Geography lessons

By MATT ASHARE  |  June 24, 2008

“My life experiences definitely put a little grit on me. I think it keeps me mentally tough for the rigors of the road and the challenges of the music business. I mean, it can be tough and it can be unfair. But we’ll take any opportunity to play in front of any crowd because we like our chances. We just go 100 percent. And we’re fearless. I feel more comfortable on stage than I do in my own living room. And I could care less what anybody thinks about me being up there. It’s ridiculous, I know, but that’s really how it is. I’m just always chasing that perfect live performance. And I respect the people who come and pay their hard-earned money to see you and take time out of their lives to give you that moment.”

Street Dogs round out State of Grace with two tunes that pay homage to fallen punk heroes. “The General’s Boombox” is a tribute to Joe Strummer. And the one cover, “Into the Valley,” brings to life a punk gem by the Skids, a band led by Scottish rocker Stuart Adamson (1958–2001), who went on to have greater success with Big Country in the ’80s.

“Joe Strummer was our most beloved writer, musician, and everything,” McColgan explains. “But we try not to do obvious covers. Like, we don’t do songs by the Ramones, Stiff Little Fingers, or the Clash. We just wanted to take a song we loved and carry it into 2008. ‘Into the Valley’ is about the ridiculous nature of propaganda and hype for a war, and the lunacy of young people dying in combat. And when we recorded it, it took on a life of its own. The drum track is fucking ridiculous. It’s one of those few songs in Street Dogs that gives me goosebumps. I feel like a listener. I don’t feel like a band member critiquing every single thing like the vocal track or is the guitar out enough or is it too compressed or is it this or is it that? And when you’re in a band, those moments are very rare.”

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