Dirty J, doing his other thing.

Dirty J, doing his other thing. Photo: Montauk Music

The Inertia

We all want to believe that we can relate to the talented and famous in some way. Perhaps we simply want to envisage ourselves into the glamour of their lifestyle and world, be it professional athlete, musician, or actor.

While I have no illusions of being a famous rocker, I appreciate and respect the years of dedication it took for Jared “Dirty J” Watson to stand where he and his band, Dirty Heads, do now.  But there’s a balancing and reassuring force that Jared looks forward to when he gets off tour and settles in at home, one which we can all relate to: surfing and being around the ocean.

Jared and I sat down before their show at Pier 6 Pavilion in Baltimore and chatted about the ocean-based side of his life, but I would have been remiss not to ask first about Dirty Heads brand new album, Sound of Change. It brings a newer, grandiose sound; emphatically stating that this band is has no fear in making music that sounds different to anything they’ve previously done.

“We wanted to do something different,” Jared explained. “It’s an evolution of our music, that’s purely what it is—it’s us evolving musically and as people. We had come out with two pretty chill albums (Home| Phantoms of Summer and Cabin By The Sea) and we wanted to do something…a lot bigger, a lot more dynamic.”


Sounds of Change features collaborations with B Real, Tech N9ne and Ward 21, lending a definite bass heavy hip hop and dancehall groove.

“Any time we collaborate it’s really just us kind of us – we just want to meet people and work with them because [we’re] fans. It’s also the producers we got to work with like Niles & Buddah Shampoo. Rome Ramirez, Supa Dups. It’s just fun to get out and work with new people, you know?”

Yeah, but let’s talk surfing, shall we?

“I was born in Sunset Beach, CA… Born right on the water, my parents were hippies,” Jared remembered. “My dad was a carpenter, and his shop was basically inside the Kanvas by Katin shop…. [My brother and I] grew up inside the shop; either my parents didn’t have money for babysitters, or just didn’t care, so they would tell us to go to the beach all day, or come hang at the surf shop.” Jared spent much of his time there, doing odd jobs or just simply messing around. “I’d sweep the back, or the shaping room, and basically that’s where we hung out and got picked on as the groms of the surf shop.”

Soon, though, Jared stepped into a new role: one as a musician. “Eventually my brother became shop manager and it became me working for my brother, and I didn’t like that too much, so I just used to get stoned and sleep under the wetsuits.” Of course, although his brother was his brother, he was still his boss. “He was like, ‘Dude, you can’t work here anymore,’” Jared said. “It was like alright, whatever, so I left and started music and all that stuff.”

“Growing up, I started [wave riding] in Seal Beach,” he sighed, “I used to boogey… Seal Beach was a pretty heavy, localized spot. It’s super shorebreaky…. If you’re gonna boogey, that’s the best spot.”

But like many boogey boarders, he eventually moved to a surfboard. And although he loved it, he never forgot one of his true passions. “That was cool,” he told me. “But then I went into surf class in high school when I realized, I should stand up, you know…. actually, I really skate more than anything, that’s what I’ve done my whole life; it’s where my heart lies… but always being around the ocean and going swimming and diving and fishing, it was such a huge part of my life, and after high school surf class, surfing [too].”

Being on tour all the time, though, doesn’t always lend itself to surfing as much as one would think.  But Dirty J has a solution to that. “I don’t surf as much as l’d like to because I’m gone all the time, so a little bit wider and thicker helps me get back in the water after being on the road forever. I rarely get the chance to surf on the road, maybe just in Florida with our friends from Nomad Surf Shop. Their shop’s really cool; it reminds me of Katin, because it’s run by the original family that lives at the shop.”

But there’s no place like home, especially for Jared. “When I’m home, I surf the same spots all the time,” he said. “All the boys like Brett Simpson, and all my friends that are really good, like pro, that I don’t like surfing with because they make me feel like shit, they all surf the pier.”

Like many that grew up around the ocean, Jared knows that it will always be a big part of his life. “I’ll always be in the water, whether it’s surfing or fishing or diving.” And while most of us will never know the thrill of captivating thousand with our music, but when it comes to Jared’s ocean life, those are notions we all can relate to.


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