A year after the release of their latest album Sound of Change, we were able to catch up with guitarist/vocalist Duddy B of the Dirty Heads at California Roots this past May to talk about their history and how they have grown over the last few years.
Dustin “Duddy B” Bushnell, grew up in Orange County, CA listening to bands like Sublime, NOFX, Bad Religion, and Pennywise, among the other various punk, ska, and reggae inspired acts of the 1980s and 1990s. He was inspired to start his own punk band freshmen year of high school called Unknown. After loud practice and parties, Duddy B’s dad soundproofed the garage after complaints from their neighbors.
The soundproof stage became the go to location for after parties, which contained a Casio keyboard, microphones, and a 4-track recorder. The perfect stage was set for Duddy and his friends to write and record their own ridiculous rap verses.
The rhymes “were hilarious; a bunch of 13 year old white kids rapping, we weren’t serious, it was all jokes. I’d go and play them at parties,” where he met Jared “Dirty J” Watson and the two have been friends ever since.
Duddy B says there are mini discs of their early rap battles floating around. He recently revisited the tracks where they would attempt to one-up each other with the most revolting rhymes about things other than growing up or going steady.
“You can get arrested for saying those type of things.”
“I’m pretty sure ‘Antelope’ was the first one. And then we did ‘I Got No Time’ and said ‘This is pretty cool, we got some shit here,’” and the Dirty Heads were formed.
Their first three studio albums Any Port in a Storm, Cabin by the Sea, and Home – Phantoms of Summer reached the top 10 Billboard Alternative charts.
Duddy B spoke of their fourth studio album Sound of Change in 2014, which reached #8 on the Billboard charts, #1 in alternative, and #2 in the rock category. “It was a little different than the albums we’ve done in the past; we wanted to try something new, I think people were taken back by it at first but I think once they listened to it they kind of got what we were doing. The live shows have been awesome, there’s a lot more energy.”
Three of the songs that have made it to their live set list feature cameos by Jamaican dancehall group Ward 21 on “Medusa”, the irie-inspired track “Franco Eyed” features B-Real of Cypress Hill while Tech N9ne spits fire for “Burn Slow”.
“It’s so fun when you send your beat to someone and you’re waiting for the rap to come back.” This is not the first experience Dirty Heads have had working with other talented artists.
“We always collab; always have guest appearances on our albums. Every time you work with someone they are going to show you something or do something you wouldn’t have thought,” which is why they are constantly working with different writers, producers, and studios. “We literally learn from everyone.”
Back in 2012, Duddy B and Jared Watson teamed up with legendary guitarist Daryl Hall to perform a few tracks for his television broadcast Live From Daryl’s House. The two performed an updated Dirty Heads inspired version of the 1976 Hall & Oates classic “Rich Girl” and with Daryl’s solo hit “Send Me” along with Dirty Heads originals including “Lay Me Down” and “Cabin By The Sea”.
Watch: The Dirty Heads Live From Daryl’s House “Rich Girl”:
“It was an intimidating experience; you get there and think ‘we’re going to show up and we’ll rehearse and we’ll go over the songs.’ Obviously, we knew what songs we were doing before we went. We learned them and we played them; we show up and cameras go on. No rehearsals and these guys are just shredding. They don’t miss a note. They are the nicest guys and it was just an awesome experience.”
Blues Traveler recently commissioned the Dirty Heads and Rome Ramirez to perform on their new song “Castaway” for their April 2015 release Blow Up the Moon. “We went up to LA and wrote a few songs with them and went and performed them on the Morning show in New York.” They were honored to work with renowned blues harp specialist John Popper to say the least.
Dirty Heads are currently on their first tour with their reggae/rock powerhouse counterpart Slightly Stoopid on the Everything Is Awesome Tour. The groups made the decision to hit the road after hanging out in Mexico for the Closer to the Sun all-inclusive experience.
“You tell your management and we’ll tell ours and we’ll just make it happen. We did it and we’re stoked.”
I asked Duddy B if they were planning on sharing the stage on a few songs together to which he replied, “It’s a 2 and a half month tour, a lot can happen.”
The Everything Is Awesome Tour is on its second leg toward the West Coast with Stick Figure and is sure to be the concert of the summer. They have repeatedly sold out on various dates so far so do not wait to get your tickets HERE!
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Article by: Blake Taylor
Photo by: David Norris
Watch: Dirty Heads – Cabin by the Sea (The Pier’s Live Acoustic Series):