Posts Tagged ‘dirty heads’

Dirty Heads

April 29, 2010

Dirty Heads

I recently interviewed Dustin “Duddy” Bushnell of the Dirty Heads for the cover of a marijuana lifestyle magazine called Culture. This wasn’t the first time.

Allow me to rephrase that. This was my first time interviewing them for Culture magazine, but it wasn’t my first encounter with the little known quintet. In fact, when I first encountered them, I didn’t interview them at all; I co-directed a photo shoot. And they weren’t a quintet; they were a quartet, rounded out by a DJ named Rocky (now they have a full band as opposed to the DJ).

Prior to being listed in Rolling Stone Magazine as one of the “Best New Bands of 2010,” and the release of the heavily rotated single “Lay Me Down” featuring Rome Ramirez, the band was just gaining notoriety. The year was 2007, and if I remember correctly, the track “Stand Tall” had gained some hype and was even being featured at the X Games. I was working as Editor-In-Chief of Skinnie Magazine, and one of our in-house sales associates named Kevin Ashford had brought the Dirty Heads to my attention. Ashford was always very hip to the music and culture indigenous to the surf & skate community, and had relationships with pretty much every action sports oriented brand. He was also apparently a close friend of Braden Asher, who manages the Dirty Heads.

Kevin Ashford told me straight up, “This band will be the next big thing.” Well, all I have to say to that is, good call, Ashford. I seriously should have listened to you more back in the day. While some may contend that the Dirty Heads are not the next big thing just yet, I would like to point out that three years after Kevin’s claim, they are definitely well on their way and have received some rather impressive and credible accolades.

Regardless, at some point in 2007 the Dirty Heads found themselves in some “upscale” nightclub in Costa Mesa, the name of which eludes me at present. They were in the awkward position of being in a fashion shoot for a magazine they were unfamiliar with, being asked to wear clothes they didn’t like from sponsors who did not fit their lifestyle, and ultimately dealing with a club that wasn’t really their scene. And I was in the precarious position of trying to coax them into doing so for the sake of the shoot while making sure the band, the models, the sponsors and the photographer were all happy. Yay me!

In typical Skinnie Magazine style, the products and sponsors were completely mismatched with the models and the venue, thereby making the shoot all the more questionable. But the thing about Skinnie is, in those days, we were troopers, and we would do whatever it took to make things work out. We were the MacGuyvers of print content. You throw a box of matches, a paperclip and a toilet paper roll at MacGuyver and tell him to defuse a bomb, he’ll figure it out. Likewise, if you throw fashion accessories meant for dirt bike riders (the “bro” scene as many like to call it), a band that caters to the surfer and stoner demographic (read: “not bro at all”), a nightclub that has little to do with either (read: “sorry, but we want people with money and nice clothes to come here as opposed to surfers, stoners and bros”) at us and tell us to make a fashion spread with next to no budget… well… you get the idea. We somehow made it work, and that was both the frustration and the excitement of it all. That and bottle service.

To be fair, our greatest strength going into this shoot was probably the fact that we had world-renowned photographer Michael Vincent handling the camera. Michael Vincent is a very well respected fashion photographer who had already shot for the likes of Maxim, FHM and many other lad mags in various countries (he seemed to get booked in South America quite frequently). However, even having a heavy hitter like Michael Vincent on board made the shoot a tad awkward, as Mr. Vincent was at the time accustomed to shooting scenes laden with sex appeal. We had storyboarded this whole concept of the Dirty Heads hanging out at a club, wearing our client’s apparel, partying and drinking with a bunch of hot girls. Seemed simple and reasonable enough, we figured it would make the readers happy, the clients happy, the venue happy, and probably the band happy as well. As it turned out, a couple of the guys in the band had girlfriends, and being photographed with these hot, scantily clad female models draping themselves all over the band members’ laps and posing in questionable positions made the attached members quite nervous and in some instances downright uncomfortable. As for the members who were single, naturally they were fine with the whole situation, but we had not foreseen that two of the members would be involved in a serious relationship, and that there might be a question of moral comfort in having scantily clad women pose with them for a “sexy” fashion shoot.

It’s safe to say that in retrospect, compromises were made and somehow, we pulled off a good shoot. In the end, everybody was happy in spite of the unlikely circumstances. At least, I hope everybody was happy with the end result.

My most recent encounter with the Dirty Heads was considerably less awkward and therefore considerably less humorous, but still memorable nonetheless. After reminiscing about the humorous photo shoot and former band mate Rocky, Duddy and I got into the meat of a solid interview that can be read online here or at any place in So Cal that you can find Culture Magazine.

In a wacky side note, a week prior to being asked to interview the Dirty Heads, I was on assignment at the Cat Club, doing a show review for Music Connection. The boyfriend of the artist I was reviewing was, apparently, a musician, just like everybody in LA. But he wasn’t just any musician – no. He was one of those musicians who was so rich in integrity that he held nothing but contempt for any and all commercially successful artists. Of course, he mentioned the Dirty Heads in conversation and went on and on about how much he hated them and how they pretty much ripped off Sublime. I will say this about that: if you rip on a band in front of me, then odds are I will probably be asked by somebody to interview that same band a week later. At least I think that’s the lesson…

Or maybe that’s not the point really. I want to contend that while it’s obvious the Dirty Heads are influenced by Sublime, the real question is, who isn’t? Every artist is influenced by somebody, and Sublime is one of the most influential bands in recent decades. And to be fair, the Dirty Heads worked their asses off to turn their music into a viable means of income, and it’s working for them. Rather than holding them in contempt for their success, I hold them in esteem for proving that surviving in this industry is still a possibility.

In closing I’d like to thank Braden Asher for making the interview (and photo shoot) possible, Culture editor David Burton for giving me the assignment, and of course, Kevin Ashford, for having introduced me to the Dirty Heads in the first place.