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"Because you're down with the band that they call Sublime, right?—Romeo off Second Hand Smoke
"Let me tell you about a girl I know, had a drink about a hour ago"—Opening line to Sublime's first hit "Date Rape"
Sublime consisted of the late Bradley Nowell on lead vocals and guitar, Eric Wilson on bass guitar and sometimes keyboards, and Floyd “Bud” Gaugh on the drums, with a few of their friends appearing on multiple albums in various capacities. Most notably, Dr Todd Foreman, the saxophonist, "Field" Marshall Goodman (also known as Ras MG) providing DJ duties, occasional rap solos, and filled in as drummer during Bud Gaugh’s stint in rehab, Kelly Vargas, who also filled in on drums while Bud was unavailable, and Opie Ortiz, who not only sang on various albums, but was the band’s favorite tattooist, and behind most of the artwork on their albums. Oh, and Louie Dog, Bradley’s beloved Dalmatian, who frequently joined the band on stage.
Known for their combination of laid back surfer attitude and punk mentality, Sublime is very hard to pin down. Any song can be a delightful mash up of punk, hip-hop, and reggae, with lyrics that make you laugh even as you think, "Did he really just say that?" before switching to sobering reality about drug use, life in the ghetto, and sexually transmitted diseases. Although Sublime became popular as apart of the Third Wave of Ska and often toured with Ska Punk bands, Sublime only released a handful of actual Ska Punk songs, and were more influenced by reggae than ska music.
The band started in 1988, when Bradley came home on Spring Break and jammed with Eric and Bud for a week in Eric’s sound proof garage. The band would get back together that summer and start playing bars, clubs, parties, and BBQ’s. That summer also saw the infamous “Riot on the Peninsula”, where a concert got out of control while Sublime was playing, culminating in police being called in to stop the show and clear out the crowd.
The band would continue to record, drink, tour, drink, cause serious mayhem, and drink, on the West Coast for the next several years. They even started their own record label, Skunk Records, to distribute their albums, which they famously did out of the trunks of their cars.
The band eventually gained serious recognition on the original Warped Tour in 1995. They were kicked off the tour due to bad behavior. Bud Gaugh was arrested for drug possession twice on tour, all three were pretty much constantly drunk, the band once started a mud slinging fight with their audience, but the final straw was when Louie Dog bit two fans. They were invited back to finish the tour after missing several shows.
Sublime had only three full studio albums, 40oz. to Freedom, Robbin’ the Hood, and Sublime, before Bradley Nowell’s overdose and death from heroin. The third, final, and most successful album was released less than two months after Bradley’s death. According to The Other Wiki The Self-Titled album eventually went 5x Platinum in the U.S., with over 5 million copies sold in the U.S. alone.
Following Nowell’s overdose, Bud Gaugh and Eric Wilson attempted to keep the sound alive, touring with various friends and musicians who worked with Sublime as the Long Beach Dub Allstars, and eventually Wilson alone with the Long Beach Short Bus, which only released one album.
The band seemed over until December 2009, when Eric and Bud reunited with new lead singer Rome Ramirez. The new trio was well received by most fans and various members of Bradley Nowell’s family. The main objection was who legally owned the name Sublime. After a little legal haggling the band was redubbed Sublime with Rome.
Notable songs recorded by Sublime include:
- "Date Rape"
- "What I Got"
- "Wrong Way"
- "Doin' Time"
This band provides examples of the following:
- Author Existence Failure: Nowell, mere weeks before the release of the self-titled album due to a heroin overdose.
- The Band Minus the Face: Ever since Brad Nowell's death, according to many fans. See Broken Base.
- Bilingual Bonus: "Chica Me Tipo" and "Caress Me Down"
- A Boy and His X: Bradley and Louie Dog. Bradley wrote a song "Lou Dog Went to the Moon". When Louie was stolen, Bradley was inconsolable. Literally, laid on his couch for about a week and cried. He sang "Lou Dog Went to the Moon" into his answering machine and finished the message begging for any information on his dog. There are several songs that mention Louie Dog, including: "Doin' Time", "Garden Grove"/"Garbage Grove", and "What I Got". Bradley missed Louie Dog so much he had flown to the East Coast on the original Warped Tour. After Bradley died, Louie more or less became the face of the band and appeared in all their subsequent music videos. When Louie Dog died, several years after Nowell, the family buried a vial of his ashes at Nowell’s grave and scattered the rest at the same surf spot they scattered Bradley's. To this day the band, now dubbed Sublime with Rome sells Louie Dog shirts at concerts.
- Genre Shift: "Seed" oscillates between hardcore punk and a calmer reggae style.
- Greatest Hits Album: Three of them (Greatest Hits, a budget compilation apart of the 20th Century Masters: The Millennium Collection series and Gold, a two-disc compilation). For a band who only released three studio albums.
- Heavy Meta: Many of the songs mention how much the band loves to play their Reggae/ska/punk fusion.
- Intercourse with You: Of the blatant variety, "Slow Ride", "Chick on My Tip", "Chica Me Tipo", "Caress Me Down" and "Seed".
- List Song: played with on 40oz. to Freedom. The band had producer Michael 'Miguel' Happoldt read off their thanks list for the album set to their "Thanx Dub"
- Lyrical Dissonance: Not quite as much as some ska punk bands, but it's certainly there.
- Notably the song "Wrong Way". It's a funky, upbeat song about a young girl forced into prostitution by her father.
- "Burritos" is a fast-paced, happy ska tune about being bored.
- You could also say this about "40 Oz. to Freedom" , which is about how some people need alcohol to feel better about themselves and life in general.
- Motor Mouth: Nowell can rip through a verse pretty quickly, but the duet "Saw Red" with Gwen Stefani is a great example for both singers.
- Ode to Intoxication: Much of their work, including "Smoke Two Joints", "Legalize It", and "Get Ready".
- Refrain From Assuming: The song is called "Doin' Time", not "Summer Time".
- Rockumentary: Stories, Tales, Lies, and Exaggerations. Produced following Nowell's death. Showed clips from live shows and stories about the band from members, friends, family members, and other bands who toured with Sublime.
- Sampling: Sublime LOVED sampling. Most songs feature at least a little something 'borrowed' from somebody else.
- Signature Song: "Date Rape" was the original, "What I Got" seems to be overtaking it as time goes on.
- Self-Titled Album: Their most famous, and the last complete album recorded before Bradley Nowell's death. It was actually supposed to be called Killin' It, but the title was changed after Bradley died. All subsequent albums (barring the Greatest Hits obviously) had previously unfinished tracks, bootlegs, and/or remixes.
- Sex, Drugs and Rock and Roll: The band really lived it up in the 1990's. Stories include drummer Bud Gaugh missing shows due to being arrested on the way to the show, Bradley Nowell pawning the band's equipment right before shows for drugs, and getting kicked off the original Warped Tour for bad behavior.
- Studio Chatter: Can be heard on many songs.
- Textless Album Cover: Played with on the self-titled album. It's a picture of Bradley Nowell's back, where he had had the word "Sublime" tattooed across his shoulders.
- What Did I Do Last Night?: The whole of "What Happened".
Wake up in the morning, clock says half past one
I have no sunglasses as I step into the sun
There's no recollection of the evil things I've done
My head feels like I must have had some fun