“Sublime Is Cool Again”?
They were dismissed as a puka-shell necklace of a band. In the 2010s, comedian Brian Posehn called their fans “terrible, stinkier” Juggalos, while music blogs reappraised the band only to decide that, yeah, they still mostly sucked. I once told a friend that I wasn’t sure whether I wanted to date someone because he seemed really into “music like Sublime.” Loving Sublime was like loving the Scarface poster: understandable, but deeply embarrassing, a surefire sign someone hadn’t matured past their college dorm.
“I ain’t got no crystal ball,” Sublime frontman Bradley Nowell once sang. It’s too bad, because Nowell would’ve been pleased if he could’ve seen what was brewing now. There are signs that a Sublimaissance is upon us.
[...] Lana Del Rey recently teased an upcoming cover of “Doin’ Time” (Sublime’s best song), a move sure to bring the band to a new and younger group of listeners. Sublime is still being discovered on streaming services, where the genre-agnosticism that had made it hard for the band to get radio play in its early days is less of a hurdle for the current, playlist-oriented generation of listeners. Sublime was a cultural magpie’s experiment; most countercultural, young songwriters during the ’90s were not riffing on George Gershwin and Don Quixote, but Bradley Nowell was, and this eclecticism kept Sublime fresher than counterparts like Reel Big Fish or the Mighty Mighty Bosstones, bands that stayed in the third-wave ska lane and now sound dated in a way Sublime, with its hodgepodge of appropriations and influences, does not.
We're not sure if Sublime was ever "cool," but people who caught them at the first Warped Tour are probably bragging about having caught them before they were big stars. Along with No Doubt, they stick out as being a band in that category on the first year of the fest that was headlined by Quicksand and also had Deftones, Fluf, L7, CIV, and Face To Face on the bill. Quicksand's Walter Schreifels (also CIV's bandmate in Gorilla Biscuits) talks about this very thing on the latest episode of The Hard Times Podcast (though he also mentioned that even then Sublime seemed to be in their "own lane" compared to others on the bill, and talked about their dalmatian dog who was also on the tour, along with the dark side of singer Bradley Nowell who overdosed and died less than a year later, before the release of the self-titled album that birthed their biggest hits and posthumously made Bradley a star).