Dirty Heads’ Jared “Dirty J” Watson acknowledges that his band “doing a weed-themed song isn’t going to surprise anybody.” But while the theme of “Lift Me Up,” whose lyric video is premiering exclusively below, may be familiar, the southern California ska-rock troupe tried plenty of new on its seventh album, Super Moon.
“We knew it was something special,” Watson says of the 10-song set, which came out Aug. 9. “We were really confident coming out of the studio with it. We knew it was not only maybe our best work but maybe the best album people are gonna hear this year. Our fans are loving it, which is exactly what we thought was going to happen.”
Super Moon was made under slightly surprising circumstances — at RCA Studio A in Nashville with producer Dave Cobb, better known for his work in the Americana and country worlds. It’s a change from the more experimental, multi-producer course the sextet took on its last couple of albums, but Watson and company are satisfied it worked for the better this time around.
“I love the last couple of albums we did, ’cause they led us here, to Dave,” Watson says. “We were like, ‘Dave, we want to get back to just the band. We want to record an album live, with one producer,’ and he came in and really crushed it with us.” And while the surroundings and methodology were different, Watson adds, “We were never uncomfortable. It was more like we finally found somebody that wanted to do what we wanted to do. We wanted to make a real album. We were so used to getting told that songs had to have three choruses and three pre-choruses and there was this structure we had to follow. We’ve always been fighting that, and Dave was so open-minded. There are a lot of things done on this album I’ve never heard before, and that gets me excited. That’s what Dirty Heads is — stuff you’ve never heard before.”
Watson figures even “Lift Me Up” is a different kind of weed song, inspired by Curtis Mayfield’s “Pusherman” from the 1972 Super Fly soundtrack. “We knew the song was gonna be about weed but were like, ‘Nah, we can’t do straightforward weed songs. Is there a more interesting way we can write the song and have kind of a story, build a little world?'” Watson explains. “‘Pusherman’ is one of our favorite songs, so we said, ‘What if we wrote this song about your favorite neighborhood drug dealer?’ Me and Duddy (Dustin Bushnell) used to sell weed in our high school, so we kind of did our own version of what (Mayfield) did.”
After spending the summer touring with 311, Dirty Heads are currently off the road, with nothing on its docket until an Oct. 4 show in Las Vegas. Watson says the group is planning to play in Canada and considering some other projects — including acoustic, Storytellers-style webisodes and possibly a YouTube documentary about the summer tour. “Right now we’re gonna be home and take some time and hang with our families and enjoy life a little bit,” he says. “We did a lot this summer, leading up to the album. We’re gonna let it sink in now. I’m sure you’ll see us out there again soon enough.”