Star Bulletin - July 22, 1997
Fans of Sublime's music will have plenty of reason to celebrate when the Long Beach Dub All Stars take the stage at Nimitz Hall Saturday. For fans and band members, it'll be a homecoming.
The All Stars rose from the ashes of Sublime's demise. All Stars principals include former Sublime bassist Eric Wilson and drummer Bud Gaugh, along with Sublime manager and friend Miguel, percussionist/DJ and producer "Field" Marshall Goodman and a host of Sublime session players.
Sublime's story isn't an unfamiliar one in music. Just after the release of its breakthrough, self-titled third album, singer Brad Nowell died of a heroin overdose May 25, 1996. He didn't live long enough to see Sublime's songs "What I Got" and "Santeria" become hits, or to see Time magazine name the Sublime album as the best rock release last year.
Besides his wife, Troy, and year-old son Jakob, Nowell left behind bandmates who had worked nine years to arrive at the brink of mainstream success; and fans old and new, who would never see the band perform again.
But Sublime's music -- dance hall and reggae rhythms combined with a punk ethic -- lives on, and Miguel says, "Keeping it positive is what it's all about now."
In a phone interview from Long Beach, Calif., Miguel said, "It was hard to get back to music after working for nine years, and having to start back at the bottom one day (after Nowell's death)."
He credits Goodman with keeping him in music and exploring new approaches to Sublime's music, as well.
Six months after Nowell's death, the All Stars banded for a concert, with No Doubt, to benefit the Jakob Nowell Scholarship Fund and the Musicians' Assistance Program, raising $20,000 for each cause.
These days, the All Stars are taking an improvisational approach to performance.
"Sublime's music is the foundation," Miguel said, "but we improvise in different ways. It's a nine-piece band so the sound is very complex. Sublime toured as a three-piece band, so the sound was stripped down. Now we can get the sound of the CD at certain moments."
During the performances, singer Opie intersperses Nowell's lyrics with his own. And depending on what city the All Stars are in, they've lined up special guests from bands like UB40, Fishbone and Bad Brains, as they go. For the Hawaii show, they'll be joined by homegrown Dread Ashanti.
That improvisational approach extends to touring as well. While the All Stars wait for contractual obligations to expire, Miguel said, there are no album plans and touring is reserved only for "places we absolutely love."
"We don't tour as much. We're a bigger band," He said. "Basically, when Sublime toured we had to go to places we didn't want to go, like inland or the East Coast. Who wants to go there when it's pathetic? We wanted to go to Hawaii and Mexico!"
Hawaii has always welcomed Sublime. "It's one of the best places in terms of response," Miguel said. "We have a lot of friends in the music community, and in the surf community, and they all come together."
And no one has forgotten Nowell. "We think he's with us on stage every minute."
The Sublime Fest