Street Dogs biography 2018
By Chris Dick
Boston. Titletown. The Cradle of Liberty. Beantown. From popular neighborhoods like Jamaica Plain and Davis Square to the more hardscrabble quarters like Mattapan and Roxbury, Boston is a complex fabric of people, cultures, and viewpoints. None more Boston are punk rock outfit, Street Dogs. From the air they breathe and the food they eat to the communities they serve—frontman Mike McColgan is also a 911 dispatcher for the Boston Fire Department—and the values they uphold, Street Dogs exemplify their city and what it has to offer the world. Across the group’s storied 16-year career, they’ve hit hard, spoke the truth, and walked the walk. New album, Stand for Something or Die for Nothing, is proof the Bostonians continue to live up to and be empowered by their punk rock, tell-it-like-it-is ethos.
“Anyone who has ever listened to our group knows we are Bostonians to the bone,” says McColgan. “We all love the city. It’s our home. I think our fans abroad get a window into our city and what it is like to grow up here and live here through a multitude of different life experiences [from our music].”
Indeed, Sicut Patribus Sit Street Dogs Nobis. But the primary motivator to pick up where 2010’s lauded self-titled left off wasn’t to continue waving the Sky Blue at the Boston Common, but to sound the alarm that our leadership and the affluent are taking advantage of society. The wedge is being driven between classes, deeper and deeper, where the rich get richer and the poor are afforded fewer choices in life, like education, opportunity, and the pursuit of a good life, respected liberties, and unquestionable happiness. This gift, as it were, has given the Street Dogs have plenty to write about eight years after their Hellcat Records swansong.
“The dumbing down of America is a reason to write songs in 2018,” McColgan asserts. “People need to wake the fuck up and realize the rich won’t drain the swamp or look after the working man and woman. [So] we hit on familiar turf and we go outside our zone as well on Stand for Something or Die for Nothing. It’s tough to contain my excitement for this record and our fans are going to love it. Everyone stepped way up.”
If there’s one thing that sets the self-titled apart from Stand for Something or Die for Nothing it’s the songwriting. Tracks like “Other Ones,” “Angels Calling,” “Working Class Hero,” and “Never Above, Never Below” show Street Dogs at their finest: loud, abrasive, catchy, confrontational, and unifying. In fact, there’s not one track on the group’s sixth full-length that doesn’t convey brotherhood, common values, and the ability to stand together against anyone or anything with aims to disfigure or disband their collective raised fist.
“On Stand for Something or Die for Nothing, we took our time making sure everything was worked out as well as it possibly could be with multiple re-writes of songs and painstaking takes,” says McColgan. “The band wrote this record together as a unit. This is the most full-band record we have ever made with everyone contributing. It’s our best record. I really believe that and all the hard-painstaking work we put in people will hear and feel. With respects to the self-titled record we were moving at very quick and prolific pace back then. That record came together fast and is special.”
Recorded at Woolly Mammoth Studios, Sugarland Studio, and Q Division Studios with bassist Johnny Rioux in the producer’s chair, mix master Sean Cahalin at the desk, and mastering ace Jeff Lipton navigating, Stand for Something or Die for Nothing is a punk rock album for the new era. Rioux was careful to balance the DIY tenets of punk with the professional requirements of recording an album. The result was hard won, but Stand for Something or Die for Nothing is a triumph, with tracks like “Comeback Zone,” “Lest We Forget,” “Torn and Frayed,” and the title track delivering modern-day anthems that kick ass and take names.
“Other than Sean being a total professional and super-proficient, there aren’t really any specific stories to Stand for Something or Die for Nothing,” Rioux adds. “I’ve always has had a hand in the production of our records and I can be a demanding in the studio! That all said, I think we have our best sounding record to date. It has all the energy of our live shows in it. Fans will immediately tell it’s us when they hear it.”
While the definition of punk rock has its divisions—McColgan says, “punk, to me, is people living how they want to not how they are told to”—Street Dogs’ new album, Stand for Something or Die for Nothing, no doubt continues the proud traditions of the genre.
Street Dogs are: Mike McColgan (vocals), Johnny Rioux (bass), Pete Sosa (drums), Lenny Lashley (guitar), and Matt Pruitt (guitar).