Marc Cabrera has nothing better to do than watch a lot of movies and television, and listen to a lot of music. Luckily, he has a job that pays him to blog about local and national arts, entertainment and pop culture. He can be reached at email@example.com.
Just in time for the Memorial Day Weekend and the upcoming California Roots Music Festival, we talk with Dirty Heads singer/guitarist Jared Watson. He shares some pretty cool stuff about working with Rome Ramirez (of Sublime with Rome) and the band's 2010 success. There's more after the jump. Have a great weekend! Talk about the local angle, the California Roots Music and Art Festival, and coming out to Monterey. Have you been out to Monterey before? I don't think we have. I don't think we've played Monterey. We've definitely played up north, in Northern California, but not Monterey yet. Can you talk about playing in Santa Cruz in the past, and what you might be looking forward to playing at Monterey Fairgrounds. I've never been to the fairgrounds, but Santa Cruz is always kind of a treat when we go up there, because we're really good buddies with The Expendables, and they kind of opened the door for us to get some fans. We did a couple of tours with them and any time we'd go to Santa Cruz, they'd let us open up for them. So we always get to hang out with those guys if we're off tour, and then they kind of helped us grow our little fan base that we had there. They helped us get bigger. It's always a really good time and we always plan on partying when we hit up Santa Cruz. And the waves are good, but it's too cold.
(The Expendables) sound is a little harder, but it seems like you guys are in the same lineage. There is a whole scene that I kind of think a lot of people would put is into together, but we definitely have a different sound. They do definitely have a lot more rock. But those guys, out of the whole scene, are probably my favorite band, out of the whole reggae rock scene that's knd of blowing up right now. How familiar are you with the bands on this bill? Who else is playing (laughs)
Bands like 880 South, Tribal Seeds? Oh yeah, yeah, yeah. We've played with a couple of the bands on the bill, which is going to be cool. But any type of festival, especially in California, coming up as the first one, it's always cool to play. To be headlining a festival that's the first time coming, that's going to be really cool. Hopefully we can set it off, so every year gets better and better, because we're horrible. So any band that headlines next year is going to obviously be better (laughs).
Talk a little bit about the whole concept of California roots rock or reggae rock, whichever you want to call it. Talk about this style that you and bands like The Expendables would fall into and the definition behind it and how you view the style of music. It really snuck up on us, because we've been writing music since we were 16 and it's always sounded like The Dirty Heads. We've always had this vibe, and there's no other bands, other than — because The Expendables have been doing it for a long time— but other than (Slightly) Stupid and Pepper and The Expendables, there wasn't any other bands that we thought were in this type of scene, that we thought were doing this type of music. So for it to blow up in the last couple of years is really cool, even though there might be a ton of bands now that all kind of sound the same and are in this scene, the bands that do have their own original sounds and their own original takes, we really respect it. I'm really stoked that the scene is growing and it's going to blow up. And it's just kind of a product of being from California. It doesn't mean that only bands from California are going to write like this. I'm just saying for us personally, that's where it came from. Just us growing up in So-Cal, listening to reggae, listening to a bunch of music.
Are there any bands that you came up with along the same career trajectory in So-Cal? Who do you consider your contemporaries? I don't know if there are any. We don't really know that many bands that are from Huntington or So-Cal that we play a lot with. But the guys from Santa Barbara, like Iration and Rebulution, those guys are crushing right now. We're good friends with those guys, and it's always good to see the good bands that do have their original take on the music and do it well and play well, and they're good musicians and are just really people. They make really good music and are not just getting in the scene, hopping on now, because they've all been gringing for a while too. Those two bands are cool. Other than The Expendables, there's not a lot around here that we've ever really had to compete with. We've only been touring for 4-5 years maybe, so other than Iration and The Expendables, we really haven't been out with that many bands. We did go out with 311 and Matisayahu, but that was like a dream come true. 311, they helped us out with growing and blowing up and getting a lot of fans too. So we owe 311 and Matisyahu a lot. We're actually going out with Matisyahu in the summertime. So now, hopefully we can help out in bringing smaller, younger bands out too.
Talk about going out on the road with Sublime with Rome. We did three or four weeks, or something like that. Every show was sold out, and we didn't know how it was going to be. We knew we had a lot of fans hitting us up. We knew fans were going to be at certain areas where we do pretty good at. But the amount of Dirty Heads fans that came out to the shows, that were packing the shows, was mind blowing. There were tons o f Sublime fans also, but I felt like it wasn't just like “Oh, we got to open up for Sublime, we get to be in front fo all these people.” There was a lot of Dirty Heads support, and that means tons to us. And Bud and Eric (of Sublime) and Rome are all such cool dudes. We've known Eric for a really long time. We've been friends with Rome for a long time. So it was comfortable. It was easy. It was just like a big family. It was really easy. It was probably one of the best tours I've been on. I would say the funnest. And I wouldn't say that if I didn't mean it. I'm not saying it just to blow smoke. The people that were on it, the kids that came to the shows, it was all such a good time and every show was so positive and the vibe of the whole tour and every show of the tour was just mind blowing. It was good.
What's Rome like? He seems like such a young kid who came out of nowhere to pick up the mantle for Sublime. What were your experiences with him, what was it like making “Lay Me Down” with him? We met Rome before Sublime, before all that happened. We've been friends with him, I would probably say about two years before anything was even talked about (with Rome and Sublime). And he's just such a chill guy, such a good dude. He's a sweetheart. We just meshed automatically, became friends, and then all of this started happening. He's a great singer, totally has natural talent. And I just respect the guy because he has balls. What's he going to say, no (to the opportunity to join Sublime)? To like, be asked “Hey, do you want to come sing with your idols, pretty much, and go out and sing all these rad songs, and get to write another album and do your own stuff?” Nobody would say no if you're a musician. I respect the balls that he has. He goes out, he does it, he keeps a positive attitude, he doesn't let the haters bug him. He knows what he's supposed to do. He's not trying to take (founder Bradley Nowell's) spot. He knows that. And I really respect him for that. He's very cautious of that. We were at a radio station, and Bud and Eric weren't there. And (the DJ) asked him if he would play a Sublime song, like “Hey, play a Sublime song on the radio.” And he said “No, Bud and Eric aren't here. If you want me to play a Rome song, that's fine.” He's very weary of that, and he doesn't let the haters bug him and he's a positive guy to be around. He's just really fun. And with “Lay Me Down,” it was organic. We didn't even know that it was going to blow up. We were hanging out, doing nothing last summer at (singer Duddy Bushnell's) house, just hanging out in his backyard. We said “Hey, let's fuck around with some licks on guitar,” whatever, and we ended up writing a song in like a day, and recoridng it at our studio in Newport Beach with Louie, our engineer. So it took us like two days, and it just sat around until KROQ got a hold of it.
Was “Jimmy Kimmel Live” your first time on national TV? Yes. We did (Fuel TV), and that was cool, but it wasn't on the status of Jimmy Kimmel I was pretty chill. It was fun. And then we got on stage and Jimmy came on stage and he was like “Have a good time. Nice to meet you. Don't be nervous, it's only two million people (watching on TV).” And I had no idea it was two million people. I was like “What?”And this was like 15 seconds before we were going on. I was like “You mother fucker! You really just dropped that bomb on me?” And I'm automatically — I usually don't get nervous before shows, I just get kind of anxious. I want to go out and play. But I just got really fuckin' nervous.
How small was the stage and the studio? What was it like plying in that studio and having to project that energy through the cameras? You think it might be rough — you're doing one song in front of an audience that half of them weren't our fans. But there were Dirty Heads fans there, so that was cool. But you think that would come off as stale, but it wasn't. Everybody was super cool. We saw some Dirty Heads fans in the crowd, so we just treated it like any other show. We didn't try to think about it. As soon as the first note hits, everything goes away. We actually did a third song where Jimmy Kimmel came up and sang, but they didn't show that. That's our new single that's coming out (laughs). We're never going to have singles with just the Dirty Heads. We're going to get guest people. And we're going to start getting people that dont' even sing, because nobody does that. Next, we're going to get Morgan Freeman to do something (laughs).