When with Rome: Sublime’s new face accepts his newfound responsibility

by Ryan Snyder

It’s likely that only the Beatles have more fans who’ve never had the chance to see them in concert, but the surviving members of Sublime are bent on giving fans a taste of what they missed after the sudden death of Bradley Knowell in 1996. Drummer Bud Gaugh and bassist Eric Wilson reunited for an unannounced show in early 2009 with the 20-year-old singer and guitarist Rome Ramirez under the Sublime name. The reactions from the show prompted further collaborations, which led them into songwriting and another show later in the year — that is until a legal snafu over the use of the Sublimeproper name, which was trademarked by the deceased Bradley Knowell, forced the trio to alter their approach. Enter Sublime with Rome: not just a recreation of the band that essentially died as they achieved whirlwind popularity, but a trio that intends to pick up where they left off with a capricious front man half the surviving members’ age.

Y!W: After learning that the Sublime-proper name was off limits, did you toy with any other names before settling on Sublime with Rome?

RR: Well initially, we did not even name the reformation. We just played a secret show and the fans who were there uploaded videos and named it “Sublime with Rome.” So in reality, the fans named the band.

Y!W: What kind of impact did learning that Badfish grossed over $1 million touring in a single year (2006) have on your decision to return to touring using the Sublime name?

RR: That’s pretty rad if you ask me, but in no way did their success fuel the reformation.

Y!W: Few fans really got to see Sublime-proper live, but the band had a reputation of being an erratic live band, and some say that was squarely on Bradley. Do you hope in any small way that this tour reframes that legacy?

RR: Well, I’m not too worried about comparisons anymore. We’ve grown so much this past year that we all kind of have this feeling that we’re unstoppable. Playing the music is the main goal right now. Of course, we always try to keep it spontaneous, and we’re going to pay homage to the old days with on-the-spot dub jams and fresh set lists every night.

Y!W: Since the first songs with you in the band were written in early 2009, how has the partnership evolved creatively? Is this a three-way songwriting partnership similar to the original lineup?

RR: Yes, it’s very much an equal partnership. It’s an honor, because I think that Eric and Bud are two of the most underrated musicians in history. We all can jam out pretty hard, so riffing, playing off of each other and creating music on the fly is something we are totally comfortable doing together.

Y!W: How has the drum/bass dynamic between Bud and Eric has evolved since the last Sublime album? What influences might be more perceptible these days as opposed to the ’90s?

RR: Bud and Eric are at their best, man. Their chops are solid as all hell. But they are total old-school punkers man. They listen to the same tunes they always did. It’s awesome how they play them like they never heard them, though. It’s kinda like how I and many other do with Sublime’s music.

Y!W: Recording for the new album begins this month, correct?

Who is producing and will there be any guest musicians involved?

RR: Recording for that has been pushed to February, but some of the demos have been put down. We definitely plan to have a handful of talented and respected artists of our choice, but that hasn’t been completely decided yet. It’ll be freaking epic for sure though.

Y!W: Really strong covers have always been a hallmark of Sublime’s albums. Any plans to continue that on the new release?

RR: Oh most definitely. It’s always been about a combination of tribute to the greats and originality. That will still be the recipe for the music and we continue the same flow naturally.

Sublime with Rome will perform at the Lawrence Joel Veterans Memorial Coliseum on Friday with the Dirty Heads in support.