An Interview With Dicky Barrett
by Emily Cassel (Journalism), published October 13th 2010
They’ve been playing together for more than 25 years, but Boston locals the Mighty Mighty Bosstones are still repping plaid prints and fueling push-pits with their unique brand of skacore. The 8-piece toured this summer to support their latest album, 2009′s Pin Points and Gin Joints, and are headlining this year’s Riotfest, held October 6-10 in Chicago. Tastemakers got the chance to chat with legendary Bosstones frontman Dicky Barrett about their recent tour, the state of the Boston music scene and the meaning of punk.
TMM: You guys recently did a brief summer tour, how did that go?
DB: It went really well, it was a lot of fun playing with the guys again. A lot of people showed up so I would consider it to be a success.
TMM: I saw you guys when you were in Allentown, PA and it was a lot of fun. Everyone seemed to be having a good time.
DB: You were at the show in Allentown?
TMM: Yes sir.
DB: Excellent. Well yeah, we were having fun. It was a blast. What a strange club that is, huh?
TMM: The Croc Rock? I love it. Have you played anywhere else like that?
DB: Well we played that place before, but as time goes on you forget. And you know, it hasn’t changed a bit. I think we haven’t played there for like six or seven years, and it’s exactly the same. And it was enjoyable, it was really nice.
TMM: Awesome. Well while we’re talking about shows, do you guys have any that are memorable for going really horribly?
DB: I did a show in New Haven, CT one time, after doing a bunch of shows. We had done like nine shows in a row, and then we played New Haven, CT and I could barely sing, so I just handed the mic to the crowd and they sang the whole show. They seemed okay with it, though. But it wasn’t my favorite show of all time.
TMM: That’s fair.
DB: Luckily the people that come to Bosstones shows know the lyrics.
TMM: Yeah everyone was definitely singing along in Allentown, it was awesome. So Riotfest is coming up, are you guys pumped for that?
DB: Yeah, we played it two years ago and it was really great, so we’re gonna do it again this year. Are you gonna go to that?
TMM: I’m trying to, that’s the goal.
After some Boston talk about Northeastern and The Town, we dig back into the music.
TMM: How has the Boston music scene changed since you guys started playing back in the ‘80s?
DB: It seems to me – and I’m sure the minute I say this everyone’ll argue – but it seems to me there are less venues and less places to play and less bands that wanna play. I think that [in the early days] there were lots and lots of bands, and we always had somewhere to go. I think there’s just other options people have that didn’t exist when we were first starting out as a band. Rock and roll was a huge entertainment option, and now I think things are different. I think in the age of the internet and video games being what they are… I just think people are interested in other things. And personally, I think it sucks.
TMM: Along those lines: you guys are playing with a lot of really excellent punk bands at Riotfest, so how do you respond to people that say punk is dead?
DB: Well, I think it changes, and it goes in different directions, and it’s… I think punk is more of a spirit. You know, a coffee table could be punk. I think it’s more of a spirit than that. It’s more of a way of life now, than a type of music. What punk was in 1977 when they first started using the word is vastly different than what punk is today. Johnny Rotton and Sid Vicious have completely different mindsets than, say, Billy Joe Armstrong. And I’m not going to tell you that Billy Joe Armstrong is not punk. So, you know, I think punk is the umbrella, and whatever is underneath it is whatever it is.
TMM: All right.
DB: To make a confusing answer even more confusing, I think it can never die, because it’s a spirit. It’s a way of life more than it is a type of music. If you asked 17-year-old me if a 45-year-old man could be punk, I would have told you no fucking way.
We then chat about my ultimate goal of making it to Riotfest in Chicago to see the band and catch the other acts. After arguing about which city is better – Philly vs. Boston – we agree to disagree.
DB: Come and say hi if you’re there. Hope you make it to Chicago.
TMM: I hope so too, man.