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While Rome Ramirez might have revitalized Sublime by replacing Bradley Nowell, his collaboration with SoCal reggae/hip hop/ska/punk band The Dirty Heads has gained almost equal attention. The Dirty Heads have garnered hush whispers concerning them filling the gap left by Sublime as Southern California's premier punk inspired reggae band. With just one album out, The Dirty Heads can be found on countless California radio stations and television, as well as a number of widely attended tour dates. Unlike Sublime, The Dirty Heads infuse more hip hop style (characterized by Dirty J's Eminem-like voice) into their music, adding a rap rock element to their music. While many people still may not have heard of the group, that's likely to change at the end of their current 2011 tour dates.
The origins of The Dirty Heads can be traced back to 1996, when Jared Watson (Dirty J) and Dustin Bushnell (Duddy B) met at a high school party. Duddy B was already in a punk band and handing out rap demos, inspiring Dirty J to ask Duddy to collaborate. While stealing beer, the two were called "little dirty heads" and began writing hip hop songs under that name. They soon decided they needed a full band for concert dates and recruited drummer Matt Ochoa, bassist David Foral, and percussionist Jon Olazabal.
The Dirty Heads' rise to fame would include help from a slew of famous musicians and producers. Not long after the band started playing, mainstream punk producer Rob Cavallo signed them to Warner Bros. In the middle of recording, the band decided to leave the label but was able to keep the masters. The Dirty Heads soon met Sugar Ray drummer Stan Frazier, who agreed to produce the remainder of the album. Any Port in a Storm was finally released in 2008 and featured contributions from Slash and Avenged Sevenfold's M. Shadows on "Check the Level", Rome on the track "Lay Me Down", and "Fifth Beatle" Billy Preston, Alex Acuna, and Tippa Ire throughout the rest of the album.
The album's success is slowly spreading the word about The Dirty Heads. Since early March, The Dirty Heads have been playing concert dates across the US, with recently added tour dates in 2011. The group will spend April playing tour dates down the east coast to New Orleans, and in May will finish the rest of their concert dates on the west coast. The Dirty Heads will then head to Hawaii in June for a series of tour dates before returning to the west coast. After playing a concert date at Boonstock on July 2, scheduled tour dates in 2011 jump around the country before ending at the Sunset Music Festival on August 20. Fans who hope to catch The Dirty Heads should check the remaining 2011 tour dates on Eventful to keep from missing out.
“I want to speak for people who don’t have microphones,” Jacob Hemphill says. “Our goal as a band is to stick up for the human race. We see the world and we try to make it better in the limited time we have here.”
This is the philosophy behind SOJA’s music, a simple statement that has driven the Grammy Nominated D.C. area band, who blend reggae, go-go, D.C. hardcore, Latin, rock and hip-hop. Originally formed by a group of friends while still in middle school and has built a massive, dedicated fanbase around the world since. In the years following, SOJA has sold more than 200,000 albums, headlined shows in nearly 30 countries around the world, generated over 4 million Facebook fans, and over 120 million YouTube views. The band has toured with Dave Matthews Band, Incubus, 311 and appeared at major festivals including Bonnaroo where they attract an almost Grateful Dead-like international fan base along the way, with caravans of diehards following them from city to city. After the release of their 2012 album Strength To Survive, the musicians started writing material for what would become their fifth full-length album, “Amid the Noise and Haste.”
For Hemphill, who pens the lyrics, chords and melody, each song starts with an experience: meeting someone, reading something, experiencing something that seems pertinent to the human condition. On this album, the songwriter is suggesting that “all of life’s problems, and all of life’s answers are within us. We’ve been conditioned to accumulate, compete and break others down around ourselves — not inherent to the human condition, but rather taught. Those things can be untaught. The real us is in there, somewhere.” All of this is translated into short, sweet packages of music.
The writing and recording process for Amid the Noise and Haste stretched out over a year and a half, mostly because the musicians kept finding new collaborators and new ideas along the way. The aim was to engage as many guest artists as possible, with each working on a song that had a legitimate connection to them. The album was produced by Supa Dups (Bruno Mars, Eminem, Rihanna, John Legend) and recorded at Circle House Studios in Miami and Lion & Fox Studios in Washington D.C. throughout 2013. Damian “Jr. Gong” Marley appears on “Your Song,” a buoyant, hopeful number that asks fans to remind the band why they got into music by singing along, while “I Believe” brings Michael Franti and Nahko together to offer thoughts on how to control your own destiny. Collie Buddz, J Boog and Anuhea are also featured on various tracks. “We wanted to bring together people who would help demonstrate each song,” Jacob says. “We wanted people who could either relate to or convey the message. The whole album is about the human race relating to itself and connecting with itself.”
For SOJA, whose live show is an explosion of energy and positivity, music is a means of helping people relate in a more affirmative way. It also asks people to look inside themselves and really ask what it is they want to do with their life and how they can be happy. SOJA’s music is about finding that happiness and peace we all deserve and helping others do the same, something Amid the Noise and Haste aptly conveys in its songs.
“I put words in my songs that I believe to be true,” Jacob says. “The point of the album is reconnecting people to the power inside themselves, getting them to fall back in love with life again. Look around, take a deep breath. All the answers are there.” ❖