Ska music was founded in Jamaica in the 1950s, and the Mighty Mighty Bosstones singer Dicky Barrett has an explanation for its longevity.
Concerts, like those by the Bosstones, are just flat-out fun.
“There are people who are into ska like I was in 1982,” Barrett says. “They’re saying, ‘I love the Specials and Madness. I have to see the Skatallites.’ That was my music. If you’re a 16-year-old ska fan or rude boy or you love the Interruptors, you have to see the Bosstones. Then it’s up to us to deliver.
“Same goes for Mustard Plug or the Suicide Machines and many of the bands that were on the Third Wave along with us.”
The ska-punk pioneers will release their 11th studio record, “When God Was Great,” on May 7 via Hellcat Records. The Mighty Mighty Bosstone members are Barrett, bassist Joe Gittleman, saxophonists Tim “Johnny Vegas” Burton and Leon Silva, Bosstone Ben Carr, drummer Joe Sirois, guitarists Nate Albert and Lawrence Katz, keyboardist John Goetchius and trombonist Chris Rhodes.
Since their formation in 1983, the Bosstones have been credited as one of the forefathers of ska-punk and the creators of its subgenre, ska-core.
With a career spanning over 30 years, Boston’s best-dressed band has built and continued to build a devoted following with its unique brass-infused brand of punk rock.
To date they have released 10 studio records — “Devil’s Night Out” (1989), “More Noise and Other Disturbances” (1992), “Don’t Know How to Party” (1993), “Question the Answers” (1994), “Let’s Face It” (1997), “Pay Attention” (2000), “A Jackknife to a Swan” (2002), “Pin Points and Gin Joints” (2009), “The Magic of Youth” (2011) and “While We’re at It” (2018).
“When God Was Great” is different, though.
“How do you make a record with the world in the state that it’s currently in,” Barrett asked rhetorically. “In a lot of ways, it lent itself to making that record.
“We decided to capitalize on the home recording game. When we made (1989’s) ‘Devil’s Night Out,’ we had to be in the same room. I had to walk across town and hand the lyrics to Joe (Gittleman).
“As much as I can’t stand technology, it really came in handy this time. We became super prolific. It’s like the faucet was turned on and we were creating at a level that made it difficult to keep up with. It was air traffic controlling.”
Co-produced by longtime collaborator Ted Hutt (The Gaslight Anthem, Dropkick Murphys) and Rancid frontman Tim Armstrong (Transplants, Jimmy Cliff), “When God Was Great” sees the band bringing back friends, tourmates and bandmates from the past for a sonic celebration that stresses the power of perseverance and human connection during tumultuous times. The album features 15 tracks that initially arose out of a collective sense of loss.
“Part of our income and part of our life was gone,” Barrett says. “To make that a ‘woe is me’ wouldn’t be appropriate. There are a lot of people who truly suffered. As far as I’m concerned, we’re at the back of the line.
“‘You poor dudes sit at home and write songs with your best friends and sit with your beautiful family.’ I don’t want to be negative. I lived for live music. Logging on and virtually watching things … it may be for some people but not for me. It’s not what I signed on for. I can’t wait to hit the road.”
Mighty Mighty Bosstones