Rome Ramirez: 'Ultimate Guitar Is Where I Learned to Play Sublime Songs When I Was a Kid'

artist: Sublime With Rome date: 08/12/2014 category: interviews
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Rome Ramirez: 'Ultimate Guitar Is Where I Learned to Play Sublime Songs When I Was a Kid'
In 1996, Sublime's story was tragically cut short by the passing of frontman, Bradley Nowell. It wasn't until 2009 that surviving members Eric Wilson and Bud Gaugh decided to add a new chapter to the story. They searched for someone who could embody the spirit of the music and found an undeniably talented 21 year old named Rome Ramirez. After a legal petition was filed by the Nowell family, the band respectfully changed their name to Sublime with Rome and continues to tour the world and create new music under that name. Bud Gaugh departed from the band in 2011, and the guys brought in veteran drummer, Josh Freese. In the following exclusive interview, Rome Ramirez discusses his solo career as an artists and producer and touches on what the future holds for Sublime with Rome.

UG: You got a solo album coming out August 12th. Tell us about that.

RR: Yeah I've got a record coming out that I've been working on for the last year and a half. I went to El Paso Texas and did it with my friend Dave Bassett. We wrote and produced the whole thing in like four months so we've just been mixing and stuff ever since. It's all finished and mastered now so we're looking forward to putting that out. It's going to be a whole other avenue for me as an artist.

I dug your EP, what sort of a direction did you take with this LP?

Yeah it is. The way I create music is always very reflective of what I've been listening to at the time and with my "Dedication" I was really in to a certain style and then when it came time to do the LP, I was influenced by some of the older music that I grew up on. So I guess I went backwards a little bit. Frankly I just miss hearing guitars over the radio so I did something a little more rock driven. We even got some guitar solos.

How important is it for a musician like yourself to have a solo career? Does the Sublime thing ever seem confining?

Yeah, people will always compare anything I do to Sublime, which is something I'm very honored for. So people expect a certain sound from the solo stuff because of Sublime but it's tough to pigeonhole someone like me because I am such a musical entity, like last year I did cuts for Selena Gomez, Enrique Iglesias, Pitbull, the Dirty Heads, I just produced their entire album. So the music never stops whether it's for me or Sublime or whoever. So I feel like my solo career is something that has to happen because at some point I am going to want to make music for myself.

I assume you'll be taking the solo show on the road.

Definitely. I have a huge tour booked for this fall. I'm just waiting on a couple things to fall in place before we announce it.

You're a busy guy, Sublime has a new record coming our way soon as well, I hear.

Yeah we're going into the studio to make a new record - that's how it goes. We go back into the studio in November and I'll probably go back to Sonic Ranch. Yeah man, we'll get creative and get weird. We've got some really cool ideas for the record and we'll be pulling from some new influences. It's going to be a lot different than "Yours Truly" in the sense that we're a lot closer now, especially Eric [Wilson] and I. We've actually lived together for 5 years and now sonically, we see eye to eye a little more. Before, I was just so blown away by everything. I was like a kid in a candy store. So I think now we are at a place where we can really go in and create. We aren't rushing this record. I think we'll have it done by next summer. I think it's going to be different but in the best way.

You mentioned having some new influences, what would those be?

It's a little more hip-hop oriented and not in the sense of f--king trap hats or any sh-t like that. We'll use a little more samples. So think "Doin' Time" and then the reggae will be like the old dirty reggae from Studio One. We want to keep that dated sound and keep it groovy. That shouldn't be too hard with Eric.

What is the most important thing you've learned from Eric?

Most definitely 100% it would be to stay true to the art. That guy eats, sleeps, and breathes every f--king lyric of a Sublime song. He's a true testament. You don't meet a lot of true rock stars anymore. You meet a lot of guys like me who do this stuff and we're really blessed and lucky. But then you meet a f--king rock star. You know what I'm talking about. It's someone who really lives the music he writes and plays. That passion is just really inspiring. It's no wonder he accomplished what he accomplished, and now he's got to do it again, with my a-s. He totally taught me to stay true to my heart and not try to be something I'm not.

I know there are still some people out there who are a bit salty about this band carrying on the Sublime name and playing the old Sublime songs. I feel that this might be a good time to bring it up since we are at a classic rock festival. Tomorrow we've got Styx and Foreigner playing. Neither of those bands have all of their original members, Skynyrd has maybe one or two original members left and nobody seems to notice.

Here's the reason why. It's a little bit touchier when you're younger. Most of the people putting out the hate are kids and I can relate to them. When I was a young man, when I was at that age, it's a pivotal time in your life when you really start to get into whatever you're going to be into, be it music or film or art. When you get into music and you get into these bands, they become yours. They are MY band and you become very protective of that music and that sound. When you get into your '20s, and you've seen the roller coaster of life unfold and you've seen what reality brings and you start to view things a little more maturely and you view things a little more open mindedly. That's the difference between the people who come to our shows and dig us and kids who have never seen us but hate the idea that something so beloved can be tainted by this new entity, me. You just can't blame them for it; it's a combination of a lack of experience and a passion for what they love. All I can ask is that they just come to a show. Just come to a show. If you don't like us, that's fair. That's my take on it.

I saw you guys play after your first album came out and I've gotta be honest, I was skeptical. But you guys sounded great, the crowd was loving it and I couldn't help but think that Bradley [Nowell] would be proud that his friends were still out on the road making people happy with that music.

Thank you. That's kind of the whole thing with Eric. They were always about the music and he can't stress that enough. He's so punk rock with it all. He feels that this is the right thing to do, to continue to play the music. A lot of people around the world never got to see the music played live. So when we go to Europe or Brazil, it's a big deal for them, and it's a big deal for us, it's a big deal for Eric because he's never played those songs over there and the people probably never thought they'd get to see that guy play them. It's a driving force for him.

When I saw you guys play last, Bud [Gaugh] was still in the band and now you have Josh Freese in the band. What does Josh bring to the band?

Well, obviously we don't need to talk about his drumming, he's an incredible drummer. But he's just a light hearted, fun person to tour with. He's such a good dude. He's so mellow about everything and he's very open minded. He brings a positive energy to the group. If Eric were here right now, he'd say the same thing, that we have never felt more cohesive as a band, even with Bud.

How are things between the band and Bud right now?

There's no bad blood there. I think me and Eric would agree that if Josh ever wants to leave the band, that maybe we'll call Bud again.

Now comes the fun part, let's do a rundown of the gear you're using on the road and maybe some of the stuff you've been playing around with in the studio.

I only use two guitars live. It's funny because we'll be on tour with other bands or playing at festivals and I'll see their boats (road cases for guitars) and they're just maxed out with like 16 guitars and I'm like, look at my puny a-s little boat with 2 Stratocasters. But I have a 96 Stratocaster and a Vintage Worn Strat. I take them over to my guy, Dakotah who just beasts them out and makes them play like they're 60 years old. Other than that, it's a pretty basic rig, really. I use Divided by 13 100 watt head for my clean tone and then this old f--king b-tch; it's probably the best JCM 800 I've ever heard. It sounds so good, that's my dirty channel. I have a MXR Carbon Copy for a delay and then the EVH Phazer with the one knob - I like that. Dude, I've got this bad a-s TC Electronics Reverb Pedal. It sounds great on its own but it's got this really cool thing that I should take advantage of more often. But you get this app and you can download reverb patches from songs and just send it remotely to the pedal and you can play that patch. It's f--king rad. I think they use Bluetooth or something. But they've got Sound Cloud samples of all these different reverbs and you can listen to it and say, that's the reverb I'm looking for on this part and then just shoot it over to the pedal. Then as far as the studio goes, I've got a full blown studio. That's all I spend my money on. But the new piece I want to get for the studio is this amp called a Kemper. I got to f--king play one and it was tight. It's this amp modeling head, and I know to guitar players it sounds f--king terrible, believe me, I'm the same, I can't stand those mods. But this head, I don't know what it does and I'd be lying if I tried to explain it but in laymen's terms, it samples any guitar amp that you plug into it and it doesn't EQ copy it, it supposedly screenshots the sample and creates the tone. So your buddy can call you up and say hey I got this old 1962 Supra, come over and play this thing, and you can be like, hell yeah, I'm coming over and I'm bringing my Kemper, and you f--king plug it in and steal the sound. Then you go back to your studio and it sounds f--king identical, and it really does sound really good. I got to play one at Vintage King for like two hours one day and I was like, man I've got to get one of those.

What's your crown jewel of the studio right now?

I think my most prized possession in the studio is, I have a stereo pair of original 1073 preamps, I love those things. I like to play around with different compressors and preamps. I'm a big advocate of capturing the sound as best as you can before it gets to the computer. Once its in the computer, you can make it sound dope too but there's something to be said about capturing the best audio sound before it gets to the computer.

Do you enjoy producing records more than playing music?

I just enjoy music, man. I'll spend six months in the studio working on records for everybody and myself and then be like, f--k man, I miss being on that damn stage. So then we'll tour our asses off and then after six months of that it'll be like, I miss the studio, man. I need both of them. One is the muse for the other.

Thank you for taking the time to talk to me today. We'll give you a shout when the interview goes up on the site.

Man, I go there all the time. That's actually where I learned how to play guitar. That's how I learned to play Sublime songs when I was a kid. I love Ultimate-Guitar.

Interview by Justin Beckner
Ultimate-Guitar.Com 2014
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