A Q&A with Rome Ramirez, the young new singer/guitarist of Sublime with Rome; the band plays Jannus Live on Sunday and Monday

Amber McDonald: Hey Rome, what’s up? How are you doing today?


Rome Ramirez: Um, honestly, I’m recovering from a hangover because I decided to go get a bunch of tattoos with my friends last night and we did that until about seven in the morning.


What did you get done?


My production company, Fre$h Good$, I got that across my wrists, on the bottom down by hand, and -- oh my God -- it was the most fuckin’ painful thing in the world.


You guys debuted a new song this summer, and I heard you were going into the studio this month. Can you give me any updates on how the new album is progressing?


Well, we just hopped out of the studio. We did four songs and we recorded “Panic” and a couple of other tracks. Another song called “Take It or Leave It,” which we’ve played in Europe, but haven’t played it in America yet. So, we’re excited to start playing it and it should be very, very fun.


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How do you guys work together musically?


I’ll come up with an idea, then shoot it over to the guys and then they’ll put it through the Sublime meat grinder and it comes out great and it’s all really crazy, but it makes sense and flows perfect.


Kind of like studio magic, I guess.


It’s insane , ya know, and Bud and Eric said something like they haven’t been this excited about new music since ’95 when they were doing the Self titled album, so that totally trips me out and gives me a boner.


Do you guys plan on featuring any other artists on the album, like say, The Dirty Heads?


Uh, hopefully yes. Something like a collaboration. I mean, I’m sure it will happen eventually, we are both under the same management and we’re best buddies - both bands.


What's the timeline for release?


Sometime in 2011, most likely.


Can we still expect that same genre blending, funky fresh lyric sound that we know -- and love -- from Sublime?


Yea, it’s definitely the same recipe.


Let’s talk a little bit about life on the road -- is this your first time headlining a huge, international, sold-out tour?


Um, Yea. Hell yea man, before this I was just jammin’ and traveling in a van.


Do you enjoy touring?


It’s so fun. It’s so fun. You meet so many rad people and you have so many rad stories and just experiences and you get to see all these cool places – it’s the best, I love it.


Do you have any crazy groupie stories yet?


One girl took a shot, um [pauses] out of my shoe. I had just come off stage, I don’t even know what the fuck, but I was like it’s the most horrid thing I’ve ever seen.


Do you know what kind of shot it was?


Yea, it was Patrón.


At least it was something decent, I guess.


Yea, it’s bad, just crazy stuff like that people will do.


You’ve talked about how important the SmokeOut performance was to the Sublime with Rome project. Can you talk about that set and how all this has impacted your life?


SmokeOut was a huge defining factor, I would say, to the whole entire project. And then, I mean, just from there ‘til now, oh my god, it’s just insane. We did have a couple obstacles and stuff [a dispute over rights to the “Sublime” name], but now everything is working out, everyone is getting along -- both the estate and the band -- it’s insane and it’s almost been like a complete 180 and we have all this momentum now.


I guess it's been a little like a whirlwind.


Yea, totally. Man, I definitely have had to get used to, ya know, the whole being compared to a rock star thing, so to speak. It’s insane. It’s like the best gift and as long as I can do my best and the fans are digging it I don’t ever wanna stop.


Does it still all feel a bit surreal to you?


Dude, it’s still just surreal having lunch with Bud and Eric, ya know? Like as ridiculous as that sounds, they’re like these huge icons in my eyes, still, to this day, I’m still a really big fan of their work. And when I get to go on stage and look out at the audience and they’re singing the lyrics and I look back and Bud’s smiling, ya know, and Eric’s fuckin’ smoking his cigarette, doing his thing, it’s like ‘Fuck, dude, this is crazy.’ I used to watch these guys rockin’ on DVDs and shit.


With all the pressure of stepping up to Brad’s mic and having to deliver the Sublime sounds to all the fans, do you ever feel pressure or is that not something you focus on?


I just go out there and try to have fun with Bud and Eric. We just go out there and vibe between ourselves and if we do that right, we give the fans a killer show because they can see that. We gotta have fun in order for it to be a killer show.


Did you expect the positive response Sublime with Rome has received?


Yea, I expected everything as far as Sublime’s music goes. That music is timeless, ya know?


Where do you guys hope to see it go from here?


We just always wanna get up there and jam because, in essence, it’s truly just three dudes up there fuckin’ just going at it. Most of the sets sometimes, we’ll just go into random shit and vibe and it works and we just wanna do that forever.


Are you looking forward to playing Jannus Live?


Totally. I absolutely love Florida. I have the best time of my life playing there. There is very, very, very good energy in Florida and I can’t wait for the show. We’ll be playing a couple new songs that I think everyone’s gonna enjoy.


QUICKFIRE ROUND:


Tattoos or Piercings?


Piercings


Papers or Blunts?


I’m going to go with blunts.


Beatles or Stones?


Stones


Pineapple Express or The Hangover?


Pineapple Express


Vodka, Rum or Tequila?


Tequila


Blondes or Brunettes?


Brunettes (pauses) and blondes


Cheech or Chong?


Cheech, wait no CHONG, no hold on, fuck, we’ll keep Cheech.


Surfing or Skating?


Skating


If you were stranded on a desert island and could only take one album what would it be?


Early Days, Led Zeppelin


Favorite food when you have the munchies?


Uh, probably [long pause] aw, fuck, a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.


Top three songs you like performing on tour?


I love playing “Under MY Voodoo,” “Let’s Go Get Stoned” and “House of Suffering.”


Sublime With Rome performs on Sun., Oct. 24 and Mon., Oct. 25, at 8 p.m. both nights, Jannus Live, 16 2nd Street N., Saint Petersburg, $35 in advance/$40 at the gate, 727-565-0550.

California reggae punk trio Sublime is counted among those groups in the early ’90s responsible for bringing punk into the mainstream while at the same time, spearheading a new fusion of punk that incorporated reggae, surf rock, and hip hop. Although beloved Sublime frontman Bradley Nowell died of a drug overdose in 1996, the band’s music has lived on and continued attract new fans over the past 14 years, some so devoted . To date, the band has sold more than 17 million albums worldwide, most of those after Nowell’s death.

For all those devoted purchasers of albums like Robbin the Hood and 40oz to Freedom, experiencing Sublime’s punchy THC-laced party tunes in a live setting with any of the original members was an accepted impossibility until a 2009 performance at Cypress Hill’s SmokeOut Festival, where original Sublime bassist Eric Wilson and drummer Bud Gaugh reunited to thrash the songs of their career with a virtual unknown 20-something singer/guitarist named Rome Ramirez. Since that performance, the trio has overcome legal issues with Nowell’s estate regarding the rights to the Sublime name and adopted a revised one, Sublime with Rome, before launching a rigorous 2010 international tour schedule and selling out shows left and right. [Photo credit: Jason Rodriguez & Joe Foster]

I had the pleasure of catching up with Ramirez before the band’s upcoming two-night stand at Jannus Live, and we talked tattoos, crazy groupies, a new Sublime with Rome album, and the total insanity of Rome’s current existence. Check out our conversation below.

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