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Sublime Tour With New Lead Singer A Disgrace

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When Alice in Chains announced that they would join the recent 90s nostalgia revival and "reunite" featuring a new singer, there was a large amount of trepidation amongst their fan base. William DuVall took over the deceased Layne Staley's duties as lead vocalist. A solid singer, DuVall essentially sounds like a Staley knock off, executing an outstanding imitation of the late rocker's tortured, zombie-like delivery at the microphone.

But Alice in Chains was not all about Layne. Jerry Cantrell was the force behind the band's metal-grunge. signature, grindingly industrial guitar sound that made the band arguably the darkest and heaviest of the high profile groups involved in the 90s alternative movement. And his harmonization and vocal interplay with Layne was also essential to the uniqueness of the band's sound, still present in a less-than-fresh way on the new Black Gives Way to Blue (2009).

Cantrell had used DuVall on multiple occasions during his solo tours (to sing the harmony parts on the Alice in Chains Songs in the set list) and his aforementioned likeness to Staley's voice was easily integrated into the essential sound of the band. While the current incarnation is not the truest version of Alice in Chains, there is a definite legitimacy to this group that many other bands don't possess when they bring in a new lead singer.

Like for example, Sublime. On October 23, 2009 the estate of deceased lead singer Bradley Nowell threatened the surviving members of Sublime — Eric Wilson and Bud Gaugh — with a law suit if they followed through with their plans to reform with a new lead singer named Rome Ramirez (pictured above) under the moniker of Sublime. The estate issued the following statement: 

"It was recently announced that Sublime bassist Eric Wilson and Sublime drummer Floyd 'Bud' Gaugh are 'reuniting' and teaming with singer and guitarist Rome Ramirez in a band they intend to call 'Sublime.' Prior to his untimely passing, both Bud and Eric acknowledged that Brad Nowell was the sole owner of the name Sublime. It was Brad's expressed intention that no one use the name Sublime in any group that did not include him, and Brad even registered the trademark 'Sublime' under his own name. As Brad's heirs, and with the support of his entire family, we only want to respect his wishes and therefore have not consented to Bud and Eric calling their new project 'Sublime.' We have always supported Bud and Eric's musical endeavors and their desire to continue to play Sublime's music. We wholeheartedly supported Bud, Eric and the many talented members of the Sublime posse that formed the Long Beach Dub All-Stars, soon after Brad's death, to honor him through their original recordings, live performances and Sublime music until they disbanded in 2001. But, 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. Our hope is that Brad's ex-bandmates will respect his wishes and find a new name to perform under, so as to enhance the 'Sublime' legacy without the confusion and disappointment that many fans have expressed upon seeing the announcement"

 

The band has since made an appearance with Ramirez as their lead singer at Cypress Hill's SmokeOut Festival in San Bernardino, California and the estate has, in turn, filed a lawsuit. All they wanted was for the band to take a different name. Like oh, I don't know, The Long Beach Dub All Stars perhaps? For five years the surviving members of Sublime toured as the LBDAS, releasing two albums, and finding mild success, mostly from Sublime's loyal fan base. But now, for some reason ($$$), two men who said they would always respect the memory and wishes of their deceased lead singer and friend, especially in respect to the entity he created and loved so dearly, are selling their musical souls to prostitute a name that still has a great deal of meaning to many music fans as well as the family of the man who embodied it.

Sublime is a band that this never should have happened to. It was bad enough seeing Scott Stapp front The Doors (if only for two songs) or Paul Rodgers playing Freddie Mercury and touring with "Queen" (and at least both of those bands were exceptionally talented musically and Rodgers can sing). But at the heart of Sublime's music, at the core of their creative energy, are the many layers and influences of Bradley Nowell. His songs are personal expressions about his life, his perceptions of the world around him, and the emotions that emanated from within him. Sublime was not about the drummer and bass player that jammed behind Bradley. Any set of session musicians could have handled what Wilson and Gaugh contributed. They were great because they were "part of it" and that's it. The previous statement is definitely harsh and yet absolutely true and they knew it at the time.

About Anthony Tobis

  • http://cindalsays.posterous.com cindal lee heart

    Thank you for this article. It really speaks volumes about the change in music as a whole.

  • Tony

    You’re welcome and thank you for the compliment. I always had so much respect for this band and just when it seemed like they were going to be forgotten they were suddenly thrust back into the spotlight for all the wrong reasons.

    The statement from the Nowell estate really struck me. They support the music, support the remaining members playing the music, they simply don’t want the band called Sublime. They, like Brad, are more worried about the legitimacy and legacy of Sublime instead of money. It doesn’t get more punk rock than that.

    I’m really glad you enjoyed the article I expected a certain level of backlash calling me an elitist or something of that respect. But Sublime and Brad are a great reminder that there is room for idealism in music, even today.

  • Mike moriel

    Seriously.. The new guy sounded great, I was there at smokeout fest and one of the main reasons was for sublime.. Although sublime isn’t sublime without brad, I feel this is the best we can get. I love sublime. And it took 13 years to get this together n this guy sound amazing. I think Bradley family should recognize that… And they should give them money.. Which I’m sure is one of the main reasons for this controversy.

  • Tony

    I’m sure he did sound great but the fact is that there is no reason they need to be called Sublime. Why couldn’t Ramirez just front the Long Beach Dub All Stars? Or if he is so talented than use a different name and make if on their own, not on the back of Brad’s memory. The name is personally trademarked to Brad so I’d assume that they would get more money by letting “Sublime” tour. The statement makes it pretty clear they are protecting the legacy of the band.

  • Tony

    “they” being the family.

  • Jacob

    It’s all about the music, not the frontman.
    Sure, Brad was the heart and soul of the band, but his death shouldn’t mean the end of Sublime for the two survivors. They should definitely have more say in the matter than the family who wants to keep receiving money for the band. If it were any other band it wouldn’t be the same, but Sublime is unique in the fact that this is being embraced by the fans like no other. Sublime is above the petty arguments and lawsuits which have more of a chance of staining their reputation than any new vocalist ever could.

  • JAY HENNACY

    BUD,
    YOU KNOW BRAD BETTER THAN ANY OF US AND OBVIOUSLY IF YOU FELT IT WOULD BE A DISRESPECT TO HIM NONE OF THIS WOULD BE AN ISSUE. SUBLIME IS THE DAY TO DAY LIFE LOVE AND STRUGGLE TO MAKE IT TO THE NEXT. BRAD ALONG WITH YOU ERIC,KELLY,MIGUEL AND THE REST OF THE L.B. FAMILY POURED YOUR HEART AND SOUL INTO YOUR MUSIC, THAT IS WHAT WE ALL WANT IS THE MUSIC RIGHT,FROM YOU AND ERIC FORMING HOGANS HEROES TO BRAD JOINING AND CALLING THIS AS WE KNOW SUBLIME! HEY BUD DO WHAT FEELS RIGHT. OH YEAH YOUR COUSIN GARY IS A FRIEND OF MINE AND I WILL KEEP HIM IN MY PRAYERS CAUSE LIFE IS TOO SHORT SO LOVE THE ONE YOU GOT!

  • howey

    sublime were amazing, leave it at that eric and bud, brad was the heart and soul.r.i.p

  • danny johnson

    Rome is a great singer/guitarist/frontman true he’s not Brad but give him a chance at least he’s trying to keep the name Sublime alive. And even though Brad has passed he’s still very alive so stop complaining.

  • allen shields

    I had the opportunity to see Sublime with Rome five months ago. It was a great show. Being that I never saw the original Sublime, this was a once in a lifetime experience. I truly love all that is Sublime and Rome didn’t let me down. I feel that the Sublime name is being used appropriately and in no way is the true identity of Sublime lost. Great write up!!

  • Carlos Leon

    I agree with this article, and I know Rome is a very talented musician, but, He said he liked “Party in the usa” by Miley Cyrus and that’s ok, he can like whatever he wants. But that only show’s me that he will never write lyrics like Brad. Rome has never found “roaches in his pot”. And I’m sure he never will.

  • Chris

    I couldnt agree more. Its not Sublime without Bradley. Its like some child playing dressup with his fathers work clothes.

  • Tony

    Thanks Chris. Everyone who truly valued the art Brad created feels the same way. Take care.

  • Mary Topete

    This article couldn’t be more true!!! Without Brad & His beloved Lou Dog there will never be another **{ SUBLIME }** The world lost a musical genius **<3:(