From the time they wrote their first original note together, Sublime with Rome’s legacy became a battle for acceptance. At the start of the journey in 2010, reforming from the ashes of Sublime, Long Beach’s most beloved and iconic band, the idea of creating new songs with frontman Rome Ramirez was definitely a risk. Yet one thing they could always count on was the culture and sound perfected by their late frontman Brad Nowell, drummer Bud Gaugh and bassist Eric Wilson. The sunburnt reggae rock vibes are still emanating from Wilson’s bass as Sublime’s sole original member with the help of singer Rome Ramirez and current drummer Carlos Verdugo.
With three albums of original songs and a new legion of followers who’ve now grown up with Rome as the frontman performing the classic cuts along side new material, the band’s contribution to reggae rock in the second chapter of its existence is undeniable. Every year they’re surrounded by the fruits of their labor at the One Love Cali Reggae Fest at the Queen Mary in Long Beach. Nearly a year after releasing their third SWR album “Blessings,” the band says they’re thankful for the opportunity to further the mission of the music that started on the streets of LBC. Recently, we sat down with Sublime with Rome at One Love to talk about the timelessness of their sound.
How important is it for you to preserve the legacy of Sublime and do you consider what you have now a new legacy?
Rome Ramirez: Honestly I don’t think too much about it, I just focus on writing good tracks and whatever [Eric] thinks…he’s the barometer of whenever shit gets too much this way or that way. He’s got his way of just being like ‘nah’ or ‘this is a good one’…I just focus on it that way cuz that’s what got me here so I try to keep that mindset.
What’s it like seeing the younger crowd that grew up on Sublime now reacting to their newer material now that you’re 10 years in with SWR?
Eric Wilson: You know what’s a real trip is when there’s three generations, maybe four, are at our concerts, that’s a pretty cool feeling.
Ramirez: You got grandma there who knows all the cuts and mom who knows all the cuts and then the teenager that knows the cuts but also knows some of the new shit. But I think Sublime has always inspired emotions more so than trends. People listen to music now like ‘Oh, everyone’s listening to this’ whereas Sublime just evokes emotions and that shit stays with you no matter how old you get. We see more grownups out there but we also see their kids.
What are some things you learned from your Sublime experience that helped you continue to be successful the last 10 years?
Wilson: Nothing…I just do what I do, what I’ve always done. I was never good at anything else, and I don’t care to be.
Rome: That’s true, that’s his very essence. People ask me all the time ‘What has Eric taught you?’ and he’s not the kind of dude to say ‘Sit down dog, I’m gonna instill some knowledge on you.’ He just does shit and you watch how he does it. And that’s the one thing I learned from him, don’t take this shit so serious, it’s rock-n-roll man. Focus on the music and whatever else happens, happens. You don’t got much control over it.
What’s it like being at a fest like One Love that patterns itself after the Cali Reggae culture that Sublime helped create in Long Beach?
Wilson: I think what everybody performing here on the festival has done is just what we did, taking all the influences we loved so much and made it our own. And if you can do that well then you’ve got yourself a great band.
What about “Doin Time” remains timeless?
Wilson: Well, I’ve never done more than one night in jail myself but that was a long time ago so, I dunno.
Ramirez: I’d say it’s like the melding of sounds and it’s like hip-hop but it’s still rock…Eric played bass on that cover.
Wilson: I think I played it a little differently than I used to, someone had to show me how to play it again actually. It was awesome, I never got a chance to meet her, but she did a good job.
Talk about the early Long Beach scene and how it got you into music
Wilson: I really loved watching local bands play in their garages, that and Fishbone and Bad Brains were big influences, I saw Black Flag during my favorite lineup with Henry and Bill Stevenson, they were off the hook.
Do you still have any contact with to Long Beach Dub All-Stars, who are also playing the festival?
Eric: I had a Halloween party last year and Opie [Ortiz] came over…I dunno that band, we were all best friends and its just like a relationship, like being with a chick that has 10 personalities I couldn’t really handle it and we had two drummers fighting over who’s gonna play what song. It was fun for a while but it kinda screwed up our friendship. The last album we did dropped on 9-11, it was called “What is the World” but I don’t even know if we released it but it was an awesome album.
What are some aspects of Brad’s sound that are still with you guys today when you play?
Wilson: I only listened to punk rock before I started hanging with him and he would force me to listen to ska and reggae, for a while it was like pulling teeth until I got the rhythm down because I was just an angry punker who didn’t wanna listen to anything different. He showed me there was more out there.
Ramirez: Brad changed my life before I joined the band, he changed my life when I was like 11…if there was no Brad, there would be no me. I got into music because of them, his voice was like crack to me.
Wilson: I was in two bands with him with two different singers because he didn’t think he could sing that good. We’d go camping and stuff and he would bring the acoustic and just start belting it out and finally just got the confidence to do it on stage…it had something to do with the core chemistry between our core group that just got him to come out of his shell.
Before Brad we had two different singers, two black dudes– Eric Ward and Ted [Lee]– but by then I was into the ska shit, but I didn’t even know ska came from Jamaica, I thought it was from England, I didn’t know shit…I still don’t know shit.