Thursday, September 24, 2009

Sublime with Rome

Sublime with Rome

So I realize that this is a small departure from blogging about bands largely unknown to the mainstream, but this is too big of news to me and the music world to go uncommented on. Now that I have a small soap-box to stand on, here are my thoughts.

In case you hadn't heard, the remaining members of Sublime (namely Eric and Bud) are back together again. Unlike their previous projects since Sublime, this one is bringing back the Sublime band name. They have somehow hooked up with this kid Rome, from NorCal (respect), who is 20 years old and has some big ass shoes to fill; namely Bradley Nowell's.

This news might cause a knee-jerk groan of disapproval for you, as it did with me, but I'm not one to hate on the guy for no reason so I'm willing to give him an honest shot.

Now lets get one undisputed fact out of the way:

Rome is not Bradley Nowell.

There I said it. To save you some reading, the above sentence sums up about 50% of the internet chatter about this news.

The following is my honest assessment about whether or not Rome has the cajones to carry on as Sublime's front man.

I chose the song above because it's the best quality recording floating around the internet of Rome doing a Sublime cover. Sadly, no Bud on drums in this one.

The good news:

Rome is an excellent singer, and can play guitar well enough based on what I've heard. I honestly do like his voice. I generally like good lead singers with lower vocal ranges because the vast majority of lead singers have higher ranges so it is different and interesting. (I also like them because I have a bass range so it's easier for me to sing along.)

Rome seems to know his shit and is very polished, which is good if your about to join Sublime. There will be no garage band tours to ease him into the role. The name Sublime pretty much guarantees sold out concert venues the first tour. It's up to the guys on stage to sell out the second tour.


There seems to be something lacking as of right now.

What made Bradley Bradley wasn't that he was the most technically proficient singer in the world. What made Bradley such an attractive person was the fact that he left every ounce of his soul on the stage. Bradley had a stage presence that brought so much exuberant energy that is always flirting on the edge of chaos.

Bradley's live versions weren't polished, they were raw, he would use a certain amount of vocal fry contrasted against his clean singing for accents. Bradly would screw up sometimes too, but it made it sound real. The energy he gave off was always so positive and exciting that you just want to bask in the good vibes the music puts out.

What other singer could sing the lyrics, "Baby you're a big blue whale" and make it sound romantic and endearing.

Or how about the following lyrics:

"If I had a shotgun,
you know what I'd do?
I'd point that shit straight at the sky,
and shoot heaven on down for you"

This sounds like one of those nonsensical drunken / stoned way of trying to express how much he cares about someone, but the message comes through 1000x more than saying, "I love you" because it's channeled straight from his subconscious completely uncensored or translated.

Again, it's not that Bradley was the best lyricist, singer, songwriter, or musician in the world that makes him one of my all-time favorite artists. It is the pure emotion that he puts into his songs and his performances that can't help but get me excited to live life and love everybody.

Rome on the other hand strikes me as someone who is very talented at what he does and executes it well. However, his style of singing bears much more resemblance to Jason Mraz with a lower vocal range than it does to Bradley Nowell. Rome is almost more of a pop singer than a rock/reggae singer.

In fact, after I made this comparison between Rome and Jason Mraz I found a Jason Mraz cover that he did to illustrate the point. (Bear in mind, this isn't Rome's best cover and he rushed the hell out of this song, but it makes a good comparison between singing styles.)

Check out the two side-by-side:

The Verdict on Rome:

So my argument ultimately comes back to the point that I already knew going into this, which is that Rome is not Bradley Nowell. We can only fault him so much for not being born the reincarnated spirit of Bradley.

I like his sound and I think it fits well with the band. I don't think he is 100% there with the intensity and emotion that needs to be brought to the stage, but he's not far off. With some more practice I could see him nailing it.

Am I ecstatic to hear that Sublime is getting back together? Yes.

Rome also wins points in my book for his singing ability, his timing while singing w/ the guitar, and for being a fellow NorCal native.

Alright kid, you have my blessing. Go kick ass as the newly formed Sublime with Rome. Lay it all on the stage because this is your shot.

Here is one last video of Sublime with Rome performing STP live. Enjoy!

Sublime w/Rome STP live at the Cantina Sparks NV FEB 28th 2009


nawanda37 said...

dude's got a great voice, but sublime was never really about that for me. i have a hard time seeing this guy invoking the filthy, sweltering streets with a grin like bradley's.

can the group make good songs? duh.
can they make some new albums that have said good songs on them? duh.

will it be sublime?

Ron said...

Well, like I said, he's not Bradley. That said, there have been instances of great bands losing a critical member and continuing on in the spirit of the band.

Yes it will be different. I think making the distinction of "Sublime with Rome" is an appropriate acknowledgement of the band's evolution.

But look who you're talking to; nobody has a harder time listening to Sublime sans Bradley than me.

No, it won't be the same band as it was before, but I think I would rather Sublime with a reasonable stand-in than no Sublime at all.

Plus, I think if the kid can add a little bit more edginess to his voice, he'll be a much better approximation.

Give him a year or two of hard living on the road before he sounds like he's been smoking cigarettes his whole life (which will more closely approximate growing up breathing Long Beach quality air).

Anonymous said...

I just head Sublime live acoustic, on an LA morning radio show promoting there reunion. The new singer Rome cant sing. He sounds really bad vocally. Rather than sing (because he cant) it sounded like he was talking out the lyrics
to date rape. They're better off getting Jacob (Bradly's son) if they really want to make a sweet reunion!!!!!!!!