It's 11pm in Europe, but I'm accommodating Rome Ramirez from Sublime since he's in California at the time, and our scheduled interviews earlier have not worked out. I'm ready on Skype though when the call comes, fully expecting Eric from the band to answer questions since he is the only original member remaining in Sublime, but to my surprise it is the newly hired Rome who takes the role of answering questions both about the band's past as well as about their upcoming new material, their show in Denmark, and much more. Read on or listen below, to see what he had to say.
RF.net: So we can just get started straight away, it is quite late here in Europe right now. First of all thank you very much for doing this interview. And if you could just start off by introducing yourself both to the readers and I guess also to the people who will be listening to this later on?
Rome: Cool. My name is Rome Ramirez. I play guitar and sing for a band called Sublime With Rome, ultimately named after myself in the end. Yeah, we're coming to Europe for the second time of our career. And we've got a lot to say and a lot to say. So it's kind of a big deal for us. It's a bigger tour than last tour, two years ago, so we're really excited to meet more fans and play some more new songs for a lot different type of an audience than it is in America. So we're definitely ready to handle some business, man.
RF.net: Okay, sounds good. So how's it going in Sublime at the moment?
Rome: Yeah, it's been great man. We just got done, or I guess I can't say we just got done, time certainly does fly. We just wrapped up our summer tour about a month and a half ago, so over the last couple of weeks we've had a couple of one-off dates playing spot dates around the country, doing some radio festivals and cool gigs with our friends and other bands. So it has been really cool. Now we're kind of gearing down and getting ready to hit practice, and then launch over to Orlando, and then off to Europe, man!
RF.net: It's now been a couple of years since you released your reunion album "Yours Truly", or new album, in the new reincarnation of the band. I hear there's a new one in the works in the future? How far are you with this one?
Rome: I mean as far as progression goes, we're not super far. We're definitely taking our time, and kind of doing it from scratch. Not using any kind of songs that previously didn't make the record or anything like that. Just writing everything barebones in the studio. So we've been kind of putting stuff together backstage during our time pre-show. We have a rehearsal room all setup with like bass guitar, drums, keyboards, and a Protools setup. We've been just cutting tracks and kind of laying down the foundations - all of us really, Josh included. Yeah, just gearing up, because we're gonna be doing an album very, very soon, man.
RF.net: What should we expect from the new album? Will it be more in the vein of "Yours Truly" or are you experimenting with something different?
Rome: We're always gonna experiment with something different. I mean I definitely want to get that out to the audiences as much as possible. Because that's how we feel it keeps it fresh, and just keeps it, I don't know man, for the lack of better words, punk rock. Just definitely having the musicality and having the connection with your band members to be able to sonically explore every album. Some people will like it, some people dig it, but it's not really for them. It's for us, because it's therapy. That's our music. So we're definitely, probably gonna experiment with some new sounds, and some different styles of production and stuff. I'm excited. It's probably going to have an edgier feel to it. At least that's what we've been playing thus far.
RF.net: What do you think about "Yours Truly" today, then? You've had a little bit of distance to it. I'm not entirely sure how involved you were in the songwriting for that? Were any of the songs from the band's past that they picked up on or modified for the album, or anything like that?
Rome: Well, it was a collection of songs that I had written over the course of my early teens all the way up to when I joined the band, and then a concoction of songs that me and the guys had created on the spot in Texas. So having that sort of balance, you could hear the difference between some of the album, but all that was really just a move to get the album out, because we only had a small window being signed to a label so fast, and going out on a summer tour. They wanted everything to cohesively explode. And we really had three weeks to put together the album, realistically. So it was a concoction of what I said previously. So looking back on it, I think we absolutely nailed it. I think it's an amazing depiction of who we are now as a band. But when it comes to this album, we definitely know we want to take more time, and take our time.
RF.net: You've been playing together with the guys from Sublime for four years now, or you've been fronting the band, so to say. How has he been for you personally to front what many people consider such a legendary band, considering you do play some of the old songs still live?
I mean honestly, man, it's a fucking trip. It's not something you really get used to. Every time I go out, I always hear a Sublime song everywhere, you know? It's just a real dream. It doesn't ever really click like "oh crap, I'm now the singer of Sublime". I just work, and I'm constantly in the studio, and I just never really take time to soak it all in. But it's been an amazing ride, and I don't see it stopping anytime soon.
RF.net: How do you feel like you've been received by the fan base in general?
Rome: To my face I've only really experienced just nothing but love and gratitude, which I'm forever thankful for. But I've had yet to really experience any sort of negativity from a fan to my fans. Online, I'm sure I can find blogs of stuff, probably saying all kinds of shit. But that's life, man. You can look for that kind of stuff, or turn your head and look towards the positive. I guess that's kind of the way I'm wired, and probably why I'm still here, or why I even got here. Because I've just always made myself focus on the positive.
RF.net: So what about the Bradley Nowell estate - do you happen to know what they think about this whole thing these days?
Rome: Oh yeah, they're cool. We couldn't do this without them. They know about everything. They approve every show, every sticker, every hat, everything. They get a couple of million every year, and everyone smiles and is happy, man, so yeah, we're all cool. I've hung out with Brad's kid a couple of times. Here's a great, very, very talented man. His mom is a very, very nice woman. It's very much a business, so it's not Almost Famous or something. It's a major rock band. There are contracts, and there are deadlines, just like any other business.
RF.net: It has been 17 years since Bradley passed away. It's obviously a long time and I guess everybody has moved on, more or less, but do you know how the rest of the band feels about this? Do they ever feel weird performing, well with you fronting the band as opposed to Bradley?
Rome: Well, first of all no-one's ever moved on from the death of Bradley. They've just more along the lines of accepted it. But Eric has definitely made it very, very clear, that this is strictly about the music, and he 100% believes in his heart that if Brad is somewhere, and this is in his words, if Brad is somewhere above looking down, he's probably very happy right now. He's never really commented, not once ever, about possibly discrediting the name of Sublime or anything like that. He's very, very content with the fact that he kept the band going, and he believes that the music is the most important thing.
RF.net: Bud Gaugh left the band some time ago. What effect does that have on the band, especially now that Eric is the only original member left in the band? I know you guys have Josh Freese now as a drummer?
Well, it has two effects, and I'll tell you those effects. The first effect would be that caused a little bit more, not that we need it anymore, but a little bit more commotion amongst the inner core scene who does follow the band. I'm not talking about the majority of the people who just see that the name Sublime is in town, and they just wanna go out and have a night with their boyfriend and girlfriend, and go get drunk and listen to their favorite songs. I'm talking about the people who follow the band who really love the band. They're the ones who read the shit that we're even speaking of right now. Our die-hard fans. It kinda might have made some of those fans a little angry, or a little bit confused, should I say.
That was one side of the fence. The other side of the fence is when Bud left the band, amongst each other, the band became a lot more whole. It became a lot more welcoming. It became a lot more real. I can't really credit that 100% to Bud Gaugh's departure from the band, but I can definitely say that him leaving was a huge contribution to Eric being able to really feel comfortable and speak up and voice his opinions for the band. Because there's always been this older brother little brother tension between the two of those guys. And Eric has always been the guy in the headlock, regardless of the size of him, but I feel now that Bud has voiced his opinion so vastly and left, now Eric really feels in control, and really feels like he can voice his opinion, and say the things he wants to say, and possibly do the things he wants to do with the band, without having the fear of being shut down or feeling stupid.
RF.net: With Josh Freese now in the mix, I'm guessing he's going to be a permanent member now, or if he is that already?
Rome: We're definitely playing with him for as long as Josh wants to play. He loves playing with us, and we're definitely glad to have him in the band. We continue to write songs together and tour together. It's a band, dude, you know what I mean? Behind all the files, faxes and the pie charts, we're still three dudes, with three different personalities on stage. The moment anybody, the moment this shit isn't funny anymore, well all those people will have to run and get jobs, and so do we. But we do this shit strictly because it's just fun, man, because we really do love it. So If Josh, if Eric, if I, it's all the same.
RF.net: If we go back to the self-titled album from 1996. I guess everybody considers it a classic album in music in general. So how do you personally view it - or even the records that came before it - today, such a long time afterwards?
Rome: I think it's a staple in rock history. I think it's a staple in pop history. It's a sound that defined a generation of its own. And yeah, man, I couldn't be any more proud to say that. It's the band that definitely got me moving towards a life in music at a very early age.
RF.net: Related to this, now that you are working on new material, do you think you'll be able to write a record with as far-reaching influence as you mentioned before, again at some point in the future, or do you think that record is such a one-of-a-kind record that it's very difficult if not impossible to top or match?
Simply put, I think we have potential to write that record, or better. But that's not our goal.
RF.net: What is the goal?
Rome: The goal is to write great music that says something important.
RF.net: Surely that would automatically mean that if you write a better record then that would be great music, more or less?
Rome: Well, I'm a firm believer that people still in this day believe in something real, and believe when something is being forced down their throat. And I think when you look back at bands like The Clash, you look bands like Nirvana or Sublime even, what they did was they never tried to write a hit sounding record. They just really believed in what they were saying. And they did something that's not what everyone else is doing. Putting a couple of really chords together and singing a love song over some sweet melodies. I think for this next record we're really gonna channel something more personal and a lot more adapt. I think that's what's gonna set it apart from anything else that you hear on the radio.
RF.net: You're about to embark on a European tour, which obviously includes a stop here in Denmark quite early on the tour. When's the last time Sublime played here? Have you actually ever played here? I wasn't able to find any references anywhere, at least.
No, we have not played there. It would be our first time.
RF.net: So in that case, what should the Danish audiences be expecting from the show?
Rome: Definitely a mix of the old classics, and stuff from our new album, or our "Yours Truly" album, and then a couple of cuts from the album that we're working on. We just kind of do the whole medley, and just go in and out of songs. Old, new, classics, rough demos, freestyles, you know? It's just kind of a party man, you know, everyone's just out there feeling the vibe.
RF.net: How about in terms of stage show. Do you guys bring a big production with you, or is it just set up the instruments and jam out on stage?
Rome: We're a punk rock band. We have a DJ who fires off all the cool samples so it sounds just like the record, but we don't have any gimmicks or anything like that. No flamethrowers, or biting the heads off birds or anything [laughs] - although that's cool though.
RF.net: Sure, that is understandable. I guess flamethrowers don't really fit in ska-ish music anyway?
Rome: Nope, but that was probably the coolest one.
RF.net: Well, actually that was my last question for the interview. Thanks for the interview. Anything to add?
Rome: No man, just thank you guys very much for taking the time to talk to us, and hopefully we can see as many people as the venue can hold, if not more at the show. Yeah man, thanks for listening for anyone who is listening!