A stocky individual, with huge forearms covered in tats, bounds into the room and barks out an order for a chicken curry, “hot shit – I’m so goddamn hungry” says pumped-up Sublime W/Rome (SWR) drummer Bud Gaugh, a skinny kid in even skinnier jeans rushes out to fulfil the order. "..we were really named by the fans and to all the naysayers out there just follow the music and your hearts."
It’s a typical English Friday evening in October; a chill wind runs through the air, people are milling about, workers rushing to get home or to the pub, the leaves on the trees in the park opposite the venue are multicoloured and getting ready to fall. I’m at the Shepherd’s Bush Empire in London to see the reformed SWR perform on their first ever tour of England and the place is buzzing. And well it should be - fans have been waiting for years for the chance to see Sublime in any form play live.
In 1996 Sublime were on the cusp of something approaching greatness, many people say they were going to do for California what Nirvana did for Seattle – create a new scene which would be synonymous with the state. While this happened to a certain extent it happened without the musical genius of Brad. When Brad tragically overdosed Eric and Bud were not only devastated by the loss of their friend they also missed out on leading the scene in which they helped create.
“Now the success is bittersweet, but it’s just great to back on the road playing the music we love so much and the fans are loving it.” says a proud Bud.
“It feels like, today, what we would have been doing in 97 or 98 and I know Bradley is smiling down on us, there’s no way he couldn’t be, because seeing the smile on Eric’s face from ear to ear, and you know he doesn’t smile all that often. Seeing him so happy lets me know we are doing the right thing.”
I asked Bud, who also played with Long Beach Dub-Allstars, Eyes Adrift, Volcano, Del Mar, and is one of reggae rock’s great survivors, what it’s like to be playing Sublime’s music once more?
“It’s been a blast man, and the shows have been getting more and more intense.”
SWR played in Manchester the previous night, the first time Eric and Bud had performed in England under the Sublime name and Bud was clearly delighted with how the guys were received.
“They turned the lights on [in Manchester] and every single body was jumping up and down, hands in the air. It was incredible, nobody was slacking at all.”
And the reason for the electric atmosphere? “They (the fans) know their music and I guess they are even more excited about it.
“They got to see me and Eric play once or twice in the last decade and maybe even the last two decades if you want to count what we were doing with Sublime.”
This brings us to the controversial decision as to how and why Eric and Bud decided to get on the road together once more and why they see Rome as the ideal man to play with Sublime. Bud contends it was never a question of whether he and Eric would get back together to play Sublime music, it was more a question of when.
“Eric called me up out of the blue and basically told me word for word what he said when he introduced me to Brad – you gotta meet this kid, he’s got mad guitar skills and sings like a mofo.
“When I heard Eric say this, well it really caught my interest. Eric’s a qualified genius in the music biz and to hear him give someone that much respect, you know it was interesting to me.“So then I met Rome and we sat down and started jamming and it was like we had been old friends for ever – there was no real learning curve to be had there at all.”
Of course the reforming, rebranding, whatever you wish to call it, of Sublime almost didn’t happen. It took a court case before Bud and Eric and the Nowell estate could agree on a way forward. But Bud is delighted to be back playing in a band under the Sublime name.
“We played that first show at Sparks unannounced and people posted the videos on YouTube and titled it Sublime W/Rome so we were really named by the fans and to all the naysayers out there just follow the music and your hearts.”
So having played countless sold out shows in the US and now in Europe, the next logical step is to release a new album – something which we can look forward to next summer. SWR have some new tracks ready including Bud’s current favourite to perform live, Take it or Leave it, “a new track we recorded just last week with Sylvia Matthews”, and Panic – a track which Rome had written before hooking up with Bud and Eric.
“Rome had this song Panic, a song already written, and he played it for me and Eric and we added some parts and did a little rearrangement with it and kind put the Sublime stamp to it all.”
Bud believes this is just another way SWR are doing things and mixing it up, where Brad would sometimes have complete songs arranged, Bud and Eric would then play around with them to keep the right feel. “We are keeping the original recipe going. Eric would come up with a bass-line and Brad would come up with a melody and then we all work on it.”
Bud is hopeful the guys will work with Mix Master Mike of Beastie Boys fame and Dub Scientist in the studio to produce some tracks and is clearly relishing a future which involves doing what he and Eric enjoy most – playing Sublime’s music to a ever expanding legion of fans.