In 1996, millions of hearts were broken by the death of Sublime’s frontman, Bradley Nowell. The ska-reggae-rock-punk band had left an incredibly huge footprint on the music scene, with an enormous fan base for their three studio albums.
In 2009, Floyd “Bud” Gaugh and Eric Wilson had rebirthed Sublime, bringing in Rome Ramirez, who had helped transform Sublime’s new life cycle. Since 2011, Sublime with Rome features former Tribal Seeds drummer, Carlos Verdugo, Eric Wilson on bass, and Ramirez on lead vocals and guitar. The trio has a cocktail 30 minutes before each set, and a shot right before they go on. Live and in the studio, Sublime with Rome carries on the Sublime tradition, while transforming it into something new and fresh, leaving their own footprint on the map.
What started your love of music?
My parents always had music on since I was little. There was a lot of Motown and Reggae in my household when I was a kid. So that kinda started me with my love of music, and when I got into listening to Sublime, that's when I started playing music. Then it all led me to the next chapter.
What was the turning point that you knew that you wanted to focus on music as a career, as opposed to anything else?
Music was what made me want to get out of bed, you know? Before I could really identify that, that's just what it was. When I recognized that, I just naturally did the shit that made me happy.
Did you ever want to be anything else, before that passion got you up in the morning?
I wanted to be a professional skateboarder when I was a kid. But then I got into music and that was all I wanted to do and all I was going to set out to do.
Eric Wilson asked you to come along for the next life cycle of Sublime. Do you know what he saw that made him know you would be the perfect frontman for their next chapter?
From what I've heard him say, when he closed his eyes he felt like he was jamming with Brad. I was kind of blown away by that. I think we really like to same kind of music, he listened to lot of punk rock and I listen to a lot punk rock too. So we were able to really connect and jam, on a whole ‘nother level than just, ‘hey I know all the songs that made you famous.’
It was just more like, ‘hey, do you want to play some songs you used to play when you were a kid? Because I know those songs.’ So we would always get together and jam. I think that’s why he was so drawn to me in the beginning and then as I got to know him and we continued to jam some more, he would naturally see my influence of Sublime. And then he eventually just asked me to join the band.
Would you say your visions aligned?
Pretty much. With him everything’s all about fun. He's got like a whole other life, he’s got a farm and stuff, and for him everything is like balling, bond, and passion, and it’s something that I've kind of kept with me.
Do you have a whole other life like Eric, that people would be surprised to hear?
Me and my wife are looking at houses in Nashville, because we’re looking at getting some acres and getting animals and shit, but I don’t have a farm, but I do have a record label full of artists and those guys are fucking animals, that’s for sure.
Your Sirens Tour is still going on until December. Are you guys gearing up for the next tour?
Yeah, we're still on that cycle. But we're about to put the baby to bed and then we’re dropping some new music and then we're going to be announcing like a really big tour for summer.
Who has been your favorite band to tour with?
Dirty Heads, those guys are like my brothers. It’s like literally touring with your brothers. We work well together, and they were also massively influenced by Sublime. We always had that camaraderie and brotherhood and always supporting one another. So it’s definitely good to have our boys out there.
Where did you first meet them?
I used to work at this recording studio, 17th Street in Costa Mesa, where the Dirty Heads started to rehearse at. And then, ironically, Eric was friends with the owner of that studio, and we would bounce around to like Eric’s studio, and then to Duddy’s house. But 17th Street was where all this started. The owner, Lewis Richards, took me under his wing and taught me a lot about production.
What are you most proud of about Sirens?
I’m just so proud of the overall sound of it because it sounds so different than Yours Truly. It’s its own footprint. But we just wrapped up our latest album, which we can't announce the name of yet, but that’s also uniquely different from the last two records, but still all cohesive at the same time.
We’re very adamant about not being one of those bands and puts out the same fucking CD for like 12 years. Because it's really easy to do that, it's really easy to just write those songs that, you know your fans will like, and just hop on a bus and tour. It’s not fair for anybody. You owe your fans really great art and a great live show. There is a way to push the band’s limits while still keeping the band’s integrity.
You have a ton of band tattoos. Other than your Marley, Biggie and Dead Kennedys ink, what other music icons do you have on you?
My first tattoo was a Coheed and Cambria tattoo on my forearm with their symbol called “The Keywork” with the lyrics, “We’ll make it if you believe” from the song, “Everything Evil”.
I’ve also got a Dirty Heads tatt, Misfits, Black Flag, Nirvana, Rage, Sublime, I’ve got them all over me. At any point in my life if I were to die people would know me as the music guy, as a kid, or before even meeting up with the Sublime guys, I was just that music dude. I was always about that shit.
I just knew that this was obtainable… not being in Sublime ever, but just being able to make it my job, where I could some my bills. Not be crazy rich but just get by. I believed in myself that I could at least get to that point. So that's why I have all those tattoos of those bands because I'll always be that kid deep down.
Do you, do you come from a tattooed family or were you kinda the black sheep, in that regard?
I was the first one to get tattoos. I come from a pretty traditional Mexican family, so tattoos are still associated with gang culture. Especially where I'm from, that was a big thing. But, you know, I was always a rocker so tattoos meant something way different to me.
How do you think that you've evolved alongside Sublime with Rome’s evolution?
I mean it's really taught me a lot about… well everything. Being in the band has taken me around the world and has introduced me to my wife, who gave me my first child, so in that regard I have evolved immensely because of this band. It’s so hand in hand, with the band and with my life, they just coincide together, so there is no real separation. When I evolve the band evolves, and when the band evolves I evolve. It’s kind of a trip but that’s the thing about being in a band that is different than a corporation or a brand… it has a pulse, it has life. It’s happy it’s sad, it’s real. It’s crazy how it works that everything is so synonymous and that we all have such a big effect on another.
You guys play a rule of thirds, with 1/3 hits, 1/3 legacy and then Sublime with Rome. When you do perform legacy sublime, do you have a favorite song to cover ?
It kind of changes, you know? We’ve been playing life now for a while, so we’ve run through a lot of the Sublime catalog, so some songs will become a little more fun again than other ones because we haven’t played them in a while, but as of now I’m really having a good time playing “Scarlet Begonias”. Because we’ve kind of put in a new dub at the end of the song when we break down, we go into some dub stuff that Sublime used to do back in the day. I will do some melodies and lyrics that Brad used to sing on some of those B Sides that aren’t as popular, but if you’re a super fan you’ll know exactly what I’m doing. So it’s really tight.
Have you guys ever thought about doing a show with a Jakob Nowell (Brad Nowell’s son) or his band, Law?
Yeah, I mean we tried to work that out a bunch of times. Logistically, we will probably make it happen at one of our next festivals. But we’ve had a local play where we have been able to play with them, but they weren’t even really touring. But now they seem to have really gotten their feet on the ground and they’re actively on the road so we are definitely going to try and set something up. The band is so fucking awesome in their own right… they’re not anything like Sublime and it’s so cool. Jake is uber talented, and I don’t know if a lot of people know that. He doesn’t do a bunch of videos of him doing his dad’s stuff or anything, but in his own right he is just as talented as his father, if not more.
“Wicked Heart” is Sublime with Rome’s newest song and is available on all streaming services. Ramirez says the music video will drop soon, and to keep up with their release schedule.
"We’re super stoked about that one, we filmed it all at Eric Wilson’s house… which is fucking dope. He’s got a bunch of crazy stuff."
Sublime with Rome will be sprinkling in some new music within the next couple of months, so keep your red-eyes peeled.