Street Dogs guitarist talks touring, politics
Street Dogs is one of the hardest working bands in punk rock and will return July 8 with its 4th studio album, State of Grace, on Hellcat Records. Street Dogs can also be seen headlining this year’s Vans Warped Tour, which comes to town July 6 at the Sam Houston Race Grounds. Staff writer Mike Damante recently sat down with guitarist Tobe Bean III to discuss punk-rock politics, the new album and Barack Obama.
"I was obsessed with music at a very young age and I was into bands like KISS," Bean said. "But when I first heard Black Flag in 1986, it was music that actually spoke to me."
Bean, who was previously in BYO Records act Welt, joined Street Dogs in 2005.
"I was working for Flogging Molly at the time and the Street Dogs were the supporting act on the tour. I knew Johnny Rioux from past bands and one day he asked me to play in the band," Bean said.
The band has opened up for numerous punk-rock heavyweights in the past, including The Bouncing Souls, Flogging Molly, The Adolescents and Tiger Army. Before joining this year’s Warped Tour, Street Dogs are fresh off a tour supporting Anti-Flag.
"We got to play in front of a bunch of young kids and it was great to bridge that (age) gap. "
Vans Warped Tour has been a summer staple since 1994 and this year the band will be headlining the bill alongside Against Me!, Angels and Airwaves, Paramore, Gym Class Heroes and Pennywise.
"The coolest thing about the tour is that so many tours and friendships have been spawned from the Warped Tour," Bean said.
State of Grace will be released on Tim Armstrong’s (Rancid) Hellcat Records. Hellcat Records has recently signed more diverse bands such as reggae-inspired The Aggrolites and Western Train, but Street Dogs should have no problems fitting in.
"We’ve all been friends with a lot of those guys at the label. Tim (Armstrong) and Lars Frederiksen have always done a lot helping the band out, so there was always a good line of communication," Bean said.
State of Grace is expected to be the band’s biggest and most versatile release yet, produced under Ted Hutt. The record’s topical content should be no surprise to fans who are accustomed to the bands blue-collar mentality.
"We didn’t want to make the same record that we’d done before," Bean said. "We really focused on crafting really good songs. When you play punk rock for as long as we all have, you have to open up your eyes to different music or you regurgitate the same crap."
After Vans Warped Tour, Street Dogs will embarking on their own headlining tour that will be right in time for the upcoming election. Bean, an avid Barack Obama supporter, understands the impact he can have as a musician.
"If you’re an artist, it is your responsibility to reach out," he said. "We’ve never tried to force our opinion on crowds. What I want is to influence people to think about [stuff]. On our upcoming headlining tour, we have Rock the Vote coming on tour with us and it will be totally bipartisan."
While the band won’t tell you who to vote for, Bean knows who has his vote.
"Obama actually used our song ‘Fading American Dream’ on a few campaign spots in the past and we wrote a song for Obama called ‘Hope’ that didn’t make the new record. We want to make a viral video for it and release it that way," Bean said. "(Obama) is a breath of fresh air and I think it is a time for change."