Vital Vinyl: Jared Watson Talks New Dirty Heads LP, Cover Art + More
Ever since the first meeting between the two founding members, Jared Watson and Dustin Bushnell (Dirty J and Duddy B, respectively), vinyl has always been a part of the history of the Dirty Heads. Fortunately for fans, the band doesn’t keep that passion to themselves; every release has some sort of vinyl aspect to it, and that experience continues with their latest record, ‘Sound of Change.’
In the first part of our interview with Watson, we skimmed the surface of just how important vinyl is to both him and the band. Wax fiends, don’t fret: Watson dives deep into the world of vinyl and chats about his personal collection, the minimalist cover artwork on ‘Sound of Change’ and more.
The initial meeting between you and Duddy revolved around your mutual appreciation for vinyl. The format seems to be a foundational element to your relationship and the creation of the band.
Yeah, especially when it comes to reggae, the type of reggae that we like, the ‘70s and early ‘80s. Michigan and Smiley, guys that most people don’t know — not like Bob Marley or Peter Tosh — these rad, obscure guys, you can really only find them on vinyl. Even if you look them up on YouTube, it’s usually just someone ripping it from a vinyl. I think reggae really got us into it. My mom and my grandma are big Billie Holiday fans, so that was huge. I have all my grandma’s Billie Holiday records. Then I started randomly listening to 1940s music, like the Ink Spots, that’s all I listen to now. People ask me what new music I listen to and I say, “Nothing. I’m listening to 1940s music.” All of that s–t, you have to find it on vinyl.
What does your personal collection look like?
My collection, that 1940s music, it’s my hobby. When I go into a record store and I’m looking for vinyl, that’s what I’m looking for. I’m looking for [Frank] Sinatra, Ella [Fitzgerald], Edith [Piaf], anything reggae, anything kind of swing or standard. Really chill stuff, you know, stuff I listen to if I want to get high. If we’re going to party, I’ll plug in my iPhone or something like that. When I’m trying to chill out, I listen to vinyl. I don’t want to listen to something new on vinyl — that’s probably a bad thing to say since all of our stuff is on vinyl. But I like listening to old stuff. I want my vinyl to be 20 years old. I want scratches, I want to have to clean it. That’s the f–king cool part about it, it’s like a f–king old baseball card that you found in a shoebox.
Is it possible for you to single out your favorite record?
I would have to say the Ink Spots. I think it was their second album, but it has their big ‘I Don’t Want to Set the World On Fire’ song on it and another tune they do with Ella Fitzgerald. It’s super random and out of place, but I found it at a record store in Milwaukee. He had no idea who I was talking about, nobody knows who they are until you sing them ‘I Don’t Want to Set the World On Fire.’ They were a big group at the time. And anything from Edith, I’m really excited about.
Is there a white whale out there that you haven’t been able to find yet?
No, but now that you’ve put that in my head, I want one. That sounds rad. [Laughs] Now I have something to do.
One of the best parts about the vinyl experience is seeing the album artwork on a 12-inch jacket. With ‘Sound of Change,’ you guys took a departure from previous releases and went very minimalist on the cover. What went into that decision?
You are the first person to ask this. I’ve been waiting to f–king answer this question for so long. There is a reason behind it and nobody has noticed it. F–k you guys! It was just that, like, we thought this album was much more broad, much more international. We are very California and SoCal and sunny and beachy, you know? We’ve made the album you can put on when you’re on your boat, we did that. We didn’t want anything to take away from the music this time around. We didn’t want a f–king VW bus with a longboard on top of it and a pier in the artwork. That automatically says, “Band from California. Reggae rock.” We wanted nothing to do with that, we wanted the music to strictly speak for itself.
The Beatles‘ ‘White’ album. Metallica’s ‘Black.’ Avenged Sevenfold even did it. Don’t worry about the artwork. Don’t worry about s–t. This is our album. I think it actually looks pretty f–king cool. We wanted something obviously to catch your eye, but we didn’t want anything to take away from the music. It was mainly for our new fans. If you’re a new fan coming in and you’re turned off by the stoner vibes and reggae rock thing, we didn’t want them to get turned away by that. We just wanted people to hear the music for what it was, not how we dressed or what we looked like. We didn’t want to do anything with anything but the music. It’s different and we wanted to break our mold and do something new. We didn’t have to worry about it. Let the music speak for itself.
And at least you still kept the octopus on the back of the jacket.
[Laughs] You can’t get rid of the octo, you know? That’s our guy!
Dirty Heads’ ‘Sound of Change’ is available wherever fine vinyl is sold. Get details on the record here.
Dirty Heads — ‘Sound of Change’