If you ever discover that the Dirty Heads are performing in your city or state, do yourself a favor and buy a ticket. It’s guaranteed to be money well spent.The California band’s blend of hip hop, reggae, and rock will leave you energized long after the setlists and guitar picks are thrown into the crowd.
The band is currently on the second leg of the Sound of Change tour, which includes stops in North America and Europe. After their meet and greet, I sat down with vocalist and guitarist Dustin “Duddy B” Bushnell. With the music from the stage booming below, he talked about their work with WhyHunger’s Artists Against Hunger & Poverty campaign, their latest album, Sound of Change, and the possibility of recording a 5-song EP.
Zumic: Was the meet and greet for the WhyHunger campaign?
Duddy B: I believe some of them were for that, but then we also do a VIP package for every show where people can pay like a little extra. They get in first, get to meet us, take a picture they get a couple of the t-shirts and all that good stuff.
Do you guys keep tabs on that?
I don’t know exactly what our numbers are, but I know we’ve sold quite a few of the raffles and whatnot to get the VIP tickets. It’s just a cool charity. We just think it’s pretty cool how they’re not just helping hunger, but teaching people how they can help themselves and help their communities. And not just like, “Oh you’re hungry? Here’s some food, good luck.” It’s just a cool organization, so we’re stoked to be a part of it.
That was a recent partnership, before the album came out?
It was right before the album came out. We’re doing some stuff with Hard Rock [Cafe]. They got some of our gear to put in one of their restaurants. They’ll hang up gear from bands and then they pay the bands for the gear. They were like, “Hey do you want to donate some of the money we’re going to pay you to this charity?” Then they told us about it, and we were like, “Yeah, just give all of it to that.” It’s pretty cool and we joined up with them.
Is there anything else that you guys are doing with them? Or is it just the meet and greet?
I think as of now, since we’re on tour, it’s mostly just been people can go online and do the meet and greet.
How was the summer tour?
The summer tour was insane. It was the biggest headline tour we’ve ever done for sure. It was a little intimidating going to venues like Red Rocks as a headliner for the first time, but we were pleasantly surprised. I think 90 percent of the shows sold out. So it was awesome.
Was that one of your favorite moments from the tour?
Oh, definitely. That’s probably one of my favorite moments of touring. Period. We played that venue a few times before, but always as an opening act. To go there as a headliner, we didn’t know what to expect. It’s a 9,000 seater. We were like, “Shoot, I hope 4,000 people pack the theater.” We’d be shocked. Then we sold it out, so we were just tripping. It was a surreal moment for sure.
What's your favorite song to perform live from Sound of Change?
I love playing "Silence." It's a little harder than what we normally play. We just get to rock out a little more than normal. I get to use distortion on my guitar, which we don't use much of. It's fun.
Was that one of the harder songs to play live from the album?
Yeah you know, that one took a little bit of work and tinkering cause that song -- which we always do on our albums but screws me for the live show -- I do 3 guitar parts on the album and I'm the only guitar player live. You kinda gotta pick and choose what you're gonna do or how you're gonna work it out.
What's the process for figuring out how you're going to play the song live?
Just practicing and going over it with the guys. You know when it's not sounding good. Then you have to change something up and work on it. Everything's cool, but this part stands out and it's not quite right. And so then you keep going and work on it.
Are there any songs you wish made the setlist?
We've been playing most of them. Actually, we're going to start working on "One Hand," which is one of my favorite songs on the album. I love that one. We haven't played it live yet.
Possible encore tonight?
[Laughs] No, no, no.
Not ready yet?
No, not even close.
The acoustic album came out last year and Sound of Change came out pretty quickly. What was the process? How did you guys start working on that?
Well, we did the acoustic album. That was more just for us, ‘cause we had some time off from touring and we just wanted to put some music out. We did that in a couple of weeks. That was just for fun.
But Sound of Change, it came on very natural. We weren't even really getting in the studio yet to write the album. We didn't have any direction. We didn't know what we were going to do yet. We're really good friends with Rome -- he lives in our neighborhood -- and he had just built a really cool new studio in his house. He was just like, “Come over and check out the new studio. Let’s mess around and maybe write a new song or something." We wrote “One Hand” and we wrote “Sound of Change.” In like two days we wrote those two songs. And we were like, “Wow! These are really cool. They’re really different. What if we just kind of went in this direction with the album? Just start kinda writing the album at your [Rome] house and do a lot of pre-production here?” He was down for it, so we just kinda started going over there writing. It just came naturally, you know.
You worked with new producers for the album. Do you plan on doing that again?
I think going and working with so many new writers and producers really opened our minds up to how cool it really is. We’re always gonna make our songs sound like the Dirty Heads. Every time you work with someone new, they’re going to do something you never thought of doing. Every time you're with someone, you learn something, you grow, and it’s just fun. You get to see what other people are doing. I don’t think we’ll ever stop now.
How did the collaboration with B Real and Tech N9ne happen?
We always want to have collaborations on the album. We think it’s cool. It’s kinda like our hip hop side coming out. We like to do that. Then it’s kinda just us as fans, who do we think is dope? Who would fit this song? A lot of times when we’re doing the song, the person you want always kinda stands out. This person would be perfect for this track.
We’ve had a relationship with B Real and the Cypress Hill camp for a little bit, so that was an easy one. We just hit him up and he was like, “Yeah for sure.” We sent out “Burn Slow” to a few guys and Tech N9ne came back and was like, “Aw man, I’m down. Let’s do it.” We were like, "Of course." And he crushed it, so that was awesome.
Who’s on your list of collaborators you want to work with?
We really wanted to get Method Man on this last album.
That would’ve been nice.
He turned us down, but Beastie Boys would be the shit. Unfortunately we can’t do all three of them anymore.
Any Reggae artists you want to collaborate with?
We have time. Give me your list.
Yellowman would be dope. Don Carlos would be awesome. I think Don Carlos’ voice is so cool.
What are you guys planning for 2015?
Just more touring of this album. We’re probably just going to be touring all spring, take a little break, then tour all summer again. Then after that, September or October, get back in the studio again.
What festival would you guys love to play?
Well, we’re doing a cool one in Europe. We’re actually going to Amsterdam. We’re doing the Cannabis Cup, which I thought was pretty cool. There’s so many. Coachella would be awesome. We’ve never been a part of that. I know it would be a total freakin’ headache and a mess, but there’s so many people there, it’d be awesome. Weenie Roast is always fun.
Do you guys have any plans to maybe release another acoustic album? Or are you just touring now?
Yeah, just touring now. With just putting out the acoustic album not too long ago and making this album that’s a lot more in your face and hip hop and bigger, we’ll probably do another album like this. But we have been talking about maybe putting out a 5-song EP of just rootsy reggae. Then we go down to Jamaica and record it there.
Then you can get your collaborations.
Exactly. We were thinking that’d be cool. In between the next two albums. That’s what we’ve been talking about. We think our fans would be super stoked.