The Dirty Heads to Take the Country by Storm
By Bruce Moore
August 9, 2008 – Los Angeles, CA – Los Angeles-based reggae band The Dirty Heads are preparing to release their long-awaited debut CD, Any Port in a Storm, on September 23. Produced by Sugar Ray, drummer Stan Frazier, and Steve Fox (producer of Ashlee Simpson,) the self-released CD features a wide array of guest musicians, including legendary keyboardist Billy Preston to Nine Inch Nails (NIN) and Korn drummer Josh Freese. Melding reggae and hip-hop with acoustic guitars and a hint of pop, The Dirty Heads have crafted a brilliant sounding CD that is a whole lot of fun to listen to. The first single, “Stand Tall,” was featured in the Sony Pictures movie, Surfs Up. They have toured with the likes of the critically acclaimed reggae/hip hop act 311 and Jewish Reggae DJ Matisyahu, and are preparing to go back out on the road in support of Any Port in a Storm. I recently had the opportunity to speak with vocalist Jared Watson about the band and their debut CD.
Your brand new CD, Any Port in a Storm, is set for release on September 23. Now that it is complete, how do you feel about it? Are you satisfied with the outcome?
“Most people would probably just say ‘yes, a hundred percent, I think it is the greatest thing ever,’ but I am probably about eighty percent happy with it. How critical I am, and how critical the band is, I think is really good because it is our first album and our first big debut. We want everything to be perfect. I am stoked on it, and I think maybe with the next album we will really hit the nail on the head. We know exactly who we are and what we want to sound like, but overall, I am really proud of the album.”
You worked with producers Dan Frazier and Steve Fox. How did you get in touch with them and what was it like working with them? Did they push you guys into areas you didn’t expect?
“Yeah, definitely. Working with producers was a new experience for us. You start out and you write a song, and you think you’re done, and they say ‘no, it is not even close to being done.’ You need to do this and do that. You get into fights, and by the time the song is done you think, holy shit, this song is a thousand times better than it was. You start to learn how to push yourself, and the more you work with producers, the more you learn to push yourself on your own. We worked with Stan and Steve and they pushed us and helped us write creatively.”
You worked with a whole host of guest musicians on this record. Musicians such as Billy Preston, percussionist Alex Acuna, NIN and Korn drummer Josh Freese, Jamaican dancehall legend Tippa Irie, and Indie 103.1 reggae host Native Wayne. What was it like playing with these musicians, and how did those opportunities come about?
“They are friends with our producers, Stan and Steve. We didn’t have a band at the time and we were just trying to get things the best we could. Josh Freese just got off tour with Sting and has played with Nine Inch Nails. He is just an awesome drummer. We went in and gave him the songs and he did them in like one or two takes. Just to watch him, Billy Preston, and Alex Acuna play was awesome.”
You mentioned Billy Preston. I know that you might have one of his last recorded performances on your record. What was it like working with him, and how did it make you feel to be working with a legend?
“That was like a dream come true. I have been a fan of The Beatles and The Rolling Stones; I mean who isn’t. To hear that Billy Preston had heard our music and was willing to play on it, and that he actually enjoyed the songs, was probably the biggest honor. We went in and he was like a super cool guy; just to watch him play was insane. It was magical. It was crazy the shit that he did. He probably did the same thing, like maybe one pass on each tune, and it was perfect.”
The name The Dirty Heads is interesting. to say the least. Where did it come from and what is the story behind it?
“Me and Dustin met up and we were writing songs…we didn’t even know we were a band. We just wanted to play music and weren’t even thinking about becoming a band. We wrote this one song, and in the lyrics it says, the dirty heads the dirty headed boys. So we would play this song with his brother’s band at shows and people just started calling us The Dirty Heads.”
Give us some insight into Any Port in a Storm. Is there any meaning behind the title?
“Yeah. Yeah there is. We have had a lot of ups and downs. We started taking things seriously and we got signed to Warner Bros. Then, we left Warner Bros and we were by ourselves but we were caught up in legal stuff. This album has been a big trial for us. There has been a lot of pressure figuring out what we were going to do with the pressures of the industry and stuff like that, it’s been really hard and really challenging. We didn’t have a label but we got the album back, so we own it. At the time we were like, what do we do? Do we just put this album out and go tour off of it? We were talking about labels and what the fuck we were gonna do and John, our percussionist, was like ‘I think we should do our own label. We will have backing and distribution but what label?’ John was like, fuck, dude, ANY PORT IN A STORM. Any port in a storm because in a storm you will take anything.”
What can fans expect when the pick up a copy of Any Port in a Storm?
“I would say overall just a fun record with an acoustical vibe to it. On this album there are really cool acoustic reggae/hip-hop tracks, some all reggae tracks, and then some all acoustic tracks. There are a lot of different styles on this album. There are songs from each of those, so it is kind of a mix.”
What song from the album is the most exciting for you to play?
“Probably ‘Stand Tall.” It has a lot of meaning for us, and the fans love it; it is a fan favorite. Whenever we play live, we are gonna enjoy whatever song the fans enjoy. “Neighborhood” is also a lot of fun to play live.”
What are some of the lessons you have learned since recording this record?
“I have learned a lot of lessons. Patience is key in this industry, and following our heart and standing up. Right when you get in you are green and you know you are new and you don’t know what’s up, so you listen to a lot of people. Sometimes you just have to follow your heart and put your foot down and do what you believe is going to be right for the band. And if you think you are working hard, you probably still are not working hard enough. There are other bands out there working triple what you think you are doing. So unless you are working as hard as you physically can, you are not working hard enough. It is very very hard to make it, especially with the way the industry is.”
You have shared the stage with 311, Matisyahu, Slightly Stoopid and Fishbone. What was it like playing with those artists, and were the fans receptive of your music?
“Yeah, Slightly Stoopid fans are really hardcore but they were totally cool with us. 311 is one of my favorite bands, so playing them and Matisyahu was insane. That was like the raddest thing I think we have accomplished, a least personally, just because we are such big fans and we played in front of such huge crowds. Matisyahu and 311 were amazingly cool with us and the fans loved us. We definitely owe 311 a lot because we got a lot of fans from that tour.”
What’s next for The Dirty Heads?
“We are going to drop this album and tour as much as we can. Hopefully we can go out for the next six months to a year. If there are any breaks in between, I think we are going to be coming out with a cool acoustic EP.”