Something tells me this guy has done some interviews before.
Bill Molloy: Hello?
Mike McColgan: Hey Bill this is Mike McColgan how are you?
Bill: I’m not too bad. Do you have time to do the interview now?
Mike: Yeah absolutely.
Bill: Alright. So the new record was your first on Hellcat and I always kind of wondered, Brass Tacks was your own label but under DRT?
Mike: Yeah, we still control the rights to that imprint. So it’s likely in the future that we’ll re-visit putting out artists and putting out releases but right now we’re just tied up with promoting State of Grace and getting ready to tour the US and Canada and Japan and Europe so we’ve got a full plate but down the line that’s something we’ll re-visit.
Bill: I was always kind of curious about that. A lot of bands seem to be doing the opposite of what you’re doing, leaving established labels and starting up their own stuff. So State of Grace has been out for about six or seven months now, so you’ve had some time to live with it and have done some touring on it already, how does it compare when you’re playing the songs live to the older ones that your fans know better now?
Mike: I think songs like “Kevin J. O’Toole,” songs like “Mean Fist,” songs like “Free” (pause) and even when we play the cover that was on State of Grace, “Into The Valley,” those get big responses from the crwd and it feels like the more we tour the more the songs become well known, you know, like “Not Without a Purpose” or “Back to the World” or “Savin Hill” or “Fighter.” They start to carve out their own niche when you present them to fans and give it time to permeate. And when you play it live as opposed to when it’s on a record it always takes on a different manifestation, there’s always a different vibe and I think people lock into our stuff more when we play it live than they would if they just listened to it sterile at home or in a car.
Bill: With the new record, at least what I got from listening to it, it definitely seemed a little more scaled back on the pace; it seemed much more of a traditional rock record. Was that an intentional thing?
Mike: I think… (pause) Any time you make a record, creatively, the outside influences influence you directly or indirectly. You know, with Savin Hill, Back to the World, Fading American Dream and State of
Bill: Yeah because when you started off it sort of a project type deal, play a couple shows and see what came from it?
Mike: Yeah, we had real humble expectations. “Well let’s play, play local shows and maybe record.” When we did that it took on a life of its own, and there was more of a demand for us than we had anticipated when we started so we kind of got swept up in it and I don’t think I have any regrets about that. I’m happy about all that we’ve done, all the tours we’ve been on and going from doing it half-way to all the way, 100%, you know. This band is a full time endeavor now, and it has been for quite some time actually, since September 2004. I mean, I’m just eternally grateful for being able to make records and being able to play live and do what I’m doing. Touring with the bands we have, doing the Warped Tour, being on Hellcat Records and having the opportunities we have, it blows my mind every day.
Bill: Since we’re getting back into the older days of the band, at what point did you notice that your audiences became an actual Street Dogs crowd instead of the curiosity seekers that knew you from Dropkick and the other guys from previous bands?
Mike: I’d say around when we released Fading American Dream in ’06 and we went on the road on our own, then I could see that there was a Street Dogs crowd. There were even kids who didn’t know that I had sang for DKM before and would come up to me at the merch table and say “You guys sound a lot like the Bouncing Souls or DKM.”
Bill: (hearty chuckle)
Mike: I don’t feel beholden to let the kids know I was in another band or “this is my pedigree.” I feel more comfortable with people finding that our on their own, you know what I mean? Because even though on stage I’m a ham and very gregarious and out-going, when I talk to the fans I’m not a grandstander or an ego driven guy. I don’t like saying “this is what I’ve done.” I even cringe a little bit when I read or bio and see all that stuff written about it, but it’s our story. It is my story and it is what I’ve been through but I don’t want to ever bee construed as a guy who’s full of himself. I try to stay right, keep my feet on the ground, just do the best I can. But to get back to your question, yeah it was around ’06 that I started to realize that we did have an audience and it was exclusive to us. I’ve seen it on the Warped tour this summer and the follow up tour, the State of
Bill: It’s kind of funny that say that time period because I remember the first couple times I’d seen the band it was a good show, great always, but in Fall of ’06 on that Bouncing Souls tour is when you started playing at least one Dropkick song. I can’t remember for the life of me what it is but I know there was one.
Mike: I think it was either “Road of the Righteous” or “Get Up.”
Bill: That’s it, it was “Get Up.”
Mike: When we were rehearsing for that tour I just thought for fun “let’s kick a couple of them around” and we ended up doing it on The Gold Tour. I think once we’d completed The Gold Tour I felt comfortable walking away from doing that because we had a pretty deep arsenal of songs on our own.
Bill: Yeah by that time you had three records already.
Mike: I just wanted to present those to people, things of that nature. I don’t really get much of that anymore. I mean when we first started I got a lot of that but now I don’t get that any more at all, which is kind of shocking because I had expected that to continue at least on some small level, but it really hasn’t. And the Bouncing Souls, you want to talk about an institution or a band that does things on their own terms, they were coming up on their twentieth anniversary. Those are the greatest guys and truest guys in this genre, or in this business, period. They’ve been nothing but friends and a great positive example to us.
Bill: Yeah I’ve worked a couple shows with them and they’re always super nice, really helpful.
Mike: They really are an amazing band and great people. We were very, very grateful for the opportunity they gave us in ’06 to be on that tour. It was a really big tour for us.
Bill: It definitely was. In
Mike: Last time we were in
Bill: Yeah it’s a pretty awesome scene, there are always at least one or two shows every week. I’m low on money so I can’t go most of them.
Mike: Common problem these days.
Bill: Now obviously you started in
Mike: Actually I’m in
Bill: Has the geographical distance made the writing process more difficult?
Mike: Well generally when we go to make a record, we’ll allot a certain amount of time, usually about a month, for writing, demoing, pre-production. Then on the heels of that we’ll go into tracking in the studio which takes about the same amount of time. I think what we plan on doing with our next release, we’re looking at January or February of 2010 to do our next release on Hellcat, start up the next release cycle. Until then we’ll just promote State of Grace, go all over the world for that. That’s how we do our records, get together for that time to work on songs, whether it’s in
Bill: With this upcoming tour, the Crooked Drunken Sons tour, on the promo poster it’s billed as the first annual. Are there any grand ambitions to make this a yearly thing?
Mike: (pause) Um… (pause). I wouldn’t like, I’d like to see it go more than one year. We have the Swingin’ Utters headlining shows with us and to have Shot Baker there it’s a dream come true. I mean, that’s a bill that I would pray for and then it happens. It might go beyond on year. If it does, it does. If it doesn’t, it doesn’t. It’d be nice to be able to go every year around this time and take some bands you love out on the road, have some big shows and get people their money’s worth, you know?
Bill: You’ve been doing work with OxFam lately. Care to explain how that came about and what exactly you do?
Mike: Well I bumped into some of their representatives at the Shamrock Fest several years ago. Basically what they’re trying to do is help impoverished people, people hit by a natural disaster, trying to empower people to grow food, empower them to be educated, help people get the inoculations and shots they need to stay healthy. I don’t think they have a political agenda; they just want to help people, so that appealed to me. That appealed to all the guys in the group. We put them out on front street because, we just… there are kids out at shows and they want to make a difference, they want to do something. They’ll tell you stories about their lives and they want to help out. We feel like OxFam gives a chance to people to maybe donate a little bit or volunteer. I feel like it’s a positive thing, for change, for one person at a time. It’s pretty wide sweeping. So that’s why we got involved. It’s just the right thing to do to help people and reach out to the less fortunate.
Bill: Is the food drive for the upcoming tour going through OxFam?
Mike: Well basically what we want to do when we go out on the Crooked, Drunken Sons tour is collect canned goods, find local food banks in the cities we’re playing and just hand the food over to them to get to people that are homeless. I think generally speaking in most cities, food banks and homeless shelters and places like that, when they distribute food, not only can they locate canned goods but they can find who to hand them over to. As far as fire department relief funds, we think what we want to do is split up the dates to alternate canned goods and donations to fire relief agencies. I think what will most likely happen is that people will contribute to both so each city will get something to the right agencies.
Bill: Now when you were talking about why you worked with OxFam earlier that it’s not very political. Now going back you’ve said things like that for awhile, I know on the first record you had “Don’t Preach To Me” about celebrities talking about politics. But within the last couple years, the Street Dogs have gotten huge and within certain circles you are a celebrity. How do you deal with that?
Mike: You know it’s funny because the last… (pause) In our way of thinking in the band we definitely don’t think we’re huge. We’re not you know, selling millions of records or showing up on TV or radio or anything like that. So we feel like we’re still grassroots, accessible, organic, not on a bus, know what I mean? So in our way of thinking we aren’t so huge. And even if we did, if that happens, the big thing with us is that we want to stay accessible to the people that come and see us. Whether that’s just talking at a show, in the club, at the merch table or afterwards, because without for fans you’re zero, you’re nothing. They sustain you, maintains you and allows you to do what you’re doing so there’s a big level of gratitude on our part, towards that. I think what I mean to say is that when I talk to them, there is debate and discussion over certain things. When we express things through song or our website, our myspace, our facebook, whatever, we’re not trying to indoctrinate people. We’re not trying to say “if you don’t think like us, you’re wrong.” We firmly believe in freedom of speech and freedom of choice. And I stress that when I talk to people when I’m at shows or even in interviews. We’re not heavy handed or self righteous or raging from a bull pulpit. That’s not our style at all. The weirdest thing about standing up on stage, it’s definitely going to bring you under some scrutiny or under the spotlight sometimes, but I don’t think I would ever tell people “you gotta think like me” or “you gotta get this or you’re wrong.” That’s certainly not how we conduct ourselves. We want to write about what’s inside of us, what compels us, what alienates us, what makes us happy, what makes us sad or glad. So that’s how we’ve always liked it. I think when I wrote the song “Don’t Preach To Me” I felt that in certain instances there are celebrities, actors, actresses, even big sporting figures that express their views and got a little too self righteous, got a little too full of themselves and made it into “this way or the highway.” In a democracy and freedom, the first amendment always gives space for people to have different opinions and different beliefs. That’s what the whole system’s based on anyway as far as our government.
Bill: Alright, I just have one more written down question and it’s not even a real question actually. What are the top five worst things about the Yankees?
Mike: (chuckle) Top five worst things about the Yankees. I’d say number five, A Rod. Number four, Derek Jeter. Number three, Jason Giambi.
Mike: Two, Brian Cashman. And number one, George Steinbrenner.
Bill: Yeah, you got pretty much what I would’ve said. Any last words, thoughts, questions or anything?
Mike: No, just thanks for the interview and hopefully this year coming up we can play Riot Fest. We talked to the Bosstones about it and they said it was great. They love
Bill: Yeah I’m kind of bummed you guys aren’t able to play the
Mike: I think what we may do potentially is in the summer go out with The Aggrolites and swing through Chicago, maybe even do two nights in a smaller venue. Generally every time we go through there, and I’m not just kissing your ass because you’re giving me an interview, we genuinely love the city. It’s the type of city where there’s so much stuff and it’d be great to live.
Bill: Alright, cool. Thanks for your time.
Mike: Alright Bill, take care man.
Bill: You too. Bye.