Mighty Mighty Bosstones

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Mighty Mighty Bosstones

Ska-core band

For the Record

Hardcore Collides with Ska

A New Approach

A Social Conscience

Selected discography


The Mighty Mighty Bosstones not only originated the term ska-core, they inspired a musical movement. Many bands such as No Doubt, Reel Big Fish, and the Toasters, have been influenced by the Bosstones melding of other musical styles with ska.

They dubbed it ska-core because it combined the brass of ska with the relentlessly fast hard core beat. Bosstone guitarist Nate Albert revealed to Guitar World the inspiration for the term ska-core, We were getting called a lot of different things, like the stewiest band around because we put a lot of things in our musical stew. Or some critics would use a lot of hyphens to describe us, like funk-reggae-ska-punk-metal. We thought, Lets just name this something so we can have a conversation about it. But now there are arguments [in on-line newsgroups and ska fanzines] about whether the Boss-tones are even ska-core!

Ska originated in Jamaica during the late 1950s and was a precursor to reggae. It is a lively music with a skipping beat and lots of brass. Ska was born in the

For the Record

Members include Nate Albert, guitar; Dicky Bar rett, vocals; Dennis Brockenborough, trombone; Tim Burton, saxophone; Ben Carr, Bosstone; Kevin Lenear, saxophone; Joe Gittleman, bass; Joe Sirois, drums.

Formed in Boston, 1985; released their first album Devils Night Out on Taang! records, 1990; signed with Mercury, released Dont Know How to Party, 1993; appeared in the movie Clueless, 1995; performed with the 1995 Lollapalooza tour; released Lets Face It on Mercury, 1997.

Addresses: Record company Mercury Records, 825 Eighth Avenue, New York, NY 10019.

Kingston ghetto, and an entire subculture was created. Thugs, known as rude boys, wore a specific uniform for attending a ska show or party. The rude boy uniform was a suit, thin tie and pork pie hat. Many of the Jamaicans that immigrated to England brought their love of ska with them. In the late 1970s a ska revival was in full force in the U.K. Bands like the Clash, the English Beat, Madness, and the Specials, melded ska with a punk sound and started the Two-Tone movement. Two-Tone was an early ska label as well as a reference to the multi-racial component of this new wave of ska music.

Hardcore Collides with Ska

The Bosstones formed in Boston when most of the members were in their early teens. Dicky Barrett was a leader of the straight-edge scene, teens who shun smoking, drinking, and drugs, while celebrating their lifestyle to a mind numbingly fast hard core beat. Barrett revealed to CMJ, We were eight guys with similar interests, namely going to punk rock shows in Boston, seeing our favorite bands. And one day we came up with the idea that if we were a band wed be in there for free, wed get beer, wed be able to play with our favorite bands, and that sonali brainstorm escalated into a hurricane. Ska was the common influence, and we love ska, but were not a ska band.

They soon became a fixture on the local Boston scene. Their live shows were famous for energy, rowdiness, and mayhem. They have a particularly fanatical group of fans which follow them from city to city. The band plays almost 300 dates a year and tows a separate van to carry the suits which supply their many costume changes. Ben Carr is the designated Bosstone, his mission is to lead to audience in skanking, the dance of choice among ska circles.

A New Approach

A Bosstones album is usually brief and frenetic and rarely exceeds 30 minutes in length. Their album Lets Face It was a change of recording pace for the band. Singer Dicky Barrett told CMJ, Its been a year and a half since our last album, and we try to make every record different so we dont repeat ourselves. For this, we wrote 25 songs, recorded them once and listened to them, asking ourselves if that was the best way to do them or just the easiest way. We thought about them, which was scary. I thought we might run the risk of getting to cerebral about it. But in the end, it came out really good.

Lets Face It has achieved more success than any of their previous albums. The single The Impression That I Get is the bands biggest hit to date. Guitarist Nate Albert explained that the band took their time with this album, writing about 30 songs and choosing only the very best.

A Social Conscience

The Bosstones are a multi-racial group that actively campaigns against racism and injustice. To help fight racism the band has the Anti Racist Action Group set up booths at many of their shows. This exposure has helped the ARA to raise more funds and increase membership. The Bosstones also released an album called Safe and Sound to benefit battered women. The inspiration for this album was the tragic deaths of two young women, who were killed in separate attacks in two Boston family planning clinics. The album features the Bosstones, Morphine, Tracy Bonham and Lou Barlow. In addition to this album, the band often plays benefit concerts to support the cause of battered women.

The octet has had some interesting twists in their career. The band appeared in the movie Clueless and their songs Whered You Go and Someday I Suppose appeared on the movies soundtrack. The summer of 1995 led to the band playing the fifth Lollapalooza festival. They shared the main stage with Hole, Cypress Hill, Beck, Pavement, Sonic Youth and The Jesus Lizard. This increased the band notoriety despite their clashes with Courtney Love, who frequently trashed the band touring the tour.

The Mighty Mighty Bosstones continue to be one of the busiest bands in show business. They headlined part of the Warped tour during the summer of 1996 and continued on a world tour during the spring of 1997. They have their own label called Big Rig on which the Safe and Soi/nc/album was released. The band intends to use the label to nurture and support other musicians who need the exposure and assistance that they can offer.

Selected discography

Devils Night Out, Taang! Records, 1990.

More Noise and other Disturbances, Taang! Records, 1992.

Dont Know How to Party, Mercury, 1993.

Question the Answers, Mercury, 1994.

(With others) Clueless (soundtrack), 1995.

Lets Face It, Mercury, 1997.


Bikini, April 1997.

Billboard, February 1, 1997.

Boston Globe, March 3, 1997.

CWj, May 1997.

Hit, March 3, 1997.

New York Post, March 3, 1997.

Rolling Stone, June 12, 1997.

Slap, May 1997.

Warped, June 1997.

Additional information for this profile was obtained from Mercury Records, 1997.

Janet Smith