Sublime was an American reggae/punk/ska band from Long Beach, California, United States. A more detailed look at the band's stylistic influences reveals a mix of reggae and dub, ska, punk, progressive rock, acoustic rock, hip-hop, and dancehall. The band consisted of three members: Bradley Nowell (vocals and guitar), Bud Gaugh (drums), and Eric Wilson (bass guitar). The band achieved mainstream success with their self-titled third album, but Bradley died of a heroin overdose shortly before and the band broke up soon after. The band is still considered influential today, and their music sees heavy airplay on American Alternative radio stations.
From 1988 through the mid 1990s, Sublime toured heavily throughout southern California and garnered a substantial following of surfers and skaters. The band sold their initial recordings at live shows—eventually including their first full-length album
40 Oz. to Freedom. Released on the band's own Skunk Records, 40 Oz. to Freedom featured several songs that would go on to become fan favorites, including the title track "40 Oz. to Freedom" and "Date Rape", as well as a selection of covers, including their version of "Smoke Two Joints", indicating Sublime's varied influences—The Grateful Dead, KRS-One, The Descendents, Bad Religion, Toots and the Maytals, and Bob Marley. Their second album, Robbin' the Hood, was recorded in 1994. It consisted of a few fully developed songs along with instrumentals, tape dubs and various rantings of the manic Raleigh Theodore Sakers. Additionally, the DJ-style mixing of their music incorporated unlicensed samples of music and movies, which had to be either licensed or removed from official releases. Sublime became a college radio favorite, and "Date Rape" made its way onto the playlist of Los Angeles radio station KROQ. This airplay caught the attention of Gasoline Alley, a label with ties to MCA, which signed Sublime to record a proper follow-up to 40 Oz. to Freedom. The members of Sublime were friendly with No Doubt, and were thanked in the liner notes of Tragic Kingdom and even featured Gwen Stefani (lead singer of No Doubt) on a few tracks, including the original version of the seminal song "Saw Red."
On May 25, 1996, just two months before
Sublime, their self-titled third album and major label debut was to be released, frontman Brad Nowell, a recently married new father, fresh out of a record company sponsored rehab, died of a heroin overdose after a show in Petaluma, California. In his absence, the first single, "What I Got," enjoyed huge success and the album ultimately went five times platinum. Without Nowell, remaining bandmates Bud Gaugh and Eric Wilson went on to release a series of successful music videos from the album, all of which featured brief, pre-overdose video clips of Nowell. A handful of posthumous releases followed. Wilson and Gaugh continued to perform together with the Long Beach Dub Allstars until 2002. Gaugh then left to drum for Eyes Adrift and Wilson now plays bass with second-generation Allstars lineup Long Beach Shortbus.
Sublime were known for their casual attitude, and heavy use of marijuana and alcohol with Brad and bandmates often arriving late for gigs, sometimes drunk. Their carefree and sometimes destructive behavior kept them distanced from industry types & becoming more mainstream. For example, at the influential Los Angeles radio station KROQ's festival ('weenie roast'), they printed hundreds of backstage passes for friends and family when they were originally only given a few. This resulted in chaos, leading to fans rushing the stage and Brad's beloved Dalmatian, Lou-Dog, biting a television presenter. After a meeting with a record company executive, members of the band put a Sublime bumper sticker on the CEO's car in the parking lot. Moreover, during an interview on KROQ the group smoked a joint, causing their hit song "Date Rape" to be pulled from the playlist as punishment. Sublime's antics only made them more popular with their following. They were thrown off the inaugural Warped Tour for misbehavior in 1995, but had to be reinstated eventually due to audience demand as their pre-major label debut popularity was already evident.
Despite only releasing three studio albums, a plethora of Sublime bootlegs exists containing most of their live shows along with several solo acoustic performances by Brad Nowell. The 2006 release of "Everything Under the Sun" compiles the best of these bootlegs as well as many unreleased and remixed tracks.
Sublime can still be heard on radio stations across the US, especially in their home turf Long Beach, California. Their songs "Date Rape", "Santeria", "What I Got", "Wrong Way", and "Doin' Time" are particularly popular still. The remaining band members went on to form follow up band 'The Long Beach Dub Allstars'.
The Long Beach Dub Allstars (also known as LBDAS) broke up in November of 2001. However, Eric Wilson has formed Long Beach Shortbus, a band featuring himself on bass, as well as former LBDA members Ras-1 (guitar/vocals), former Falling Idols member Trey Pangborn (guitar), and Damion Ramirez (drummer) who formerly played for Capitol Eye. They released their first full length album entitled
Flying Ship Of Fantasy in the Spring of 2004. They are currently working on an upcoming album, set to be released in 2007.
On August 15th, 2006, Sublime's self-titled third album,
Sublime was released as a deluxe two-disc special edition through Universal Music to commemorate its tenth anniversary.
A 3-CD/1-DVD box set of demos, rarities, and live recording, called Everything Under the Sun, was released on November 14, 2006
On February 26, 2009, the surviving members of Sublime announced they would be reuniting on February 28th at Cantino Los Tres Hobres in Nevada. On March 1, 2009, Gaugh's current band Del Mar insisted in their MySpace blog entry that the Cantino Los Tres Hobres gig was indeed a Sublime reunion and revealed that the band's new singer and guitarist is Rome. In regards to the band's future, Sublime has no "firm tour plans or anything yet".
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 23-24 in San Bernardino, California. The fest will also include performances from Slipknot and Deftones. It is not yet known whether or not the reunion is permanent or whether there will be any more gigs or a new album.
After threats of litigation from the Nowell family, the band changed its name to Sublime with Rome in late 2009. They are beginning to tour the US and even has a few original songs such as "Panic."
Their version of "Smoke Two Joints" was a recreation from memory of a song that was first created by The Toyes in 1983 and which was included on their album 40 oz. to Freedom. There is an interesting reproduction of a letter from the late Brad Nowell on The Toyes' website, which explains the cover song and their relation to The Toyes.
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