Is Using Sublime’s Name The Wrong Way?

Before the surviving members of Sublime played Saturday’s slot at Cypress Hill’s Smokeout Festival, bassist Eric Wilson and drummer Bud Gaugh released a pair of statements defending their right to perform under the ska/punk band’s original name.

Saturday’s show at the San Manuel Ampitheatre in Devore, Calif., marked the band’s second performance billed as Sublime since singer-guitarist Brad Nowell died of a heroin overdose May 25, 1996.

After 10 years together, the band split up following Nowell’s death, with Wilson and Gaugh forming the now defunct Long Beach Dub All Stars. In late February the surviving members performed at a Mexican restaurant in Reno, Nev., with a singer named Rome. A MySpace blog post from Gaugh’s band Del Mar noted the show “was Sublime reuniting … with [a] new singer.”

Pollstar previously reported that Nowell’s widow Troy Nowell, father Jim “Papa” Nowell and son Jakob released a statement on Friday explaining that although they supported the surviving members continuing to play Sublime’s music, the singer’s estate refused to endorse any group performing as Sublime.

Later that day Gaugh and Wilson posted the following statements on Sublime’s official MySpace page:

“On behalf of the band Sublime, founding members Bud Gaugh and Eric Wilson are thrilled by the opportunity to reconnect with their fans around the world. While we all mourn the passing of our brother and bandmate Bradley Nowell some thirteen years ago, Sublime still has a strong message of hope and love to share – a message that is especially important in these difficult times.

“Brad’s heirs apparently do not share this vision and do not want the band Sublime to continue and tried – unsuccessfully – to file a temporary restraining order to prevent the band from carrying on. Despite those objections, we are pleased that the United States District Court has allowed us to perform as Sublime for all of our fans.

“We urge everyone to join us in our message of peace and love, and we look forward to sharing the music we created – the music that defines us.”

Gaugh also issued an additional statement:

“It’s unfortunate that The Estate would take a position against us. Eric, Brad and I started this band when we were kids. We were the ones that spent years paying dues playing hole-in-the-wall clubs. We were the ones lugging around our gear in a broken down van. We were the ones that spent years writing, recording and rehearsing. WE. Not anyone else. Sublime is a band – our band.

“Eric, Brad and I always agreed that no one should ever be allowed to tell artists what they can and cannot do with their art. It’s a matter of artistic integrity.

“We were devastated when we lost Brad and there’s not a day that goes by that Eric and I don’t think about him and miss him. When we got together and started jamming with Rome, we realized that embracing the music will be a huge step toward healing and moving forward. We see this as a celebration of Brad’s memory and the music we all made together. And the fans are on board – they’ve started a Facebook page called ‘We Want Sublime’ and its numbers are growing daily. Sublime’s music has always been about love and we hope The Estate joins us and the fans that support us in celebrating Brad’s life and our music.”

Sublime’s MySpace page lists Rome as an official band member, in addition to noting that Bradley Nowell “Always was and always will be part of Sublime.”