A Few Minutes With Dirty Heads’ Duddy B

Summertime and the living is good for the Dirty Heads. Pollstar talked to Duddy B about the act’s biggest summer tour yet and their brand new album, Sound of Change.

The band, which hails from Huntington Beach, Calif., is known for their blend of reggae, rock and hip hop. Released July 8, Sound Of Change features the single “My Sweet Summer,” which is enjoying plenty of play on alternative and rock radio.  

Dirty Heads worked with multiple producers on the LP including Supa Dups, Buddah Shampoo, Niles and Rome of Sublime With Rome. B-Real of Cypress Hill, Tech N9ne and Ward 21 contributed as guest vocalists.

This upcoming co-headline tour with Pepper will be the perfect opportunity to share the new tunes with fans. Duddy says you can expect a “bigger show” and more production on the trek, which launches July 16 in Minneapolis and marks the first time the band has had its own lighting package.

Photo: Courtesy of Shore Fire Media

Your new album is called Sound of Change. Was the title a nod to the band expanding its sound?

In a way, yes. We didn’t really have a full direction when we started recording the album. We just went in with our buddy Rome and started writing. “Sound of Change,” the title track, was the second track we had written. And it was really cool and it was different. And we were like, “We should just do this on this album. Let’s try something different. Go out of our comfort zone and try and make a big album.” With that it spawned the whole outlook for the album. It’s not just about our music changing but it’s just about [change] in general – don’t be afraid of change, it’s good. We’re just stoked on this album and we’re excited about it.

You describe Sound of Change as more of a “big” album compared to some of your previous releases. Can you expand on that?   

Well, our first album, Any Port in a Storm, had a lot of programmed beats and a lot more hip hop. And then we had Cabin by the Sea, which is a lot more mellow. Then we put out an acoustic album, which was super mellow and broken down. So with this one, we just wanted to kind of get back to our roots – a lot more hip hop, a lot bigger beats – and try things we hadn’t tried before.

Photo: John Davisson
St. Augustine Amphitheatre, Saint Augustine, Fla.

Can you talk a bit about the process of recording the album?

Well, me and Jared do more of the writing for the band. We did a lot of it with our friend Rome, as well, this time [and] he helped produce the album. We kind of just get together and throw ideas around. Usually you can tell, when you’re like, “OK, that’s dope, that’s really cool. Everyone’s stoked on that, let’s focus on that.” And we kind of just dive in and create a song out of that. It comes about different ways. It could be a guitar lick, it could be a lyric idea, it could be a melody. You never know what’s going to spark it.

You worked with a handful of guest vocalists on Sound of Change.

We always like to try to get guest musicians or vocalists on our album. It’s cool to see what they’ll do with your song. We know what we’ll do with it, but when someone else comes in that you don’t normally work with, they always do something that you’re like, “Wow! That’s really cool.” So you learn a lot from that. Plus, it’s just fun. We get to send out requests to our favorite artists. … You’re like, “Whaa? I’m on a track with B Real? I did a track with Tech N9ne?” It’s just cool. Stuff you wanna do when you’re a little kid. You’re like, “I wanna do a song with my favorite artists!” Well, we kind of have that opportunity now, so we take it.

As far as trying new things on this album, did that influence your decision to work with multiple producers as opposed to just one producer?

It totally did. After we kind of got the direction of the album we [decided] … OK, well, let’s do this. Let’s not just do how we always do [where we] go to one studio and have one producer. Let’s go to a bunch of studios, let’s try producers we’ve never worked with [and] let’s try writers we’ve never worked with. … It turned out great. I think it’s fitting for the name of the album.

Your single “My Sweet Summer” is doing well on the charts. 

Yeah, it’s always good. We had [the 2010 single] “Lay Me Down” which was our first song even on the radio and it just blew up and it went crazy. So it’s nice to see it happening again so you’re like, “OK, it wasn’t just a fluke.” It’s always fun. People wanna say, “Oh, I don’t care about the radio” [and claim] they don’t pay attention. [But] yeah, you pay attention and you watch it climbing up the charts and it’s exciting.

Your publicist mentioned that the song was another example of how the Dirty Heads provide the quintessential laid-back summer soundtrack. So, what kind of music do you like to listen to in the summer?  

All sorts, it depends the mood, it depends what we’re doing. If we’re relaxing, like out at the beach, I’m going to listen to some reggae or some old folky music. But if we’re out at night partying, it’s probably going to be some hip hop … something more upbeat. But I listen to a lot of everything, I love listening to a lot of classic rock, blues.

An interview that the band recently did with ABC News Radio mentioned you had heard Kenny Chesney plays your music before his shows and that you guys were going to write a song or a hook for Chesney – but then it turned into “My Sweet Summer.” Have you previously written songs for other artists?

Not … for another artist in particular but it happens all the time. When we’re in the studio and you get working on a song and you kind of get to the point where you’re like, “This is cool, it’s definitely not for us but we’re going to finish it and see where it goes. This would be perfect for somebody.” … We always try and get it in the hands of someone else.

Photo: Courtesy of Shore Fire Media

So what music do you like to play while fans are waiting for the band to come out?

We like to play upbeat music and also songs that you know the crowd’s going to start singing along to. There are obvious songs, especially [with] our crowd. OK, let’s put on Bob Marley’s “Everything’s Going To Be All Right” [“Three Little Birds”]. The whole crowd will start singing it. It gets them in the mood to have a good time … so that the energy’s up right when you come out.

That makes sense. You don’t want to bum out your fans with slow, sad songs.

No! We’ve done that sometimes when we didn’t have a playlist so we just let the house play whatever they wanted to play and it’s like the song before you come on and they’re just playing the most depressing, slow song. “What are you doing to us?! You’re killing us!” (laughs)

I think setting that mood really makes a big difference.

It does make a difference. If everyone’s out there already having a good time and then you come out, oh my god, the place explodes. It’s awesome!

Dirty Heads is embarking on its biggest summer tour ever. What can fans expect from the trek?

A bigger show. We definitely tried to step it up. A lot more production. It’s going to actually be our first tour where we have our own lighting package and we’re doing a full light show with the performance. We definitely concentrated a lot on our live show and we’ve been working on it. The people who have been coming to our shows for the last 10 years – it’s going to be different for them and I’m excited about that.

Did the band get to give input on the light show?

Yeah, yeah, totally. We kind of had an idea of what we wanted. We had done a couple tours with Matisyahu and we became friends with not only him but his band and his crew and everything. He’s not touring this summer so we’re taking his lighting guy. And we’ve already been talking to him and he kind of knows our vibe and our songs so we’ve kind of built a little show together. It’s going to be cool.

You’re touring with Pepper and Aer. Did you have a hand in putting together the tour package?

Yeah, we did. We’ve been playing shows with Pepper for 10 years now, just randomly. But we’ve never actually done a full tour together. So when we had the opportunity to do our own tour this summer and choose our acts we were like, you know what? Pepper would be a great band to come out with us, they’re fun, their energy is always good and we know we can get along with the guys, which is huge. You definitely want to get along with the guys you’re touring with. And then with Aer, we don’t really know them but we just heard a good buzz from this band and we know they do well on the East Coast so we thought they’d be a great addition to the package.

Are there any particular cities or venues you’re especially looking forward to playing?

Well, it’s like every tour – you never know which city is going to be the craziest. One tour could be Boston and the next tour could be Colorado. You never know. There’s always a surprise show that’s just like, “Wow! That show was outta control.” But I will say on this tour we’re all really looking forward to going to Red Rocks. We’ve played there twice but it’s our first time going there as a headliner so we’re pretty excited.

I’ve never been to Red Rocks but it seems like such a cool venue. I’d love to check out a show there one day.

It’s absolutely amazing.

Going back to the whole summer theme, what do you need for the perfect summer? Do you have like a summer bucket list? For example, going to a baseball game, camping or making homemade ice cream?

Whenever we’re home it’s always really important to hang out with friends and family because we’re gone most of the year. For us, it’s relax, spend time with your friends and family and do the things you love to do. Hang out at the beach, play golf, things like that.

Why would you recommend someone should go to a Dirty Heads’ show?

The vibe is always good at our shows and it’s just like one big party. Everyone’s there together having a good time. … We’re lucky, we have an awesome fanbase.

Photo: Courtesy of Shore Fire Media

Upcoming dates for Dirty Heads:

July 16 – Minneapolis, Minn., The Cabooze 
July 17 – Milwaukee, Wis., The Rave
July 18 – Chicago, Ill., Concord Music Hall
July 19 – Detroit, Mich., The Fillmore Detroit         
July 21 – Portland, Maine, State Theatre
July 22 – Philadelphia, Pa., Festival Pier
July 23 – Boston, Mass., Blue Hills Bank Pavilion
July 24 – Huntington, N.Y., The Paramount
July 25 – Montclair, N.J., The Wellmont Theater     
July 26 – Asbury Park, N.J., Stone Pony Summerstage
July 27 – Baltimore, Md., Pier Six Pavilion  
July 29 – Charlotte, N.C., Fillmore Charlotte           
July 30 – North Myrtle Beach, S.C., House Of Blues
July 31 – Orlando, Fla., The Beacham
Aug. 1 – Saint Petersburg, Fla., Jannus Live
Aug. 2 – Saint Augustine, Fla., St. Augustine Amphitheatre
Aug. 4 – Austin, Texas, Stubb’s Bar-B-Q / Waller Creek Amph.
Aug. 5 – Dallas, Texas, South Side Ballroom
Aug. 7 – Tempe, Ariz., The Marquee
Aug. 8 – Las Vegas, Nev., Mandalay Bay Beach
Aug. 9 – La Jolla, Calif., RIMAC Arena     
Aug. 10 – Paso Robles, Calif., Vina Robles Amphitheatre  
Aug. 11 – Reno, Nev., Grand Sierra Resort Theatre
Aug. 13 – Morrison, Colo., Red Rocks Amphitheatre         
Aug. 15 – Salt Lake City, Utah, Usana Amphitheatre         
Aug. 16 – Garden City, Idaho, Revolution Concert House & Event Center           
Aug. 17 – Redmond, Wash., King County’s Marymoor Park         
Aug. 18 – Portland, Ore., Roseland Theater
Aug. 19 – San Francisco, Calif., Warfield Theatre   
Aug. 23 – Middelbury, Vt., Woodchuck Cidery
Aug. 30 – Long Beach, Calif., Queen Mary Events Park (Shoreline Jam)
Dec. 16 – Cancun, Mexico, Now Sapphire Resort (Closer To The Sun)      
Dec. 17 – Cancun, Mexico, Now Sapphire Resort (Closer To The Sun)      
Feb. 25 – Miami, Fla., Norwegian Cruise Line – Norwegian Pearl (311 Cruise)      
Feb. 26 – Miami, Fla., Norwegian Cruise Line – Norwegian Pearl (311 Cruise)      
Feb. 27 – Miami, Fla., Norwegian Cruise Line – Norwegian Pearl (311 Cruise)      
Feb. 28 – Miami, Fla., Norwegian Cruise Line – Norwegian Pearl (311 Cruise)      
March 1 – Miami, Fla., Norwegian Cruise Line – Norwegian Pearl (311 Cruise)

Dirty Heads appears with Pepper July 16 through Aug. 13, Aug. 16-19 and Aug. 30. The band appears with 311 Aug. 15.

For more information please visit DirtyHeads.com.