This year we skipped spring and went straight to summer. Now it’s time to grill everything under the sun, chill poolside with an ice cold drink and show off all the epic work you put into your body. What else could we possibly ask for? How about some new summer tunes? From country to pop and everything in between, those new singles and albums are being released to start your summer off right. One of those perfect summer singles was released on May 13th by the California based and reggae-rock rooted band, the Dirty Heads. We spoke with Jared Watson, front man of the Dirty Heads, about their upcoming album, their recently released summer single, and his love for all things art. Along with their single “That’s All I Need” being released, they also announced that their self-titled summer album will be dropping on July 15th.
Inked: How would you describe the vibe of the Dirty Heads for those who haven’t heard you?
In a nutshell, we are an alternative band that’s heavenly influenced by reggae and hip-hop.
What inspired the Dirty Heads when writing the new album?
When we got done with the album we noticed that there were two sides, or two different vibes. People now listen to music with the format of playlists and vinyl is on its way back. So we wanted to do a side A and a side B. On the track listing 1-6 is side A which is meant for the day time vibe and then 7-11 are the night time songs that we feel fit more of the night time, party, and darker vibes. Compared to the last album, it was very experimental and we needed to get that out. We were feeling like we need to do something different, when we came back to this album we said, “What should we do? Where should we go? What vibe?” Once we started writing the music it went back to the really core sounds of the Dirty Heads. Using that hip-hop, reggae, and the acoustic guitars a lot we made that summer and weekend music. We are really comfortable with who we are, we’ve accepted who we are, and are proud of who we are.
How was writing this album different than your previous albums?
After a couple albums of the same thing you might go through an identity crisis as an artist and you want to do some different things. We did that experimental album with Sound of Change, now we are back and better than ever with that Dirty Heads sound that everybody loves. We are very stoked.
What inspires your music?
You can’t really answer that with just one answer because it comes from so many different places. You can find inspiration from other music, from a conversation or something personal that happened to you. You can find inspiration anywhere. For us it comes from so many different places. Sometimes you’re inspired by the music that was written in the room right then and there. Duddy B can come up with a guitar part, Matt can come up with a drum part, or the producer or song writer that we are working with can have a piano loop and you’re like “Oh My God!” and a melody will instantly pop into your head. That melody will inspire you. It paints this picture in my head, and we go from there, but there is no one answer to finding the inspiration.
As a group do you all collaborate your cover art or merchandise art?
I usually spearhead the art. I once apprenticed at a tattoo shop for two years after high school. I had planned on going to art school and then I didn’t graduate because of my government class. At the time, I didn’t believe in government and so I just didn’t show up. I was even in honors art. Getting good grades was easy for me, I just disagreed with my government teacher so I didn’t go, he failed me and I didn’t get the scholarship to the art school I wanted to go to. That is when I started apprenticing at the tattoo shop. Art has been a really big part of my life, so when it comes to art I’ll usually spearhead it. Sometimes we will work as a group when someone comes up with an idea. For this one, with the color gradient, I thought it was a cool vintage and timeless feel. That’s what I feel this album has, a little bit of a vintage feel mixed in with very current sounds. With the day and the night playlists, the orange gradient represents the daytime and the purple gradient represents the nighttime, which will be available on both the back of the CD and vinyl. It’s almost like a sunset or a sunrise and then the nighttime is more like the moon coming up. The octopus has been our Nike Swoosh. It’s been our mascot since day one and we really wanted to bring that back into it. Since it is a self titled album, its very fitting to use the mascot and keep it simple and but also have it very aesthetically pleasing.
Are you still into art?
Yeah, I’m actually really into painting right now. I just bought a house and have been looking for abstract art. Some of my artist friends have given me pieces for my house and do really amazing portraits, like this artist Cam Raccum who has done Avenged Sevenfold’s art. I really like very minimalistic and abstract art to hang on the wall, big pieces and Zen circles are really cool, but they are all like fucking ten thousand dollar pieces. I tell myself, “I can do this, easily.” My dad is a retired carpenter so I starting getting these huge pieces of wood, a gigantic three foot Japanese calligraphy brush and started doing zen circles. That got me back into just painting in general with oils, acrylics, point pens, and other things. I used to do my friends surfboards, which got me kind of back into art as well. I was getting sober at the time and that was really therapeutic for me. Having a hobby that I truly enjoyed doing rather than sitting around and spending my days partying, drinking, taking pills and destroying my body helped me a lot.
Are you still sober?
Not entirely. Alcohol and pills are not good for me but I still partake in medicinal, natural…. I still smoke weed and eat mushrooms. It’s not like I’m dead sober but I had a problem with alcoholism and pharmaceutical drugs.
What is your all time favorite guilty pleasure summer song?
I don’t really know. But I want it to be a guilty pleasure like the shit that you would turn down when someone pulls up next to you. Like, I'm not listening to that, nope. I don’t really feel guilty about listening to any music. OH! You know what song is the fucking shit right now? One of the Jonas brothers, I think its Nick Jonas, he has a song with Tove Lo called "Close." It is like my favorite song. I think everybody says, “Oh you’re the Dirty Heads, you’re not supposed to listen to pop radio, you’re not supposed to like that song, you’re not supposed to like that Rihanna song, Arianna Grande, or Justin Bieber song.” But really half the time somebody else wrote this song so I know that it is a well written song. That Taylor Swift song about cheerleaders and the bleachers was my shit too! I guess that would be my guilty pleasure/summer song, that people would think, “oh, you listen to that?” I don’t give a fuck if it’s country, pop, or EDM. I don’t care what genre it is, a well-written song is a well-written song and I will give all due respect to anyone that writes it. If the artist can perform it then big ups to them and I’m not going to be like “I’m not supposed to like this because I’m too cool.” Music is music.
Are there any particular artists that you would like to work with in the future?
Right now I'm working on a solo hip-hop album called SwordBeach and there is this artist from Argentina named Mau Lencinas I am working with. I really don't want to blow him up because he is kind of unknown and he is so fucking dope. But, he is doing the artwork for the album. I'm a huge fan of Japanese animation. I've grown up watching it and I'm still a huge anime fan, so he has as really cool blend of Japanese animation mixed with his own style that I am collaborating with him now. I also became friend with this really awesome tattoo artist Edek Qwerty. He tattooed me in Berlin and was one of the most life changing people that I've talked to. He's hands-down my favorite tattoo artist right now. To get him to do some artwork would be really cool.
Do you have any favorite fan art?
I have tons and tons of fan art that I keep. Everything that we get at shows or we get sent we usually keep. All the fan artwork that I get sent personally, whether it is paintings, pictures, or stuff whittled out of wood I keep it all. It goes to my game room, AKA my man cave. I hang it all over the walls, so it’s pretty cool. I have a big memorabilia box full of everything.
Do you ever get tattooed during the tour to remember the tour?
I have not done a "tour tattoo" yet, although I get tattooed probably ever tour. I just got tattooed, recently, by Dean Williams in Texas and Frank Williams in Chicago. When I met Edek, we were on tour in Berlin, that’s when he tattooed me. I like to get a lot of finger bangers, little fun ones. My manager Taylor and I got little palm trees in Berlin on our hands. I guess I do get tattoos while I’m on tour with friends but none of them have been like “Summer Tour 2016," or “we ate a lot of spam in Hawaii, so I’m going to get a little spam musubi.” Nothing that has been based off of anything that has happened on the tour, but every tour I’ll get a tattoo. I can look back and be like “ yeah I got that one in summer 2014 Dirty Heads tour, or Summer 2011” but the artwork usually doesn’t revolve around something that happened on the tour or the tour itself.
Do you have any new tattoo ideas for yourself?
Yeah I definitely do! There is a Brazilian artist named João Ruas and he is another one of my favorite artists other than Edek. He is one of the most phenomenal artists I’ve ever seen and his work is so fucking cool. I have big Japanese cranes on my left rib and a full sleeve on my left arm from Jim Miner. My left side is pretty full, but I want to do a half body suit from my butt/back to my front. Not a full body suit but just the left side of me.
Have you talked to an artist about the details of getting this tattooed? Have you contacted him about using his work?
No, not necessarily. I don’t want to take a painting or something that he has done and have it on my body, I would just like to go to an artist that I think can capture his style and go from there.
If you could choose one of your songs to describe what the Dirty Heads are about, what would it be?
I fucking think “That’s All I Need” is pretty goddamn close. I don’t see any of our fans being like “This isn’t the sound I used to fall in love with.” We have done this since day one. We are inspired by a 90’s style kind of hip hop, we’ve taken break beats, we’ve used a lot of acoustic guitar and feel good music. We love helping people, we love that our music can change somebody’s life and it can help get them through a day with our uplifting lyrics. We especially like that summer anthem feel. “That’s All I Need” captures where we grew up, where we are from, what we are about, and what styles of music we have in our own music. We have hip-hop, acoustic guitar, reggae skank elements, super catchy hooks that we get in and there’s even rap verses. I think “That’s All I Need” is one of THE most Dirty Heads songs you can really get. Wait until you hear the fucking rest of the album. There are ones that are even more Dirty Heads than that. I think songs like "Sloth’s Revenge" and "Antelope" are so different than what any one has ever heard and those are very Dirty Heads as well. This new album is a little more buttoned up, I don’t think there are really any curveballs on this one. I think it’s better than anything we have done.
Is there anything else you like to say to the Inked readers that they should know about the Dirty Heads and their new album?
You should come to a show! This is what happens in music; you get a single put out and everybody already puts a stigma on it. Since it’s on the radio, YouTube, and Spotify, it gets pushed. It’s getting pushed at you constantly, the stigma of “oh this is the single, they made this to make money, they did this or that” is already on that single. Maybe you won’t give that band a chance and you won’t listen to the rest of their album, which you could end up actually liking and just not the single. Usually for other bands, I don’t really like the single but I’ll listen to the rest of the album and then I’ll find my favorites. If I buy an album and I like 3 to 4 songs on that album, that’s a phenomenal album. If I like 6 songs or more on an album, that’s a fucking classic. I don’t remember the last time I bought an album where I liked every single song; I don’t think I’ve ever bought an album where I liked almost every single song. I think rather than being like “That’s that ‘Lay Me Down band’” or “That’s that ‘All I Need band’You haven’t seen the rest us. You haven’t seen us play it live, with what we are about and with how we perform our live show. That really is the other most important thing to us, our live show. I think if you just hear the Dirty Heads, “Lay Me Down,” “My Sweet Summer,” “That’s All I Need,” or any of the singles you need to come to a fucking show. Then you can be like “I hate those guys” and I’ll be like “cool.”
Cover Photo from @puffead.