Article by Dan Barkley 21st August 2016
This is my first piece for Ragged Press, it’s strange being a ‘writer’ for someone else, rather than being behind the scenes keeping the machine going as best we can. Originally this interview was meant for another project I’m currently working on but its taking its time getting put together so I thought it might be a good first piece for Ragged.
Anyone that knows me will be able to tell you I’m a fan of the Street Dogs, this is the band put together by original Dropkick Murphys front man Mike McColgan, after he left them joined the army, faced war, then became a fire fighter in Boston before returning to the music scene. I had a chance to attend a ‘punk rock’ cruise earlier this year in which the Dogs were playing, after a number of line up changes it was good to see the band still going as strong as ever with the current line up. They are also currently in the studio recording a new album, which is due for release sometime in the future.
The interview is with their drummer Pete Sosa, as I’m a drummer and the project it was meant for is a drumming related website it’s pretty much drumming related. Not only does Pete drum for Street Dogs he also beats the skins for a number of other projects including CJ Ramone & Roger Miret & The Disasters.
Dan: It’s taken us a while to get this interview done as we are both pretty busy people, but I have to say thanks Pete for taking the time out to answer some questions. The first one I’m going to kick it off with is a pretty basic one and that is When and Why did you start playing drums?
Pete Sosa: I started playing percussion in 6th grade for the Jr High Band. Perc was my first choice and what I really wanted but my other choices were trumpet and trombone I think. Luckily, they didn’t have too many kids wanting to play percussion so I got it. So when school started in August we started learning technique and how to read music and by January I begged my parents for a drum set.
D: A lot of drummers I talk to from the states always mention high school band, the marching band thing would be an awesome introduction to the world of percussion and drumming especially for building up rudimental chops, you currently play in a bunch of punk rock bands, have you always been a punk drummer or do you play all styles of music?
PS: I love playing and listening to all types of music. I’m always searching for new bands that are coming around and touring more and paying attention to what different drummers are doing. Always trying to learn more and more. Before I played punk I played in local thrash and death metal bands with friends. That’s what I listened to and played before I fell in love with punk.
D: I think these days people are listening to a lot more styles of music instead of just a specific genre, I grew up listening to metal and hard rock and then found the greener pastures of punk rock, but over the last few years I’ve found myself back listening to metal as well as stuff like classical, jazz etc. I think it helps my drumming listening to different sorts of music. We have been chatting via social media for a while now and you mentioned that at the moment your playing a Fibes Acrylic kit, how did you get your hands on that? And are you currently endorsed by any companies?
PS: I was/am endorsed through SJC but when touring slowed down I had to part with the kit, it was a beautiful green sparkle. 24″ maple kick with 13″ and 16″ birch toms. So after I got rid of the SJC I needed a kit for upcoming US tours and my good friend Billy Boyd from Houston had a couple kits laying around and was generous to let me use (and continue to use) the Fibes. 24″ kick with 13″ 16″ and 18″ toms, all acrylic. Beautiful kit and my favorite to play on.
D: Always good to have friends like that ey, well who knows now with all the release your involved with coming out in the future it will see you back on the road touring so you never know what will happen with SJC. What’s your current cymbal setup ?
PS: This usually changes just because some will break before or during a tour and I have to replace with what I can afford or what’s around. My ideal set up would be 14″ A Custom Master sound (bottom) with a New Beat (top) 18/19 A Custom Projection crash on the left, 20/22 A Custom Projection ride (or sweet ride as a second choice) and then either a 19/20 A Rock crash on the right or a ZXT effects cymbal which I’ve been liking more and more.
D: Good choice, I still haven’t worked out my choice in cymbals yet, I’ve always been a fan of & used Zildjian, my last set where the ZXTs which I lent to someone which lead to them getting broken. What advice could you give to any up and coming drummers who might see this around how to maybe get an endorsement deal
PS: Honestly, just get out there and play. Meet other drummers and if you’re nice enough, the ones that are endorsed will help you or put you in contact. Bottom line, just don’t be a jerk. All that endorsement stuff will come later, just go beat on some drums for now.
D: I’ve heard a few people say in interviews now about not being a Jerk, I guess there must be a few idiots doing the rounds at the moment, how did you manage to land the job of beating the skins for a Ramone?
PS: Street Dogs usually play in Anaheim for St Pattys day and a few years ago Steve Soto was out at the show and we started talking and he asked if I knew how to play percussion. He was in the studio finishing up CJ’s record (Last Chance to Dance) and they needed someone who knew about percussion and knew how to play all the different stuff. I came by the next day and met CJ and played percussion on the album and almost missed my flight home but it was all worth it. Months go by and a drum spot opened up in the band to play a couple dates in Europe so I took off. First show was opening for the Do-Nots in Germany in front of 6500 people.
D: What a way to get thrown into the mix haha, thoughts on Trump and making America great again?
PS: Next question.
D: haha, I expected that to be the answer. I’m going to change things up a bit here and ask a couple of questions that are not your usual drum related questions, but I’ve worked in the mental health / community services industry for a number of years now, I know a few people who think touring artists are different sort of people due to the style of employment. Normal people get things like anxiety & depression etc. as well as a number of touring musicians. How do you keep mentally healthy and happy whilst out on the road as touring a lot of time means being away from loved ones for extended periods of time?
PS: I just remember that I’m out there because I want to and because I love it so much. Couldn’t imagine myself doing anything else. I stay in contact with loved ones (gotta let Mom know I’m still alive) and friends daily, it definitely gets hard on longer tours. I’ll talk to my girlfriend everyday and hear about how everything is going at home or see how our dogs are doing. In the van we usually come up with little games or jokes or whatever to get a good laugh or a smile out of each other. Also when you get to tour enough you meet people who become great friends or even become like a family to you, so getting to see and spend time with your extended family helps keep you sane.
D: What have you learnt whilst being on the road in regards to keeping mentally healthy and happy that you could pass on to people who work the 9-5 or some other job? I personally know music helps a lot.
PS: Music helps a lot. I guess you learn to let things go more easily too, say someone in the band makes you mad because he ate some food or whatever you’d been saving and normally at home you’ll just avoid or ignore said person, but when you’re basically living in a van with people you just have to realize it was just a bag of chips and probably an accident. That is probably a bad example because who is really going to avoid and ignore someone for eating chips but you get it.
D: That’s pretty much the same thing I’ve started saying to people who get upset about the smallest thing etc. One last question again in regards to keeping healthy haha, you would spend a lot of time driving in the Van, how do van touring artists keep fit and healthy whilst on the road in order to get up and smash out show after show?
PS: Definitely staying hydrated and making smart choices when eating. Fruits and veggies are your friends. I also do about 15/20 minutes of stretching before I go on stage, this could be beneficial for not only to prevent cramping but if you had to sleep during the van drive and twisted your neck or whatever body part it will help loosen you up. Lastly, sleep, you almost never get a good 6-8 hours of sleep so sleep when and where you can. Australia and South America are hard because you’re flying almost everyday. Sleep a couple hours after the show, go to the airport, sleep a couple hours on the plane, land, eat, sleep another hour, go to club, sound check, back to hotel, sleep an hour then head back up to see the show and play. It can get to you after awhile so make smart choices.
D: The joys haha, anything to finish up this list of questions people may call an interview, any up coming touring / release plans?
PS: Good stuff coming up, just finished CJ’s new record (playing drums this time) and it should be out hopefully in September/October on Fat Records, Street Dogs are about to start writing and recording a new record in a few weeks, I have a date with Darkbuster at the end of the month in Boston then Argentina in September with CJ and a West Coast/Canada tour in October with him as well. Thanks!