House of Blues, May 14, 1998
The heroin-overdose death of Sublime frontman Brad Nowell in May 1996 left a huge void in the lives of many of the Long Beach, Calif., band's friends as well as his surviving band members. While drummer Bud Gaugh and bassist Eric Wilson struggled with their grief, their third album, the eponymously titled "Sublime," went platinum and made a posthumous star of Nowell.
Sublime's large circle of friends provided a healthy support group. In late-1997, the seeds of their next band were planted when Gaugh and Wilson were asked to play a benefit for M.A.P. (Musicians Assistance Program), a drug-and-alcohol recovery program. The Long Beach Dub All-Stars, a loosely knit nine-piece band consisting of friends and musicians associated with Sublime over the years, was born.
Sublime's former manager, Mike "Miguel" Happoldt, was brought in on rhythm guitar. Percussionist and producer "Field" Marshall Goodman mans the turntables. New vocalist Opie Ortiz was brought onboard for the new band, along with guitarist Ras-1, keyboardists Jack Manes and Isaiah Owens, and sax players Todd Foreman and Tim Wu. All contributed musically to Sublime in the studio except for Ortiz, who helped create the band's album artwork.
House of Blues, 14 May, 1998
The M.A.P. show initiated a long-overdue healing process for Nowell's friends. "All of a sudden everyone had, like, kind of a huge hole in their lives," says Happoldt of the time following Nowell's death. The All-Stars helped fill that void. After the M.A.P. benefit, the band joined the Sno-Core Tour, an all-day event that combined snowboarding and music. They soon organized their current nine-date tour, a whirlwind set of dates which will bring the band to Europe after their Orlando date.
The concerts will be studded with guest appearances from legendary figures such as Bad Brains vocalist H.R. and reggae star Barrington Levy. The All-Stars recently hit the studio with Levy to work on some new material for the reggae singer. They also have begun working on material for their own album, as the dub, punk and reggae jamming that fuels the band's live shows are beginning to take shape as recognizable songs.
Happoldt feels Nowell's legacy is present in the new music. "[It contains] more heavy drum and bass, like the real, down reggae stuff," says Happoldt. "It's definitely something separate, but at the same time I feel it represents the music of Bradley."