By Nick Krewen



DICKY BARRETT could get used to this rock stardom thing.

As the lead singer and lyricist of Boston octet THE MIGHTY MIGHTY BOSSTONES, the 13-year-old energetic ska band that enjoyed a career breakthrough late last year with their album Let's Face It and their infectious chart topper "The Impression That I Get," Barrett finally gets to live life large.

"I've got a limo idling all the time," boasts Barrett from The Ritz Hotel in New York, a few mornings after the Grammy Awards. "Once in a while I'll just ride around for the heck of it, roll the window down a quarter of an inch and wave at the little people as I pass them by."


You learn very quickly that Barrett has a sarcastic streak a mile long when he decides to exercise it.

Barrett follows the joke with a serious answer, that success hasn't changed him or the other members of The Bosstones -- guitarist NATE ALBERT, trombonist DENNIS BROCKENBOROUGH, saxaphonist TIM BURTON, bassist JOE GITTELMAN, saxaphonist KEVIN LENEAR, drummer JOE SIROIS and "Bosstone" BEN CARR-- except for a little extra financial security.

"I've gone from renting an apartment to owning one," says Barrett, whose voice often gets so hoarse during a live performance that it sounds like a combination of glass shards and masking tape.

"I think it's better than success came later, when we're a little older. If it had come suddenly when we were young, we probably would have done a lot of stupid things."

As any band will tell you, touring as an eight piece is tough financially, but Barrett says the band's love of two-tone ska compensates for any shortfalls.

"Yeah, sometimes it was a struggle," he admits. "But it wasn't unenjoyable. It was fun all the time. When you start out, you're not thinking so much about making a living as just going out there because you love the music. It's your passion. So we are The Mighty Mighty Bosstones first and foremost, and everything else that happens is secondary."

Barrett says he got excited when a commercial the band filmed early in their career enabled them to take the cash and tour California.

"I never thought we'd get out of Western Massachusetts," he says.

The Mighty Mighty Bosstones are undoubtedly beneficiaries of the ska popularity explosion launched a few years ago due to California ska-poppers NO DOUBT. An accelerated reggae that previously peaked with such British two-tone skanks as THE SPECIALS, MADNESS and BAD MANNERS, the highly energetic music has found recent favor with the skateboarding crowd. But Barrett is short on theories as to its youthful appeal.

"Maybe because it's dangerous and awesome, like skateboarding," offers Barrett, whose band headlined the 1996 "skateboardapalooza" known as The Warped tour with punk rockers NOFX and PENNYWISE.

The racially mixed Bosstones have also done their best to repair ska music's violent image, again inherited through U.K. riots that often pitted rival street gangs against one another. The band allows the Columbus, Ohio based Anti Racist Action Group to set up booths at its shows, and certainly Bosstone anthems such as "Let's Face It" state their position on tolerance.

"That's one of the things that really drew me to ska music," recalls Barrett. "I always looked at the two-tone aspect -- the black and white -- as being indicative of a music that wasn't color blind."

As for the lyrical impressions that he gives, Barrett says he's reluctant to spell out the meanings behind the band's songs.

"I think everyone should be allowed to have their own interpretations," he says. "Everyone has a different viewpoint, and they should be able to find something personal in a song that relates to themselves. That's why when we create videos, the video itself has nothing to do with the song. We don't want to spoil it for our fans."




1990 -- Devil's Night Out -- Taang!

1991 -- The Mighty Mighty Bosstones EP

1992 -- More Noise & Other Disturbances

1993 -- Ska-Core, the Devil and More -- Mercury

1993 -- Don't Know How To Party

1994 -- Question The Answers

1997 -- Let's Face It

1998 -- Live From The Middle East

2000 -- Pay Attention



1994 -- Various Artists, A Mercury/PolyGram New Music Sampler

1994 -- Various Artists, KISS MY ASS

1994 -- Various Artists, Safe And Sound Benefit In Response To Brtookline            Clinic Violence

1997 -- Various Artists, MOM II (with The Pietasters)

1998 -- Various Artists, Ska Trax -- The New Generation




Since this feature ran, The Mighty Mighty Bosstones have added Live From The Middle East  to their discography. It's also been announced that singer Dicky Barrett will play Bill Haley on the upcoming CBS mini-series Shake, Rattle & Roll, to be aired in November.



THANKS: Samantha Johnson, Sara Milne, Philip Bast


© 1998, 1999 Nick Krewen, Octopus Media Ink.


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