Interview: Long Beach Dub Allstars (Marshall Goodman)
The Long Beach Dub Allstars are direct heir to one of the music industry’s brightest-burning and most influential flames. Founded after the tragic loss of Bradley Nowell by the surviving members of Sublime, LBDAS pushed forward to continue the legacy of one of American pop-culture’s biggest icons. The style and sounds coming from Southern California have created waves that continue to swell internationally. Setting a path for a musical scene that has grown into a worldwide movement, LBDAS are on the verge of releasing their first album in nearly two decades, complimented by their first nationwide tour, which we were lucky enough to witness during their stop in Austin, TX.
Upon arriving at Empire Control room on a scorching-hot midsummer Texas Tuesday, we managed to score some facetime with current Long Beach Dub Allstar drummer, former Sublime veteran, and industry legend Marshall Goodman to provide a full update on the band’s roots and recent moves in progress.
How are you liking being back in Austin?
MG: I love Austin, Austin is great. The artistic city of Texas, right? Progressive and artsy. They say El Paso is starting to get more progressive and artsy. El Paso may be your competition. It’s good, things are changing. It’s like Californians come here and El Paso.
How set in stone is the current lineup?
MG:The lineup for the LBDAS will vary. It’s an All-Star band, and that’s how I’m approaching it.
The original incantation was done as a follow-up to Sublime to play a benefit show right after Bradley passed, same year, a couple months after. We did a Musician Assistance Program, MAP, and raised funds for that as well as funds for Jakob Nowell, Bradley’s son. We just got guys together. It was myself, Bud, Eric, and Miguelthat were part of the Sublime family. Then we got Opie, Jack, Tim, RAS, and Ikey Owens, (who has since passed away). It was guys playing around the scene, so we put a band together to play a set of Sublime songs. It was two years later when we got a record deal and decided to carry on. That ended in about 2001.
I put this unit together in 2016 for a celebration show for SRH, which is Kevin Zinger’s media line. Started as a promotion company in San Diego and moved all the way up California and all over the place. Back in the early days they promoted Sublime. Kevin was the first person to bring Sublime to San Diego, and everybody thought he was crazy, saying “Who are these guys? They’re not going to do well,” and they blew up. So then LBDA used to go and do SRH shows in San Diego. He’d put on these boxing matches. We’d play a set, boxing match, play another set, boxing match. It was fun. It’s been 20-25 years he’s been doing SRH. Blazing Glory Festival, he had a side-stage and he called me and asked me if I’d be willing to put the band back together, trying to get Eric, Bud, Opie, Jack everybody. I agreed, I said as long Eric Wilson, who I went to Jr High with, and Opie, who I went to Jr High with, were a part of it, then I’d make it happen. So we put it back together 2016, played the show and he asked if we wanted to play more shows.
So we started doing weekend-warrior stuff. Eric couldn’t make it, because of his commitment to Sublime with Romeand some other reasons, so we got Ed Kampwith from Suburban Rhythm, and that’s basically the concept, just getting guys from the scene. Suburban Rhythm was a band from Long Beach that played with Sublime. When I was 19 in the band, we used to play backyard parties together. No record yet, just parties. Ed was there.
On guitar tonight we have Devin Morrison from the Expanders. Roger Rivas is a central part of this new lineup. We’ve got Bradley Croes, who’s playing sax and flute. He’s another local Long Beach young guy. Brought him in for this trip because Tim can’t make these long runs because Tim is now a pharmacist, Jack is now a project manager, so they can’t really make these long trips. We cycle in and out All Star musicians. Devin is an All Star, Brad is an All Star.
The lineup could change. I mean, I may not be able to make some shows. What I’m trying to do with this project is make it a true All Star band. Drummers from bands that are established could play this stuff. Bass may rotate out. From conception, we’ve always had multiple singers. HR, Tippa Irie, Half-Pint, Barrington Levy, Chali2na. They’d come up and get featured when we do shows, so singers will rotate as well. We’ll put this record out and get our heels sunk in, which we’re doing on this tour, it’s to get our name back out there.
To answer your question, the rotation will evolve. It will always be changing up. I really want to do this All-Star lineup scenario. The thing I’m trying to establish is that it’s always going to be the same Southern-California lifestyle feel emanating from the stage.
How’s Roger handling working with both bands?
MG: So this tour, he’s doing double-duty, working overtime. He’s just a phenomenal guy. He’s covering everything. Always tight, always on point, the guy doesn’t forget anything. The guy is solid as a rock.
With the long list of people you’ve worked with. What do you think about the “reggae revival” and the younger generation coming up?
MG: The reggae revival is great. It’s apparent that they have a heavy influence, because the people are coming to see them. In essence, they’re not really doing what the LBDAS did. It’s a revival, but I think it’s just that. I don’t think it’s a replacement. I don’t think it’s a second coming of anything.
When the Long Beach Dub Allstars left in 2001 there was a void. It was kind of filled by Slightly Stoopid and Rebelution, and so forth. We don’t mind that. Slightly Stoopid, I’ve been working with them on pretty much every record they’ve done since conception. They’re like my little brothers. There was a void created, Dirty Heads jumped in, but there really wasn’t any competition and what LBDAS did was never done again, as far as the music, how we created the formula, and the style show.
We try not to overproduce. We’re authentic, and organic. You get what you get and it’s definitely going to be a great experience. That’s the key. There’s no competition with the revival, they’re doing great, but they’re definitely not doing what we do, which is great for the fans.
What can you tell us about the upcoming album?
MG: The concept for this record, I wanted to follow what I just expressed about our sound and what it’s always been, authentic and organic. We don’t wear any specific colors, we come as we are, as individuals.
Back in the day there were 8 or 9 people on stage, we came as we were and that’s how Sublime was as well. When I was in the band and we did 40oz of Freedom, I was from one side of the city, Eric and Brad were from another side, and we just came together with what we had and made some music. There was no plan other than to make some songs. There was no formula, other than make good music that we enjoy.
LBDA followed that same process, make music. To do what we did on this record was to follow the authentic and organic. Bass drums, guitar, keys, just a simple rhythm section. The best thing I can think of, since we have Roger as a solid writer, is Studio-One. There’s the foundation to your question, it is a Studio One-esque record. I don’t want to plant that seed too deep, because we’re not King Tubby, it’s more so the simplicity of music. We wrote some very basic songs, put some good lyrics on there, and it’s very enjoyable for that reason. You’re going to have a very organic rhythm section-heavy experience when you listen to this new record.
What kind of lyrical themes will the album explore?
MG: It varies. Opie, Tim, Jack, Moises from Tomorrow’s Bad Seeds, Philieano, which is Opie’s brother were all involved with writing. Led by Opie, inspired by others, it’s experiences of everyday life. You’ll get a little bit of tongue-and-cheek, perspectives on diet in “Tell Me,” a song about eating right that you won’t notice until you really listen to it. It’s an interesting thing Opie did, because he's a vegetarian now, so he wrote about.
Devon Morrison actually wrote a song called “Higher Rank” about coming together and unifying. The Expanders are great group, and Devin has great lyrics. We have a song called “Dream,” where Opie reflected on close relationships of his. We have a song called “Youth” that touches on the status of young people today and guns and violence. “Make a Name” is a boosty chatty type song. Not too many current events, not too deep, but just a great experience. I think people will really enjoy.
How have the crowds been on this tour? A lot of older fans coming out, younger, or a mix?
MG: It’s been a mix. Very interesting how we’ve traversed these generations. A lot of old fans, but I think with Spotify and other streaming services, people will get songs that they never would’ve known about. I think we fly into a lot of people’s playlists. We get a lot of fans like that, I’ve noticed.
Are there any artists you’d like to collaborate with?
MG: Chronixx is a guy that gave a shout out to Sublime. We played a festival in Garberville and the MC told us she’d done an interview with Chronixx and he gave a nod to Sublime for what we did. Paying homage to legends and legendary music. We weren’t rastas, we weren’t reggae, we weren’t Jamaican, we weren’t trying to be. We paid homage to ska, hip-hop, reggae, dub, and that’s the same thing we do today. None of us are Rastafarians, none of us take on that persona, we’re still from Southern California. We emulated a style of music and pushed it forward talking about our lives. Chronixx gave a nod to that, and I’d love to work with him. I’m going to start the next record ASAP and definitely want to have him on there as a feature.
What’s it like returning to the road full-time?
MG: We’d been playing shows again since 2016, but we’d be doing what we call “weekend-warrior” runs, which is Thursday through Sunday. We’d have an anchor date either Friday or Saturday and do other shows around it. This tour is the first [national] one, 44 dates, it’s the longest and it may be the only one for a while. This type of tour isn’t going to be too often. It’s gotta be short runs. Weekend warrior style is what we’re going to bounce back to.
What do you listen to on your own time?
MG: In my spare time I listen to afro-Cuban and bluegrass. I’m a boring guy, man [laughs.] I have to step away. I’m 48 years old and I’ve been doing this since I was 18, when I joined sublime. Consuming myself with one genre or saturating myself with music non-stop. There are times when I don’t listen to anything at all, I just have to reset. Casually, I listen to afro-Cuban because I’m a polyrhythm maniac. I constantly want to listen to rhythms. Bluegrass for the stories. My father was a guitarist from rural Illinois. A lot of the ways he talked, I can hear it in bluegrass.
There’s a new Sublime documentary, have you seen it?
MG: No. I’m in it, but I haven’t seen it yet. I didn’t go to the screening in New York. They’re going to have a screening in LA, I’ll probably see it there. I think it’s going to be excellent. “Stories, Tales, and Lies” was homegrown. Was just one of the guys, our age who was projecting out. That’s more raw, and this [new] one is really well done.
We heard there was some drama in Japan, what can you tell us about that?
MG: A member of our band got detained and released, and now he’s back.
Japan seems to really appreciate their artists then?
MG: Japan is nuts. They’re the best fans you’ll find. I’ll be completely honest. It’s the commitment to things. We were there back in the 2000s, late 90s. We saw some rockabilly fans. They had the car, the dress, everything. Then there’s some Chola girls who take on the Southern California thing. They commit, they go all-in. When they’re a fan of Southern California music, they go all in. The shows were packed they were just cheering and celebrating, they were fanatic, it was impressive, very enjoyable.
What made y’all commit to going from weekend warrior to a full-time tour?
MG: The album. I’ve had a dropbox going almost two years and I told everyone, start writing. It took a while, 18 months. I had to put a foot in some folk’s butts and get them going. Within two months they got all the necessary songs written. We were supposed to have the record done before this tour. I had all kinds of stuff going on in my life so I couldn’t monitor on a daily basis, but the record was supposed to be done before this tour. It was supposed to be a marketing tour. In the break here, [June] 23rd- [July] 9th, I went home and finished mixing the record. Now we’re going to have a fall rollout.
The weekend warrior thing, we always knew we wanted to do songs. It’s been about three years, and six months in I said “let’s start writing new songs.” Just took a long time to get them written.
Let’s say y’all never broke up in the early 2000s, where do you envision you’d be at this point?
MG: It would’ve been a big difference in the industry, I think. There would’ve been no void.
You know, that’s a goal of mine, is to try and get everyone back on the same page, especially Eric, and create some songs again. Independently, we can’t create the exact same magic we did in the early 2000s, late 90s, but I think this record we just did is absolutely close. The dynamics aren’t there, it’s more rhythm-section based. LBDAS there were huge dynamics, because Eric has an imagination like crazy, he brings in keyboards and all this wildness. You’ve got to hone him in, but the ideas are always there going in different directions. There’s not much of that on this record, but, bring in Eric, if we would’ve kept going, there would’ve been more of the Wonders of the World-type stuff going on, but we’re here, we have a new record and it’s going to be good.
Following the interview, we got to kick back and enjoy the rest of the night. Incredible opening sets were matched by a mix of old and new from the Long Beach Dub Allstars, with homage to Sublime sprinkled in for the perfect balance. Fan favorites like “Rolled Up,” “Kick Down,” “Lonely End,” and “My Own Life” provided singalong material.”Renditions of “40oz to Freedom,” and “Scarlet Begonias” paid homage to the band’s roots, followed by a smooth version of “Summertime” as the highlight of the band’s encore.
It’s not everyday you get to see and speak to legends in the flesh. The return of the Long Beach Dub Allstars is a win-win for fans spanning across generations. If you’re not from California, this tour may be your best chance to see history in the making. Don’t miss your chance to catch this legendary band on their remaining dates.
Interview By: Shawn Hallman & Salvatore C.
Photos: Salvatore C.