What’s wild, has 16 legs and wears plaid? Godzilla’s Scottish cousin as seen by a myopic drunk? Not this time. It’s Boston’s gift to musical madness--the Mighty Mighty Bosstones. That wasn’t a typo typo. They are doubly mighty-mighty loud, mighty fast, and there are nearly enough of them to make up a baseball team.
The octet is from Boston--Bosstones, get it? I guess they have to laugh at something besides “Cheers,” the Patriots and the Red Sox.
The Bosstones have been around long enough for a couple of albums and an EP. They began as a ska band, then added some punk and thrash to end up, as their bio succinctly noted, “a bizarre sort of cross between the English Beat and Megadeth.” In plaid.
Then there’s frantic front man Dicky Barrett, who jumps around like a chicken with the Colonel in hot pursuit. Then there’s his voice, which is part gravel, part sandpaper, part dusty dirt road. Barrett and bass player Joe Gittleman talked to us by phone from Ohio.
Hey, Joe, what’s up?
Nothing. I’m in a motel room and I’m going to lay in bed all day.
So how’s the tour doing?
Our new album has just barely hit the streets, and the tour is going great. It just started. We did a couple of shows in Boston, one in Providence. We sold out all those shows, then one at Temple University in Philadelphia. Now we’re in Oberlin, Ohio. We’re sort of like the Partridge family in a big van and a trailer. We’ve never been any farther West than Illinois, so we’re trying to make a run at this thing. We don’t expect to be a mega-success in California, but it’s a start.
You guys did a Converse commercial with the Boston Celtics. Did you make Larry Bird wear a Bosstones T-shirt?
Oh, dude, he didn’t even show up at the news conference, and the commercials were done separately, so we never saw him. But we met Bernard King; he said he likes us very much. He said we could stay at his house next time we were in Washington, D.C., but I’m afraid to call him because I don’t want to be let down.
Are Bosstones’ T-shirts plaid?
They’re not plaid, but they make references to plaid. The first time we all wore plaid was four or five years ago. We overdress when we play.
What’s the best and worst thing about being a Bosstone?
Dude, as far as a job goes, it’s very rewarding. Playing is a lotta, lotta fun. Traveling is a problem, and financially it’s a real problem. Maybe someday we’ll have a tour bus. Right now, we’re just running for the coast.
How did the band get started?
Dude, that’s a hard question. The guitar player and I learned to play in high school and just started jamming together. We’ve never known what we were going to be. We just played what we liked.
That’s just a small part of what we’re about. A big part of our sound is also metal and punk, and definitely thrash.
Describe Bosstones’ music.
Hey, Bill, dude, I’m going to put Dicky Barrett, our singer, on the line.
Hey, Joe, sorry to overwork you, man. All right, Dicky, hey, an easy one--describe Bosstones’ music.
I dunno; it’s all different. You gotta see it to believe it.
What’s the Boston scene like?
You’re talking to it. It’s very diverse. If you’re good enough, you can play.
Complete this sentence. It’s only rock ‘n’ roll but. . . .
Uh . . . but if everything works out, we’ll kill it.
What would be your dream gig or your nightmare gig?
Our dream gig would be Neil Diamond and the Pogues opening up for us. Our nightmare gig would be Neil Diamond and White Trash opening for us.
How come there’s two mightys in your name?
We changed it from the Bosstones when we found out there was an a capella ‘50s group called the Bosstones. Then we became the Mighty Bosstones, and--you won’t believe this--but we found out there was another band with that name, too. Now we’re the Mighty Mighty Bosstones.
How come bands such as Fishbone and the Red Hot Chili Peppers are rich and you guys aren’t?
The money thing isn’t that important to us right now. We’d rather have a lot of fans. We want to do it, but we want to do it our way.
So is there anybody left in Boston or are they all in California already?
We’re the only eight guys left in Boston. It makes it easy to find plaid that way.
What’s next for the Bosstones?
Hey, we’re coming out to California to party with Bill.
* WHERE AND WHEN
The Mighty Mighty Bosstones at 8 tonight at the Anaconda Theater, 935 Embarcadero del Norte, Isla Vista, eight bucks. For information, 965-3112.