Since their debut with 2008’s “Any Port In a Storm” this Southern California quintet has consistently experimented with their sunny style, leaning heavily on Reggae fused with Hip Hop cornerstones and scaling back for more acoustic fare, darting between extremes. But it’s with their fifth and self-titled album that the group has felt fully confident in a body of work, ready to bring their unique style to the masses.” Dave Foral is the anchor that holds down that bottom and with his Music Man basses provides the grooves that keep Dirty Heads going. We sat down with him the other day to hear what he had to say on the bands latest release.
This is the 5th release for dirty heads, what do you feel has evolved in your bass playing since the bands inception?
I’ve been producing more music lately so I’ve been trying to find time to practice not only the bass, but guitar and piano as well. When we’re not on the road I try to practice a little bit every day. The two main aspects of my playing that I continually try to improve on are my timing and improvisation. I’ll sit with a metronome and run scales for a while and then play through some Jazz standards. There is still so much to learn, but I can definitely say I have improved considerably in those two areas in the last couple of years.
What is your rig like for this record cycle?
I’m currently playing a Music Man Sterling 5HH through an Ashdown 900 Amp into an Ashdown 8×10 cabinet. I’m also using a Moog Sub37 Synth and sending that through a dbx compressor to an Ashdown amp and cab.
How does the bands So-Cal roots influence your bass style?
One of the great things about growing up in Long Beach was being exposed to Reggae and Hip Hop music that is deeply rooted in the culture there. In high school I started getting into artists like Yellowman, Supercat, A Tribe Called Quest and Gangstarr. I never had formal music training, so when I first picked up the bass I would listen to these records and try to learn as much as I could. It was slow at first, but after a while you start to figure out patterns and scales and music becomes easier.
How was the recording process like this time around?
Our past albums were all produced by one or two people, however this time around we just about had a different producer for each song. It was a great experience to work with so many different personalities and styles, i.e. Da Internz (Rihanna, Nicki Minaj), Drew Pearson (Katy Perry, Zac Brown Band), David Kahne (Lana Del Ray, The Strokes), Jimmy Harris (Madonna, Diplo), Jonas Jeberg (Demi Lovato, Fifth Harmony), Justin Gray (Mariah Carey, Joss Stone).
There is always something new to learn when it comes to making records. An initial idea would be brought to the table, and if we felt like it had some legs, we would go in and record live drums, bass and percussion. This has worked for us in the past and has helped form our sound.
What has been the key to making touring an enjoyable and fun experience for you over the years?
Each year our touring comfort gets a little better. When I first joined the group we were driving ourselves around the country in a van and trailer and sleeping on the floors of hotel rooms. A few years ago we moved up to a bus, which made life on the road more palatable. We can now afford individual hotel rooms on days off which is very crucial. We’re around people constantly, so it’s nice to have some alone time to decompress.
What is your favorite piece of gear that you currently cannot live without?
I’ve been playing various bass synths for years and right before our summer tour I picked up the Moog Sub37. There are parts in the new songs where I’m changing patches and the knob/button layout makes it very easy to do this.
To date, what have been your favorite places to tour and play?
There are the obvious venues in the U.S. that we love playing, like Red Rocks in Denver, CO, Irvine Meadows Amphitheatre, in Irvine, CA, which is hometown for us. I really like traveling abroad too. Brazil was a pretty intense experience and the beer in Europe is the best in the world. I’m looking forward to having more foreign shows.
What does the rest of 2016 have in store for you guys?
We are currently on a summer tour with Sublime with Rome, and will appear on NBC’s The Today Show August 3. After this tour wraps we’ll take a month break and then play the Life is Beautiful festival in Las Vegas September 23, before heading back out for a fall tour in the markets that we didn’t hit this summer. We’ll wrap up the end of the year with Slightly Stoopid for an all inclusive resort festival in Cancun Mexico.
Any music industry advice for young musicians out there?
The single most important thing you can do in this industry (Yes, more important than practicing and writing songs) is to find like-minded, hard working bandmates that are willing to make sacrifices. I’ve seen too many good groups dissolve over internal bickering and poor attitudes. We’ve been together for many years and we wouldn’t have been able to achieve this level of success without the camaraderie of my band brothers.