Sublime With Rome Headed To Philly

       Music fans can usually only dream of joining their favorite bands. It’s happened on the rarest of rare occasions. John Frusciante replaced the late Hillel Slovak as guitarist of the Red Hot Chili Peppers.
       Tim ‘Ripper’ Owens took over for Rob Halford as singer of Judas Priest.
     Rome Ramirez was just eight-years old when Sublime’s eponymous album was released in 1996. Weeks before the record dropped, so did singer-songwriter Brad Nowell, who succumbed to a heroin overdose.
      The band died but the album had a life of its own. More than five million copies of the self-titled release have sold to date.
   Sublime became one of the biggest ska-rock acts of all time posthumously.
       “That album had a huge effect on me,” Ramirez said while calling from Billings, Montana. “It really touched me. I liked music as a kid but I never wanted to pick up a guitar until I heard that album. Those ska and punk songs got me into older ska and punk bands and I learned a lot from that album. Sublime was my favorite band.”
    About six years ago Ramirez met Sublime bassist Eric Wilson at one of his house parties in Long Beach, California.
     “He asked me if I wanted to play some Sublime songs with him and I said, ‘hell, yeah!,” Ramirez said. “We kept it going by meeting up and playing after that.”
     A few months later, Wilson asked if Ramirez was up for a Sublime reunion. “Again, I said, ‘hell, yeah,” Ramirez said. “It would be awesome to be part of my favorite band. Who could turn that down?”
Well, drummer Bud Gaugh could have nixed a reunion. He and Wilson hadn’t connected in six years.
      “But we got past that and it worked out between the three of us,” Ramirez said.
    And then there was the matter of dealing with the estate of Nowell.
     “I didn’t worry about that,” Ramirez said. “I’m not a worrier. My view is that everything works out.”
    It did. The act agreed to record and tour as Sublime with Rome three years ago.
      The band, which will perform Saturday at the Festival Pier, plays songs from Sublime’s esteemed catalog and from its initial disc, ‘Yours Truly, which saw the light of day in July of 2011.
    Ramirez wisely doesn’t try to mimic Nowell. The songs have that celebratory, optimistic feel of vintage Sublime but there is also a bit more edge to go along with the pop and ska.
      “I think there is a different sound because half of the songs on the album were written by me before I ever joined this band,” Ramirez said. “Eric and Bud were a part of Sublime from day one but I’m also in the group now and so you’re going to get some different flavor but you’ll also get the old Sublime songs. I love them just like the fans do. The fans have been awesome. I’m so grateful they’re down with what we’re doing. They want the music to live on and so do we.”

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