Sublime was an American reggae fusion band from Long Beach, California, formed in 1988. The band's line-up, unchanged until their breakup, consisted of Bradley Nowell (lead vocals and guitar), Bud Gaugh (drums and percussion), and Eric Wilson (bass guitar). Michael "Miguel" Happoldt also contributed on a few Sublime songs, such as "New Thrash." Lou Dog, Nowell's dalmatian, was the mascot of the band. Nowell died of a heroin overdose in 1996 and Sublime immediately split up.
To date, Sublime has released three studio albums, one live album, five compilation albums, three EP's and one box set. The band released its debut album 40 Oz. to Freedom in 1992. Although the album was quite popular in the United States, Sublime would not experience commercial success until 1996 with their self-titled third album, released shortly after Nowell's death, which peaked at number 13 on the Billboard 200, and spawned the single "What I Got", which remains the band's only number one hit single (on the Billboard Alternative Songs chart) in their musical career. As of 2009, Sublime has sold over 17 million albums worldwide, including about 10 million in the U.S. alone. Along with Green Day, The Offspring, and Rancid, Sublime is credited with helping to revive mainstream popular interest in punk rock in the United States in the mid-1990s.
In 2009, the surviving members decided to reform the band with a new lead singer and guitarist Rome Ramirez. However, weeks after performing at Cypress Hill's Smokeout Festival, a Los Angeles judge banned the new lineup from using the Sublime name. In January 2010, the lawsuit was settled and the new lineup now performs together as Sublime with Rome.
- 1 History
- 2 Attempted reformation with new singer
- 3 Musical style
- 4 Impact and legacy
- 5 References
- 6 External links
Early career (1988–1991)
Eric Wilson and Bud Gaugh were childhood friends having grown up in the same Long Beach neighborhood. Eric's father Billy Wilson taught Gaugh how to read music and play the drums. Gaugh and Wilson together with future Sublime manager Michael Happoldt formed a three-piece punk band called The Juice Bros during their high school years. About this time, Bradley Nowell, who had recently dropped out of University of California, Santa Cruz, joined the band.
Sublime played its first gig on the Fourth of July, 1988 in a small club, reportedly starting the "Peninsula Riot" in Harbor Peninsula which led to seven arrests. For the next several years, the group focused primarily on playing at parties and clubs throughout Southern California. They recorded a few songs and put forth a number of short demos beside the well known Jah Won't Pay the Bills, containing several songs which would later appear on their major releases.
40 Oz. to Freedom and Robbin' the Hood (1992–1995)
Eventually, Sublime developed a large following in California. After concentrating on playing live shows, the band released 40 Oz. to Freedom in 1992 under Nowell's label, Skunk Records. The record established Sublime's blend of reggae, punk, surf rock, and hip hop, and helped to further strengthen the group's growing California following. Initially being sold exclusively at their live shows, the album became widely known in the greater Los Angeles area after rock radio station KROQ-FM began playing the song, "Date Rape". In June 1994, Sublime was signed to the label Gasoline Alley of MCA records by Jon Phillips who subsequently became Sublime's manager.
The band toured extensively throughout 1994-1995, their popularity increasing gradually beyond the West Coast as "Date Rape" began earning radio play. In 1995, the band co-headlined the inaugural nationwide Vans Warped Tour. Being one of the most popular acts on the tour, their drug use led to tensions with the tour management. Gaugh was arrested several times for possessing marijuana. Similarly, the band's famed practice of keeping their dogs with them everywhere, including on the stage, resulted in concert-goers being bitten. Sublime was actually kicked off the tour for some time before the tour management was forced to reconsider and bring them back due to popular demand. After the Warped Tour and the subsequent Three Ring Circus Tour, the band was pressured to begin producing new studio material as a proper follow-up to the suddenly-prosperous 40 Oz. to Freedom.
Nowell's death, final album and breakup (1996)
Early 1996 saw Sublime headline the very first SnoCore Tour. In February, they began recording what would comprise the band's self-titled third record and their major label debut album. They completed it before Nowell died of a heroin overdose on May 25, 1996 at the Oceanview Motel in San Francisco, California, two months prior to the release. The album became a huge success, including the single "What I Got", which made it to #1 at the Modern Rock Chart. The album earned the band worldwide fame, and has since gone five-times platinum. In addition to "What I Got", the album included several popular singles including "Santeria", "Doin' Time", "Wrong Way" and "April 29, 1992 (Miami)", all of which received heavy airplay.
Jason Westfall, one of Sublime's managers, was quoted as saying that the surviving members of Sublime had no interest in continuing to perform and record under the "Sublime" name. "Just like Nirvana, Sublime died when Brad died", Westfall said.
A number of posthumous releases followed, among them Second-Hand Smoke in 1997 and both Stand by Your Van and Sublime Acoustic: Bradley Nowell & Friends in 1998. By the release of their Greatest Hits compilation in 1999 the band had released as many albums after Nowell's death as during his lifetime. A box set of demos, rarities and live recordings, entitled Everything Under the Sun, was released on November 14, 2006.
Following Sublime's demise, its surviving members Eric Wilson and Bud Gaugh formed the Long Beach Dub Allstars in 1997, which also included many frequent Sublime contributors such as Michael "Miguel" Happoldt (former member of The Ziggens), Todd Forman (3rd Alley) and "Field" Marshall Goodman. LBDA disbanded in 2002.
Attempted reformation with new singer
On 28 February 2009, Gaugh and Wilson reunited for a show in Nevada and called themselves Sublime; the performance was confirmed on March 1, 2009, by a MySpace blog message from Gaugh's current band Del Mar; the message stated the singer and guitarist that joined Wilson and Gaugh onstage was Rome Ramirez, a then-20-year-old from Northern California. On August 31, 2009, it was announced that the reunited Sublime featuring new front-man Rome would be playing Cypress Hill's Smokeout Festival on October 24 in San Bernardino, California. The festival also featured performances from Kottonmouth Kings, Slipknot, Deftones, Bad Brains and Pennywise.
Asked in October 2009 about the future of Sublime, Gaugh replied:
It'd be great to get back into the studio and make some new music. It'd be great to tour again. But we're taking it a step at a time and as long as each step feels good, then we'll keep on going. One major project under development that we're psyched about is code-named "Brad's House." The idea is to provide free addiction recovery service to underprivileged teens in Brad's honor. The entire Sublime family was devastated by Brad's loss and we would like to help prevent that from happening to others. The band has agreed to allocate proceeds to get this started. We'll begin with one facility but our hope is that we can get other bands and organizations to join us and we can eventually scale it all across the country.
Trademark suit and name change
Brad Nowell's family and the executors of his estate threatened Gaugh and Wilson, along with Rome, with a lawsuit if the reconstituted band uses the Sublime moniker in a statement posted on the band's official MySpace page. The statement reads as follows:
It was recently announced that Sublime bassist Eric Wilson and Sublime drummer Floyd 'Bud' Gaugh are 'reuniting' and teaming with singer and guitarist Rome Ramirez in a band they intend to call 'Sublime.' Prior to his untimely passing, both Bud and Eric acknowledged that Brad Nowell was the sole owner of the name Sublime. It was Brad's expressed intention that no one use the name Sublime in any group that did not include him, and Brad even registered the trademark 'Sublime' under his own name.
As Brad's heirs, and with the support of his entire family, we only want to respect his wishes and therefore have not consented to Bud and Eric calling their new project 'Sublime.' We have always supported Bud and Eric's musical endeavors and their desire to continue to play Sublime's music. We wholeheartedly supported Bud, Eric and the many talented members of the Sublime posse that formed the Long Beach Dub All-Stars, soon after Brad's death, to honor him through their original recordings, live performances and Sublime music until they disbanded in 2001. But, out of respect for Brad's wishes, we have always refused to endorse any group performing as 'Sublime,' and now with great reluctance feel compelled to take the appropriate legal action to protect Brad's legacy.
Our hope is that Brad's ex-bandmates will respect his wishes and find a new name to perform under, so as to enhance the 'Sublime' legacy without the confusion and disappointment that many fans have expressed upon seeing the announcement.}}
Gaugh and Wilson also commented on the lawsuit, saying:
On behalf of the band Sublime, founding members Bud Gaugh and Eric Wilson are thrilled by the opportunity to reconnect with their fans around the world. While we all mourn the passing of our brother and bandmate Bradley Nowell some thirteen years ago, Sublime still has a strong message of hope and love to share — a message that is especially important in these difficult times.
Brad's heirs apparently do not share this vision and do not want the band Sublime to continue and tried — unsuccessfully — to file a temporary restraining order to prevent the band from carrying on. Despite those objections, we are pleased that the United States District Court has allowed us to perform as Sublime for all of our fans.
We urge everyone to join us in our message of peace and love, and we look forward to sharing the music we created — the music that defines us.}}
On November 3, 2009, a Los Angeles judge shut down an effort by the new lineup to perform under the name. Jeremiah Reynolds, who represents the estate of Bradley Nowell, commented on the case:
The point we tried to make is that we encourage these gentlemen to go out and play. We think they're great musicians. We just don't think it's appropriate to call a group that doesn't have Bradley [Nowell] and has a new lead singer, Sublime. It's consistent with Brad’s intentions that we seek to protect the name. The court agreed that Bud and Eric and the new lead singer didn't have the right to go out and call themselves Sublime.
As part of the preliminary injunction, the new lineup are said to be unable to perform or record under the name Sublime without approval and permission from the Nowell estate. A spokesman for Gaugh and Wilson declined to comment. Thomas Brackey, who represents the surviving Sublime members, did not return calls. The injunction is dependent upon a bond of $125,000 being posted in the event it is later determined that the defendants—the surviving Sublime members—suffered damages as a result of the ruling. Reynolds said the bond would be posted. Gaugh and Wilson issued the following statement:
Our goal continues to be sharing the music and message of Sublime with all of our fans around the world. We intend to take the court's advice and work on a business solution to this issue. We hope the estate follows suit so the music of Sublime can live on and be accessible to everyone.
Finally stories began emerging that the legal battle had been settled, and on January 22, 2010, this was confirmed true and the new incarnation of Sublime would be named Sublime With Rome. Some US dates have been announced with more to come, as well as plans for a European Tour.
Sublime was one of the most popular bands of the third wave of ska, specifically characterized as ska punk. Their genre-blending mash-up style incorporated elements of dub, reggae, first-wave and second-wave ska, punk rock, improvised dancehall, hip hop, psychedelic rock and acoustic rock, which they developed through their live shows.
Through samples, lyrics, and covers, Sublime makes reference to an eclectic mix of bands from the 60s, 70s, 80s, and early 90s.
Bob Marley and associated Jamaican reggae acts The Wailers, and Peter Tosh feature prominently in Sublime's songs, as do other Jamaican reggae and dancehall acts from the 70s, 80s, and 90s such as: Toots & the Maytals, The Melodians, Wayne Smith, Tenor Saw, Frankie Paul, The Wailing Souls,Barrington Levy, Half Pint, Yellowman. The band additionally covered "Smoke Two Joints" originally by Oregon-based reggae group The Toyes.
Sublime was also heavily influenced by the 80s and 90s hip-hop and rap scene of New York City, alluding to or borrowing from such acts as the Beastie Boys, Just-Ice, Public Enemy and Flavor Flav, KRS-One, Doug E. Fresh, Mobb Deep, as well as the Philadelphia-based rapper Steady B and Texas hip-hop The Geto Boys.
The southern California surf rock and punk scene influencing Sublime includes The Ziggens, Minutemen, The Descendents, Bad Religion, The Bel-Airs, Secret Hate, as well as fellow fusion band Fishbone. The band also referenced popular California bands like Grateful Dead, The Doors, and Red Hot Chili Peppers.
A few references are made to funk, R & B, and soul bands such as James Brown, the Ohio Players, Jimi Hendrix, Aswad, as well as a smattering of Irish, Scottish and English bands like Boomtown Rats, The Specials, and Primal Scream.
Sublime's music was highlighted by bass-driven grooves, reggae rhythms, elaborately-cadenced rhyme schemes and transitions between paces and styles throughout a given song, sometimes alternating between thrash punk, ska and reggae within the same song (see "Seed"). Their music often contains psychedelic, harmonic minor-based or blues-y guitar solos, rhythmically-improvised bass solos or dub-lines, turntable scratching and rolling drum transitions and heavy bass lines. They are known for being one of the first and most influential reggae fusion musicians.
Impact and legacy
Even over a decade after Nowell's death and the band's breakup, Sublime remains immensely popular throughout North America, especially in its state of origin, California. Los Angeles alternative rock radio station KROQ has listed Sublime at #3 in their annual "Top 106.7 biggest KROQ bands of all time" list for the past six years in a row, behind Red Hot Chili Peppers and Nirvana, and #81 at the "Top 166 Artists of 1980-2008" list. With over 17 million units sold worldwide, Sublime is one of the most successful ska-punk acts of all time.
Sublime's song "Santeria" has been included in the video game Guitar Hero World Tour, and more recently in the movie Knocked Up. It can also be heard in the movie Idle Hands. The song "Seed" has been included in Tony Hawk's Underground. It can also be heard in an episode of the short-lived Fox comedy Undeclared. The song "What I Got" has also been included in the multi-format game Dave Mirra Freestyle BMX and also in the remake film Fun with Dick and Jane also in Guitar Hero 5. "Doin' Time" is heard in Dave Mirra Freestyle BMX 2. "Wrong Way" was a featured song in the multi-platform game Aggressive Inline. "Date Rape" was also a featured song on the game BMX XXX. "Smoke Two Joints" is heard in the background of the movies Grind and Mallrats. Also, the song "Caress Me Down" is heard in the background of the movie "Can't Hardly Wait". Sublime's version of the theme song "Hong Kong Phooey" appears in the 1995 tribute album, Saturday Morning: Cartoons' Greatest Hits.
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- A Q&A with Sublime founding member/drummer Bud Gaugh. MySpace Blog (2009-10-21). Retrieved on 2009-10-28.
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- Chang, Vickie 2010-01-18}. BREAKING: Sublime Lawsuit Settled; Showdates Planned - Orange County Music - Heard Mentality. Blogs.ocweekly.com. Retrieved on 2010-06-24.
- Up for Discussion Jump to Forums 2009-09-14}. Sublime Settles On New Band Name, Plots Tour. Billboard.com. Retrieved on 2010-06-24.
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- The KROQ Top Artists of 1980-2008
- Guitar Hero 4 Includes Song Creation and Sharing, Multiple Instruments, Van Halen, Linkin Park - Shacknews - PC Games, PlayStation, Xbox 360 and Wii video game news, previews ...
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