Sublime With Rome
Sublime With Rome Talk Latest Album 'Blessings,' 10 Year Anniversary & Rocking Out With Post Malone
Frontman Rome Ramirez says it's only been recently that he feels the band has taken a life of its own, in part because he's grown up. 'Blessings,' the band's third album, reflects both those things
It's been a decade since legendary '90s Southern California ska-punk band resurrected after the death of frontman Bradley Nowell with the help of, at the time, early 20-something-year-old Bay Area native Rome Ramirez. With huge shoes to fill, Ramirez, a huge Sublime fan, took on the opportunity of a lifetime.
But even though it's been 10 years, and Ramirez acknowledges that some bands don't ever make it to 10, he says it's only been recently that he feels the band has taken a life of its own, in part because he's grown up. Blessings, the band's third album, is a sonic result of both those things.
"The album lyrically kind of just encompasses the whole journey, like the whole 10 years of just everything, from my perspective at least from being a kid and then to traveling the world and having a kid," Ramirez told the Recording Academy.
Ramirez joined after founding member and bassist Eric Wilson asked him to join the band. Since then, founding drummer Bud Gaugh has left the band and other drummers have taken over duties, but for Ramirez things have really come together for the band since former Tribal Seeds drummer Carlos (C-Los) Verdugo has hopped onto the drumming seat.
"That's when we started writing everything kind of for this next record and I kind of cooled it on the partying and everything started to make sense," Ramirez said. "People started growing up, things started kind of aligning into being just more of like a brotherhood, which allows you to just create so much better. "
The Recording Academy spoke more with the band about their latest album Blessings and the work that went into it, rocking out with Post Malone, songwriting challenges, their dynamic as a group and more.
So you shared a stage with Post Malone last month. How was that?
Rome Ramirez: Crazy. Post Malone is a very talented man and he's a big fan of Sublime. [He's a] 24-year-old kid on top of the world and it was really cool for him to reach out to us and ask us if we wanted a jam. So we said, "Heck yeah." We had to learn like 20 of his songs. It was a rad experience.
How was learning those songs so quickly?
Rome Ramirez: There was a process.
C-Los Verdugo: That was some work.
Rome Ramirez: Not going to bullsh*t you. It was a process. But you know, our better half isn't here, Gabrial McNair, and he's our keyboard and horn player, and he really helped us out with just breaking down like the sections. He's a musical guy, where we're kind of just like, "Play it by ear, guys." You know? So he kind of helped us like, "Hey, [these are] the sections." But it was rad. It was a really awesome experience. We got to fly down to New York. And you know, man, when you're dealing with superstars like that, there's just bunch of press everywhere and camera crews on camera crews, filming camera crews. So it was really cool to just kind of get to be around that and get to jam in front of so many people.
You covered one of his songs, "Goodbyes." Why that song?
Rome Ramirez: Because of Young Thug's verse. It was awesome. We really liked that one. It was really close to "Santeria" too, chord-wise, and we could squeeze in the solo in the middle of the song and nobody would know, and nobody does. But yeah, it's pretty rad. So it felt like really close to a Sublime song that Eric had wrote. So it just felt like we should do it.
What did you like about the Young Thug verse?
Rome Ramirez: It's just crazy. It's like sporadic. It doesn't sound like it belongs and it doesn't when you hear it like once, but when you hear it again, you're like, "I think I like it." And by like the third time you're like, "This is like the coolest part of the song. It's tight."
You have Blessings out. You've said this album is dedicated to the fans. Tell me more about that.
Rome Ramirez: Well, I mean, so we've been doing this for like 10 years. That's how long I've been jamming with Eric. The album lyrically kind of just encompasses the whole journey, the whole 10 years of just everything, from my perspective at least from being a kid and then to traveling the world and having a kid. Just the whole story of that. And I don't know, all of the pressures from just outside forces, whether it's your family or your friends or even people in the music business. So I just felt like I haven't really talked about that ever. I don't know why, but it seems like you should. So I decided to, and I was like, "F**k, that sounds good."
I just really wanted to talk about that. I feel like there's a lot of people who would dream to kind of be in the situation that I'm in and [if] they listen to the album, they can kind of hear about the journey. Maybe it'll inspire them or maybe it'll persuade them not to do this. Who knows?
Were you consciously in a reflecting state of mind because of your 10-year mark?
Rome Ramirez: Well, in the process of writing it we didn't even think of that. Or I didn't even think about that like lyrically because some of these songs were kind of older and then I'd rework them over... This album, we had three years to write so it was kind of rad. But it just kind of made sense. Towards the end when we were kind of thinking about artwork and everything, that's when it was in the album title. That's when it was kind of like, "Yo, we should call this album Blessings." The title song really encompasses the theme of the record, as well.
What is it like to play with the band that you saw growing up and loved?
C-Los Verdugo: Dream come true.
Rome Ramirez: It's kind of crazy, to be honest. It is kind of nuts. I still think about that from time to time. It's kind of crazy to think about. Everything in my life now is because of Sublime. So it's kind of nuts. I love it, though. I'm so glad it happened to me and not my neighbor. I'd be so jealous.
Eric, how is it for you? To have fans join your band?
Eric Wilson: Pretty cool. I'm just glad to still play it, you know? Still attract people and talented musicians
Looking back, what have you learned as a band together?
Rome Ramirez: You got to be respectful, like your coworkers or your bandmate or your wife or just anyone. Got to be respectful of everybody and you got to make sure everyone's got a say. You know?
Eric Wilson: Trust.
Rome Ramirez: Trust. It's much like a marriage, much like a marriage. You got to know that when they go home, they're not all cheating around someone else.
In what way is it like a marriage?
Rome Ramirez: Playing with other bands, you know? That's a big thing. Family is everything. Obviously, it's crazy because it's...been 10 years. It's hard for bands to even exist for 10 years. Let alone a band with such a rich legacy like Sublime. And then someone like my a** coming in and introducing it to a new wave of people and stuff. So it can be really kind like [tumultuous] grounds .. it can be kind of crazy to navigate through. And I think it's awesome. I think it's a blessing that we're still here able to rock it and there are still people showing [up.] We're still selling out shows and stuff and that's sick. We're really grateful for that.
Do you still feel the pressure to live up to Sublime's legacy?
Rome Ramirez: I mean, it's really just wanting to do a good a** job of just making good sh*t. I just don't want to f**k anything up. I'd hate to be the guy who writes like the worst album and people read back on Sublime in a hundred years and they're like, "There was that one time where that dude wrote this terrible album." So as long as I just don't do that and try and make good sh*t that Eric thinks is tight, too, that's all I really care about is just making sure that we're all proud.
C-Los Verdugo: I just do the best I can to show respect to the old album versions of Sublime and also the live versions. So giving respect to how the songs were actually made because those are songs that are going to be timeless and people want to hear them the way they are on the record. They don't want to hear my little things I could do, so I pay respect to those. But for our new stuff, this is all stuff that we're creating together. So that's special.
Rome Ramirez: Kind of we can f**k around a little bit.
Eric, do the classic Sublime songs performed with the new band take on a new meaning for you?
At what point did Sublime with Rome start to take on a life of its own?
Rome Ramirez: Probably this album. Probably when C-Los joined the band. Honestly, probably it's right around that time. That's when we started writing everything kind of for this next record and I kind of cooled it on the partying and everything started to make sense. People started growing up, things started kind of aligning into being just more of like a brotherhood, which allows you to just create so much better.
Carlos, what do you think about that?
C-Los Verdugo: It's great, you know? But it's just a vibe, we'd just all get together. I think if it was someone that they vibed with it, it might be the same, but I just lucked out to be able to jump [on with] these guys.
Rome Ramirez: He's a good guy. You should hang out with him.
C-Los Verdugo: I fit well.
Rome Ramirez: We like him.
So what do you feel like makes you three strong as a band?
C-Los Verdugo: We all hang out together.
Rome Ramirez: Yeah, out of all the bands we go on the road with, we're the only ones that get along with each other. That and C-Los is a really good cook and no one sounds like us. That's the cool thing. That's like a really sick thing is like we always stand out on the bill, which I think is like rad because you have like your rap acts and you have like your rock and roll acts, and we can kind of float around and just do our thing. It's just something unique. It's a formula that they created that we get to benefit of kind of just rocking with.
What do you like most about working with each other?
Rome Ramirez: I mean, for me personally, I like how everything I do has to be kind of, at least in my end, I try and make it as cool as possible because Eric likes really cool shit. He likes particular cool shit. And you know, I could get used to listening to the same bands that I fucking grew up with. He actually listens and discovers more new music than I do, which is kind of rad. So, he keeps me on my toes as a f**king writer, you know, to not always just be writing the same f**king songs all the time. And come with it. Keep learning, keep listening and trying new stuff, for sure.
Eric Wilson: It's all about getting all the influences that you're into and then writing something that's from that and making it yours.
There are several parts to the album-making process. What is your favorite?
Rome Ramirez: The recording part. The writing part's a bummer. It's the work part, but the recording part's sick. It's so fun. Just getting [to] watching everyone record parts and getting tones right and, "Let's try that drum set instead of this one." Or, "Let's go through this compressor. Let's try this guitar." That part's fun as hell. I like that part.
C-Los Verdugo: I think the playback's always fun once you create something that's sounding solid and starting to form the song.
That's really interesting because when you're on stage when someone's listening to the album, they don't necessarily think about the engineers and the mixers.
Rome Ramirez: Yeah, those dudes are important. I mean, it's a huge part of the job. The better those guys are, the more time we have mentally and physically to just devote to the writing and the sound designing. And I think that's rad because when you got to kind of wear that hat, it's just more sh*t you got to think about in the kitchen. You just want to focus on the dish.
Speaking of behind the scenes people, how was it working with Rob Cavallo on this album?
Rome Ramirez: Dude, the GRAMMYs bought him a guitar because he's like such a crazy songwriter/producer dude the GRAMMY's actually bought him a guitar and I use that on a lot of the album.
Oh, fun fact.
Rome Ramirez: Yeah, that's a good one. But anyway, yeah, well, Rob and Doug McKean, the two guys who recorded and did the album, they're exactly what I was talking about in the question before. [It applies] to them because ... that's who I was thinking of when I was talking about that. Sh*t sounded good, like fast. And for me, because I can be such a stickler when it comes to that kind of sh*t. It was just really rad to just be totally big league. To like, "Quiet down a little boy, we got it from here." And it was like, "Dang. Okay. I could learn some sh*t."
They're the pros and it sounded so sick and I didn't have to think about none of that crap, mixing, or the mic, none of that stuff. Just the lyrics, just the melodies and the songs. And I'm sure the guys just had to worry about their sh*t, too. It makes it easier.
Going back to the songwriting part, why do you think it's a bummer to do that part?
Rome Ramirez: Well I don't mean a bummer, but I just mean you know how in every part of a job there's the part of the job [which is] ... the hard part? That's like the hard part for me [because] it's really easy to write just a song that doesn't mean anything. You'd be surprised how incredibly easy it is. And to really write music that makes you feel something, you have to go to places that you don't necessarily really want to visit or think about. And then you have to also make a song out of it. It's like one thing to just dig it up and think about it, but then you have to make it a song and then you have to make it sound good.
That whole process is work and then you have to do that like 20 times and then narrow it down to 10. For me, it's just I can't do [that process] often, I've realized. I write a lot of music and only some of it's good and it's because it's hard to do that and I can't do that very often. So for me, it takes a tremendous amount of focus and just honesty.
Is that still hard three albums in?
Rome Ramirez: Yeah. Well, luckily we just put this one out, so I won't have to do that again for a while. It's cool, though. It's my responsibility as a creator, as an artist. I shouldn't be putting out no wishy washy bullsh**. Got to put out good stuff, great stuff that people [because it] might have an effect on people.
I also want to talk about ska. What do you guys love about that genre specifically?
Rome Ramirez: I think ska is rad because it's like Motown, but on like the two, you know? A lot of the times they're singing about some dark sh*t, but it's on a beat that is like just up.
Eric Wilson: It came from Jamaica, and all the coolest music comes from like poverty-stricken places like that. Or like the Cuban music, you know, percussion. That all comes from poverty. It brings everybody away from all that when they're playing, make them all happy, upbeat and stuff. It's really cool.
Rome Ramirez: They're all talking about wanting to leave the hood, and everybody's dancing, dude.
Going back to the album, is there a favorite song that you guys have?
Rome Ramirez: Yeah, mine's probably "Light On."
Rome Ramirez: Just because that song, it means a lot to me. Lyrically, that was a tough one to write. Just to get it right. And that kind of summarizes the missing part of being on the road and stuff and then at the detriment of watching your loved ones kind of grow older. And that's what that was about. So I think every time I play that song, I just think of my mom and my kid, so I'm going to rank that as number one right now.
What about you guys?
Eric Wilson: I like all of them.
Rome Ramirez: I like that.
C-Los Verdugo: I like that one, ["Light On,"] and "Black Out." "Black Out's" good. It's just a fun song to play live. I mean, it's kind of... it's pretty simple, but for me, it's just like I like the chords, I guess.
You're on tour, how has the tour been going for you guys? Do you enjoy being on the road?
Rome Ramirez: Yeah, totally. This is the fucking coolest shit in the world. Like, dude, I used to work at Staples before this. This is so much sicker than that. I'm like, no way. I got homies that are just trying to figure out what the hell to do with their lives. And they're like 35, you know? So this is the sh**. Yeah, we're away from our loved ones and stuff. But man, what a good reason.
How do you guys stay energized and stuff on the road?
C-Los Verdugo: Sleep.
Rome Ramirez: It's crucial. Especially as a little older you get. More sleep, less alcohol.
C-Los Verdugo: Yeah, water. I'm not drinking so many IPAs.
Tyga Talks Inspiration Behind "Go Loko" & Collaborating With L.A. Rappers Like YG
"Growing up in L.A., it's a really big culture here, Mexican culture," the rapper said. "So we really wanted to do something to give back to the culture."
Tyga's latest collab has him paying tribute to Los Angeles' large Mexican community. The rapper is featured on fellow L.A. rapper YG's leading single, "Go Loko" off his latest album 4REAL 4REAL and when asked about his take on the song, he says much of it was inspired by Mexico's cultural impact.
"Growing up in L.A., it's a really big culture here," he said. "Even YG could tell you, he grew up around all Mexicans, so we really wanted to do something to give back to the culture."
The video features visuals and symbolisms inpired by the Mexican community, including mariachi, but also by the Puerto Rican community (you'll easily spot the boricua flag). The song also features Puerto Rican rapper Jon Z. Tyga mentioned the diversity of Latinos on the different coasts and wanted to make a song that also celebrates the different Latin cultures in the country. "We wanted to do something different to kinda try to bring all Latins together," he said.
Watch the video above to hear more about the song and the vibe when he joins forces with other L.A. rapppers.
Photo: Nicole Davis
Quarantine Diaries: ARI Is Cuddling With Her Cat, Making Her Own Tea & Preparing For Her Debut 'IDIOT GRL' EP Release
As the coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic continues to rock the music industry, the Recording Academy reached out to a few musicians to see how they were spending their days indoors
As the coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic continues to rock the music industry, the Recording Academy reached out to a few musicians to see how they were spending their days indoors. Today, rising singer/songwriter ARI shares her quarantine diary. ARI's debut IDIOT GRL EP is out Aug. 14.
[9:40 a.m.] A late start to the day. I just woke up to my cat Malakai licking my face and snuggling under my chin, desperate for cuddles. I reluctantly gave in before diving into my morning routine, which starts by going through all of the daily news on my Snapchat feed to see what’s going on in the world.
[11 a.m.] Just out of the shower and into the kitchen for the usual: tea and avocado toast. I don’t typically like tea or coffee, but I had this amazing tea from Starbucks once and fell in love with it. I ended up finding the recipe and making it myself, and to be honest, I like my version better. Once I boil the kettle, I start part two of my morning “meditation”: watching one of my favourite shows while I respond to emails. With the IDIOT GRL EP coming out next week, I can tell you there are a TON of emails. I turned on "Gilmore Girls" (my guilty pleasure) and opened up my laptop to go through my calendar.
[1:45 p.m.] Recording session time. Zoom calls have become my everyday life. It’s crazy to think that this time last year, you could actually be in a room with people. Now the most social interaction I get is virtually. On the positive side, I get to set up my little home studio from the comfort of my own bed and I find the sessions to be really productive with no outside distractions.
[3:30 p.m.] Malakai is meowing at my door. As I try to sing over him, eventually I can’t ignore his cute little voice. We take a quick break and I have a little playtime with him. I can hear my song playing in the living room—it still weirds me out hearing myself. My guess is my roommate aka my manager is sending off final approval for the “IDIOT GRL” music video, which comes out the same day as the EP. Super excited for everyone to finally see it!
[6:00 p.m.] Time for dinner. It may just be my favourite part of the day. During my session, my roommate cooked us some delicious pasta. We eat dinner together every night, which is really nice. Usually, after dinner, we wind down and watch TV, but we decided to try doing an arts and crafts project tonight. I watched this TikTok video of a DIY way to make music plaques. You take a screenshot of a song on Spotify and use a marker to trace out the name of the song, artist, play button, etc. Once that’s done, you simply add the album artwork of your choice, frame it, and voila! I thought it would be a cool idea to make a wall of each of the songs off of my EP.
[9:00 p.m.] After an eventful day, I decided to go watch a drive-in Maple Leafs game (wearing a mask, of course). My sister works for the TSN network and started hosting drive-in game nights to promote the network and social distancing events. I’ll admit, I’m not the biggest hockey fan, but I’ll never pass up an opportunity to spend time with my family.
[11:30 p.m.] I finally get home and hop straight into bed. I feel like I haven’t spent much time on Instagram today, so figured I’d open it up before getting some shuteye. I launched the pre-save link for the EP today and told my followers that I would DM anyone who pre-saved it and sent me a screenshot. I always love getting to interact with my fans and I can’t tell you how grateful I am to see how excited people are for my debut EP. It’s a great feeling to end the day with.
EXCLUSIVE PREMIERE: Mexican Institute Of Sound Takes Gaby Moreno Into New Musical Territory With Mystifying "Yemayá"
Listen to the synth-infused track blending pop and Latin sounds that's named after the Afro-Carribean goddess who represents fertility, water and self-love
Anything Mexican Institute Of Sound (MIS), a.k.a Camilo Lara, touches turns into musical gold. The Mexican producer and artist proves that with celebrated GRAMMY-nominated singer/songwriter Gaby Moreno in "Yemayá."
Moreno, whose soothing voice we have heard magically adapt to a range of genres including Americana, Latin folk and R&B, continues exploring her creative range this time with GRAMMY-nominated Lara in the synth-infused, mystifying track blending pop and Latin sounds. The catchy song about the overpowering feeling of love is named after the Afro-Carribean goddess who represents fertility, water and self-love.
Moreno told the Recording Academy she and Lara wanted to capture the deity's essence in their collaboration:
"She's a powerful woman of color taking all forms. It's a universal theme and we wanted to incorporate this mysterious and mystic figure into the song, since it's part of the folklore of many different cultures."
The song, which Lara brought to Moreno and was written in one day in 2019 at Red Bull Studios, takes Moreno into new territory.
"I’ve been a big admirer of [Lara's] work and esthetic and the way he blends Latin folk music with electronic and hip hop. I come from a fairly different musical background, having very rarely experimented with synths and those kinds of sounds, so this was a really fun and different collaboration for me," she said. "I got to step out of my comfort zone and bring forth something a bit unusual but very much enjoyable, nonetheless."
The Guatemalan singer/songwriter will also soon be releasing "Fire Inside," a song she wrote with Andrew Bissell. The song has already been featured on ABC’s "Station 19", TLC’s promo "I Am Jazz," UK’s "Free Rein," NBC’s "American Ninja Warrior" and recently on YouTube’s "Dear Class of 2020."
Moreno is also working on an upcoming album she will produce herself and is also producing other artists.
Listen to "Yemayá" in full above.
Alesia Lani at ACL 2019
Photo by Gary Miller/Getty Images
5 Texas Artists Who Rocked Austin City Limits 2019
From Kacey Musgraves to Gary Clark Jr., a sonically and racially diverse array of artists put their best notes forward at ACL 2019
There’s no place like home, and, over the last two weekends, several Texan artists represented their hometowns at Austin City Limits Festival 2019.
Reflective of the state itself, a sonically and racially diverse array of artists put their best notes forward, even if the weather, which began in the upper 40s on Friday and warmed to a high of 79 on Sunday, was a little moody. With the exception of Houston rapper Megan Thee Stallion, who missed her allotted set time, each artist proved to be a standout act in one of the country's greatest music hubs. Some would say it was all “a big dream,” as R&B artist Alesia Lani describes it.
Here are a few names, both familiar and on the rise, who rocked the stages at Zilker Park.
Hometown: All over Texas
Following in the prevalent trend of doing away with vowels, this eight-man rap collective’s name is pronounced “pantheon.” Earlier this year they told Complex they’re “a group of gods coming together.” Amongst them is a graphic designer, a photographer and several producers. This year at ACL gives the Texas-based group a chance to let the audience decide for themselves.
"The sky is finally open, the rain and wind start blowin'… You hold tight to your umbrella, darlin’ I’m just tryna tell ya/That there’s always been a rainbow hanging over your head." Is that a Kacey Musgraves song, or a description of this crisp year at ACL? Let’s say both. The country-pop singer's show, lacking in neither hand clapping nor yee-haws, was one of the festival’s most awaited acts. The 2019 Album Of The Year GRAMMY winner dazzled and serenaded the audience in her golden-hour slot.
Photo: Daniel Mendoza The Recording Academy
This year marked Alesia Lani’s first time performing at ACL. The Missouori-born R&B loyal who grew up in Austin, Texas took a moment to chat with the Recording Academy, telling us of the city's artistic nature, “With Austin, there's so much room for opportunity... There's so much room to grab your goals and get out there and talk to people." Beloved by locals, the soul singer hopes being in Austin will shed light on the authentic work she’s doing. In 2015, she, along with GRAMMY winner Gary Clark Jr., earned a spot of The Austin Chronicle’s list of top 10s. Her upcoming work, she shares, will differ from her prior two albums. As she sings on "Along the Way,” from 2017’s Resilient, she’s figuring it out as she goes.
Photo: Kahlil Levy
19-year-old Dayglow (Sloan Struble) is so good at making dreamy bedroom pop he’s reportedly decided to take a bet on it, leaving college in Austin behind to pursue a more long-term musical career in Nashville, Tenn. This will perhaps be the first time the Texan ops to live outside the state, and this year will forever live on as his first festival performance. The entirety of his debut self-produced and the self-released album was recorded in the bedroom he grew up in.
Gary Clark Jr.
Gary Clark Jr., signed to Warner Bros Records, is ahead of his time. In 2014, he won a GRAMMY for Best Traditional R&B Performance and was nominated for Best Rock Song. At 35, he’s shared the stage with the likes of Beyoncé and the Rolling Stones. His latest LP, This Land, is already a conversation-starter, with fans taking the liberty to nominate him for awards that won’t have a list of potential claimants for months to come. In the meantime, Clark tells KVUE his only plans on the horizon at the moment are to "ride off into the sunset with my family and go hide out for a second." Needless to say, those who got to see his nine-song set over these last two weekends were in for a treat.