It’s the toughest pickle in rock’n’roll: Can an influential band continue without their iconic frontman? Saturday at Devore, CA’s Smokeout Festival, ska-punk trio Sublime braved the challenge, performing for the first time in 13 years, with new vocalist Rome Ramirez filling in for late singer/guitarist Brad Nowell, who died of a heroin overdose in 1996. Below, watch live video of hits like “Santeria” and “What I Got”!
As the clips prove, the band’s set was rapturously received by the fest’s massive crowd, but all is not well in the Sublime camp.
Since the group’s remaining original members — bassist Eric Wilson and drummer Bud Gaugh — first rehearsed with Rome in a Nevada Mexican restaurant last March, fans have been debating whether the “reunion” is in good taste. Among them: Nowell’s family, who recently released a statement asking the band to not perform under the Sublime moniker, claiming it was trademarked to Nowell.
“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,” the Nowell family wrote. Read the complete statement here.
Wilson and Gaugh replied with a different tune.
“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,” read a statement signed “Sublime.”
A second note from Gaugh elaborated: “When we got together and started jamming with Rome, we realized that embracing the music will be a huge step toward healing and moving forward. We see this as a celebration of Brad’s memory and the music we all made together.”
So Sublime are back — and a full U.S. tour is expected. How do you, dear SPIN reader, feel about the “reunion”? Is it a celebration of Nowell’s music, or a cheap shot at fast cash at Nowell’s expense?
Watch the videos, then tell us what you think in the comment section!
“What I Got”