Tim Castaneda Interviews Rome Ramirez of Sublime With Rome
For being so young you have such a large amount of musical talent in which you can do almost anything from composing to singing to playing, where did it all start out musically for you and what kind of formal training do you have (if any)?
"It all started off with guitar, I started playing guitar when I was about 11 then I got really into playing other instruments too like bass, keys, drums and everything."As far as training goes I took one guitar lesson the first year that I played guitar and I fucking hated it man. It was like music was the one thing that I could do when I wanted, how I wanted, where I wanted, if I wanted and I felt very at peace every time I played music so I really just tried to do it my own way and learn off other people by example. It all started off with guitar, I started playing guitar when I was about 11 then I got really into playing other instruments too like bass, keys, drums and everything. After that I wanted to start to recording music but I never realized how expensive it was to go to a studio so I bought a little make-shift rig and I just started to teach myself how to record music and before I knew it I started getting really good at it. The next thing I wanted to do was to go to school to learn how to record music professionally so I enrolled at this college, Musicians Institute (MI), that was supposed to teach you how to audio engineer or whatever. When I got there I realized I was light years more advanced than the instructors and I immediately asked for my money back. From then on I’ve just really done everything on my own and took things into my own hands.
How did this new venture with Eric and Bud come about, did you approach them or did they approach you?
I had been introduced to Eric and we kind of became homies and would smoke together at the studio and shit and then we would jam. Next, we started to exchange some music, I would give him a track of mine and I would record a guitar solo on a track of his and stuff like that. Eventually we started to hang out more, you know we started going to house parties and get drunk or whatever and we would be like, “Yo dude you want to play a Sublime song?” “Sure man, fuck yea!” So we just kind of stuck with that and just kept at it and after awhile Eric and our manager now pretty much thought of this whole thing and asked me if I wanted to play in Sublime and of course I said, “hell yeah!” Next we went to go see Bud and jam out with him and everything was rad, it sounded like we had been jamming for years together and really everything just started coming together from there.
Growing up what kind of influence did Sublime have on you and did you ever in your life imagine that you would be playing as the front man for such a big band?
Well yes and no, Sublime was the first band that I ever loved, you know the first artist that I was just obsessed with and wanted to make “my band”. They got me into picking up playing instruments and playing music because once I heard them I felt like I needed to learn how to play their music. They were the band that really got me into doing music but I never ever thought I would be in that band, I mean hell no not ever. I always thought that I would be in a big band of my own one day but never thought I would be in Sublime, I mean it’s still kind of weird haha.
You have been known to hang around at 17th street recording studio where you met and have done collaborations with Eric for your RAWsessions and The Dirty Heads, are there any other bands you got the honor of jamming out with?
I did a bunch of songs personally over there that never got released but the only bands that were there while I was working at that studio was primarily The Dirty Heads, this other band that was signed to the studio and me. When I worked there the studio was owned by our current management so it was a private recording studio allowed to its artist and then when they let go of him and the studio was turned in to an open studio so that’s why there was such a limited amount of bands but it didn’t matter to me because I was just down to work with the DH.
How did you feel being the headliner of last year’s tour with your friends The Dirty Heads, a band that you’ve looked up to?It was fucking amazing, having those guys on the road was some of the best times of my damn life and it was so amazing. I love those guys to death and touring with The Dirty Heads is a tour that I would like to go on for every tour but I understand they got to do their thing. I mean they’re blowing up right now; they’re definitely doing their thing for sure right now.
What was it like to make that huge leap of playing small shows to all of sudden playing for jam packed amphitheatres and stadiums? (was there anything special you did to help calm your nerves?)
I was totally nervous at first and it’s something you got to work into. At first I was playing to these big crowds and I was frightened and scared, you know all the fans out there and the lights shining on you, but after awhile once you start taking everything in you really just start getting used to it. To be honest with you, I’m up on stage more than I am at home in my own bed and that’s the truth. In a weird way that stage is my home so I’ve kind of adapted that personality to where I tell myself that this is my stage and my fans so I should take control of it.
How is this year’s Unity Tour going with 311?
It has been going amazing so far and we’ve been having a great time being on the road with those guys. The other day I got so fucking high and I was checking out 311 and those guys were just killing on their jam, those guys could just jam for hours and it was so rad I mean it’s just totally cool jam music. I suggest to everybody who hasn’t experienced them to come out and check out a show this summer, you won’t regret it.
Sublime with Rome is having the honor of playing on the 311 Pow Wow Festival that just has a killer line-up, which band are you most excited to see?
Yeah I’m excited that we get to play with The Dirty Heads again, haha I’m just excited that I get to see my boys. I mean there is a bunch of bands on the bill though, Pow Wow Festival is supposed to be a really amazing show and 311 did a really amazing job of putting it all together. I’m stoked for the festival and I love Florida, I actually have a couple days off so I think I’ll stay in Key West for 3 or 4 days but we’ll see what happens.
Knowing the age difference from yourself Bud and Eric, I am curious; do they keep up with you after the shows partying wise?
Bud doesn’t really party too much anymore, he kind of hung up his green hat so to speak you know he just got too good at partying and he just got used to partying all the time. I have to keep up with Eric though; haha that guys knows how to party man.
What kind of feedback have you seen from the release of this new album?
We’ve been getting nothing but great feedback. I’m so fortunate and so grateful that it has been going over this well, I mean I was hoping it would do well but I had no idea that it would do this well. It’s # 1 alternative album and it debuted at # 5 on ITunes entire albums chart, I mean that’s pretty big for an alternative albums debut release.
Tell us about the album cover, who designed it, why the All Seeing Eye and the key lock?
It was our boy Nate Siggers who did the art, I basically had an idea that me and Eric had thought of in which we wanted something that was business but still punk rock to show that we were serious business but still have a little madness. We chose the purple suit to be kind of like the joker to symbolize kind of like a street vengeance thing. The whole key lock thing was kind of to symbolize locking yourself, the eye is supposed to symbolize something like an eye for an eye. The whole thing we were shooting for was to stay classy, stay edgy and unlock your true self, you know yours truly.
I thought this album was amazing musically and lyrically, can you describe how you guys write a new song? Who writes a majority of the lyrics?
It usually starts with me doing some acoustic shit then I’ll show it to the guys and we’ll just start hacking away at it. Panic for example started off with me just having the verse and the chorus when I brought it over to Eric and he suggested we do the beginning with a strong punch that it has now. Eric and Bud are crazy good writers and I think that’s where Sublime got their approach from. They draw back from their vast influence of such great music and intertwined it with the music that their writing today. We kind of work with a song for about an hour and set up certain parts one piece at a time and just knock it out. It usually takes us only about an hour to write a song because we all kind of vibe together and it’s just all about catching those first couple of takes. If we can’t catch the first or second take then we’ll wait awhile and try to do it again but when it comes to lyrics though I do all the writing."It usually takes us only about an hour to write a song because we all kind of vibe together and it’s just all about catching those first couple of takes."
"Can You Feel It" is definitely a song that’s one of a kind and is the only song that contains a guest appearance, whose idea was it to do collaboration with Wiz Khalifa and why?
Well I’m a big fan of Wiz and we kind of know him through a mutual business relationship. When we were producing the song, to make it better quality we realized through listening to the track that it needed a rapper on it. It’s a feel good song and it has a lot of flavor so the first thing that popped in my mind was get Wiz on it I mean it was right up his alley. So we had our friend reach out to Wiz and show him the track and he just loved it and said he was down for sure. He really killed it on that track and it was super cool, we were grateful that Wiz came and made that song so much cooler.
I am a huge fan of your solo work but why the decision to include some of your solo tracks on the album?
That was kind of Bud and Eric’s call really. They heard the songs and they really wanted them on the album so I wasn’t going to oppose.
Do you still plan to continue doing solo work in the future or are you primarily focusing on Sublime with Rome now?
Definitely but my heart and soul right now is with Sublime with Rome and I want to keep doing this as long as I can.
Can we expect any new releases or updates from you solo work if so?
I’m not sure about anytime this year or next year but maybe soon, you never know what could happen.
Was there ever any doubt in your mind about joining this new band under the original name of Sublime?
Well at that time I was in the studio working on albums and stuff, I had lawyers that were handling all that stuff, but from what I hear it was just a big misunderstand and bad communication. Once they talked about things face to face everything became clear and they understood what we wanted to do and what our intentions were but we felt where they were coming from too so we just decided on something in the middle and now we’re all friends.
Have you ever been confronted by the negative Sublime with Rome people, how do you deal with their criticisms?
I’ve never been confronted by a negative Sublime with Rome fan ever but I’m sure I can find a lot of shit on the internet. You can find anything on the internet and I mean anything so I probably wouldn’t take it personal. "Seeing that it is one of the top selling albums in the country really said something to us and we hope to keep doing it."
Previous project bands with Eric and Bud have usually only lasted about 5 years, is Sublime with Rome something we can expect to be around for awhile and can we expect you guys to continue making new music?
Yeah hopefully, I mean I really want to keep doing this as long as we can and Bud and Eric feel the same way too. We all really love this and we’re having a lot fun but it’s different from the other project for sure. Bud had told me that he’s never been more excited for an album release since Sublime’s Self titled and that really meant a lot to me. Once we saw how well it did and we saw the smile on all our faces we knew we had something that was for real and something that has a lot of potential. Seeing that it is one of the top selling albums in the country really said something to us and we hope to keep doing it.
Interview Conducted by Tim Castaneda