Backstage: The Dirty Heads Story
SETTING THE STAGE
It is ironic that the first track to the Dirty Heads recent full-length studio release Cabin By The Sea was titled “Arrival”, Jared Watson feels the Dirty Heads have arrived, but there are still so many goals yet to fulfill.
The Dirty Heads are a band that have experienced both sides of the music industry, and the obscure grey area of the appropriately titled music business, but have still pulled through to arrive at their own Cabin By The Sea. From a dingy van that built the bond to form the family that is now housed in a luxurious tour bus. Now, the color is accented with gold after their recent Gold certification for the band’s Any Port In A Storm hit single, “Lay Me Down”.
However, both the band and Jared “Dirty J” Watson have moved past that success and have focused on goals much further down the line. Even with new material just now reaching the fans ears, Jared admitted, “We are constantly writing. So, we are always writing for the next album, but it doesn’t feel like it. I don’t want to say, “Yes. I am writing for the next album.” We are just always going to keep writing, no matter what. When it does come time to get in and start recording the next album, I want to have a bunch of shit ready to go, so we can make an even better album than the last”
It was clear that prior to the recording sessions for Cabin By The Sea, the Dirty Heads had tons of material lined up and “ready to go,” as Jared eloquently stated. Their latest material has garnered their most fruitful success, after peaking at #18 on the Billboard 200 chart, surpassing the mark Any Port In A Storm tallied in 2010. The accolades that Cabin By The Sea has achieved is a testament to the new and innovative music the Dirty Heads continue to release.
The success of their most recent studio release follows a similar suit to their mainstream debut, as the deluxe, re-release of Any Port In A Storm, which featured the hit single “Lay Me Down” with guest vocalist, Rome Ramirez of Sublime With Rome. Following that album release, the two bands teamed up for a nationwide tour. Now, with new material and a new hit single titled, “Dance All Night” featuring Matisyahu, once again two musical acts get to pair up and perform the collaboration live and in-person for the fans to see.
With the most recent tours for the Dirty Heads, either in a headlining capacity or as the direct support for the headlining act, such as the Gym Class Heroes, Sublime With Rome, 311 and New Politics, each journey across the country has been different and with different stages of musical material. And with a band that thoroughly enjoys touring like the Dirty Heads, one particular nationwide run had to be tabbed as a favorite.
As Dirty J stated, “I would have to say this current tour with Matisyahu is the most enjoyable tour yet. There are just so many factors to consider that make this tour special. The fact that we have a new album ‘Cabin By The Sea’ out, the fact that we have a song off of the new album with Matisyahu on it…just like when we went out with Sublime with Rome, we had a song that featured Rome on it. It is just really cool to go on tour with someone you actually share a song with and to grow the popularity of the song together, even further. We can have Matisyahu come out, sing on the song (“Dance All Night”), grow that camaraderie, and the fact that we get to play new music each and every night is crazy to us. I just feel that the crowd that we bring and the crowd that Matisyahu brings is such a good mesh of music and people all on the same wavelength.. For me this is the most enjoyable tour, because we are still not slaving over ‘Any Port In A Storm’, we have new stuff just coming out, we all feel more comfortable as artists, and it is really just a good time, you know? New music is always inspiring.”
This is the time frame that a band truly enjoys their job to the fullest; a solid run of success for the most recent release, on the road with their good friends and performing all new songs for the fans enjoyment. Even for band members, the songs often times begin to fade from the initial excitement from an album release of years past, but Cabin By The Sea is so fresh that the majority of the songs are just being performed live for the very first time. Jared Watson went on to share a story about his particular favorite from Cabin By The Sea, and it involves two of his childhood heroes.
NEW ALBUM: “Cabin By The Sea” Favorites
“For me, ‘Smoke Rings’ with Del The Funky Homosapien would have to be the one. All of those songs with collaborations were amazing. But, for the song with Del, that was something else. Del has been such a big influence on my life growing up. While skateboarding, I would listen to Del…and the way getting him on the album came about was I got to meet one of my childhood idols, which is Danny Way, the pro skateboarder. I became friends with him, and he invited my girlfriend and I out to Hawai’i to come hangout while he built this mega skate ramp. That’s like a basketball kid growing up and Michael Jordan asking you to come help him build a basketball court. So, I couldn’t really turn that down. I showed him the song “Smoke Rings” and told him we were looking for rappers, and out of nowhere he says, “I’m friends with Del!” And, I said, “Shut the fuck up! You’ve got to be kidding me?” We made one call to Del, emailed him, and he gave us the song back pretty quick. Just the way that it all happened, to meet and work with two of my own idols growing up, that was the song that meant the most to me, and it is still one of my favorite songs on the album, and probably always will be.”
After mentioning that Watson’s favorite song was one of the four songs that featured guest appearances on Cabin By The Sea and witnessing the show unfold earlier in the evening, the Dirty Heads performed three of the four songs featuring Ky-Mani Marley, Rome Ramirez, Matisyahu, and ironically, the aforementioned song featuring Del was the only song not played live. So, it was only proper to ask Jared if he had any second thoughts about singing other prominent vocalists’ verses during a live show?
“No. I don’t have a problem with singing their spots live. With Rome we have known him for so long, we have similar tastes, and Rome is an amazing singer…he is a way better singer than I am. But, for that song, I know I could hit it, and it is more of a rap song anyway. With Ky-Mani, that song was done before with our own lyrics. I think Duddy was in place of Ky-Mani, and I did the bridge. Then, we got the call back and Ky-Mani told us he loved that song so much that he had to get on it. To be able to get Ky-Mani Marley on a song where we are praising his father was absolutely crazy. I never would have thought I would be on a song with a Marley. On that song, he sounds like Bob. I’m not going to try and sound like anyone but me. We don’t want to not play those songs live because everyone loves them. So, no issues at all for me.”
With the growth of the band over the years, there is a sense of comfort in their place and where they are going to be in the shape of the music industry with lofty goals. As those goals are set and have been subsequently met, the Dirty Heads have grown in number, as well. With the addition of new keyboardist and back up vocalist, Shawn Hagood, formerly of Florida’s Spread The Dub, the sound the Dirty Heads laid down in the studio with keys, horns and three-part harmonies are now brought to life at live shows. The natural sound the Dirty Heads envisioned has now become a reality. It’s just another stepping stone along the Dirty Heads journey to finding that perfect sound they always hoped for.
A PROGRESSIVE SOUND: Another Live Member Addition
Jared pulled back the curtain on the thought process and accompanying action to bringing a sixth touring member onto the Dirty Heads traveling show: “We played in Florida one night, actually last year with the Gym Class Heroes…But this one night in Florida we went out to a bar after the show, and there was this guy on keys… and we were looking for a guy who plays keys and who can sing, and [Shawn] was up there nailing the keys and nailing the harmonies. And, we were like, “Hey! Not any time soon or anything, maybe a year, maybe two years, give me your card, I’d like to get a hold of you sometime.” Maybe a year went by and we started doing auditions at home, and no one was really fitting what we were looking for. Then we actually flew him out, paid for him to come out and give it a try. And, it worked! I think it adds so much extra to the band. To add a sixth touring member on keys is so fucking rad! It rounds out the band and it is always something that we have been missing. We write with keys and we write with three-part harmonies. With everything that we are all about, it is just really cool and fits really well.”
Shawn is just another piece that the Dirty Heads have added to reach their lofty heights. It has been a long process, but the Dirty Heads are rapidly approaching the pinnacle of their success. One band that the Dirty Heads have credited for guidance and support early in their career was 311. And more recently, the Dirty Heads joined the 311 Caribbean Cruise to the Bahamas to share their tales of the musical road while sipping on plenty of blended cocktails.
“For the music we make, the vibe that we go for, for the settings that we try and place in our songs, there could not have been a better place to play at, than a private island in the Bahamas, with a pirate ship behind the stage. For me, 311 has done so much for so many bands, including us. In my mind, 311 is such a rad band to base your careers on. Not only are they great musicians, not only have they had a long career and I think a big reason why they have had such a long career is because they accept other bands coming up and then they showcase them…Incubus, us, Pepper, every band I can think of. The way they do that is so respectable. I really can’t say a bad thing about them. I think that is a major reason why they have been at this for so long. They have a great attitude that leads to a great business; the way they run their band, and that leads to all that success people see. If we even come close to 311’s career I would be fucking ecstatic!”
THE NEXT DESTINATION
The Dirty Heads have endured various stages of this musical game. From playing shows in dingy, grimy, rundown bars and clubs that have since shutdown, to selling out the preeminent venues in capitol cities in each state they play. They are now hometown heroes that will be venturing off to South America for the very first time ever. All the while, with each flagship moment along their career, the next goal was set. One thing that Jared Watson made clear was that the Dirty Heads would not settle into complacency.
“With ‘Lay Me Down’ reaching Gold certification, we know, and me in particular, I have so much more work to do before we are done, I have so many goals to reach. Now that we have been successful in the United States and are able to tour on our own in the U.S., I feel that we will be happy and feel that we have reached another goal we set once we can do what we are doing in the U.S. over seas, in Europe and in South America to take this worldwide. That’s the ultimate goal. Sometimes when you go to new places for the first time, it is like starting over and no one knows the band, but we have done it before and have done pretty well with our style so far, and we are going to work just as hard to make new fans wherever we go.”
The Dirty Heads have plenty of work left to do before the house lights fade to black, and they are faithful along their journey. So, don’t take their album finale on Cabin By The Sea to heart, “Farewell” is simply a song title, not the state of the union.
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Article By: Kris Siuta
Photos By: Kit Chalberg
Announcing their latest single “Dance All Night” with Matisyahu, the Dirty Heads have debuted a new Music Video for the single. Check it out below and don’t forget to read up on “Lay Me Down” going GOLD by clicking HERE. Enjoy!