Interview: Dirty Heads

Interview: Dirty Heads


The Pier was contacted to speak with Jared Watson, vocalist of the Dirty Heads, as him & the rest of the dudes were wrapping up production on their new album out at Sonic Ranch Studios in Texas. The boys from Huntington Beach, CA, voted for by you the fans as 2013 Artist of the Year, show no signs of slowing down in 2014 with plans to release a brand new album.

Jared was in high spirits with a lot of excitement and enthusiasm during our 20minute talk over the phone. He sounded hungry towards his goals with the band, yet grounded & humbled around the level of success the group has had thus far. As you’ll read below, the Dirty Heads are experimenting with multiple producers for this new album, incorporating new sounds that blend hard hitting hip-hop, with an alternative approach. When The Pier was contacted to interview the group, we were sent a sample of Dirty Heads new song “Burn Slow” and it is very much a new sound than what we’re use to hearing from the Dirty Heads.

While the sample of the song we heard didn’t include any acoustics or reggae, it still had an undeniable Dirty Head sound on par with their earlier work on Any Port in a Storm. I’m pretty excited for the new direction of this album & was happy to have a quick chat with Jared about their future plans. Anyway, enough of my cliff-notes, check the full Q&A with Jared Watson below…

The Pier: Jared, how you doing?
Jared: -What’s up Michaelangelo!?
I was actually just listening to your new song, “Burn Slow” and it doesn’t sound reggae at all and that’s okay, cause you’re not a reggae band, right?
Uhhh I mean, you know, we have reggae influences, I wouldn’t say we’re a straight reggae band – How did you get that first little track?

Your publicist sent over a sample of the track before asking if we’d like to do the interview today & I love it dude! I like the whole alternative hip-hop spin on it, especially the hook with your singing…
That’s cool, man. Yea that’s one of my favorite new songs. I didn’t know that you were going to get to hear that, I’m actually pretty stoked. It makes it easier that you’ve heard it because that is kind of what we did; we were leaning towards more hip-hop with this album. We wanted to bring in different elements, like we always do, take certain elements out of stuff that we’re passionate about now and do something a little different than normal. We were really excited to do something way more hip-hop & bigger & more hype & more fun for the live show, more party stuff.

Seems like more of a direction that you guys took with Any Port in a Storm, on songs like “Hip Hop Misfits”, sampling around with hip-hop & different alternative sounds. Is that what we can expect from the new album?
Yes – Yeah, pretty much! And we are also taking reggae elements and mixing those with hip-hop & alternative, you know? We’re putting like Trap, Hip-Hop beats over a Kings of Leons style Guitar, but then there are skanks. We’re doing what we did, like you said, in Any Port in a Storm and we’re just kind of picking things from certain genres that we like now and definitely getting back to the ‘Any Port’ days. It’s also much more different when you hear it as a whole, rather than Cabin By The Sea, which we went into as “Lets make this insanely cohesive”.

And who are you guys working with in the studio? Where are you guys out of?
We’re in Sonic Ranch right now and we’re doing all the stuff that we wrote with Rome (Ramirez) – We got in with Rome because we’re homies, we love writing with him and we wanted to see what we could come up with. We talked about it, I let him know, “Hey, we want to do more hip-hop stuff, but I want to take alternative hooks on it, 295770_10150284756343118_5677543_nbut all the verses I want big hip-hop beats and you know, we want to do stuff different” and he was like “Alright, let me come up with some stuff” and we gave him some ideas. So we went back the next day and it was just magic! He knew exactly what we were thinking and it clicked! We banged out like 8 songs in 8 days and they just kept coming and the magic was there, so we’re like, “Yo, let’s get in the studio and let’s just do this with you”.
And then we also got with another producer, Supa Dupes, that we’re just a HUGE fan of and he came in and produced two (songs). If you want to do Reggae & Hip-Hop, you go to Supa Dupes – So that’s really exciting. And then we’re also working with another producer, Niles. So on this album; we didn’t want to just stick with one producer, we wanted to get a lot of different producers to get a lot of different type of sounds for a lot of different type of songs.

That’s huge! And that’s more of a newer direction for you guys, cause y’all were predominantly working with Producer, Lew Richards in the past…
Yes we were & you know I think we just wanted to get out of that comfort zone & grow & work with different people & see what we could do with other producers. I think that’s quite possibly the best move that we could have ever done because it’s just so much more creative. We’re doing things with people that, you know, are bringing things to the table that we would never think of. Just fun to vibe with people you haven’t worked with and see where it goes…

Right on! Do you guys have any guest appearances or collaborations in mind? Anything you’re able to announce, just yet?
We have some INSANE features and I can’t really tell you just yet –

Ahhh you’re killing me!
(Hahaha) – I’m saying, we have a couple songs about smoking weed and we have, probably one of my favorite songs, it’s a song called “Rolled Up”. Its’ about the person that, when people are being dicks & acting up & being rude or just hating on everything, we just kind of play the background, we just kind of roll up, you know? Not like roll up to the fucking place, but roll joints & chill & smoke…and there is somebody on that track that you could probably see, a hip-hop artist, that’s getting on that track, that is a fucking legend, that we’re trying to get & its looks like it’s pretty good, but that’s all I’m going to say…
Alright, fair enough, fair enough – How many songs are you going for with this album?
I wanted to keep it at 10, first we talked about just doing 10, because lot of my favorite albums are 10. There’s a Beach Boys album that is 10, there’s a Metallica album that is 10. I just think when you make it that short, there can’t be any filler and I think people will give all those songs a chance. There’s certain albums that are 15 songs and I won’t realize that I like a song on that album till 6 months later when I revisit it or something.
But then once we started writing, we did it differently, we didn’t go in and write 30 starts like we usually would. The quality control was so high that if a little idea that you came with, didn’t get everybody out of their seats, we wouldn’t work on it. So we only would move forward on songs that everybody was passionate about and we pretty much only got about 15, but they’re 15 undeniable songs to me. So its going to be really hard to do just 10, so we’re thinking anywhere from 11-14 songs at the most.

What stage are you guys at with the recording process? Do you guys have a workable time frame for a release date?
Yeah, hopefully we’re going to be releasing it in June, that’s what I would like to do. Right now we’re just doing post-production out here. The Sonic Ranch is so amazing with guitar amps and the drums and a lot of the stuff they have set up. With stuff being hip-hop, it’s easy to do it in studios out in LA or to just do it at Rome’s studio, cause we can program it. A lot of the stuff is going to be programmed, but we’re bringing in Matty & Jon Jon & Duddy to come in and re-cut their parts; the live parts that will blend in with the hip-hop songs. And then there are songs that we are just like “Lets leave this straight hip-hop”, like it doesn’t need any live instrumentation.

You know when I was talking to your management during The Pier’s 2014 Most Anticipated Albums feature we did, Braden was telling me how fans could expect, you specifically, exploring your vocals. I got to hear it on the sample of your new song “Burn Slow” as well as the acoustic album where you’re singing a lot more. I’ve seen you really evolve as a great singer from when I first met you. Back then, as heard on the 22616_10151210776473118_146721233_nearlier recordings, you were predominately doing just rapping & verses & punch lines. Is there going to be a lot of that on this album as well as you exploring your vocals, hitting high notes, singing more alternative hooks & choruses?
Yeah I really appreciate that, that’s really cool of you to say. I have been working on it and its something that I am passionate about. There is going to be more of that and I feel I have grown as a singer, even from the acoustic album to now. I really try to evolve or progress from each album. If I’m not getting better, what am I doing? I want to get better, better and better! I want to be a great a singer and I don’t think I’m there yet, so I’m going to keep working.
On this album, there is me singing & exploring that and its really fun and its really cool to be able to do that, but the other side of this album that I love so much is that there’s just as much verses! I was like “We’re laying down bars!” and there’s just as many punch-lines. So it was really cool back then when I was all “Oh I’m just rapping, I’m rapping, I don’t want to sing, I’m scared of that, but I want to, etc etc” but now its cool, you know? I can do 16 bars and then take the hook. I think that is really cool to do, as somebody that is really into hip hop and is really into rapping and also into just being a singer & a songwriter. So there are songs that I’m very connected to that I’m just singing on, and then there are songs that are just absolute fucking non-sense, that are straight party songs, that are so much fun and they’re just bars on bars.

Nice! And with the acoustic album, are any of those songs going to be re-worked onto the new album?
You know what, its so funny because that acoustic album was supposed to be old songs, made acoustically and then that got scratched when we started writing new songs. And then we were like “okay, we’ll take some songs from the acoustic album and we’ll re-record them for this album” and once we sat down and started writing new songs for this album, that got scratched. We’re not redoing anything because the direction is totally different. You know, we mellowed out and we got super irie, took mushrooms and tapped into our inner hippies that we have and did Cabin By The Sea and then took it another step and really wanted to get bulky and songwriter with the acoustic album. Now, we really want to do something different. We’ve shown everybody what we can do. I think on your 3rd album, you should go somewhere else. I think your fans will kind of think they want you to do the same thing, the same thing, but really, they’re going to hear it and be like “Oh, this is the same shit they’ve done the last 2 albums!” So we are going to be doing some different stuff, but what I love about our band, is it always sounds like the Dirty Heads. No matter what we’re taking, we’re taking different elements from things, 1000563_10151730927213118_2004177682_nat the end of the day, it does sound like a Dirty Heads album. We’re definitely doing different stuff and I think people are going to be really stoked. It might be one of those albums where they don’t know what’s going on at first and might be off-putting, but after they give it a listen, I think its kind of undeniable.

With the album, hopefully dropping in June – Have there been any talks with any specific bands for a Summer tour?
There has been, yes, there have been talks! We have recently played some shows with the Pepper guys and we never been out on tour with them and it was really fun and the crowd liked it, so it has been in the talks. But we don’t have anything set in stone right now to tell you, but I know there’s going to be a BIG Summer tour. I think once the album does come out, our tours will get a lot more interesting and you might see us with a different type of band, rather than in the Reggae-Rock realm; which we’ve always liked to kind of venture out…I just love that you heard that song (“Burn Slow”), but it’s just that there are so many other songs that I wish that they would have sent you, like I wish I could just sit down with every song and be like “Listen to the album now”, you know? Until you get it.

Well you can send it over now if you’d like, I’m not mad about that (Hahaha)
(Hahaha) Yeah! For sure, I’ll give you an early release – that should help!

Is there any title or theme you guys have in mind for this release?
There is! There’s a working title. I can’t release it yet because we’re going to do that soon, but you guys will be the first to know!

Awesome! Yeah because that’s one of the things that I liked about the last few releases you did. Like Sails to the Wind, Any Port in a Storm, Cabin by the Sea and the acoustic album, all had a running, somewhat cohesive theme – Was that done on purpose or did it just evolve overtime?
It was done on purpose, you know, kind of like the Kanye thing with his college…(haha) I really wish I could tell you the name of the new album, because there was Sails to the Wind, Any Port in a Storm, Cabin by the Sea, and then the acoustic one was Home –Phantoms of Summer where we kind of found ourselves home. So that whole little saga that we had there, is wrapped up & done and the name of this new album is very fitting for where we’re going to go. That whole part of us is wrapped up nicely with all of those albums. So it’s something new and somewhere we’re going where it doesn’t have that same theme, which is totally different now. We’re not working on that very nautical kind of story telling with our title over the albums, this is 100% different and has nothing to do with that. BUT, it makes so much sense with what we’re doing with the album & different sounds & growing & evolving as a band.

And I know you said you couldn’t release any of the guest features, but you guys are known to work with Rome and you said he produced about 8 of the songs – is he going to be a guest feature on any of the tracks?
No, I don’t think he will, but the kid is a genius! We work so well together and you know, talking lyrics out and we’re kind of on the same page, you know? If I’m telling him a part that I want for guitar or sonically or a beat 546853_10151730927263118_421164977_nor something like that, I don’t have to sit with him and coach him through it, he’ll come back with something that’s better than I even thought. We could have gone in and wrote a couple songs and it would have been cool, but there was something that happened between me & Duddy & Rome that just, it clicked; And when something clicks and you get that magic, don’t stop it, you know? Even if we just did 1 song, you don’t stop that, you don’t plug that up, so we just let it go and I’m just really excited for people to hear it.

Right on, we can’t wait to hear it! A couple questions from the fans that we got in from Facebook – They wanted to know if there will ever be a Dirty Heads DVD, something that tells the story of the group, shows some live footage and maybe some special features of you & Duddy doing some home cooking?
(Hahaha) I’d love to do more cooking stuff, we actually have an Iron Chef thing we just did with our buddy Stan Frazier that should be out soon. Um – Yeah, we talked about doing DVDs. We don’t feel, in our career yet, that we deserve something like that, you know? I think we’re still too young as a band, that I don’t think we’ve accomplished, yet, what we’ve wanted to do, to do that. I think a LIVE DVD would be cool, but to do from day 1 to now, I think our story has so much more to go, that I’d like to do a DVD later.

Another question I had from the fans on Facebook – What about some of the older cover songs that you guys had recorded, but never released, like “Midnight Rider” or “Sweet Home California” – Are there any plans for those songs?
Uhhhh YEAh! I don’t see why we don’t just release them for FREE? I think maybe the label we were with at the time still thought we could get in trouble, legally, but you can’t really, so…I’ll talk to the dudes and if people still want them, I don’t see why we can’t just put them out! But yea, we haven’t done any covers on this album…
Oh you know what, I forgot another Producer that we worked with, cause I just thought of this song that reminded me of him – We worked with this kid, Buddah Shampoo, from LA; He does a lot of TRAP stuff and a lot of, pretty heavy gangster rap, stuff. We brought him in and brought our touch to something like that and it is incredible! BUDDAH SHAMPOO, which is very fitting to be working with the Dirty Heads! He’s amazing!

(Haha!) Looking forward to it – Thanks so much for the time, Jared and best of luck with the new album – we’ll be in touch on more updates and look forward to those FREE covers being dished out! Cheers!

Dirty Heads Links:
Dirty Heads Website
Dirty Heads Photo Gallery
Dirty Heads Show Locator

Interview by: Mike Patti
Photos by: Amanda Zancanella & Bill Colbridge

Watch: Dirty Heads – Cabin By The Sea (The Pier’s Live Acoustic Series)