INTERVIEW: Dirty Heads

On October 13th, 2017, The Dirty Heads released their sixth album ‘Swim Team’ with Five Seven Music. Now they are on their North American headliner tour, along with The Unlikely Candidate and Tyrone’s Jacket, and Montreal welcomed them to a sold out show on November 8th, 2017. The Dirty Heads may be difficult to classify in terms of musical style, embracing the sounds of reggae, folk and hip-hop, but the group is almost certain to catch your ear. with hits such as ‘Lay Me Down’ ft. Sublime with Rome, ‘My Sweet Summer’ and the anticipated hit ‘Vacation’. The single debut at #11 on iTunes’ Alternative Song Chart and climbed up to #14 on Spotify’s Global Viral 50 playlist.

More impressive is the Dirty Heads natural vibe. Consisting of Jared Watson (vocals), Dustin “Duddy B” Bushnell (vocals/guitar), Jon Olazabal (percussion), Matt Ochoa (drums) and David Foral (bass), the five member band really know how to entice a good time. Both on stage, and off, the Dirty Heads are full of positive energy.  Before the show, I was able to hang out with the Dustin and Jared to get a little insight on how the vivacious group keep the good times going.

So, tell me, who are the Dirty Heads? I would love for you to try and describe yourselves in three words…

JW: Alternative, Reggae, Hip Hop

Dustin Bushnell: Haha yup.

I mean, you have such a blend of music styles. But I guess I’d like to start by asking about your tour, and stuff. You guys have been touring since the summer, on and off and in and out of states. You must have made some great memories so far. How’s the tour life? Is it still exciting?  

DB: Yeah, definitely! After putting out a new album, its always fun to go out, play the new songs and see the reactions. Just seeing everyone enjoying the new stuff and singing along, it’s been awesome.

JW: So far Atlanta is holding the crown of the best show this tour. Atlanta was crackin’.

Until tonight…

JW: But we’ll see about tonight. We go to Toronto more than Montreal, and I remember that last tour, Toronto was probably the best show. And I’m not just saying that because we’re up here. Remember last year [to Dustin]?

DW: Yeah, yeah. Toronto was nuts.

Well I was gonna ask anyways, hows Canada!? Whats shocked you the most about the East Coast?

DB: It’s cold.

It’s not even cold yet! 

JW: For me, that’s the problem with fall tours, I just can’t do it. I don’t go out when it’s cold. I grew up in southern California, I can’t help it.

Good leeway into talking about the ‘Cali Vibes’, and about your sound and unique style we brought up before. You have a long discography list and quite a few hit singles, but has there been a track you’ve released so far and you thought, ‘Yup, that is our sound’!?

DB: The beauty of our sound, and what we’ve created, is that we can go a lot of different ways that will keep with the Dirty Heads vibe. For me, it’s “Believe” off our first album. I’m not saying it’s necessarily my favourite song we’ve put out but if you’ve never heard of the Dirty Heads, and you hear that song, you’d probably get a good idea of what we’re about.

JW: I think the people who really get our music, they get that – like when you said to describe us in the words, we are a genre bending band and we go down a lot of different roads. We have all sorts of fan factions. Some like the hip hop, some prefer the folky stuff and others the reggae. But if you really get it, you’ll enjoy us and you enjoy all of it. We always want to give you a show that will bring you up, down and give you all different feelings and vibes.

JW: Sublime and Beastie Boys, back in the day,  were such big influences because I was always so excited to hear what’s going to come out and it was never the same! Even the Beatles, they had different eras. Like remember when they Beatles were doing psychedelic. Like that’s so f*** cool! I want people to remember the Dirty Heads like that. Making memories based off our music style. And if your a fan, you can look back an remember where you were and what you were doing you when that album came out.

I guess thats part of your dynamic, knowing each there for so long and growing up together to become Dirty Heads, do you think that effects how you reach your audience on stage? It seems when the band performs, you all have such a good time, no matter what. 

JW: We’re really aware and you have to be self-aware when you’re in a band- It’s a relationship, with a bunch of dudes. You have to built respect and learn how to treat each other. We watch documentaries on bands who are going on 40 years of playing with each other who absolutely hate each other, and we understand how not to do it. They only show up for the shows and want to money. We tell ourselves, ‘Let’s not do that’. What ever we need to do to give each other space, and appreciate that we’re good people, and we love each other. Once you have that, we can be a happy family. And once you have that, you can get on stage and it’s so much better for the kids [audience members] because we’re vibing and they can vibe too.

Well, I’d love to know what the band does once you get off stage, how do you guys continue to bond? 

JW: On our days off, that’s when we take our space. Sometimes I’ll ask, ‘Do you wanna go to dinner?’, ‘Nope’, then ill just go play video games all day. Or go explore the city by myself. We’re travelling on a tour bus with 12 guys and, of course, you need the time to yourself. But before the shows, after the shows, we all get along and have fun.

Before the shows, how do you guys connect and hype yourselves up?

JW: We have a tour song, that eventually becomes the song that gets played before every show.

What’s the song for this tour? Is it one of yours?

JW: No no, I think its Bobby Brown by Belly. It’s gangster.

Haha, well I guess it reflects the hip hop mindset of your new album ‘Swim Team’.

DW: Yeah, for sure. And it gets us really pumped up.

The new album “Swim Team” is so upbeat and feel good, and I think that’s what people love about you, because you just want to hang out with your music. To date, you have so many hit tracks, Dance All Night, Lay Me Down, Sweet Summer, and those are all from different albums. Where do you continue to find the energy? And how does it make you feel when you hear your songs becoming popular? 

JW: We have goals that we want to reach, depending where we’re at.

DB: I still just enjoy doing it, and I never want to settle. Every time we go into the studio it’s like, cool, how can we make this album better than the last one.

JW: Biggie said in an interview once, ‘If you ever feel like you’ve made it, then you’re over.’ And Kendrick said it, and lots of artists have said it. You always kind of want to be scared that this can go away. We want to be doing this 20 years from now, and we’re already been doing it for almost 15. A lot of bands have come and gone already. That definitely fuels the fire and keeps us going.

JW: And also, I just really love f** writing music. Its really fun. I love playing shows and touring, but writing really my favourite part of it all. Creating something and finishing it, it has such a rewarding feeling. Everything about writing music and it’s creative process is like a fun equation.

Do you do this process together?

DW: Really depends on the song. We sometimes sit in room together and throw ideas around until one sticks and work from there. Sometimes I write verses in my house on random bits of paper.

JW: Whats funny is I always scratch ideas down on paper but then have to put it into my phone to practice vocal. I can’t write a song on a screen, and it’s easier to read off the screen.

“Vacation” is on its way to the top, in North America at least, did you expect that? How does it make you feel? Do you know a song is going to be a hit when you write it?

DW: No no no no, you never know.

JW: Personally, I have no idea. Most of the time when I’m like, ‘Oh, that song is alright’, and that’s the song that blows up. Other times when you’re like ‘I love this song’, it does alright. For example, Lay Me down was a demo. It was on the radio before it got mixed and mastered. The manager’s assistant accidentally put it on the demo for the radio station. The programmer wasn’t feeling the other songs until the CD kept playing. And he loved it so our manager just let him play it. Two days later, it was mixed, mastered and became a huge hit. That song was written in 20 minutes in Dustin’s backyard.

JW: I mean as a song writer you can be attached to a song in a different way that a fan would be, or the masses.

And for tonight, what song are you the most excited to play for us?

JW: We always give it our all, from the first song to the last. Theres never a song when I’m like, ugh, I’m just gonna do my job. Tonight… I’m probably most excited to play “West Coast” because we just played it for the first time the other night.

DW: To be honest, it’s always one of the new ones that we’re most excited for.

What are you gonna do after the show tonight?

JW: A bar called, The Drinkee? Somewhere close. We usually go out and, well, Montreal is such a cool city with amazing restaurants and things to do.

DB: We usually like to walk to somewhere close, and prefer dive bars.

JW: As long as it’s mellow, and nice. It could do a lounge with not a lot of people… or a dive bar [chuckles].

So my last question, I love to ask, what’s the ‘going out’ dynamic. You must have a party animal in the group? or one that’s the parent?

DB: Theres never anyone who’s like, ‘No, you shouldn’t go out because we have a show tomorrow’, it’s like, ‘Yes, go out, less people on the bus!’.

JW: We have a rule that we learned a long time ago. We don’t drink until the show starts. We used to drink before and get off the stage and be like, ‘Man, we just killed it!’ and we’d look back and there was like 10 people in the crowd and we sounded like sh**. But then you grow, and now we have these fans. We don’t want to let them down, like, let’s do this right because we’re here to put on the best show.

JW: But there’s no one that really parents anybody, no… Oh wait, we parent Shaun.

I knew it! You guys love each other but there’s always one. 

JW: We have to baby him because he missed bus calls and falls asleep. Bus leaves from Montreal to Toronto at 2pm and by 3pm, ‘Where’s shaun?’

JW: [looks at Dustin] Is it Vancouver Dave? Or Toronto Dave?

DB: Vancouver Dave.

JW: There is a city that somebody has been so smashed, that you now have the city as a name tag stuck on you. There’s Vancouver Dave, Aspin Jared

DB: Austin Duddy.

JW: This one was long ago but still so funny. We were all in the bus and we partied after the show in Vancouver. We played drinking games in a bar with a bunch of people we had met. We finally get on the bus and we’re driving for a good 15 minutes until we stop at a red light. All of a sudden, we see Dave, running alongside the bus screaming at us. He was running with this large tiki thing…

DB: It was like a wood cut out of the Philadelphia eagles sign, that he got in Vancouver…

JW: We almost left him.

DB: So ridiculous.

[all laughs]

So any closing remarks?

JW: I think that theres people out there who are famous, just be be famous, why? Like, what is the point. I want our music to be famous and I don’t care if anyone recognizes me, I just want our music to be something. It’s all about perspective and we’re here to have fun.

WATCH “Vacation” BY Dirty Heads:

FOLLOW Dirty Heads:

Lianne Barnes

Lianne is a recent Communications graduate, montreal-based music lover and adventurer. She is always making plans for the next best thing and meeting the coolest people along the way. When she is not biking around town, she is travelling, attending concerts, watching Netflix, eating overpriced food and making playlists for all the above! Follow her on Spotify @LiliBarn

No Comments Yet

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.