When Dirty Heads invade the PNC Arts center with Sublime last month we got to sit down with frontman Jared Watson for some unedited thoughts on how the band came together, the making of the excellent new self titled album and life on the road.
We also got special access for the amazing images below that give life to the bands super dynamic live sets.
Tell me a little about how this whole thing got started?
In high school me and Dustin met and he was like Mr. Musician Guy. He was in a punk band, he could play guitar, he could sing, he could drum, his brother could drum, sing, and his brother could play guitar. His dad built them a sound proof garage in their house. And I just became friends with him. thats where we would over to Duddy's house and we would smoke ,drink and just record music. Thats was just purely just fun and never thought it would become anything, but slowly over time, over a year or so whatever we were like what the fuck this is becoming something.
How was this becoming something?
We has like 12 dudes, that would always come in. We had a big squad of friends. Everyone started coming in starting this, starting that. Slowly one by one everyone stopped coming into the sound proof garage and stopped recording. And the last two that were there were me and Duddy. Duddy and I were always on the same page as to what type of music we liked and stuff like that. And all of our friends started going off in other directions and Duddy and I were like we are having the most fun playing music and we had the most in common and we became close and became best friends automatically, inseparable in high school. I used to ditch my government class to go do musician shit, because Duddy was into musician shit. And we just kept recording and recording and then slowly this sound- we wrote "Antelope", we wrote "I Got No Time for You All", and those were the first two songs we wrote when we were sixteen. And then people started hearing them and people were like woo this is actually good and we were listening to the Beastie Boys and Sublime where we were blending music and it was ok because we were listening to those bands that it wasnt weird that they were blending genres. So it just slowly kind of morphed and built itself into this thing. And then we thought lets start playing at shows if our friends want to come out to bars or whatever (we werent even old enough to drink). Then we started playing at bars and we started selling them out. We were like what the fuck, what is this all about so we started writing more music and we had to have a name, but we had a sound called The Dirty Heads so the name came of that. And then it just grew and grew and grew and then we were like we need a band, I really want to do this. And we really started thinking man what if we can do this, what if we could do this forever, for the rest of our lives. From there we just put our eggs in one basket. As soon as we graduated high school we were like lets do it!
When your music first came across my desk I kind of "judged the book by the cover with your look I thought these guys are gonna shred and be hardcore. Then I listened to your music and the vibe is anything but that. Can you compare your previous in those albums to the newly released Dirty Heads?
I just think experience. We have been doing it now for 13 years. The experience that comes along with having it chops up to having a songwriter, musicians things like that. But really this album isnt much different than the other Dirty Heads albums I think its actually more Dirty Heads than the other albums because now we are really comfortable in our skin. Before you come out with your first album and everyones expecting the sophomore slump for your second album and then we didnt want to do the same album again for the third one so we got really fucking weird and did this experimental one. So I finally feel like this is the first album for me that is to the core of a Dirty Heads album. This is the first album that we have written to where I know exactly who the fuck we are, I know what people think of us, I know what we built, I know the community that we built. I know that when people think of the Dirty Heads I am comfortable and I am proud of what they think, so lets give them that. And before we were like are we pigeon holed, is this band or we this or that. We were like fuck yeah we are and be proud of it, embrace it. So we really embraced it by creatively going someplace else with the last album. So thats why we self titled it because we really feel like its the strongest core Dirty Heads album. We feel its like the first album just better, because we are better musicians.
Lets talk about the process of this album. There are some big names producing with you. How in the world did it come about and how did you make it all work in four months?
We wanted to get with a lot of different producers at first to see other creative minds. Because we have been doing the same thing, we would get with one or two producers and we would do it. We wanted to get with other producers because we wanted to be pushed. We met the producers through relationships we made, through R&R, between our management. We just said to everyone we knew that we were looking and threw the net out and let them know Dirty Heads are staying in LA; if anyone wants to write with them, record with them, produce with them we were open. Were slutting ourselves out.. come and write with us, were speed dating. So we just went every day new people, new people, and we slowly figured out the eight that we liked. Its funny because you look at the roster and some of these big hits and the people that they worked with. And those are the people that they get the notoriety for because those are the biggest names. But those producers at the same time are like oh that's a pop producer and the pop producers like no I work with everybody thats just the one they put on my wikipedia because its Rihanna. But I love Metallica and Slayer, but I really love Wu-Tang and this, but I wrote this really dope Rihanna song. There are some producers on there that you may find weird but they wrote all these pop songs but once you meet them they have done everything but are know for that one thing where they got notoriety. We were scared of it to but not scared we wanted to go in with pop producers because theres pop songs on the radio that I'm like that melody is phenomenal, but the music I'm not into. So lets go in with people that crush melody. We know we're on point with lyrics, lets go in and take what we want from these people that have been doing these awesome songs and these other big things. And then we got with some underground people and people that do everything. But it was really just us back seat producing. All the producers were really cool as in you guys have built this, I dont want to fuck it up and Im going to do what I think is right and you guys tell me if its not right.
What have you learned recording an album now vs when you got signed years ago? Do the six of you sit in a room for five months and make a record or do you like the process you just went through?
We will definitely do that and weve done that on prior songs and prior albums. And we will probably come up with an album that is just that because it sounds fun to do. Like the idea of going up to Big Bear which is just a snowboard mountain that is just 2 hours from our house. Going there, renting a cabin, and just doing an album with one producer but we write a jam, and do it live in the thing, that a cool idea. We are always going to do that shit we like to to do little EPs in between our albums. Thats a really cool idea that we have been talking about. To have an open mind creatively and to never shut down any ideas is one of the things from day one and up until now that is the best thing that I ever learned. There are no bad ideas. I know it can be annoying and to many cooks in the kitchen but theres a fine line that you have to balance it. Theres been times that I thought that was whack, I'm not feeling it but three other people are like we really are so I'm like ok I'm not seeing it, I'm bouncing I'll see you guys in a couple days. I come back and I'm like this is the best fucking thing I have ever heard. So if you shut something down right then and there its bad. But in the same time if one person is really stoked on it, it aint going to fly. If two people are really stoked on it and there's three people in the room it might get through. But usually, the way we work, if there three people in the room and were going down the list of ideas and one idea all three of us are like oh shit that the one we are going to work on. So thats where our quality control is at.
I know Thats "All I Need" is the lead single, but "Doesnt Make You Right" and "Feeling Good" are some powerful tunes. Whats the message behind them?
"Doesnt Make You Right", For whats going down in the world right now? Yeah exactly - In Doesnt Make You Right we were talking to Jimmy Harry which is a producer, were not into politics or posting about it or being a political band, but we were talking about it with him and he was talking about all these other politicians that were up for president. He was like we have no good choices, etc and we didnt know what we were going to write about. And we started talking and this whole idea of that and even on a smaller level from grade school to high school to adults to running the fucking world.. theres that just the sentiment - because you are bigger, stronger and louder does not mean you are right. And, once we hit that sentiment we were like thats the fucking song.
Talk about the tour- How is it going?
The tour is phenomenal.. its fucking family.
A: Its crazy I got to meet Bud and Eric from Sublime, never thought that would happen.
B: Never thought a friend of mine was going to be playing with them.
C: That we would ever be on the road with them. And now its like a big family. Weve known them for years and years so that super easy. Travel Seeds has been a favorite band of mine in the scene for awhile. Weve known each other for years so there was no how are these guys going to be on the road. Super easy. We only get an hour because we are direct support for Sublime. So we are going to get home, take a couple weeks off because its a two month tour, hang out with the family and go back out and do a headline tour so we can play two hours if we want, play the whole new album and the whole old albums and play 30 songs if we want.
How did you come up with the name Dirty Heads?
We used to lie and make up how we came up with it. Honest Truth is we had a song called Dirty Heads becasue there was a lyric in the song that said dirty headed boys from the city and we got that name and I got the lyric from somebody I dont know who but who called us Dirty Heads when we were younger and we were always getting in trouble and things like that. And like stealing beer, being the skater kid, etc. That was our little squad so then I wrote a rap and said Dirty Heads in the rap, then we had a song called Dirty Heads, and then we would play with Dustins brothers band and we only had one song and the song was called Dirty Heads, so people started requesting it play the Dirty Heads song.. and we would be like thats the name.
A: Trump or Hillary? N/A
B: Best late night food anywhere-? Tacos South California, Food Trucks
C: Best surf Cali or Hawaii-? Hawaii
E: Red Rocks or Greek Theatre? Red Rocks
F: Skateboarding or Surfing? Skateboarding
G: Kate Upton or Emily Ratikowski? Emily Ratikowski
H: Sun Bum or Burts Bees? Sun Bum
I: NWA or ATCQ? ATCQ
J: Bruce or Jovi? Bruce Springsteen
(All Photos Copyright B51 Photography/Mark Brown)