By Kate Nalepinski
Sublime with Rome, the collaboration between singer/guitarist Rome Ramirez and Eric Wilson, the bassist for the reggae powerhouse Sublime, plays the original band’s hits as well as new songs recorded during its latest incarnation. The Press spoke with Ramirez before they played Nikon at Jones Beach Theater with supporting act Dirty Heads, another band from California which fuses hip hop, ska and punk. Ramirez shared his thoughts about the band’s new album, Sirens, former Sublime drummer Bud Gaugh, who left Sublime with Rome, and fans who are critical of Ramirez filling in for the late Sublime frontman Bradley Nowell.
Long Island Press: Sublime has been around for ages, but your sound has changed slightly over time. How would you describe the sound of your recent album, Sirens, to new fans?
Rome Ramirez: I would say it’s definitely a concoction of different genres. We just really try to embody the diverse influences we got.
LIP: You released your single “Sirens” with Dirty Heads. How has it been touring with a band that has recognized Sublime as one of their inspirations?
RR: The guys from the Dirty Heads are like my best friends. We’ve known each other for a long time now, we’ve grown together by playing music together. They’re like brothers to me, you know?
LIP: If he was interested, would you ever consider playing with Bud Gaugh again?
RR: I mean, I’m not necessary interested, but I’d never say no.
LIP: Which songs do you prefer playing live more: Your stuff from Sublime, or after 2009 technically Sublime with Rome?
RR: I think it’s more of an individual song basis. You gotta understand, it’s like certain songs sound better on certain nights. It depends on the atmosphere, to be completely honest.
LIP: Would you say you enjoy that improv method of performing?
RR: Yeah, totally. That’s what keeps it exciting.
LIP: What music have you been listening to lately?
RR: I listened to the last Drake album, Views From the Six. I listened to the new song by Designer. There’s a clip of it. I played it like a million times. It’s really good. What else…Major Lazer, too. Yeah, shit like that.
LIP: What other music, in the area of ska or rock, have you been enjoying recently?
RR: There’s this new band called Blacktop Queen out of Los Angeles. They’re a rock band, three-piece. I listen to them a lot.
LIP: What do you say to the Sublime “purists” who are critical of your standing in for Bradley?
RR: Honestly, I tell them to come to a show. Experience a live show, and then decide. And then if it ain’t your cup of tea, it ain’t your cup of tea. That’s cool. But at least give it a shot.
LIP: Why do you feel that old fans have an issue with you standing in for Bradley?
RR: Mainly, it’s because people are protective of the things they love. Sublime means a lot to a lot of people – and everything to some. People getting protective…I understand it. It’s like, if your mom died, and your dad got re-married…It creates this weird boundary. You’re like: Do I love her? Do I call her mom? I think that’s how some are looking at me. But, yeah, I understand.
LIP: What does Sublime mean to you? Were you into Sublime when they released their self-titled album?
RR: I mean, I was only 8 when that album came out. But I was basically molded on this band, you know? Sublime was the very first band I ever loved. They got me into playing music, that’s for sure.
LIP: Would you credit Sublime as your initial push into the music industry?
RR: Oh, 100 percent. Prior to that, it was just like skateboarding and shit. When I heard Sublime I was like, “Yo, I want to learn how to play music. I want to learn to play guitar.”
LIP: What about Sublime made you so interested in music?
RR: It was just so different from anything I’d heard. And it had all the elements of shit that I liked put into one.
LIP: What else do you have to say about your about the release of Sirens? And what about the future of Sublime with Rome?
RR: We’ve been playing almost all our music off of it live. We’re gearing up to do another record. We’ve already got a couple songs done, and I think we should be releasing a new song in the fall. We’ve been staying busy – writing, always need to keep writing – that’s our job.
LIP: So how does it feel to be kicking off your summer tour?
RR: This is like the first day of our tour. We’ve had a couple of fly days, but this is actually day one: the bands, the lights, all that pretty stuff. It’s super exciting. I’m hoping we’ll just keep a smooth pace, make sure nothing crazy happens. I’ll let you know if something does, though.
LIP: Is there anything important you need to add?
RR: Yeah, to the fans: we’re really stoked, and we can’t wait to come out and jam for you guys….And jam with the Dirty Heads. It’s going to be a great time!