Down & Dirty: Q+A With Katin Explorer and Dirty Heads Lead Singer Jared Watson

We caught up with Dirty Heads (@DirtyHeads) lead singer Jared Watson (@JaredWatsonDH) to talk music, growing up in the Kanvas by Katin Surf Shop (@Katin_SurfShop), gaming, festival style and more! 
Check out our chat with Jared at Katin USA HQ below.
Tell us a little about yourself; growing up and how you got to where you are today, including being the lead singer of The Dirty Heads band. 

I was born and raised in Sunset Beach, Calif., where my dad owned a wood shop. He was in this wood shop for over 30 years. He just recently moved out of it a couple years ago, but the wood shop was connected to the Kanvas by Katin surf shop. I was born literally in our house, no hospital, like hippie style, in the house. So growing up my dad would sometimes take us to work with him, and we can’t be running around a wood shop because it has saws and nails and stuff so we’d just sit in the surf shop all day. So I was literally born into that surf shop. My first 12-16 years of life were just sitting in that surf shop, sweeping and getting picked on. And then my older bother Jesse started working there and now he's been working there since he was 16 and now he manages the place.

It's family. Sato used to watch us and she’s like our godmother and Uncle Glenn. That shop raised us pretty much. And My dad's shop, his wood shop is now the stock room, the storage room. So we’d just go surf in the morning and go over there in the afternoon and wait for my dad to finish work.

I worked there and then my brother became manager and you don’t want to work for your brother. I couldn’t sleep in the wetsuits anymore. I went to work there so I could not work cause its a surf shop. So my brother fired me.

When you left working for Kanvas by Katin surf shop, what was your next move?

I was probably 16. I worked at another surf shop and then I worked construction. I worked construction in the morning, surf shop during the day and then I apprenticed at a tattoo shop at night.  I wanted to become a tattoo artist because art school wasn’t working cause my government teacher failed me and then they took away my scholarship to this rad art school in laguna and I was like, "F*CK the government it’s all a setup and bullsh*t anyway. I don’t want to do this!" It was really dumb of me, but it was a good thing because then I started doing music. I started working these three jobs and doing the music and then it slowly started working and I was like, “Oh sh*t this is rad. Like screw all this other stuff. This is what I want to do.” So we kind of threw all our eggs in one basket and just went 100% into the music. I think I started writing music with Dustin (Dirty Heads guitarist) when I was 15 or 16. 

I read in a previous interview that you and Dustin aka Duddy (Dushnell) met at a high school party. Is that true?

My older brother and his (Dustin) older brother were friends and he’s like "Yo come to this house party." So I show up and then there’s these dudes in the room and they’re listening to these raps, these like terrible absolutely terrible raps but the lyrics are really funny, they’re like about beating off in the bathtub and stuff. And I was like oh my God this is hilarious. I want to hang out with these guys. I want to be friends with these guys. So I was like “what’s up dude how you doin?’ And they're like "oh come over, I got a sound proof garage, this is just a joke but we have a punk band, we write music, we play reggae," and I got over there and it’s like this real deal. These dudes know everything and I’d never known anything about music, I’d never sang, I’d never rapped, but then we started messing around and a couple months went by and we’d just been writing and writing and me and Duddy realized we had a lot of similarities in the music we liked and we were writing a lot of songs and kind of like, “This is fun, I think I don’t suck at this,” you know? He's like no you're good we should start a little band.” So we started this acoustic little thing and that was the Dirty Heads. Me and Duddy and Jon Jon (Jon Olazabal, Dirty Heads drummer), would go play like bars and coffee shops and back yard parties just acoustically. Then they started growing and growing and growing and we met our manager and he’s like, "Yo you got to get a band," and we started selling out LA and then we started touring and you know we slowly just started doing the grassroots thing.

So when did you actually form Dirty Heads, that is the band today?

Like 2003-2004 like for real. In high school we had it and we were doing it but we didn’t really start taking it seriously and trying and making it an actual thing until we were about like 21 which was about like 2003-2004. 

 I know where you guys started as a band and where you guys are now is probably different, but for you  personally, had you ever imagined you'd be where you are today? Do you look back now and think  “Holy crap!”?

Oh brutally. I still to this day it still weirds me out that this is what I do for a living. Cause you grow up and like growing up for 16-17 years not playing any music, not even thinking about being in a band, not realizing that you can sing, you can rap, you can write you can do anything, didn’t even pass through my brain once for 17 years of my life you know? Then all of a sudden it’s like “Oh,” so half of me is still like “Really? This is rad.” It's very surreal and I think that’s why I branch out and do other things, like TgrShrk with Jason (Katin Creative Director) or the podcast thing, cause there are other parts of me that when I was growing up I thought I’d be doing and maybe I’d be working for a company doing art or art directing or you know painting or drawing or something. So the music thing to this day still weirds me out. So crazy that I’m in a band that you can say is successful making a living out of it. It’s like “what the fuck?!” I would have never, never guessed. Never once thought. Never ever it’s super weird.

Yeah especially when the typical story is, you know “I came out of the womb playing guitar” or whatever.
Yeah. You were meant to do this! And it’s like maybe I was but I just never thought of it so its still rad. It’s a really cool feeling.

I saw those photos from The Hangout Fest and it looked so rad!

We knew that was going to be one of the bigger festivals because the Foo Fighters were headlining. Well not just cause of them but the lineup. You can tell how big the festival is going to be by the lineup. It was gigantic.

Festivals are the sh*t. It can get frustrating or stressful because you don’t get sound check or anything, it’s called a throw and go. You get there and you just set your stuff up in 20 minutes and then you go. No sound check, no nothing. That’s the only reason why festivals can kind of be a bummer, because other than that there’s nothing I can say bad about them cause you’re playing in front of so many people that would never hear you or see you or even know about you. There might be 5,000 people waiting for the act that's coming on after you. They're just chilling so they have to watch you. So if you can win them over and then you get your friends on top of it, then you just get people hanging out. There was easily probably 10,000-20,000 people there. You couldn’t see where it stopped and that energy is crazy. There’s nothing to describe that and nothing that compares to the amount of energy that people give off and you can actually feel it. You get off stage and its like a drug.

Have you played Hangout Fest before?
Yeah we’ve played once before.

Is there any particular show, festival or time hat was like especially crazy or that stands out in your head, good or bad? 

We headlined Red Rocks, which was a dream come true. We had played Red Rocks eight years prior as an opening act with 311 and Matisyahu, and we  promised ourselves one day we were going to headline this place and sell it out ourselves. So that happened, that was crazy. And surprisingly one of the most memorable shows we’ve had we just played this place called the Blue Note or something blue, it’s kind of this famous place in London. It was only like a 500 person venue but it was the first time we’d ever been to London and it was sold out. 500 kids and it was like this little sweat box, this little stage and the ceiling was low but it was SO much  fun. They are right there and you’re just sweaty and they just know all the words and you’ve never been there before. It brought me back to the beginning and the kids were just going bonkers. It was one of the funnest shows ever but it was tiny compared to Red Rocks. Which Red Rocks was life changing, but it’s funny, you can go from something like that big to something small and they both be special.

When you’re not being awesome, lead singing in the Dirty Heads, traveling and what not, what do you enjoy doing?

Nothing. I’m a fan of nothing. I really enjoy down time at home. I could say, “Oh yeah I love to go surf and skate,” and that happens once in awhile but I love my couch, my Xbox, my dog and my wife, and just being super lazy. Sleeping in, waking up, doing nothing, playing video games, chilling, cooking. With my job I feel like it’s so social and so personal and you’re always meeting people, you’re always saying what’s up, you’re always around people, you’re always doing meet and greets, your always at shows, and radio shows, it’s just so much overload that when you finally get home it’s like, it’s home. I just turn my phone off I have my wife and my dog, play video games, just zone out.
I do that for like a week. I usually take like a week off to where it’s like don’t call me for like five days. Cause usually at the end of playing video games for five days I’m like I got to get out of that house and do something.
So I have a gaming podcast that's coming out, a clothing line with Jason on our second season and then I'm doing another music project called Sword Beach that’s coming out, but I can’t talk about it yet, just that it’s separate from Dirty Heads and it's just me. So I do stay busy, I really do like working and I like my job and I like hustling and get stuff done cause it’s fun. It’s another creative outlet for me to go and do things so after I go home and veg out and zombie out for like a week then I’ll usually get back on the grind and bug Jason and get on it. 

Tell me a little bit about the podcast you mentioned. What's it about? 

It’s a gaming podcast. So I’ve been playing video games, me and brother since we could, so like 5. I remember my dad came home from work one day and said “Oh Santa Clause came by the shop today.” And I was like "WHAT! He got me 'Excitebike!'," and this was when I believed in Santa Clause and I was just like "Yes!" I’ve been playing video games ever since. It's just crazy to see how big of an industry it is and how huge it is. And it’s cool for me because it lets me escape for a little while you know. So that’s why I think it’s special for me. I’m just such a huge fan and we’ve been playing forever. So now that you can play online with your friends your sitting with your headset on, you’re talking to your dudes, we sit there and we talk sh*t about the games and we talk about it, and somebody had mentioned like, "Yo you guys we’ve been doing this while we’re gaming, why don’t we just do a podcast?" Once I got in to podcasts, I listen to all the gaming ones and they are not good. It’s just like they’re either super, super tech, talking about the pixel rate and this and that and it's just like “I don’t know what you’re talking about and I don’t care.” There was not one podcast really on there that was your average gamers podcast to where it’s like, "This game fun and should I buy it?". So it’s called the Worthless Game Review. Games are $60 bucks so it’s like “No don’t buy this game it’s stupid don’t waste your money," and why is it fun, not the pixel rate and how good the graphics are because it’s using this engine and the mechanics are this and that.
Really your average outlook on it not like professional gaming stuff. It’s just three dudes, three friends, and we just sit around and shoot the sh*t and let people know about games and then we do these contests. We’re starting to do these contests where we will all three play a game and whoever loses has to do something terrible on the podcast like eat a habanero or something like that. So it’ll give people a reason to come back. We’ll do it at the end and so that’s fun. 

So are you already in the process of doing it?

As soon as Jason get it up on iTunes it’ll be up. So it should be up by this weekend. They can download it off of our website, I just don’t want to say it’s up before it’s on iTunes. Nobody’s going to come to our website and download it to their phone. They want to download it from the app.

What do you tend to wear while you’re on tour?

Every tour I like to make it easy on myself and kind of pick an outfit. Obviously not just like a tee shirt and a pair of jeans that I wear everyday, that’d be disgusting and smelly, but like this tour I’m going to rock the Vans classics, ripped denim and tank tops. This tour I’m going to wear button downs and joggers and you know some Nikes. And I just get that and I get a bunch of it. It just makes it super easy. And one tour I just got like 20 Katin shop tank tops and I wore tank tops every day and every show because it was hot. I think that really started people asking, “What is Kanvas by Katin?” and I was like yeah it’s my brother’s shop go buy it. 

When you hear the word Katin Explorer what does that mean to you?

I think when you tag the word Katin onto it, there’s a lot of companies doing the “explorer” and the “adventurer” and I love that our generation has really come full circle from our parents’ generation VW buses and going to Yosemite and Big Sur and being outdoorsy and having knives in your pockets and a hatchet is a cool thing to have and good skillet for your eggs in the morning like that stuff is cool nowadays. You know it’s allocating full circle, I love that. So to put Katin before that, you’re putting even more weight because Katin is such a history and it’s so original from being like the first board shorts and this little shop to this rad clothing company. There’s a lot of weight behind it. The Katin Explorer has a lot more meaning to it than just like a “Hey I’m this adventurer or something like that.” It’s classic to me. It’s classic and it’s timeless to me. Katin I think is always going to be that.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received and from who?

My manager. He’s been a mentor. I’ve had some other friends that I look up to that have been kind of mentors. I think it’s really important to surround yourself with people that are kind of mentors to you that you might be like “I like what he’s done with his life. How did you do that? How did you accomplish that?”, and really soak it in and listen to them if what they’re saying you can relate to.
There’s a lot of ups and downs in this business and in every business and I think the one mistake that people do, where the most problems will come from, and if you cut this out of your life it will literally take a lot of problems out of it, is don’t assume anything and get all the information first. It doesn’t sound profound and it doesn’t sound deep and meaningful and it’s not a quote that you can find on Instagram that girls post with their coffee on Sundays or whatever, it sounds stupid. It’s like don’t assume anything until you get all the information.
As a human being, say something goes wrong, most people assume the absolute worst and then they start coming up with scenarios in their head on what went wrong and who did it and why they did it and what’s wrong and this and that, and then you made this huge thing in your mind and you’re stressing out over and then you go and talk to the person and you find out that it’s completely wrong. It’s hard to do, to train yourself to do it, but before you do it, stop and just say, “I don’t know. I don’t know why it went wrong. I don’t have any information yet so I’m not even going to get mad. I’m going to get every single little piece of information," and then when you have all that you can make a conclusion. By the time you’ve done that, it’s going to take a while longer so you’re probably not going to get that mad cause you didn’t freak out automatically.
Once you do have all then information, it’s easier to find a solution. It’s just so simple but every time the band starts freaking out it’s like “Guys do you know that? Do you really know that that’s why this is going on?" and they go “No..”, "then why the f*ck are we freaking out? Let’s call him and then you get all the information." And they’re like "Oh no that’s not why it happened," and you go "Oh!" You just wasted an hour of your life stressing for no reason. 
Lastly, what’s next for you? What’s on the horizon?

We have a three month tour with Slightly Stoopid this summer. So that’s what we’re gearing up for. That’s going to be major. It's the Everything is Awesome Tour. A three-month tour, that’s about as long as I can go before I lose my mind. It starts July 10.

Follow Jared and The Dirty Heads on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and beyond @DirtyHeads to stay up to date on upcoming shows and current happenings!
Shop Jared's Katin pieces above online now at
Katin 'No Problemo' Tee
Katin Hats

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