Dirty Heads have just surprised fans with the release of “Visions” while on their nationwide tour with Iration, Pacific Dub and The Movement. With a few more weeks left of their tour, the SoCal reggae-hip hop group has also revealed a new album is in the works. Coming off their successful Huntington Beach cleanup, the band is also making ocean health a priority. They’ve made this summer tour extra special by working with the National Resources Defense Council to donate one dollar of every ticket to aid in ocean and wildlife conservation. Here, vocalist Jared Watson reveals Maroon 5‘s connection with new single “Visions,” why marine health is important and comments on their single “Celebrate” climbing alternative charts.
Thanks so much for speaking with me! How’s the tour going so far?
It’s good! It’s like two, three weeks in. I think it’s only six weeks so we’re coming up on half way.
So tell me about how your music and even this tour have been impacted by your efforts to benefit the environment?
So, when you are playing music, usually, it’s just for fun with your buddies. Then you’re like, ‘Oh my god, could I make a living out of this? This is my dream come true!’ It’s insane. Then it’s all about growing your music and getting people to your shows and the band is life. It’s a very selfish thing at the beginning, I think, not in a bad way. Then you start to gain fans, and you start to grow, and you start to meet in the streets, and you start doing meet-and-greets and you start hearing stories of how your music helped someone and you got them through a really dark time. Things like that, and it means a lot. It feels really good. It’s something you don’t really think of actively, so when I tell you that it’s kind of heavy. It’s really crazy. So then you start thinking, well, we’re affecting people, essentially, without knowing it. And if that’s already happening, what do we care about? What do we do in our off time and what can we kind of help on the platform that we have?
All of us growing up by the beach, constantly being in the water, constantly going fishing in the mountains—we’re all very active outdoors. Whether it’s camping or fishing, hiking [or] surfing, somebody’s always somewhere else, or travelling somewhere else, or doing something and it’s usually outdoors. I think that’s just one of the big things that we really care about, that we really see that people need to be conscious of and that we can bring to the table. And it’s really fitting to our music, so we just wanted to use our platform to let people know what they can do to just help all we can.
That’s great. You guys also recently organized a beach cleanup in Huntington Beach, how’d that go?
It was good! I was surprised—I’m glad—but there wasn’t a lot of trash! Orange County Coastkeeper have been doing it and they’ve really been getting at it. I think they get a couple hundred people each time, but there were like 1,200 people. So usually it’s a couple hundred people picking up trash, so it might seem like a lot of trash. But with 1,200 people, some people [were] coming back like, ‘I can’t really find any trash,’ like that’s the point! That’s great!
Picking up trash isn’t gonna solve the problem. It’s gonna help, especially with the marine life and with the animals right there, which is super key. But just picking up the trash on the beach isn’t gong to necessarily solve it. Like it has to be done in your home, consciously, about getting a cup, getting a mug, getting a beer [and] not using plastic. People don’t think about how much plastic they use. You can watch Netflix documentaries all day, you can see the island of trash floating through on the internet, and you can get sent stuff all the time, but if you’re not actively in the water…like I surf every day. When I’m home, I surf every morning. It’s part of my routine, and I see it every f*cking day. So it might hit me a little different. When you’re just commuting and things like that or going out to lunch, you don’t think about it.
Huntington being your guys’ hometown, do you draw artistic inspiration from the beach?
Totally. I think a lot of people draw inspiration from nature, whether they know it or not. I think not enough people are utilizing that, whether it’s inspiration or overall health. Like we’re sitting indoors eight hours a day, that’s just not built into us yet. I mean, we might become this like pasty, weird, non-fingernail alien type creature that sits inside all day or exists in some sort of matrix [laughing], but before that we were outside all day. People are so sad and they’re depressed and it’s a shame that the society we set up is that people have to sit inside all day under these weird florescent lights. Just going outside and taking your shoes off and being in nature is 100 percent scientifically proven to make you feel better.
So of course, when I go camping or when I go surfing or especially like deep sea fishing, when you’re out there and all you can see is the horizon and you’re two or three hours out, that’s really inspiring. And then seeing a Humpback whale, like you’re seeing it in the wild…we just wrote a song called “Wild.” We’re working on it for our next album. That was inspired because I was going fishing by San Nicholas Island and it’s like a two or three hour boat ride, and it was like five in the morning, and this teenage Humpback whale just kept jumping like 20 feet away from the boat, and I was just like, ‘Oh my god.’ Even when I see dolphins surfing I’m just like, ‘Oh this is so insane.’ I got home and that same day we wrote that song. It just kind of touched on that, so yeah, we draw a lot of inspiration from it.
And you’re donating a portion of your ticket sales to the National Resources Defense Council, how did that get set up?
That was super cool. That was a no brainer. It was just like, ‘Hey, do you guys want to donate a dollar from every ticket?’ And it was like, ‘Yes.’ How hard is that? And it goes to their efforts across the spectrum. They’re not just trying to get rid of plastic; they’re doing everything. So that was a no-brainer. So we’re donating the money to go to them, and my thing with a lot of charities is you don’t know where your money’s going. You don’t know how big of a house and a yacht that the person who started that charity has, you know? It’s really sketchy sometimes. So we make sure that when we do things with charities they’re real. We check it, and they’re awesome. They’ve been doing great work.
Congratulations on “Celebrate” making it to #11 at Alternative Radio, where did the inspiration for that song come from?
Almost #10! We were in the studio with The Heavy, it’s a production—these two producers and writers, and they were just showing us what they had been working on. They’d just done that hook for “Celebrate” and we were like, ‘Oh my god!’ Being touring musicians, traveling for work for the past 15 years, that hook like hit home. I was like, ‘Oh my god I’m gonna cry, what is this?!’ And we were like, ‘Can we have this?’ And they were like, ‘What do you mean?’ And I was like, ‘I want this hook. We’re wanna do verses, like we wanna make it Dirty Heads.’ And they were like, ‘Well, let me talk to the guys!’ We’d actually played a couple shows with The Unlikely Candidates, which Kyle [Morris], their lead singer, had sang the hook and they’d wrote it and we hit them up and we were like, ‘Dude can we use you as a feature and can we use this song?’ And they were like, ‘Yeah of course! Let’s do it.’ They put out their version, their rendition, and that was really cool. Then we put out our rendition, which was really cool, and it just meant a lot.
It was really funny ‘cause we did it with that and then this new single that we have coming out called “Visions,” that is a rendition of somebody else’s song. Like we took this “Celebrate” song, made it ours, but they also put their rendition out. It’s like very old school reggae with a country vibe and I’m excited to do it. So we were working on the album and our other friends Ryan and Nick, they’re also producers that write and work with us, we wrote this song called “Visions.” Ryan was hanging out with the Maroon 5 guys and their producer and Adam [Levine]. He was like, ‘Yo check out this Dirty Heads song “Visions.”’ It was not finished yet and Adam Levine was still looking for another song for the Maroon 5 album and he was like, ‘This is it!’ They loved it. They hit us up like, ‘Hey, can we have this song?’ and we were like, ‘Of course!’ It’s a great opportunity as songwriters and everybody in the band played on it everybody killed it. So we were stoked. So we gave it to them and then we just missed the song really bad [laughing] and we started messing with it live just for fun. And we were like, ‘Hey, can we just put out our rendition of this?’ and they were like, ‘Totally, that’d be sick so people can hear both of them.’ So now we’re dropping our version of “Visions.”
How did you pick your other acts for this tour? I saw that Pacific Dub is from Huntington Beach, too.
There’s a curriculum you can follow. Usually, A, the first one, is their music good? And yes, I like their music. Then B, which is really, really important is: are they cool? [Laughing] Not even cool, are they nice human beings? That’s it. Are they nice, good people, because you’re with them a long time. On a tour bus, you’re gonna see them every day, your tour manager has gotta work with their tour manager. It’s a whole circus and all the little parts gotta work and if somebody’s got a big ego or this band thinks they’re bigger than everybody, it can really sour the whole tour. Those are the two big ones.
We’ve known Iration for a really long time. They’ve been like a staple in the scene. They’ve been like a great crushing band, kind of coming up with us over the past couple years. The last time we toured [with them] was maybe like 10 years ago and we were playing like bars with like 50 people, driving through blizzards, so we just know them and have been actual friends with them for a long time, so we knew that would work.
I bet that’s really cool, playing shows with them at bars to touring nationally together.
It’s super cool. Like, there’s a whole scene. It was just some kids that liked Sublime and Wu-Tang Clan and reggae and smoking weed. There was a group of them that liked Sublime and Slightly Stoopid, which is one of my favorite bands, and now it’s a whole scene. Like there’s festivals with just reggae-rock and I know we teeter, we dip in and out of it. I wouldn’t call us a reggae-rock band but we’re in the scene and we’ve been a part of it almost from the start. Now, there’s festivals with 10,000 people, 15,000 people, for just this type of music. I just think the message from most of these bands, just the whole vibe and culture of these shows and of this style of music is really great, too.
Featured Image: Instagram (@DirtyHeads)