By Jamila Pomeroy
VICTORIA – Boston not only happens to be birthplace of one of the most influential names in the ska music community but also also the birthplace of the sucker punch. Go figure.
“They have a complex you know (people from Boston). The problem is they live in the shadow of New York City,” says Dicky Barrett, frontman of The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, Boston’s reigning ska-punk legends. “Have you ever heard of the sucker punch? That was created in Boston. The very first sucker punch was thrown in Boston. It was by a guy named Marty Maldune, back in 1942. His friends said go over there and punch that guy in the face and he said if I do that, then I’m likely to get hurt. And what his friends said was, ‘well you know what you do Marty? Hit him from the side when he’s not looking.’ (laughs) but not true.” The birth of the sucker punch, as per explained by Barrett, is somehow strangely reflective of the bands new album, While We’re At It, ”which will undoubtedly hit listeners from the side when they’re not looking as the new summer ska favourite they didn’t know they were looking for.
You may remember The Mighty Mighty Bosstones from the ’90s cult classic movie Clueless, or perhaps you’re hardcore into the ska and punk scene and know they’re a staple. Either way, The Bosstones reign supreme in the riddim’ and mosh scene. While the days of bands like The Specials and No Doubt holding space in the forefront of the music scene are over; the band remains current with their strong pursuit of social justice and music with meaning.
When Barrett isnt playing with the band you can find him, or rather hear him, announcing for Jimmy Kimmel on his late night show on ABC. Barrett describes the experience as beyond amazing. “You know when you think about a job and think, man, that must be a great job? Well take that feeling and then multiply it by ten,” he says. “I love the show, and love working with Jimmy, it’s an amazing experience.”
When asked if the band has instruments and gear detrimental to their sound as a band, he explains that really, it just comes down to how talented his bandmates are. “I would say all of the band members, with the exception of me, are enormously talented, very very strong musicians; which has helped with the longevity of the band, and just the main reason I am able to brag and say we’re a real good band.” This extreme technical talent isn’t an overstatement as the band’s dynamic capability is really quite outstanding. To create sonically pleasing music with a group of nine is a task in itself, but for it to be the quality it is is purely impressive.
“The new album is something I think we have been working on for a long time. We try hard to be thorough, complete, and thoughtful songwriters.” says Barrett. The band comes out with their new album, While We’re At It, on June 15, which is the tenth studio album in the band’s discography. “There are several different threads woven into the whole fabric of this thing; one of them is certainly hope, and another one is injustice, and another one may even be exasperation.”
Barrett shares that the song “Hugo’s Wife” is about band member Joe Gittleman (bassist), grandparents; the couple fled to Mexico, due to the unsafe climate their political values created. “Joe’s grandparents actually had to go to Mexico at that time, and they lived there for 12 years.” Gittleman’s grandparents were big in the film industry, working with the likes of W.C Fields. “They kind of had to live there in hiding and all they really did at the time was show an interest in communism, which wasn’t necessarily against the law.” Joe’s life was greatly affected by this change, as it was a monumental event to happen in their family. “His grandmother wrote a very interesting book about it, and I always wanted to write about it. His family are pretty proud of the song as well,” says Barrett. Inspiration of real life stories, and strive for social justice creates a sense of powerful hope in their songs. While punk and ska often have themes of social justice and revolution, The Mighty Mighty Bosstones’s lyrics speak in a highly directional form, leaving you with a sense of empowerment. While We’re At It sports a wild and warm cover, with cartoonish chaos, movement and ’70s-esque flowers; sonically the music is reflective, and really screams summer-time listening essential- taking serious topics with the ease of an island breeze.
The Mighty Mighty Bosstones perform at the Victoria Ska festival June 23.Victoria, Victoria Ska + Reggae Festival