Long Beach-based ska-punk band Sublime was on the verge of becoming a national success when front man Brad Nowell died of a heroin overdose in 1996, just after the band completed its major-label debut 40 oz. to Freedom. But that didn't stop the band from achieving its goal; all by itself, 40 oz. cemented Sublime's (and Nowell's) modern-rock legacy. But to help fill the void, Rhode Island-based quartet Badfish does a very personal tribute to Sublime by honoring the music in its own way instead of simply cloning the original group.
Opening is Scotty Don't, formed by Pat Downes (vocals/guitar), Scott Begin (drums), Joel Hanks (bass) and Ben Schomp (keys/guitar) — who happen to be the same musicians in Badfish. "We kind of go on incognito and play our own opening act with things that we put together — songs that I wrote with the rest of the band," explains Downes. "It's kind of cool, because people look at the stage and say, 'Oh, what's this band?' Then, by the end, we reveal our identity and throw people for a loop, and if they like the band they get more interested."
Scotty Don't released its own disc last December under the auspices of 40 oz. producer Paul Leary, but for now Badfish has no plans to abandon the tribute act. "They are two totally separate projects, as we get to show two different sides," says Downes. "We love Sublime and the crowd loves it, and we do the original stuff and try to win them over that way. It's a challenge and it's a lot of fun, and we can definitely see us doing both for a long time." — Ernest Barteldes