If you’ve ever heard of Sublime, then you’ve probably heard of Rome Ramirez. Moreover, you’ve probably heard of Ramirez’s pivotal role in reviving the band. Hint: it’s good enough to tell one more time.
Ramirez grew up in the Bay Area, far away from the stomping grounds of Sublime in Long Beach, where they etched their name across multiple music scenes..
“Everybody I know is in Southern California—I was just in Northern California for school,” Ramirez tells LAMag. “I spent my entire life in the Southern California culture because I was enamored by it. I felt so out of place in Northern California.”
By 15, he was fully immersed in everything SoCal. So much so, that he decided to drop out of high school and move there. By 19, he had become the lead singer of his favorite band and punk-reggae legends Sublime, slotting in for the late Bradley Nowell.
This Saturday, the now 34-year-old Ramirez and the band head over to Redondo Beach’s BeachLife Festival. He sat with LAMag to discuss his history with Sublime as a fan-turned-member.
LAMag: Is there a special appeal about doing a show at home?
Rome Ramirez: Everybody in California feels like Sublime is their band—especially in Southern California. It’s a personal thing for them so whenever we get to play a home show, the people show up.
How are you preparing for the big show this weekend?
We did about a week of rehearsals before our Red Rock Show where we played 40 Oz. To Freedom front to back. It took a lot of work on our end because some of the songs we’d never played. We had to do a little digging with finding the samples and really try to replicate them as authentically as possible.
You’ll be sharing the stage with the likes of Gwen Stefani.
When I play these shows and I see those names, I’m just like, “Life is insane.” And that part never gets old!
There is a sense of pride because growing up and loving Sublime, I obviously discovered punk rock and became a huge lover of it—it became a huge passion of mine. But as you get older, you rock a little less, you know? I’m a dad with three kids I take to football practice and the whole nine. So, there’s not much punk rock going on at my age.
But, still, we’re still always that band at the festival with the overdrive box who clicks on that shit and does punk songs!
You joined Sublime when you were 19. What was it like being launched into stardom at such a young age?
It was so much fun. It’s exactly like you would imagine: people want to meet me and were so interested in me all the time. It was just crazy.
The only negativity I ever faced was when I went online and looked at comments that would thrash me. But, in my life, when I talk to people, when I go places, when we play shows, it’s so much love. It was the ride of a lifetime being 20 years old, joining your favorite band, and living on a tour bus, you know?
Yeah, and you’re now in your mid-30s and still kicking up dust with the band. Did you ever see the revival of the group going so successfully?
No way; none of us did! We thought we’d play for a couple of years and have some fun but then it started growing. I think we also realized that the songs are bigger than the band—for sure bigger than my ass!
But, you know, they belong to the people. It’s like the Green Bay Packers—everyone owns a piece of Sublime and it’s a beautiful thing.
Your band hasn’t released an album in four years—do you plan to put out music in the future?
We just left the studio and made some really great songs. We recorded 15 songs and walked away with ten really great ones. I plan to have a single out by summer.
Is it weird to see the prominence of artificial intelligence in music now?
Oh, it’s cool—it’s rad. I don’t know how far it can go, but I feel like there is always a “yin and yang.” So however far this goes, there will be people holding back for humanity because music won’t die off, and neither will the songwriters or the producers—we’ll just evolve. I do believe it’ll be fair when we figure it all out.
Stay on top of the latest in L.A. news, food, and culture.
Sign up for our newsletters today.