The Sound of Change can’t come from external forces, it has to emanate from within. For Dirty Heads, evolution beyond their reggae-rock roots has developed over time and is manifested on their new album “Sound of Change.” Due out summer 2014 via Five Seven Music, the album boasts some of the groups’ most diverse and ambitious work to date. “Sound of Change” takes a literal meaning with the production of this album, as the band links up with Grammy award winning producer Supa Dups (Nina Sky, Bruno Mars), Buddah Shampoo (Ty Dolla $ign), Niles (of hip hop duo, The Cataracs), Ward 21 (311, Major Lazer reggae collaborators) and long-time friend and collaborator, Rome (Sublime).
The feel-good vibe associated with their sound was not forgotten. Sonically, “Sound of Change” amps up the groundwork laid by previous albums. Fine-tuned alternative choruses work harmoniously with hip-hop influenced production that seams the songs together. Universal themes of compassion, reflection and happiness are at the core of “Sound of Change.” “We wanted the songs on this album to touch on the things we deeply care about and the people we are inside” front man Jared (Dirty J) Watson asserts, “but then we want to address the other side - when the weekend comes and we need to let go and just rage.” Who can’t relate to that feeling?
Vocalist/Guitarist Dustin Bushnell (Duddy B) is constantly looking to connect the dots between the live show with the album tracks, often mentally mapping out the live elements as the songs are being recorded. For the touring cycle surrounding the release “Sound of Change” the band plans to bring a live show that will energetically compliment each new track. Dirty Heads have racked up their miles bringing that live experience to fans across the globe for over a decade. “Now that our lives are touring we get to see the world,” both Watson and Bushnell agree, “we’re taking stories and vibes from around the world and making this album is the culmination of that.”
The band’s breakout 2008 album “Any Port In The Storm” included the chart-topping hit track “Lay Me Down” which features current Sublime frontman, Rome. The track had an incredible run for eleven weeks at #1 on the Billboard charts, laying a solid foundation for their follow up sophomore album “Cabin By The Sea” which was released in 2012. Dirty Heads then began their musical metamorphosis with their 2013 acoustic album “Home - Phantoms Of Summer,” allowing time for their metamorphosis embodied in “Sound of Change.” Their previous work featured contributions from talent such as Del The Funky Homosapien, Matisyahu, Rome (Sublime) and guitar legend Slash.
“Sound of Change” is a melting pot of all the band members’ experiences and musical persuasions, addressing both serious and lighthearted subject matter in their signature way. On the lighter side of the spectrum, “Burn Slow” (Produced by Rome, featuring rapper, Tech N9ne) showcases the hip-hop oriented side of the band. With anthemic choruses and a feel-good aura, Watson boasts the song is the perfect soundtrack for those times when you’re “having a good time, going out with friends and realize that sometimes you just need to chill.” The retro sound and sexy lyrics of “Hear You Comin,” highlights Watson’s soaring vocals in its hook. The first single, the metaphorical “My Sweet Summer” (produced by Niles from The Cataracs) is, in reality, a song for all seasons. An undeniable groove underlines the lyrical lament. The title track “Sound of Change” is the key manifestation of the artistic maturation of the band. “The world is always changing political and social outlooks and on a broader scale, look at the changes within yourself” Watson reflects, “the song is about embracing the change life is going to bring no matter what, because that change is inevitable.” Though there is diversity on “Sound of Change,” as a body of work, it is cohesive in a way only Dirty Heads can achieve.
As a full six-piece unit, frontmen Watson and Bushnell are joined by keyboardist/vocalist Shawn Hagood, percussionist Jon Olazabal, drummer Matt Ochoa and bassist David Foral. This lineup is hell-bent on grabbing new ears with “Sound of Change.” Their own journey can be heard within the album– all you have to do is sit back and listen.
“It’s the hardest thing we’ve ever done as a band to make this record,” says guitarist/vocalist Kaleo Wassman of Pepper, in speaking on the recording process of their new self-titled album. “It speaks loudly and widely to a broader audience while maintaining everything good about the band, which, first of all, is our positive attitude.” After releasing five albums, Pepper has opened a new chapter in their storied career. Drummer Yesod Williams adds, “This record feels very cohesive in a way our past releases maybe didn’t. I think it’s an album that can appeal to everyone, as well. We’ve been pigeonholed in the past so this is an opportunity to transcend all that and spread our wings even wider.”
The trio, who formed in 1997 and moved to the mainland from their hometown of Kailua Kona, Hawaii in 1999, pressed pause after the release of their fifth album, Pink Crustaceans and Good Vibrations, in 2008. There was a sense of fatigue and disunity amongst the three musicians, who took some time off from music both apart and together before rejoining to create an EP, Stiches, in late 2010. The songs on that re-energized the group, revealing an urgent desire to make a new album that reflected where they are in their lives and career now. After some tour dates in support of the EP, Pepper sat down and focused on their sixth album, a self-titled released that swings open the door on this new chapter.
The musicians went into the studio with Matt Wallace, a producer known for his work with Maroon 5, O.A.R. and Faith No More, in early 2012. Matt helped focus the group’s vision and expand their musical knowledge base, an experience the band members compare to being in their own version of college. The album was recorded in various studios over the course of a year, honing in on Pepper’s re-defined self-identity and how that focus was reflected in the songs.
“We learned so much,” Yesod says. “Matt help us really focus on the art of songwriting. He sat in the room with the three of us with a fine-tooth comb and went over every word, every melody, every sound. He showed us that it’s important what you do play as well as what you don’t play, creating both spaces in the songs. We learned how powerful simplicity can be. Plus, we had such a good time recording this album and I think that shows.”
The resulting album, self-titled to accentuate where the band feels they are presently, broadens Pepper’s , veering into new sonic territory while still retaining all the elements that make the band so beloved by their fans. The ever-present sense of surges through the tracks, bolstering the sense of optimism throughout. The party anthems, the beach hang melodies, and the boisterous rhythms are all there, each song carefully crafted to best express these sunny moments by the ocean.
“This album is basically 12 snapshots of where we are,” vocalist/bassist Bret Bollinger says. “There are songs that will remind you of your favorite Pepper songs, but by the end you’ll hear some unexpected things. You’ll realize that the songwriting is so much more refined. And there’s laughter in the background of the songs. That’s how good the vibe is on the record.”
Pepper has toured extensively with groups like 311, Slightly Stoopid, Flogging Molly and Sublime With Rome, and spent several summers on Warped Tour – and this live sensibility shows. You can almost feel the sand in your toes and the sun as the album progresses, the musician’s amiable personalities palpable beneath the island rhythms and mellow tones. The band’s music – both live and on their releases – is really about enjoying life and being grateful for each experience, a sensibility that’s very familiar to the three musicians currently in their career. From their debut Give’n It to their 2006 standout album No Shame, which was recorded with 311’s Nick Hexum, No Doubt’s Tony Kanal and Butthole Surfers’ Paul Leary, Pepper has embodied not only a style of music but a lifestyle, one that’s most easily found on beaches but also one that’s relatable to anyone anywhere.
Released via their own label LAW Records, their universal appeal has led their music being placed in various movies and TV shows, including Forgetting Sarah Marshall and Good Luck Chuck, as well as several video game soundtracks. The band’s . But as Pepper turns the page into a fresh chapter with this new album, it’s clear that the band’s will continue on for years to come.
“We’re so blessed to be in this position,” Kaleo says. “We want to do the best we can with it. We had humble beginnings in our small town in Hawaii and we’re still that same humble band. We don’t take any of this lightly. Every day I wake up and think about how I have the best job in the world. The level of gratitude and happiness I have that we’re able to do this is incredible and I hope people can hear that when they listen to our new songs.”