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One day, about two years ago, Bud Gaugh, the drummer for Sublime, one of the most beloved and commercially successful rock bands of the ’90s, received a call from Eric Wilson, Sublime’s bassist and Gaugh’s long-time but somewhat estranged friend. Wilson said he had been working with a kid he thought Gaugh should meet — a 20-year-old singer and guitarist named Rome Ramirez. “The call came out of the blue, we hadn’t talked in a couple of years,” Gaugh recalls. “Eric said, ‘This guy Rome can play guitar like a mofo and he’s got a platinum voice.’ It really struck me because those are almost the exact same words he used before he introduced me to Brad.”
“Brad,” of course, is Bradley Nowell, the singer and guitarist who joined childhood friends Wilson and Gaugh in Long Beach, CA, in 1988 to form Sublime, which, over the course of its three albums — 1992’s double-platinum 40oz. to Freedom, 1994’s gold Robbin’ the Hood, and 1996’s 5x-platinum self-titled major-label debut — delivered an irresistible blend of ska, reggae, punk, surf rock, and hip-hop that captured the imagination of fans around the world, and has now sold more than 17 million albums worldwide. Nowell died of a heroin overdose two months prior to the release of Sublime, which reached No. 13 on the Billboard Top 200, sold six million copies, and spawned such hits as “What I Got,” “Santeria,” and “Wrong Way,” which remain radio staples across with country. (“Date Rape,” from 40oz. to Freedom, is the all-time most requested song on influential Los Angeles rock radio station KROQ, which has listed Sublime as its No. 3 act in its annual “Biggest Bands” list for the last six years.) Profoundly affected by Nowell’s death, Sublime’s two surviving members never considered performing the group’s music live without their frontman.
It took the talent and enthusiasm of Rome Ramirez — a genial, now 23-year-old newcomer and gifted songwriter and musician — to serve as a catalyst to bring the two old friends back together. Growing up in the Bay Area, Rome was introduced to Sublime’s music by his uncle, and credits the band with inspiring him to first pick up a guitar and learn to play at age 11. “It was the first time I ever really wanted to make music as opposed to just listen to it,” he says. Rome began singing and writing songs as a teenager and was playing solo gigs around the Bay Area when he met Wilson (the two were recording at the same studio).
After several months jamming out Sublime songs with Rome, Wilson made that call to Gaugh. Now Gaugh, Wilson, and Rome have formed Sublime With Rome, which will release its debut album, Yours Truly (produced by Butthole Surfers guitarist Paul Leary), and entertain fans with a set-list of new songs and Sublime favorites when the band hits the road over the next year.
The trio knew they were on to something special after performing their first big show with Rome at Cypress Hill’s Smokeout Festival in October 2009 for 20,000 people, followed by a sold-out tour in March 2010 that inspired spontaneous sing-alongs and writhing mosh-pits at every stop. “When we walked out on stage, there was a feeling of excitement,” Gaugh recalls of Smokeout. “People were cheering and waving their arms and shouting ‘We love you.’ It took me by surprise. I didn’t realize how emotional I was going to feel. I had to pause for a minute to settle down. My heart started racing and tears started welling up in my eyes because I was thinking of Bradley. Then we got started and it was just really cool. Seeing the smile on Eric’s face, and his excitement over playing this music again, that was enough for me. I knew then that it was definitely coming from a good place.”
It was a similar feeling, Rome says, when Wilson introduced him to Gaugh at Gaugh’s home eight months before. The trio set to work jamming, playing songs by their common favorites, the Misfits, Circle Jerks, Bob Marley, and Led Zeppelin, before getting into such Sublime songs as “What I Got,” “Don’t Push,” “New Thrash,” and “Garden Grove.” “It was awesome,” Rome says of the jam session, which lasted 10 hours. ‘Like I always say, ‘If nothing else, at least I got two best friend brothers talking to each other again.’ That’s priceless.”
“It felt really good to play the songs,” Gaugh says. “I feel like we are paying homage to the music that we created and to the legacy of the band in the simple fact that there’s a need for this music to continue to be heard by new generations.” Seeing Rome’s enthusiasm was a huge inspiration for both him and Wilson. “You can’t fake it in this business,” he says. “It’s art. It has to be real and true otherwise nobody will believe it. I saw that desire to create something real in Rome’s heart.”
The result is Yours Truly, which both picks up where Sublime left off and builds on what they’ve accomplished, thanks to the fresh infusion of energy from Rome, who brought Gaugh and Wilson lyrics, melodies, and chords he’d written over the past few years. Songs like first single “Panic” (already a Top 5 Modern Rock hit), “Take It Or Leave,” and “You Better Listen” are reminiscent of vintage Sublime, while songs like “Lover’s Rock” and “Murdera” pick up on the reggae dancehall style the band had begun exploring in 1996. “Paper Cuts” has a distinct punk flavor, while “PCH” and “Spun” have more of a rock-pop feel. “The songs we wrote in 1996 were on the cusp of where we were intending to go, but our musical abilities just weren’t up to speed yet,” Gaugh says. “So that was a jumping-off point. We also had to consider what has happened in music since then. Hip-hop has changed, rock has changed, and now there are all these other bands who have a similar sound to us. So we thought, ‘What are our influences now? We’ve gone through Latin and African jazz, blues, and psychedelic music. Where would we be right now if all three of us were still together?'”
Pressed to describe Yours Truly, Gaugh says, “It’s just good music. It’s got a good feel in the beat. Rome’s lyrics are relatable and written about real-life situations. I’ve been told on a number of occasions, ‘Wow, your music really helped me get through a tough time,’ so I think people identify with it. That’s the great thing about our fans. I love them to death because they are some of the craziest music-loving people in the world. They take ownership of it, like, ‘This is my band. This is my music.'”
Of course, not far from everyone’s mind was what Bradley Nowell might think. “I just have to refer back to that moment at Smokeout when I looked across the stage and saw an ear-to-ear grin on Eric Wilson’s face and thought, ‘Why wouldn’t Brad want this? Why wouldn’t Brad want his two best friends to be loving each other and performing the wonderful music that we created together on stage?’ That’s what I think he’d think.”
Formed in Santa Barbara, California by a group of college music students, Rebelution was built from diverse musical backgrounds united by a shared passion for reggae. Launched in 2004, the group spent a couple years playing around their home base, offering a breezy fusion of roots and rock that immediately set the group apart from acts such as Sublime and Long Beach Dub All-Stars. In 2006 they made their debut with a self-titled EP, while 2007 saw them hit with their debut album Courage to Grow. Their 2009 follow-up, Bright Side of Life, topped Billboard’s Top Reggae Albums chart while 2011 saw them cross over into electronica with their Remix EP. Peace of Mind arrived in 2012 with the versions Peace of Mind: Acoustic and Peace of Mind: Dub following later in the year, the latter remixed by the Easy Star All-Star’s Michael Goldwasser. Two years later the group landed on Goldwasser’s Easy Star label with the album Count Me In. ~ David Jeffries, Rovi
Mickey Avalon’s life story plays out like an episode of VH1′s ‘Behind The Music,” marred by personal tragedy, triumphs and immense pain. Using his life experiences as fuel for his intense rhymes, Mickey Avalon is now inviting listeners to step into his world of debauchery with the release of his sophomore studio album,Loaded, on April 24th, 2012.
Avalon’s back-story begins on the streets of Hollywood, California. Raised by his heroin-addicted father, he began selling pot at a young age, a trade he acquired from his mother. In an attempt to clean up his act, Mickey converted to Orthodox Judaism in his late teens, an effort that didn’t last due to constant family tragedy, such as his father’s death in a tragic drunk driving accident.
By his early 20s, Mickey had married, had a daughter, and moved out of California, relocating to Portland, Oregon. The serine surroundings of the Pacific Northwest couldn’t hide Mickey from his past for long, as his drug addled Hollywood lifestyle caught up with him in the form of an uncontrollable heroin addiction. As his life neared rock bottom, Mickey found himself broke, divorced, and turning to prostitution, just to support his smack habit. With a desire to once again get his life back on track, Avalon moved in with his sister, and the pair set out on the road to recovery. Tragedy struck again when his sister relapsed, and died from a heroin overdose.
After the deaths of both his father and sister, Mickey decided that he wanted more out of life, moved back to Los Angeles, and chose to make one final attempt to clean up his act. Shortly after his return, Mickey was befriended by ex-MTV VJ Simon Rex (aka Dirt Nasty), who encouraged Avalon to pursue his passion of hip-hop and even collaborated with him on some tracks. At the time, Avalon was staying in a sober living facility and had a strict curfew, so Dirt Nasty began passing out Mickey’s demo at Hollywood clubs, which helped Mickey develop a following among fans of the Los Angeles nightclub scene.
As Mickey’s popularity grew, he began to sell out clubs throughout California with his legendary live show. Soon after Interscope Records took notice of the guerilla promotions tactics and signed Avalon to the label in 2005. Through Interscope, Avalon released his now classic self-titled debut album, which showcased his unique rhyming style and indulgent lyrics. Inspired by his experiences on the streets with drugs and prostitution, the raw honesty of his songs immediately resonated with audiences. Fan favorites “Jane Fonda,” “Mr. Right” and “My Dick” quickly spread across the internet and mainstream radio, turning Mickey Avalon into a household name. Avalon quickly took to the road and was performing sold-out shows alongside the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Travis Barker and DJ AM, Snoop Dogg, Stephen Marley and Slightly Stoopid.
Mickey’s contagious demeanor and unique writing style has made him a hot commodity in the music industry as hip-hop artist Young Jeezy and producer Jermaine Dupri jumped at the chance to collaborate with him for a Boost Mobile commercial. Avalon then joined forces with rock acts the Happy Mondays, and Unwritten Law, with whom he co-wrote the radio hit “Shoulda Known Better”. His music has been featured in countless movies and television series including the HBO’s series Hung, the animated series American Dad, the Duke Nukem Forever video game, “Harold and Kumar Escape From Guantanamo Bay” and most recently in the trailers for the Cameron Diaz film “Bad Teacher.”
Free after years of industry red tape, Mickey Avalon has returned with a brand new album Loaded, which takes fans on a journey through the seedy streets of Hollywood. Mickey immediately launches into his salacious exploits with “Rock Bottom” an anthem for his riotous self-destructing behavior, and continues the depravity alongside Unwritten Law’s Scott Russo on the album’s lead single “Girlfriend”, an ode to having friends with benefits. Avalon’s diversity allows him to slip into sleek electro-synth beats (“I’m Hot”), playfully spit intricate rhymes over a classic hip-hop beat (“More Junk”), and rock out while letting it all hang out (“Tight Blue Jeans”).
Loaded is the soundtrack to one the most debauched tales of rock ‘n’ roll. Filled with excess and exploding with sexual energy, Avalon’s music embraces decadence and celebrates its hedonistic glory. Mickey Avalon simply appeals to voyeuristic side of all of us that want to indulge, let loose and get Loaded.