Taang! years (1989–1992)

At the first few rehearsals it became apparent that the reformed band was much better than the earlier group of musically insufficient teenagers who entertained audiences by tearing down ceilings, dumping beer on their heads and banging on their instruments. With time off, practice, and Gittleman’s experience in the upper echelons of rock, the band now began to fire on all cylinders. Bridwell had departed, leaving Burton as the lone horn player. Barrett met saxophonist Kevin Lenear, who had been playing in his brother Billy Barrett’s band Double Up. Lenear, who was attending Berklee College of Music, brought in his friend and classmate, trombonist Dennis Brockenborough.

Energized by the power of the new band, and concerned that there had been several older acts with similar names, (the doo-wop band The Boss-tones had a minor hit with the song “Mope-itty Mope” in the ‘60s,) the band considered altering their name. When a bartender at the legendary Rathskeller night club added “Mighty Mighty” to the band’s name on a chalk board announcing an upcoming gig, it stuck.

Around this time Barrett approached his friend and Taang! Records owner Curtis Cassella about releasing an album made up of recordings from earlier incarnations of the band. At first Cassella refused, as did New York ska label Moon Records. However, after much cajoling, and some re-recording by producers Paul Q. Kolderie and Sean Slade at Boston’s legendary Fort Apache Studios, Cassella agreed and released the Devil’s Night Out album. The album was a big hit locally and nationally. The success of the album was due in large part to the fact that the punk and indie driven “Do It Yourself” scene was at its peak. Since the late 1970s the punk and indie underground had created a massive network of independent retailers, publishers, promoters, journalists, record labels and college radio stations. It was a scene members of the BossToneS had helped create, and now they were benefiting from it mightily.

The band’s next release was an EP titled Where’d You Go? The EP featured the title track as well as cover versions of Aerosmith’s “Sweet Emotion,” Metallica’s “Enter Sandman,” Van Halen’s “Ain’t Talkin ‘Bout Love,” and a new version of “Do Somethin’ Crazy,” originally featured on Devil’s Night Out.

By this time the BossToneS were gigging regularly around Boston and had made a few forays out of town. Burton’s brother Paul “Sledge” Burton joined the band on trumpet, playing live with the band for the next several years and contributing on the next two albums. In 1991 they set out on their first tour, playing shows around the north east United States and Canada. At the end of the tour drummer Dalsimer left the band to go to college in California. He was replaced by 18 year old Joe Sirois, who Barrett had met in the smoking area at Bunker Hill Community College. Sirois would immediately join his new band mates in the studio to continue work on their second album, to which Dalsimer had already laid down drums on several tracks. Once again produced by Paul Q. Kolderie, More Noise and Other Disturbances was released in June 1992.

Soon after, they were taken on a tour of the northeast and midwest by New York band Murphy’s Law. Murphy’s Law were riding a wave of success generated by their album The Best of Times, which was produced by brothers Norwood and Fish Fisher of Fishbone. The album mixed elements of ska with their trademark hardcore punk. The tour was a huge success with sold out shows in Detroit, Chicago, Milwaukee, and Lawrence Kansas.

Also around this time, Burton, a recently film school graduate, was working as the studio manager at a Boston area production center. While there he was approached by an advertising executive who asked, “Aren’t you in a band or something?”  This lead to the band appearing in a national print and television campaign for Converse sneakers. At the time the band struggled with the decision to appear in a commercial. Ultimately they decided to do it, as Converse is a Boston area company and the spot was for Chuck Taylor sneakers, which they had all worn. In the end it was more of an advertisement for the band than for the shoe. It was also a boon to the band that was by now doing 50 date national tours on a shoestring budget, then returning home to find rent paying royalty checks in the mailbox, all courtesy of Converse.

During this era the band published a newsletter for their fans titled 737. The name came from their Post Office box number in Cambridge, Ma. To them it symbolized the close connection the band had with their fans and friends.