An interview with Jared Watson of Dirty Heads

An interview with Jared Watson of Dirty Heads
Photo cred: Ashley James

I had a quick phone call with Jared Watson of Dirty Heads (and his cooing infant son strapped to his chest!) during a home break on the tail-end of their now-finished Let’s Get It Kraken Tour, featuring SOJA, Tribal Seeds, Artikal Sound System and The Elovaters.

What to talk about with Jared Watson…? Where do I start?!

Chatting about their remixed interpolation-of-sorts, featuring Joe Walsh’s 1978 hit “Life’s Been Good” off their forthcoming album Midnight Control (due for release August 26th), Jared gives the scoop on other songs his band has considered redoing, as well as a glimpse into their rough life on the road before making it big. This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

You recently reimagined “Life’s Been Good”. What parts of the original did you guys cherry-pick for your version?

  • JW: It’s so funny, because that song is seven minutes long and there’s, like, 12 different parts, right? We messed around going through each part and trying to figure out which one would work. But, when it breaks down into that reggae part, the ‘Maserati part’, I think that it’s: 1) the most recognizable and 2) the catchiest. So, we kinda knew from the get-go that’s the part we were going to use.
  • But, we spent a day taking the song apart and trying to go through each part, but I think we were getting too creative and biting off more than we could chew. We were overcomplicating things. That song is absolute madness; it’s all over the place. We just knew we wanted to keep it simple and catchy. 

The original was meant to poke fun at the lifestyles of rockstars and with your version, I don’t know if you’re joking or not. Was this version meant to be sarcastic, as well? Because, a lot of your lyrical content is… about living your best life, shall we say…?

  • [Laughs] Well, a little bit of both. We knew the song was tongue-in-cheek and we really loved that, so we wanted to keep a certain air of that, but also make it more ‘us’ and more relatable to something that we would actually say. [It’s] trying to be as original as you can be when doing a cover song. 

So, obvious question, are you a Joe Walsh fan?

  • I’m not not a Joe Walsh fan, but I can’t say that I have his records or that I’ve been listening to his music for a really long time. It was actually Duddy’s idea — he’s a big Joe Walsh fan. 

How difficult was “Life’s Been Good” to redo?

  • Covers and sampling music, flipping songs, it’s not easy… they can sound hokey, they can sound cheesy, they can sound weird — especially with how we do them. So, when we knew we were going to do a flip, it was an idea that would have to work well on this album. We went through 12 songs sitting on the guitar, feeling what was right and this was one that Duddy came up with. I think it was one of the first or second songs and we said, ‘Oh, that’s really cool, that’s probably gonna work.’ It was kinda meant to be.

Can you tell me a couple of other songs considered?

  • I think I have a list… It was Bill Withers… I think there was Zeppelin, Hendrix. Then we were like, ‘Why does everyone do classic rock?’ So, we started looking at 90s hip hop, like The Pharcyde and Fugees and Gangstarr and Blackstar and stuff. We were like, ‘What if we picked up a Wu-Tang song?’ But, it all ended up working out. 

It definitely worked out. Has “Life’s Been Good” been well received on this tour?

  • It took two shows… maybe two or three days from the song being out before the whole crowd started singing it word-for-word. It’s literally the best feeling that you can get as musicians. Playing a live show and having everybody sing for me — that’s my favorite part of the job. I can take my in-ear out and stop singing, and the crowd will just continue to sing super loud. It’s the best feeling. Because, you’re connecting. 

You’ve just ended the Let’s Get It Kraken Tour. What was your favorite part or experience?

  • There were shows in cities that we don’t normally go to. I remember we showed up to Pittsburgh and I’m like, ‘Oh, Pittsburgh, this should be an okay show or whatever.’ And it was, like, the most mental show we’ve had in so long. The crowd was crazy. 
  • It’s really cool when people ask, ‘What’s your favorite city?’ and I really don’t know, because it changes. It all depends on the fans, so each show is different. It’s really cool to see that we have taken a couple years off and can still come back out and play these cities we haven’t played in a long time and have these super memorable shows. It just feels really good. 

No one’s forgotten about you guys, that’s for sure. I know you’re a new dad. Talk to me about life on the road as a family man, because it can’t be easy.

  • That’s the only part that’s difficult when touring — missing my family. I don’t party anymore, I stay super healthy, I work out, I ice bath, there’s catering. There’s not a lot of responsibility on the road other than playing that hour-and-a-half the best I can and staying healthy and making sure my voice is good and all those things.
  • The road isn’t as difficult as it used to be when we were in a van with 12 guys for eight years. No money, no hotels, driving every night, dollar menu. That was hard physically, that was hard emotionally… not only missing your family, but doubting yourself, [asking] ‘are we going to make it?’ That was rough. We paid our dues. The success that we’re having feels like we’ve earned it. Everyone’s like, ‘Oh, touring must be so hard’ and at this point, it’s not. It’s actually really enjoyable for me. I love going out on the road. I love seeing our fans. I love playing shows. I love being outside. It’s like summer camp. 
  • The only part that gets to me is, yeah, I miss my family. But, I have to realize that it’s a fleeting feeling — I do really well with perspective checks. So, when I do feel that way, I just have to realize that I paid my dues to get to where I’m at. At this point, we only tour 100 days a year, maybe, so even if I’m touring 100 days a year, I get to be home and be dad over 200 days a year — even if I’m in the studio. I still have a lot of time to be home and live my life the way I wanna live it. I like that balance. 

The thing we all strive for as parents. Okay, so I have to ask, what is the deal with the ice baths?

  • Dude. Ice baths will change your life. If I could get everyone to do an ice bath every day when they wake up, the world would be a better place.

It’s that good?!

  • The benefits physically and mental health-wise are insane. 

Taking notes! You have a great sense of style. I have to know who some of your style icons are.

  • My style icons, [laughs], I don’t really know. 

You’re just naturally stylish?

  • This is how I kind of think about it, and this is really nerdy, but if I was going to be drawn as a comic book character, what would I want to look like? Like, in a normal comic book… not a superhero one. And, that’s how I dress.
  • Me and my brother dress very similar. I think he might be one of the only other people that I can bounce things back-and-forth with. As a dude in Orange County growing up, it wasn’t cool to be into fashion or care what you look like. I do really like the way Pharrell dresses — he’s awesome. I think about what’s going to look timeless — less logos, more blank stuff. When it comes to men’s fashion, it is all about fit. I don’t care who makes it, I don’t care what the logo is or what’s on it, it just matters how it fits.

Okay, last question: who are the three top bands you’re listening to right now, this week, today? Who’s at the top of your Spotify queue?

  • I am listening to The Elovaters, a deejay called Monster Rally and Steve Lacy.

Stream “Life’s Been Good” on all digital streaming platforms and be on the lookout for Midnight Control, dropping August 26th via the links below!

Purchase or stream “Life’s Been Good” single:

Dirty Heads – “Life’s Been Good”

Cover photo by Ashley James; thumbnail photo by Olivia Valdes

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