When the Mighty Mighty Bosstones, the band he’d fronted for nearly four decades, abruptly broke up in early 2022, Dicky Barrett wasn’t sure what he’d do next.
It was a tumultuous time. Barrett’s refusal to get the COVID-19 vaccination had contributed to the dissolution of the band and also cost him his job as the announcer on ABC’s “Jimmy Kimmel Live!,” a position he’d held since 2004.
“I stood by what I believed and said, ‘You know, I’m not going to do things based on financial or monetary decisions. I’m going to do things I believe in my heart,’” Barrett said in a phone interview. “But I was left with, ‘Well, now what?’”
The answer, as it had been ever since the Bosstones got together in Boston in 1984, was music. Barrett said he began to write — “I’ve always loved putting words together” — and then started looking for musicians of like mind who might want to plug in and play.
“I was lucky enough to find very talented people,” said Barrett. “They said, ‘Yeah, let’s try it. Let’s see what happens.’”
What happened is the Defiant, a punk-ish combo that includes refugees from a few other bands you may have heard of: guitarist Greg Camp wrote Smash Mouth’s biggest hits, including “Walkin’ on the Sun” and “All Star”; Pete Parada was the drummer in the Offspring; Joey LaRocca, formerly of the Briggs, on guitar and keyboards; and Johnny Rioux, late of Boston’s Street Dogs, on bass.
The Defiant just released a slate of 12 songs — the album is titled “If We’re Really Being Honest” — and played its first show earlier this month at Punk in the Park, a festival in Orange County, Calif. that also featured Pennywise, Descendents, Circle Jerks, Buzzcocks, Goldfinger, and GBH.
The new group’s chosen name, the Defiant, is a nod to the issue that put Barrett in this position. “We were all in agreement that people should have the right to make their own medical choices,” he said. “Our government was saying, ‘Here’s what you need to take. Everybody’s gonna take it.’ And we said, ‘No, that’s not for us.’”
For Parada, like Barrett, there were serious consequences for not getting the COVID-19 vaccine; he was let go by the Offspring in 2021. Yet while the Defiant’s stance on the vaccination was “a catalyst” for getting together, Parada says it’s not the focal point of the band.
“These aren’t songs screaming about mandates,” he said. “This is not angry music. If I had to describe this band in one word, it’d be unity. We all feel that, as a society, we’ve been overly divided since 2016, to the point where people can’t be friends with each other if they don’t agree on everything.”
The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, pioneers of so-called ska-core, released 11 albums, including 1997′s platinum-selling “Let’s Face It,” which yielded the hit “The Impression That I Get.” The band last played together at a festival in Worcester in September 2021.
Members of the Bosstones have declined to comment on Barrett’s new group, but one told the Globe that his former bandmate’s outspoken support for Robert F. Kennedy Jr., including Barrett’s involvement in a song used to promote an anti-vaccination rally headlined by Kennedy in 2022, was as problematic as the singer’s vaccination status.
For his part, Barrett said he’ll always consider the Bosstones family.
“If anything ever happened to any of them, I’d be there in a heartbeat,” said Barrett, who lives in Arizona. “I’m not thrilled with what took place or how things went down. If people relaxed and were less kneejerk, more rational . . . but it was a crazy time.”
He said the Defiant will be touring at some point soon, but it’s unlikely they’ll play Bosstones songs.
“That doesn’t feel right right now,” Barrett said.