The dog days of summer are officially here, folks. But rather than making it all about panting and sunburn, step back inside and crank your AC to max cool.
That’s what I did just before talking with Justice Tripp about the dogs who love the dudes of Angel Du$t the most. It’s not easy seeing the ones you love leave for tiring stints on the road touring endlessly, but Angel Du$t has the stamina to keep going—and their pups are loyal companions to the very end. We talked about how dogs can be just like their owners, a mad pup who ate vinyl, and Whippets, among other things.
It was a mellow topic, free of excess sweating and long pauses, as well as a smooth segue into checking out the Adoptable Puppy of the Week that Riot Fest talks about so much.
RIOT FEST: We’ve got a lot of questions for you today about dogs.
JUSTICE TRIPP: Nice, I’m with one right now. He’s watching me and my girlfriend eat, trying to get some scraps.
Hearing Angel Du$t’s music, watching your videos, or even just browsing your social media accounts, it feels like a big part of your band’s personalities revolve around dogs. How would you describe each member’s dog? For you, I know Spike has passed, but if you’re comfortable, what was Spike like?
Spike was a big—well not very big, a medium—but very solid wrecking ball of a dog. He just ran into everything, smashed everything, and ate through everything until he was a lot older. His puppy stage lasted way longer, but the last two or three years he just started laying around a lot. We’d go to the park. That was like the only thing he wanted to do outside of laying around the house. He became like a couch potato, but we live around the park, so we’d go there.
He lived a long healthy life, so it’s a change for sure to adjust, but I feel really good about my time with him. I’m not too bent out of shape over it. Actually, I just walked in my yard the other day, and there was a family of Chihuahua mixes, and my roommate actually kept one. So we have a new little puppy around the house causing all kinds of mayhem. It has been fun.
Spike was a Bull Terrier, right?
Spike was a Bull Terrier, yeah. An English Bull Terrier, which they don’t really live very long lives, but he lived pretty long for a Bull Terrier. Daniel [Fang] has a Shug, which is a Shih Tzu Pug mix. He has one eye.
He looks like he’s winking at all times.
Yeah, he’s like really old, but he’s hanging in there. Daniel’s had him for a long time obviously, he’s very attached to him. Daniel actually named him when he was a little kid.
Brendan [Yates] has a little Yorkie named Maggie. She’s very social for sure. Pat [McCrory] has a Pitbull named Ty. He’s on the internet too—they’re all on the internet. Ty, well, he’s still kind of a puppy, like maybe 3 or 4 now, but very excitable puppy-like. Jeff [Caffey]’s dog is an Australian Shepherd, I believe.
Oh, so everyone’s got one.
Yeah, everyone’s got their own little weird dog. But I think it’s interesting how everyone’s dog is so representative of them. Suds is Jeff’s dog, he’s just like Jeff, very energetic and fun loving. Carefree but not careless.
Have you guys ever had your dogs interact with each other?
Oh yeah. Shug and Spike hung out a lot. Suds has never been close in person, because Jeff lives in Seattle. And the other guys all live in Baltimore, Maryland. And I live in Los Angeles. But when I was in Maryland, Spike and Shug would hang out a lot. I’m sure Maggie and Shug have been together. I feel like Ty would probably eat Maggie. Ty the Pitbull would probably eat the Yorkie.
So after an exciting and rigorous touring schedule, would you ever do anything special with Spike? Or do any of the other guys do anything special with their dogs?
I think that’s, a lot of the times, our main incentive for coming home. Like, that’s the one thing, I think, when you’re on tour—and tour’s kind of hard. My bandmates are very resilient; they don’t really get beat down by a lot, but I think missing our dogs is one thing that kind of gets to people a little bit.
When we get home—say the tour stops, and we’re driving to Baltimore—Pat usually is the one to drop me off where I’m staying, and I could tell he’s real eager to get to his dog, you know. I guess everybody goes home, runs straight to their dog, goes to the park, and has a day with their dog.
I’m sure even leaving for a tour, it’s like, maybe get a moment to let them know you’ll be back.
Dude, it’s the worst thing. It’s worse and worse when the dog gets older, and as you tour more. I would always have the whole day before I leave for tour to go do things with Spike. And at night time, I would lay with him and talk to him. [Laughs] I dunno. I’d just get home sometimes, and Spike, for example, when he was an older dog, he would just be mad when I’d come home. He’d give me this look that would tell me that I’m not shit. He would just ignore me for a day. You know? And after a day he’d be fine.
Yeah. Dogs are very intuitive, like, they know what you’re about to do. How you’re feeling, and every dog has their own way to show that.
They know when you’re leaving, they see the signs. You start packing your bags and shit. I’d take my sleeping bag, and stuff it under the bed. It’s like when you’re running the bath water, and your dog just turns up missing. [Laughs]
RF: Have you ever worked with animals? Either as a job in between tours, or on a volunteer level? I think you’ve mentioned you’ve worked construction jobs.
Justice: Yeah, I did construction stuff for a while. I also worked at a retirement community in the D.C. area, I was a part of the grounds team. A big part of that was working with native species to the area. There would kind of be weird requests, like the seniors signed a petition to have more possums on campus, which is a strange thing to petition for. [Laughs] Like, it’s hard to control what native species they want to stay in the community. So we went to a rescue to get baby possums, and we hand fed the possums for a couple weeks so they could be free. But sadly enough, we found them all dead in the street. They [were] ran over by cars.
So was this all through the home? What was the name of the group?
It’s a big retirement community. It’s called Riderwood Village, run by a company called Erickson. It’s just a retirement community, so the residents would just have demands, and they’re really into wildlife, so another thing was working with Canadian geese. They didn’t want Canadian geese on campus, so we had a goose chasing dog who had commands to chase them off campus. But they wanted swans, so we had to work with the swans. And if a swan got a hook in their foot, from when people would be fishing in the pond, we’d have to catch them then take them to the vet.
That’s hectic. You’re managing both the land the wildlife lives on, but also making sure they’re not being too invasive—basically keeping up an ecosystem.
Justice: It was always petitions. All of these older people would be making petitions for us to control something different in the ecosystems. [Laughs] It’s not really something we could control.
How long did you do that for?
I worked there for about a year or two years between construction jobs when I was just getting out of high school.
Dogs aren’t perfect, but you can’t stay mad for too long. Do you have any funny Spike stories, or did he have any particularly bad habits?
Oh, he had a lot of bad habits. He was a very bad puppy for sure. I had a pretty extensive record collection, which I don’t have at all anymore. But he got into some records—and I don’t know why, but he exclusively only ate Black Flag records at the time. I was really upset, and I freaked out, started losing it, like losing my mind. And then he looked so innocent and sad. I couldn’t even be mad at him. Like, a record is temporary. It’s just a piece of wax. Our relationship with a dog is way cooler and special.
Which Black Flag records in particular did Spike eat?
Justice: He chewed up a My War and Slip It In, I believe.
RF: What about the other guys’ dogs? Do any of them do anything especially bad?
Shug is really cool. He likes to be dirty and dirty stuff. He likes to pee, then put his face in it. [Laughs] Soak up the pee with his face hair. Shug’s just a really interesting dog. He has a certain routine in the morning, there’s certain things he likes. He likes to eat eggs a lot, so Daniel makes him eggs in the morning. If you’re staying at Daniel’s house, Shug will just pull up to him in the morning, and bark at him until he goes to make him eggs first thing in the morning. And Daniel’s very accommodating, so he’ll go make Shug’s eggs.
Dogs can be super demanding; Either you tell them no, or I think everyone has their breaking points where you cave in to the dog.
That’s the cool thing about dogs is that you could influence their personality. I think that’s why people gravitate toward the dog, that speaks to them on a more personal level—and then the dog stays with you, and grows to be more like you.
I really can’t think of a dog I could relate to more than Spike. Having a dog I got as a puppy when I was a little kid, then becoming an adult while this dog grew up… we just grew together so much where it’s like, I like to sleep in, and then he liked to sleep in. Then when it was time for me to eat, he wanted to eat. We’d go to the taco truck by my house, and go maybe every other day, and get a taco together.
I think it’s the same with all of our dogs. All of us have had them since they were puppies, and it’s so interesting to see. When I look at Suds, for example, I just see Jeff. Just the same exact being.
Especially if you live with them, and took care of them from when they were at a young age and onward. They adopt your habits, following your lead.
They’re totally different from cats. Cats are unpredictable. They just do whatever they want, and you can never control a cat.
I don’t know how familiar you are with Riot Fest—not just the festival, but also as an organization—did you know we post an Adoptable Dog of the Week?
I did not know that. That’s incredible.
Yeah. We work alongside Chicago Animal Control and Care. Every week there’s a write-up on a dog for adoption.
That’s so cool. I’m like, weaning myself onto the idea of getting another dog—I definitely would want to adopt a dog, and I’d want a Bull Terrier if I found one. That’d be special, but one that’s for adoption. But I’m open to the general idea of a dog that’s a lot older. Maybe not as easily adoptable. Just someone to give special attention to for a couple years while they’re still around.
Have you guys ever brought a dog on the road with you?
Yeah. I’ve definitely taken Spike for little weekends here and there. It was always pretty chill, I’d just sleep with him in the van or something. I’d take him into hotels too. But if it’s somebody’s house, it’s usually a little different.
I know Suds has toured a lot. Suds has toured in other countries, which is kind of crazy. I think Suds has gone to Mexico and Canada. He’s very much that kind of dog just super well mannered—I don’t think I’ve ever seen him on a leash, to be honest. He just stays by Jeff’s side, and is just a very good dog.
I know—especially with Angel Du$t being a cross between Turnstile and Trapped Under Ice—the topic of masculinity or attitudes associated with hardcore music in general. Do you think it’s somehow more socially acceptable for men to express raw emotions towards dogs or other animals than it is to other people?
That’s an interesting idea. Yeah, I think that could be very much true. I haven’t put a lot of thought into it until this moment, but yeah, that makes sense.
I think in general, it’s becoming more acceptable to show emotion—and I think that with a lot of changes to social constructs we’re seeing today, a lot of men are letting themselves become more vulnerable, or more comfortable expressing emotions. You see that with pets, and hopefully with people. I think that it makes sense that a dog is like an easier safety net for the average tough guy to let his guard down.
It’s like an outlet, almost. Like, maybe dogs are where it can start, but hopefully that’ll extend to people. I don’t know, it was just an observation.
Yeah, there’s a lot of people in the world that probably didn’t have that kind of emotional support, that could benefit from having a dog.
So on Pretty Buff, “Take Away the Pain,” “Big Ass Love,” and “Park” make reference to dogs either lyrically or in the music video. Is that just something on your mind or the band’s mind?
I think it’s just natural. Like, our dogs are pretty much a part of our personalities, and writing the record. It’s kind of funny, I naturally am always writing songs about dogs. If I’m in bed laying next to a dog, I’m going to write a song about that dog. You know?
I mean, I make a conscious effort to not make the record about dogs—it’s just a fun thing I think about. But that theme definitely applies specifically to “Park.” It was right after I put my dog to sleep, I wrote that song entirely within a couple days. I had the whole song in my head immediately. “Take Away The Pain” is a love song or loss of love song, however you look at it. But the reference to the dog, I thought it would be cool to have it be the opening line—because that’s an opening point if I’m going to get along with someone romantically: if they get along with my pet. If they want to make it in my world.
Doing the video, it was just a natural thing throwing around ideas, and Ryan Baxley—who did the video for “Big Ass Love”—he’s a dog person. So he threw the idea out, and us being the band of dogs we are, we were really into it.
So if Angel Du$t had to be a dog or a mutt of some sort, what would it be?
Justice: Oh, wow… I don’t want to pick one of our dogs. I do ultimately think that there is one of our dogs that does represent the band.
I would say a dormant Greyhound. It has the ability to go really fast, but he’s just chilling. He’s not getting crazy, just relaxed. They’re buff ass dogs. I also like Greyhounds because they’ve got their own thing. Like, they’re loyal, so they keep a close circle. You don’t see a Greyhound on the street just giving love to everybody. You’ve got to work for it. I like that about Greyhounds.
I also like the smaller ones the Whippets, I’m into those. They’re like real popular in England right now. When we were in England, everyone had a Whippet, and I was jealous. I could be wrong about this—I’m just pulling this out of my ass—but you know how here in the United States people race Greyhounds? I think in the U.K. people race Whippets. I don’t know where I got that from. [Laughs]