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    Monday, June 24, 2024

    Ramirez reflects on 15 years of Sublime with Rome

    Anaheim, Calif. — Before Rome Ramirez even owned his first guitar, there were a handful of songs that captivated him enough to deconstruct and learn them for himself on instruments he’d borrowed. On that list of songs was the “Wrong Way” by Sublime, a band he revered as a fan, never imagining that he would one day stand as their frontman.

    “It’s come full circle,” Ramirez said in a recent phone interview. “I’ve been doing that for the last 15 years, and getting the opportunity to play the music that got me to become a musician and chart out around the world to meet the fans who are also like-minded individuals; it’s a beautiful moment.”

    Sublime with Rome is bidding farewell to their fans before Sublime original members bassist Eric Wilson and drummer Bud Gaugh take the stage with late vocalist Bradley Nowell’s son, Jakob Nowell, at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival in Indio and the No Values Festival at Fairplex Pomona on June 8. The project with Rome will release its fourth and final album on May 10.

    “(The farewell tour) is going to be a celebration with the community and the staff that we’ve grown up with for the better part of two decades, and it’s just like a final celebration of replaying that catalog in-depth,” Ramirez said. Sublime with Rome recently played at the Cali Vibes Festival in Long Beach where it ran through Sublime’s “40oz. to Freedom” in full.

    “It’s a wonderful part of my history that I will forever be proud of, and Godspeed and God bless Jakob, Bud and Eric on their endeavors,” he continued. “I just know that it’ll be great. That’s what this life is about, taking great opportunities, doing them to the best of your ability, and being thankful for it all along the way.”

    Ramirez grew up in Northern California before he relocated to Los Angeles with aspirations to become a musician. Upon his arrival, he found himself frequenting a studio in Costa Mesa where we happened to rub shoulders with Wilson, the bassist of one of his favorite bands. The two of them hit it off and began to hang out and jam together, which Ramirez said felt surreal enough on its own.

    “I just thought it was cool because I was already hanging out with the dudes from Sublime and Eric was on my walls growing up,” he said. “I remember texting my homie and being like, ‘Dude, I’m at Eric’s house right now on the beach. It is crazy! We’re jamming!’ It was like that for a couple of years.”

    After one-on-one sessions with Wilson, they began performing at parties at the bassist’s home in Long Beach, where they would cover Sublime songs. Word of the gigs started to travel, and an idea for a new project emerged. Wilson then brought on Sublime drummer, Gaugh, and by 2009, they formed a new iteration of the group, Sublime with Rome, and debuted their first album, “Yours Truly,” in 2011.

    “It was just such a journey for me and them by the grace of God, finding me, a super fan, who knew all the music. I don’t know what it was, but there was something in me that wanted to get together and take this thing to people,” Ramirez said.

    According to Ramirez, Sublime with Rome was already gearing up for a farewell bid before the more recent announcement of the Sublime revival. For the singer and guitarist, the departure from the Sublime project marks a turning point and the start of a new chapter that he plans to navigate with a different approach. While he has fronted the group known to fans for its reggae island sounds melded with a touch of punk rock, he said that music was new to him in the beginning.

    “I grew up on Sublime and love that music, but that was about to the extent of what I knew about the California reggae scene,” he said. “In complete honesty, I wasn’t really aware of it because I was from the Bay Area. Then I joined the band, and that’s where I was (learning about) it at the same time. So it was a very weird situation where I was literally meeting Pepper and listening to them (for the first time). It’s the same with Slightly Stoopid and bands like Rebelution, whom I had never heard of until we were on tour. I had no idea that the sound was so big and so popular, but I’m very grateful for it.”

    Before collaborating with Wilson, Ramirez spent time in the studio making music with a more soul-infused sound that he has yet to fully unveil, but plans to when he releases more of his solo work. During the pandemic, the halt of live music and touring forced the band to take a break, which got him some alone time.

    “I was having so much fun in the studio for myself,” he said. “I started livestreaming and connecting with these fans I’d been touring with for the last 10 years, and we started building this community. They started asking for music, making me want to make original music.”

    Ramirez also grew up listening to Motown records, thanks to his parents’ music taste. He said he’s excited to release the music he’s been working on, which he describes as “Otis Redding meets Stevie Wonder meets Bob Marley’s rock steady vibe.” Hints of what’s coming out of his solo work can be heard on his cover of Lee Fields’ ballad “Forever.” He initially recorded the cover as a birthday present for his wife, but she convinced him to release it publicly, and he said its been received well by fans.

    “I was borrowing a lot of that influence that I grew up with, which was a lot of soul and some traditional blues rhythm that my mom and dad were listening to,” Ramirez said. “When I joined Sublime, I just kind of bailed on that, but I’ve always been working on these types of songs.”

    At the end of his time with Sublime with Rome, Ramirez finds himself in newer, but somewhat familiar territory. He frequents the studio more often, whether to record music for himself or other artists such as Rihanna, Selena Gomez, Enquire Iglesias, Jason Derulo and Dirty Heads. He’s also moved to a new city, Nashville, Tennessee, a place that’s drawn a lot of attention in recent years, especially in country music.

    “There’s definitely an electricity, in terms of the music industry here, that I was missing being in L.A.,” he said. “I’ve been in L.A. for so long that I needed some new inspiration. For a songwriter and producer like myself, this is the only other place you want to go to be in the thick of it and to be able to work with great people who love music. To me, it’s like a vessel to be able to create with people I like to hang out with and just use the music as the excuse.”

    If you go

    Who: Sublime

    Where: Premier Theater, Foxwoods

    When: 8 p.m. Friday

    Tickets: $49.35 and up

    Visit: foxwoods.com

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