back to Hellcat's release of DROPKICK MURPHY'S "Do or Die" album in 1998, produced by Armstrong's bandmate Lars Frederiksen. The mutual respect between Armstrong and McColgan that made that album so successful back in '98, and the continued camaraderie between Armstrong and McColgan having toured alongside each other the year before, made this move an obvious one. It brought the music business part of being in a full-time band back to the personal side of things - knowing that they can say what they want, do what they want, and be comfortable expressing each of their views and making music without outside (purely-corporate) pressures taking over. Sure, Hellcat is a business, but STREET DOGS knew that Armstrong believed in the fight, and his goal was the same as their own: to make music that makes a difference, and get it out to people in a way that makes a difference...
At this point, some of the band had been living in Los Angeles, and McColgan especially became directly involved with organized labor. The band did so as well, playing labor conventions all over the US and Canada, and also joining job actions, picket lines, etc. Their fight has always been more than just that of a band, but the band as their platform was clearly allowing their voices to be magnified in a way that certainly started making differences. 2008 began with work on the Hellcat debut, being undertaken in Los Angeles, again with the most important producer in music, Ted Hutt, at the helm. With the Hellcat debut, the band sought out to challenge their core fan base with an electric, forward-thinking album that once again unapologetically says its magnificent piece, intertwined in a new spin on that one-of-a-kind STREET DOGS brand of punk and roll. The album clearly demonstrates that they are not looking to find a cookie cutter formula, or play it safe and be a one-trick pony. McColgan, Rioux, Holler, Bean, and Rucker are "real artists", not shy or deterred by the prospect of risk taking - and it pays off. More real music, for real people.