When the California reggae group The Dirty Heads put out its second album, “Cabin by the Sea,” in June, it was looking to create a soundtrack for summer. The band will give fans a taste of that summer sound while co-headlining a show with Matisyahu on Sunday at the Simon Estes Amphitheater.
“We definitely set out to write an album that was something you could put on when you went camping or to the beach,” frontman Jared “Dirty J” Watson said during a phone interview. “I think our music does that naturally, with its feel good, Southern California sunny vibe. It was definitely a conscious effort to write an album to put on for those kinds of occasions.”
Watson has been performing with Dustin “Duddy B” Bushnell since 1996, so with only two albums to their name The Dirty Heads aren’t exactly prolific.
The band signed with Warner Bros., but disputes with the label lead to 2008’s “Any Port in a Storm” being released by Executive Music Group. It was nearly four years before fans got a follow-up with “Cabin By the Sea.”
“The highs are high and the lows are low,” Watson said. “We went from the high of being 21-year-old dudes signed by Warner, then cut to a year later and we’re touring in a van and making $100 a week. But I think everything happens for a reason and we don’t dwell on the negative.”
Watson said the delay was partly caused by legal issues with The Dirty Heads’ last label, and partly because of the success of “Lay Me Down.”
The song was featured on the 2010 special edition of “Any Port in a Storm.” It was co-written and sung by Rome Ramirez of Sublime with Rome. The song became a big hit, and when a band is riding high on a song you don’t want to have it get in the way of the follow-up material.
Watson met Ramirez in the studio. The Sublime singer is a Dirty Heads fan, and Watson and Ramirez enjoy the same music. “Lay Me Down” came as a result of a backyard beer drinking session.
“Once it got on the radio everyone was ready for us to go back out on tour,” Watson said. “So we got to go out, kick ass and make a lot of friends.”
One of those friends is Matisyahu, the Jewish reggae/ rapper who has made regular appearances in Des Moines in recent years.
Matisyahu recorded the song “Dance All Night” with The Dirty Heads on “Cabin by the Sea,” and touring together means the band gets to perform the song with him on a nightly basis.
“That song is kind of how this tour came about,” Watson said. “We told him he could come out and do the song whenever he was around. So we ended up putting the tour together so we could perform it every night.”
The Dirty Heads and Matisyahu
When: 6 p.m. Sunday
Where: Simon Estes Amphitheater, Robert D. Ray Drive and East Locust Street