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Features

In The Studio: Mighty Mighty Bosstones

September 29, 2011
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This is the first time you’ve worked with a producer two albums in a row since back in the ’90s when you worked with Paul Kolderie for a couple records. What was the reason for returning to Ted Hutt and not trying to do something different?
We really like the way he works, and we like him as a person. Him and his partner Ryan are both a combination of sensitive and thick-skinned, and that’s the combination of personality that it takes to spend the time with the eight/nine of us. Ted’s a terrific guy, a really talented producer. He’s my age, or a couple years younger than me, and grew up listening to the same type of music. He’s from England originally, so he loves the ’77 punk and the two-tone ska and that kind of stuff. Not only does he like it, he was just old enough to see it when he was a kid.

So it’s very much a kindred spirits kind of thing?
Yeah, for sure. A lot of your modern-day producers aren’t interested in rolling up your sleeves and getting to work. We can’t stand for that kind of low energy or some of these, “Well, we need to be inspired in order to start recording”-type of people in there.

With a band as large as yours, I imagine votes can get split frequently in the studio on certain ideas. How often did Ted have to be that voice of reason?
Ted usually is in on the tie. Ted will usually have an opinion going his way, and ultimately, it’s probably going to be what Ted thinks. If Ted doesn’t like it when it comes down to it, it might not be there. He’s that kind of guy, and that’s what we hired him for is to say not all of our ideas are grand slam home runs. If we’re hitting a double and you don’t want to put it on the record, that’s okay with us. We’re all pretty much on the same page. I value their collective opinions over my singular opinion.

I’m curious as to what lyrical themes you think are going to end up on the record?
Same kinds of things, the same sort of ideas I’ve always had. My observations, my sort of way of looking at life. Songs about what it’s like to be us.

What is it like to be Dicky Barrett?
Absolutely ridiculous. 95 percent foolish and the other five percent is ridiculous. But I will tell you this: I enjoy it. I love being myself and I love being in the Mighty Mighty Bosstones and I love the life that I’ve put together and yeah, the band I get to be in. Would you like the title of the record?

I would love that, yes.
The record is going to be called The Magic Of Youth. Which we felt was fairly comical, but there is a song on the record called “The Magic Of Youth” and it’s being named after that. Other than that, I am telling you no more.

You’re being very cagey. Do you ever feel, when you’re writing all these lyrics, do you ever feel like you’ve run out of things that need to be said?
I feel like I may have. I think the well is dry. I announced that to the guys, and they insisted that I wasn’t and were like, “No, no. We always think you are but no, you’re not.” I was like so specific—at some point how many times can you write “Let’s spill some beer on our plaid suits.” How many different ways can you say that?

Well you could go the whole Sigur Rós way and make up your own language and just sing gibberish.
Who does that?

Sigur Rós. They’re from Iceland, but their singer usually sings in a language he invented called Hopelandic.
Really? Look out. Well then that’s my next record. Should I learn his language? Or should I make my own?

Or you could cover Sigur Rós songs. I think that would go over really well.
I’d like to know the language, and then I will write the songs.

Looking at this new record, is there a certain song that you can pinpoint and say that’s your proudest moment, that you’re most excited to play for people?
No. Our object was to make every single one strong and different and unique and very Bosstones from each other. I hesitate to call what the record actually sounds like because I’m usually wrong, so yeah, it flows. Pin Points is a very ska record, and then other people go, “No, no, it’s a very rock record.” So I don’t know which way it leans or what it is, I know we ended up with 12 songs and all of them feel very, very strong to me. When the songs were played back unmixed, they sounded strong to me. I can remember in the past going, “You have to imagine what it would be like when it’s mixed. Wait a minute, is this song fucked up or bad?” but I never really got that feeling this time. So you’re listening in the past, you ask the producer what’s wrong with this and he goes, “Oh, it needs to be mixed,” and you’d go, “Oh, good.” I didn’t have that feeling this time; there was no imaging. It just felt like these are solid songs and sound really good to me unmixed at this stage of the game. That was a nice feeling.

The songs can only get better from that point.
Yeah, now they’re going to get mixed so I like them in their rawest form. I like them as demos.

Do you think we’ll ever get to hear the demo versions if you like them that much?
No, I hope they get destroyed.

They’re so good that no one can see them?
I do demos and I rarely turn in really bad performances without any kind of energy in them just to make places, but usually when you’re doing demos you’re doing it live so, no, I hope you never get to hear those demos—but who knows in this modern world.

Well, you have to have bonus tunes for iTunes and all that stuff.
No, I will have them destroyed. I don’t know how I can destroy them, but I will. alt

Written by Scott Heisel