National touring Sublime tribute band Badfish is headed for Dewey Beach Aug. 9.
Now in their 16th year, Badfish has been around twice as long as the original lineup of the band they pay tribute to: Sublime.
“It’s crazy,” Badfish drummer Scott Begin said. “I don’t even know what to say about it, to be honest with you. Sublime had their time and created this incredible music, no matter how long or short they were together.”
Badfish will continue carrying its torch for Sublime into a headline show at the Bottle & Cork in Dewey Beach Wednesday, Aug. 9.
“Dewey Beach, we always look forward to going there,” Begin said. “It’s a pretty unique venue and we always see familiar faces.”
The original lineup of ska outfit Sublime disbanded after lead singer Brad Nowell died in 1996. Five years later, Badfish was born. The trio is named after a Sublime song.
Badfish drummer Begin discussed the hurdles being in a tribute band, meeting Sublime original drummer Bud Gaugh, and bands they’d love to tour with.
What artists would you like to tour with?
There’s a lot of bands we’d like to go on tour with, whether or not it’d be a good mesh is something I don’t know. A modern band still kicking that we also grew up loving is the Red Hot Chili Peppers. I mean, that’s aiming pretty high. They’re kind of on top of the world and have been forever. But I was a fan of them before they were on top of the world. I actually think that would be a good mesh, because I think anyone who’s a Chili Peppers fan could also dig into some Sublime stuff.
Then there are some bands that musically might not be a good match that we like. There’s this new band we’ve been digging on called Greta Van Fleet. They’re basically Led Zeppelin reincarnated; and Zeppelin is probably my favorite band. I wouldn’t say it lightly that they’re Led Zeppelin reincarnated. If you give these guys a listen, they are incredible. We’ve just been jamming to these guys.
Some people don’t respect tribute bands, because you’re not creating new music. What are the major challenges with being in a tribute group?
It’s definitely correct that we don’t have that challenge that original bands have with the whole writing, producing, recording and promoting a record. That takes a lot of time and effort in having to keep the band together in that sense.
But I think a challenge we have in general is, on the flip side of that, we’re not seeing money come from releasing records. So our bread and butter is we need to be out there playing shows. We kind of have a full-time schedule. We don’t release a record and then tour on it and take four months to a year off, which some bands are able to do; the more successful ones, of course. For us, it’s a full-time touring thing. We’re like a performance machine of sorts. That can be challenging.
We have families at home and we have to be away from them for extended periods of time. I think if you’re crammed in a bus or a van with the same group of guys for weeks on end, at times, that can wear on you. I think additionally there’s sort of a perception that we’re a tribute band and we don’t have the credibility of Sublime; and we don’t pretend to. But I think that makes us want to prove that we can put on a good show performing their music.
Bud has played with your band. What conversations have you had with him?
We went to the Lake Tahoe area where he has a place to do a few days of rehearsals. And we did our Anaheim show with him playing the whole set. That was really cool. Other than that, I’ve only seen him at gigs and he’s busy, and I’m busy, and we’d hang and do small-talk kind of stuff. But it was cool to hang with him at his place.
We didn’t really get into any one-on-one drummer talk of sorts, except for maybe a couple conversations about snare drums and some of the gear we use. It was more of us hanging out; and he recounted some cool stories from back in the day, some cool stories about Bradley.
What’s a story he’s shared about Bradley?
Probably a few I can’t tell you. Let me get back to you on that one.
Last year you played Sublime’s self-titled album to celebrate its 25th anniversary. Are you doing anything special with your repertoire this year?
This year is the 25th anniversary of “40 oz. to Freedom.” So that’s a milestone. We’ve done an anniversary of that album and did an anniversary of their self-titled album that had all the radio songs on it. As the years go on, those milestones pop up. We have played a few shows of doing the whole “40 oz. to Freedom” to celebrate the 25th anniversary. But we’re not doing a full-on tour for that purpose. We generally try to keep our set list varied; sometimes they’re more heavy on the B side, and sometimes they’re a little more heavy on the hits. It kind of depends on the crowd.
We know a lot of these places that we’ve been. Some crowds have a little more hardcore fans and we want to put more of those B-sides in because we know they know them. And some crowds are maybe a little bit just there more for the party, and maybe prefer to hear songs they know. We play for an hour and 45 minutes at least every night, so there’s room for everything in our set.
Sublime has a humongous catalog to pick from, even though they only have a few proper studio releases. They have B sides and outtakes and cover songs they’ve put out on their boxset and on their bootlegs we encountered over the years that the hardcore fans know. So there’s so much to pick from and we try to keep it varied.