The State of Grace Tour will be rolling into Salt Lake City this Friday October 10th, bringing some of the best touring bands on the road into one venue. Supporting the Street Dogs on this endeavor are Cali’s Time Again and Chicago boys Flatfoot 56. The current economy has been affecting everyone, but Tobin Bawinkel, vocalist/guitarist of Flatfoot 56, says attendance to their shows has been as strong as ever.
“I was talking to Mike from the Street Dogs about this yesterday actually,” Bawinkel said. “We've all been surprised, particularly with the way the economy is now, at the turnouts, and honestly we've been blown away to see the kids still coming. Maybe that might change in the future when things start settling in what's really happening but I hope not.”
Hailing from the Windy City’s South Side, Flatfoot 56 have been warriors of the road since 2003. Bawinkel agreed the slowly deteriorating record industry has had a direct effect on how bands approach touring.
“The live show is what's going to be the future of a band, not necessarily how many records they sell in a store,” he said. “Kids are getting it online and, honestly, that's a good thing for a band in some ways because you don't have to put the original money out to print something up. I do think vinyl is going to come back a lot heavier than it has been in the last few years. Kids want something that's big and artsy in front of them so that maybe they can put a poster up on the wall that's involved with the package. I think packaging is going to become a really important aspect."
Mike McColgan, frontman for the Street Dogs and former member of the Dropkick Murphys, agreed that the present state of the nation has had a direct impact on touring bands.
"From the top of the ladder to the bottom of the ladder, from the biggest group in the land to the smallest group, it's affecting everybody,” McColgan said. “It's clear attendance is suffering for all bands because the first thing that suffers when the economy is struggling is the arts. People aren't going to go out and see shows or go to movies or go to games.” McColgan explained. “Food and shelter come first.” Though life is rough for many Americans, the fans have shown their resilience and the true diehards are still filling the venues.
“We have to some degree seen the effects of it but so far I'm kind of surprised at the turnout considering the times. We're grateful for what we have and the people that are coming out to see us. We're seeing a lot of heads for sure. It's a communal thing. There's immunity there. There's a basic unspoken understanding that we're here to take a break from that crazy world outside and share this time together, to have a good time, and let loose some frustration. That's what it's always been about."
The troubling state of the American economy isn’t the only massive social and political event in America. The impeding presidential election this November was also of great interest to Bawinkel and McColgan. Bawinkel says his experience with the political corruptions of the northern Midwest has not eased his mind with the lack of options in the upcoming election.
"I'm not extremely encouraged by either side to tell you the truth,” he said. “I know the Chicago politics and that doesn't give me much heart to tell you the truth.” Bawinkel said, “Chicago is an awesome place to be, but as far as politics it's a rough place."
‘Change’ is a slogan that has been thrown out a great deal this year. Many Americans have expressed their disgust with the nation’s current status under the Bush administration and Bawinkel believes that though the election is important, those in power will have to answer for the nation’s current state.
"I don't know if it can be the same as it has been,” he said. “There's a lot more than just a president involved in all this. There's a lot of people that are sitting back and pointing, but I think there's a lot of people that should be held accountable for the kind of environment we're in today.”Bawinkel believes change is inevitable and the success of the process relies on people’s search for the truth and understanding of the issues."I would think, I would hope, I would pray for something to change and as far as a different mindse,t I think Americans need to start being more educated on the decisions that we make when it comes to who we vote for or whether we vote or not.” “We're not an extremely political band,” he continued. “It's not my place to tell people what to vote for but I do encourage people to think, to use their mind when it comes to this, because turning on your MTV and watching all the crap they’re saying is not going to give you a whole lot of intelligence. I'm sorry to say that. Look into it yourself and learn what our government and our economy is going through yourself, and actually make a decision,” said Bawinkel. “Then you can say 'Hey, I did what I could and I didn't sit here and complain.' My biggest pet peeve is people that complain and after the election is over, when during the election they sat in their basement and drank and didn't even vote for the person their complaining about.”
McColgan echoed a similar sentiment and encourages everyone to make their vote count. “A lot of people have just checked out of the process entirely,” McColgan said. “Everybody's voice matters and if you think this stuff doesn't affect you and you're outside of its scope, I got news for you: it affects you.”
McColgan expressed his personal view on the current election, but warned that he does not expect others to follow his example, but use their own minds to make what they believe to be the right decision for them. "I really feel like you have two options and one is more of the same and one is a more progressive route,” he said. “I feel like economically things are really, really bad and we need a change. I'm going to vote for the more progressive candidate, the younger candidate,” McColgan continued. “I feel like that's just my own personal decision. People can exercise their own right to pick who they want and I respect that – that's the cornerstone of democracy,” said McColgan. “ I just want people to vote and engage in the process. Don't bitch and moan if you're not voting.”
The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq are now entering their seventh year with no apparent end in sight, with $3 trillion spent and over 5000 Americans lost in the conflict. Both McColgan and Bawinkel had a special message to pass on to the soldiers and sailors serving their country and wanted them to know that they are remembered and personal opinions about the war should not reflect how they feel about the troops serving.
"Adhere to your training, be safe, and I'm grateful for your service,” McColgan said. “I don't let my personal politics enter into the equation when that's presented to me. I just have a lot of respect for people in the uniform. I served before. I have some level of identification and point of reference with it.”
"I say take heart, take courage, definitely know that you got people that love you and appreciate you no matter what the news media says,” Bawinkel said. “We definitely appreciate the sacrifice they're making. I say, you know what, sometimes it stinks how many times you have to go over there but I definitely want them to know that we really appreciate them and appreciate everything about them.”
The Street Dogs, Time Again, and Flatfoot 56 will be at Club Sound on Friday, October 10th in Salt Lake City. Doors open at 5:30pm.