In 1996, an up-and-coming punk band from Long Beach, California were just about to make it big when their lead singer, Brad Nowell passed away at age 28. Two months after Nowell’s death, Sublime’s third album was released and their hit single, “What I Got,” put their name on the map. 13 years later, Sublime were still as popular as ever, maybe even more so. In 2009, Sublime’s remaining members, Eric Wilson and Bud Gaugh decided to return to performing and making music with new front man, Rome Ramirez.
Since the band united with Rome, they have released two new albums and been on several tours. Their popularity is still holding strong among their older fans and they are still gaining fans as time progresses. Even after Gaugh’s departure in 2011, the band is still as strong as ever. I had the pleasure of speaking with Rome about his experience with the band and their current summer tour with The Offspring.
You were still pretty young when Sublime first became popular. Were you a fan growing up?
Oh yeah! I was their biggest fan. I’ve been a fan from when I was 11 and they just made me want to become a guitar player and learn their songs.
What was it like for you to begin playing in a band that you looked up to so much as a young musician?
It was amazing! It was crazy! It is literally like going to see your favorite band growing up as a kid except now you’re in it and getting to tour the world, meet so many interesting people, connect with the fans. It’s like a dream come true.
Who were some of your other punk influences growing up?
I really liked Nirvana and Rage Against the Machine a whole heck of a lot. Ya know, I like a lot of rap music too.
Was it difficult for you to join a band that already had such a strong fan base?
Ya know, for me, it was kind of more of a gift. I didn’t really see it as something that I had to overcome, it was more like somebody handed me this torch and it would be a slap in the face if I told them no.
Did you feel like you had to live up to a certain standard when you first started out?
Yeah, I mean, I put a lot of pressure on myself. Just to even think that I was like a footnote next to a band that meant so much to me, it was just a lot for me to take in as a young man. It took me a while to kind of be able to set the stage.
Do you notice a big generation gap in your fan base?
To be honest, it all transcends pretty closely. We have like 15 to 25 to 40 and after, so it’s pretty crazy. Sublime’s music definitely just reaches so far, so much further than one would expect.
And does the age gap between you and your bandmates ever cause you to butt heads?
Yeah, sometimes I have to, like, wheel them around because they’re so old. Haha, I’m just kidding. Rock and roll keeps you young!
How has your tour with The Offspring been going?
Those guys are legends. We’re very grateful to be on the road with those guys, they’re really cool and they have a badass sound. It’s one of the first times I’ve been able to see those guys live and so close so it’s really an honor to be able to play with them every night.
Oh, that’s awesome! What’s your favorite memory from this tour so far?
I think my favorite memory is probably going to the town where Santa Claus was created in Belgium. I thought that that was really cool.
That is pretty cool. And you started playing with Sublime when you were so young, what do you have planned for the future. Do you see yourself staying with this for the long haul?
I’ve been producing a lot of music and writing a lot of music behind the scenes and I think that is cool because I can spend some time with my kids but still get to go on the road with Sublime. I’m just gonna do the old man thing, ya know.
What do you guys have planned after this tour?
After tour, we’re doing an album. We have half of it written; we’re just gonna be doing some studio sessions over at my house. So yeah, it definitely sounds like some next level shit so we’re kinda excited about that, just putting on the finishing touches.
Don’t miss Sublime With Rome on tour this fall on Sept. 12 at the PNC Bank Arts Center in Holmdel, NJ and on Sept. 14 at Festival Pier in Philadelphia. For more information, visit sublimewithrome.com.