The Mighty Mighty Bosstones are a persistent and patient bunch.
“I think they asked us for the last seven years before we finally said yes,” says Jason “King” Kendall, singer for the Amazing Royal Crowns, which will reunite for the first time in more than a decade on New Year’s Eve at the final night of the Mighty Mighty Bosstones’ Hometown Throwdown concert run at the House of Blues.
The Bosstones’ annual homecoming Throwdowns have become as notable for their ability to pull bands out of retirement as for being showcases for Boston’s ska-core kings. Last year, the Ducky Boys came off a two-year hiatus to play the Throwdown, and the year before that, the F.U.’s rekindled some Boston-baked melodic hardcore.
Hometown Throwdown 15 kicks off Saturday with an opening shot of Dogmatics, Boston’s garage-punk heroes who still do the occasional show since dropping out of active duty in 1986. But it’s the return of the Crowns that is the biggest surprise.
It’s not that the Amazing Royal Crowns didn’t want to be part of the Throwdowns; after all, the Crowns hold the Bosstones in high regard and are thankful for all the help the band provided. It’s just that the band never felt like it could properly prepare.
“I didn’t want to do it half-mannered,” says Kendall, who points to work and other musical projects he had going on after the Crowns broke apart in December 2001.
Mighty Mighty Bosstones singer Dicky Barrett gets where Kendall is coming from.
“This is an awesome live band. There had never been a bad Amazing Royal Crowns show, and I’m sure they said, ‘I don’t want to do one now,’ whenever we asked them to come play,” Barrett says. “This band put 100-plus percent into everything it did.”
For a while, Kendall was commuting to work with Bosstone Ben Carr, and even whatever lobbying was going on during the drive couldn’t persuade Kendall there was time to get the Crowns into fighting shape.
The Amazing Royal Crowns formed as a psychobilly outfit in Providence in 1993. It didn’t take long for the fierce live act to catch on regionally, as seen when the Amazing Royal Crowns won the WBCN Rock and Roll Rumble in 1997.
Around the same time, the Bosstones also noticed the band, and Barrett says he just liked the Crowns’ style.
“Jason told me his band was doing with rockabilly what we were doing with ska — adding Satan,” Barrett recalls.
The song “Do the Devil,” in fact became the Amazing Royal Crowns’ calling card.
Eager to spring the Crowns on its audience, the Bosstones included the psychobillies in the lineup of a big New Year’s Eve show it was headlining at the then-called Worcester Centrum (another up-and-coming band on that bill the Bosstones wanted to showcase was the Dropkick Murphys).
The Bosstones, Crowns, and Murphys frequently toured together for the next couple of years. Bosstone bassist Joe Gittleman produced the Crowns’ second studio album, “Royal,” at which point the band was calling itself the Amazing Crowns because of legal action threatened by neo-swingsters Royal Crown Revue.
Kendall says the Crowns simply ran out of gas by 2001. The band survived the departure of original guitarist Johnny “The Colonel” Maguire and name-change hassle. But it toured at a pace that proved exhausting.
“We made the classic mistake of putting too much emphasis on touring and not enough on recording and writing,” Kendall says. “We took the craziest tours, like a month-and-half in Canada with a popular Canadian band. But it was the dead of winter, and we’re stuck in a van.”
“Royal,” released in 2000, hinted at the directions the Crowns could pursue if they stuck together, as it broadens the rockabilly beat with Bakersville-country cut “Flipping Coins” and X-homage “Invitation to Alienation.”
After the Crowns broke up, Kendall was in the bands the Deterrents and Megasus; upright bassist Jack “the Swinger” Hanlon and guitarist J.D. Burgess formed the Throttles, which is still going strong; and drummer Judd Williams took spots in the Memphis Rockabilly Band, Jittery Jack, and the Real Kids.
All will be present for the reunion (they extended an invite to Maguire, whom Kendall had not heard back from), and more than 20 songs have been tossed into the mix at rehearsals.
“Baby’s Out on Bail” was the first song the reunited Crowns played at a practice, and Kendall says it just felt right.
There will likely be more Crowns shows, and Kendall says he’d like to re-release the band’s two studio albums and live record. But he says he’ll take a page from the Bosstones in terms of moving forward.
“Those guys are the reason we’re doing this, but also serving as a model,” Kendall says. “They’re not taking things super seriously. They’re having fun. And that’s how we want this to be.”
The Throwdowns begin at 7 p.m on Saturday and Sunday, and at 9 p.m. on Monday, New Year’s Eve. The Soul Radics and Dogmatics join the Bosstones on night one, followed by Bouncing Souls and Moufy on night two. The New Year’s Eve lineup includes the Convictions, Big D and the Kids Table, the Amazing Royal Crowns, and the lads in plaid.