Kevin Norris

Interview: Dustin ‘Duddy’ Bushnell of The Dirty Heads

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Hailing from Huntington Beach, the Dirty Heads fun-loving music has captured the quintessential atmosphere of a SoCal summer: backyard BBQ’S, late night parties with best friends, and lazy days at the beach. Singer Dustin “Duddy” Bushnell recently caught up with us to discuss his inspirations, thoughts on the new singer of Sublime, and the bands potential next album. First off, what is the Dirty Head’s back-story? I read somewhere that you guys got your name from a situation involving theft of alcohol. Is there any truth to that, and if so anything you care to elaborate on?

Dustin “Duddy” Bushnell: I’ve heard so many funny ones. It really started: we grew up together me and Jared [Watson], the other singer. We were friends, our older brothers were friends and it was just something that our friends kinda would call us and our parents would too. I think that story was one time we were at my brother’s party or something and we stole their beer and they were like, “you f@*kin ‘dirty heads’.” That’s kind of where it started sticking. It really started, though, was one of the first songs we wrote together, Jared had a line in it that went, “dirty headed kids from the city H.B.,” and that was the only song we had at the time. We had one song and we’d just play for fun with my brother’s band whenever they played. We didn’t have a name for our group or the song, so everyone was just like “play the dirty heads song.” So that’s just kind of how we got out name.

SCMT: So, it was just Jared and you at first, how did the rest of the band come into the story?

Dustin: Well, it started out me and Jared just for fun. Just in my garage writing music on an acoustic guitar. A lot of times it was after a party, just messing around, writing little funny raps over some reggae skanks. We wrote a couple songs and we were playing with my brother’s band and people were getting into it. We were kind of like, “f@*k, this is kinda cool. Why don’t we make a set?” So it was just us three for a while, and we’d just play acoustically at places, just little bars and local spots. At first, it was just for friends who’d come out and watch us. Then little by little it started growing. Next thing we noticed “sh!t, there’s like 300 people packed into these little bars to come see us.”

SCMT: Yeah, now your song is on constant rotation on KROQ. I’d say it’s pretty safe to assume you have a huge following now.

Dustin: Exactly, it’s pretty hilarious when I think back to how it all really started (laughs).

SCMT: What has it been like hearing “Lay Me Down” receive so much notoriety? Has there been a point where you have gotten sick of hearing it played?

Dustin: I have felt that way in the past with other songs, as far as we’ve been playing certain songs for five years at every show. But with “Lay Me Down” it’s kind of like we didn’t write it for a serious reason, it wasn’t for an album or anything. Rome just came over to my house, we were just hanging out and we wrote a song kind of for fun. We put it on some random compilation that went out. And then all of a sudden it’s played on KROQ and we were like “wow, that’s the song.” But definitely not sick of hearing it on the radio yet, because I think that for anyone who has been a musician is just waited their whole life for that moment. So three weeks, no, I’m not sick of it yet.

SCMT: What are your personal thoughts on Rome filling the legendary shoes of Brad Nowell

Dustin: I love it; I think that this is what the genre needed. Besides Sublime, really the only mainstream act it has ever had is Slightly Stoopid. I mean Pepper was kind of for a second there, but they never even really go to the Slightly Stoopid level. So, I’m excited man. I think Rome is going to do a great job and everyone’s just gotta give him credit for filling such huge shoes. I mean going into that you know for a fact that a lot of people are going to hate your f@*king guts. So that takes a lot of balls for him to step in and do that.

SCMT: I agree. It sounds a lot better that I originally expected.

Dustin: Yeah, because most of the people that are hating are the same people that go pay to see Badfish play. Why would you go pay to see a cover band, but won’t go pay to see Bud [Gaugh] and Eric [Wilson] [original members of Sublime] who like this kid and are willing to play with him. The hate will die once they put a new album out with songs that Rome wrote. People will realize “okay this guy is the sh!t; he’s not some guy just signing cover songs.”

SCMT: “Any Port in a Storm” seems to capture the essence of a SoCal summer, what would you say was the overall atmosphere you were aiming for when writing and recording the album?

Dustin: Definitely the SoCal skate atmosphere. It comes out in all of our music because that’s where everyone in the band has grown up. But we definitely want to write music for people to have a good time to and be able to put on when you’re partying. Music that’s going to put you in a good mood for sure, that’s what we aim for.

SCMT: “Believe” has a lot of allusions to Brad Nowell, Stevie Ray Vaughn, and Jimi Hendrix being major inspirations. What would you say were other non musical influences when writing “Any Port in a Storm?”

Dustin: Just the whole time being in the studio and recording an album, being on a major label was just so exciting and a great experience for us. Being able to have producers come and teach us sh!t that we had no idea about. So that was all inspirational.

SCMT: For someone who has yet to see you guys live, what can they expect from a Dirty Heads show?

Dustin: I think at our live performances you get a lot more of a feel of who were are. A lot more of an attitude comes out in the live performance. I definitely like “Any Port in a Storm,” but I do think that we picked up the pieces because it was our first album and we were so worried about everything being perfect that I think you’ll get more of a vibe live, a little more relaxed.

SCMT: It’s been two years since “Any Port in a Storm” came out. Do you guys have any plans to record a new album in the near future?

Dustin: The near future holds a lot of touring. That’s what we got to do. We’ve actually been writing a lot in the past couple months we’ve been off tour. I mean we got 20 tracks recorded already. We were planning on doing a new album, but with this “Lay Me Down” thing on the radio out of nowhere, we had to release it. So we put out this special edition album that has a couple unreleased tracks and some different recordings of old ones and “Lay Me Down.” So we put that out to let that go for a while then tour and let the radio hit and then we’ll drop the new one. I don’t know any dates yet, but it’ll probably be more like September, October, and November I’m thinking.

SCMT: And your tour kicks off this upcoming month with Sublime with Rome.

Dustin: Yeah, we got a tour. We’re doing a bunch of dates with them around the country starting out April 20 at the Palladium in L.A. Goddamn I’m excited for that.

SCMT: What a perfect day to start a reggae tour.

Dustin: Yeah (laughs), I wonder if they planned that.

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