Costa Mesa, California has been the scene for some very cool shows the past few years. This New Year’s weekend is no exception. This year, instead of watching the ball drop in NYC on the boob tube, you can go to Resolution NYE at the OC Fair Events Center. The festival is a two-day event that features two local bands that have captured the ears of the locals and beyond. Featured on night one is Dirty Heads.
The Dirty Heads are local guys that made good. The band is from Huntington Beach, by way of the Long Beach area. Formed in 2006 by high school pals, Jared “Dirty J” Watson, and Dustin “Duddy B” Bushnell. The band got their start mixing it up in their garage making mix tapes of their “music.” Who knew those mix tapes were the vehicle that propelled them in the right direction. In the early days, the guys played local bars and before you knew it, people started coming to their gigs. It sounds funny now, but once they got 100 people to show up to a gig, they considered that number as their threshold for a successful night! From that point forward, as each crowd got bigger and bigger, the band took their little venture a little more seriously. The number of people that come to their shows just gets larger and larger.
As for their sound, the guys were influenced by several artists. One that’s a stand out is Sublime. Their time spent with Bradley Nowell and Eric Wilson was very brief, but the influence is evident in their signature sound. A non-Reggae / Ska band that influenced the early tunes was Naughty by Nature. A question they get all the time is what they got the name from? The answer is simple, it’s a nickname their brothers would call the guys when they were younger. From the get-go, Dirty Heads were tagged as a Reggae / Ska band, but like Sublime and Fishbone, they are much more than that. The guys love reggae and ska, but like other bands pushing the envelope, they fuse reggae, ska, hip-hop with punk elements to put out a sound that is uniquely theirs. The bottom line is that they have no interest in sounding like another 90’s band, instead they want to look forward. Like ALT Reggae juggernauts, Slightly Stoopid, Dirty Heads are progressive in their sound. In all fairness to the 90’s, you can hear a classic groove in their tunes from time-to-time.
Since their freshman debut album, Any Port in a Storm, to their most recent sixth studio album, Swim Team, the band has experienced the highs and lows of success. That’s the thing about this band, they know who they are and what they mean to their fans. They know they’re not rappers, per se, but their music does have a hip-hop element, so there’s that. Truthfully, the hip-hop genre can be vicious, and if you’re not fully immersed, it can be way uber critical. That’s why being honest about who they are is a major draw for their followers. Ask any of their legions of fans, or those who have been chasing their monsters and they’ll tell you what sets apart Dirty Heads from other bands. They’ll tell you that they are genuine with their music and the manner in which they handle life. Perhaps another contributing factor is that the guys are great communicators. For years, they’ve mastered the art of social media, and talking with the media in general. That goes a long, long way in getting your message across, no matter what that message is. For Dirty Heads, check off another reason they have such a great message and loyal following.
Handling your business is a big deal in getting credibility with fans. It doesn’t matter if the venue is too hot, too cold… or if any of the band members have a cold, or broken limb, they show up to play. They recognize their shows have taken on a life of its own for their fans. Their shows have taken on the life akin to Grateful Dead and Phish shows. That means there’s a following, it’s a sense of community when you see these guys. You’ll see fans that come to every show, ranging from teens, to AARP members. The band recognizes how important their shows are, and that’s why they make it a point to always play, and always bring it. There is no shortage of love from their fans because of their collective efforts.
The current composition of the band is impressive; it features Dirty J (co-lead vocals / guitar), Duddy B (co-lead vocals / guitar), David Foral (bass), Shawn Hagood (keys), Jon Olazabal (percussion), and Matt Ochoa (drums). Collectively, the band is electric and as entertaining as it gets. Lay Me Down was a bonafide mega hit, it featured Rome Ramirez of Sublime with Rome. That song hit the alt rock charts for 11 weeks. Sound of Change debuted at No. 1 on Billboard’s Top Alternative Albums chart. Other songs that fans scream for include “My Sweet Summer”, “Dance All Night”, “Spread Too Thin”, “Cabin by the Sea”, “That’s All I Need”, “Oxygen”, “Too Cruel”, and from the new album, “Celebrate” is becoming a crowd favorite.
“Celebrate” is a song near and dear to the hearts of the band. The song chronicles the ebb and flow of success. They outline some of the pitfalls that can engulf a band if they aren’t too careful. Ask any successful act and they know that being a successful touring band means taking long flights and long bus rides and life through texts means you miss a lot of life. You miss birthdays, weddings, anniversaries and a baby’s first steps. As cool as life on the road can be, it is diminished a bit when you can’t share those moments with your loved ones. Over the years, they have played just about every venue from coast-to-coast and around the world that’s been on their bucket list.
For Dirty Heads, they are self-aware and seem to be able to balance life at home with life for their fans. Besides the great tunes, that’s the best thing about this band, you can count on them to show up and put on a great show and record great music. With loyal fans throughout the planet, Dirty Heads are focusing their sights on something they’ve been eyeing for years; that is, breaking the mainstream and bringing Rastafarian alt-rap to Main Street. Like the Grateful Dead, their fans keep coming for the experience, but it’s the music that is the draw. Their shows are like an old-school Beastie Boys show, it has a little bit of everything for everyone!
It’s hard to define their sound in a few words, it’s not every day you can experience reggae, ska, rap, alt and punk fusion… you just gotta’ go and check them out and you’ll get it. This band is more than site and the sound of music, they bring out a state of mind. They’re good guys that continue to do right by their family, friends and fans. For the music industry as a whole, that is the sound of change.
You can catch Dirty Heads this Saturday, along with Illenium, 3Lau, Hirie, Seedless, Liquid Todd, M87 and Jeremiah Red. Irvine legends, Young the Giant takes center stage on New Year’s Eve! Also counting down to 2018 are Seven Lions, Slander, Coast Club, Arsen and Bon3z on New Year’s Eve. The event will include two indoor stages located inside the OC Fair hangars; there’s also a covered outdoor pavilion. Writing a new chapter of New Year’s memories with bands like Dirty Heads and Young the Giant might just turn into a thing! Resolution NYE may be the ticket for more than just a good time.