Jared “Dirty J” Watson of Dirty Heads is the epitome of long hair, don’t care. He grew up in Southern California as a teenager in the ’90s, toes buried in sandy beaches, a skateboard his primary method of transportation, and the most laid-back attitude you can imagine with his use of language. He and bandmate Dustin “Duddy” Bushnell met early in high school and quickly bonded over music.
“Dustin had a soundproof garage,” Dirty J said. “It started off as two kids hanging out, writing music together. We met Jon Jon and started playing bars as an acoustic act.”
In 1996, they officially became a reggae hip-hop band with Dirty J providing vocals, Duddy on vocals and guitar, and Jon Olazabal as percussionist.
For what seemed like infinity, Dirty Heads toured. They drove around the country performing for whomever would have them. David Foral (bass) and Matt Ochoa (drums) came on board later through mutual musician friends.
“We toured for a good 10 years in a 15-passenger van making barely enough money to get to the next gig,” Dirty J said. “We owe a lot of credit to 311 and The Expendables. They took us out [on tour] when we were nobodies. They believed in us.”
Dirty Heads had finally found their footing and released their first studio album, “A Port In Any Storm,” in 2010. The single “Lay Me Down,” featuring Rome Ramirez of Sublime with Rome, went blockbuster and spent 11 straight weeks at the top of the Billboard Alternative chart – more than any other single that year by any artist.
“I had not one clue that song would do anything,” Dirty J said. “When it blew up, I was so surprised. I thought, ‘Really? So this is what everybody wanted!’ It was crazy.”
Dirty Heads’ latest album released last year, “Cabin By The Sea,” debuted eighth from the top on iTunes overall music chart. It features legendary musicians Del the Funky Homosapien, Bob Marley’s son KyMani Marley and Matisyahu.
“We were writing ‘Dance All Night’ and I thought, ‘Dude, Matisyahu would be sick on this!’ We’ve had a long relationship with him. I called him, he came down, we smashed it out in one night. Then, we got KyMani to pay homage to his dad in ‘Your Love.’ We were really honored he did that. The final one, ‘Smoke Rings,’ was a huge one for me. Growing up, I used to listen to a lot of underground hip-hop, and Del was one of my favorite guys.”
“Cabin By The Sea” debuted on Billboard’s Top 20 and peaked at No. 8 on iTunes overall music chart. You can find the album on Spotify, and buy it on iTunes or Amazon.
Dirty Heads are on the last leg of a tour put on by purevolume.com and the American Association of Independent Music called Tour Odyssey. The idea is to step away from the traditional label-driven tour process, instead giving today’s fans the live experience they’ve always wanted – a night to remember, with free music on social media sites and free merchandise at the shows.
Accompanying Dirty Heads on the tour are Shiny Toy Guns, and Baton Rouge is the last stop. They play at The Varsity on Friday, April 19, at 8 p.m. Tickets are $22.50 at ticketweb.com or The Chimes at LSU.