OC Weekly: Tony Shares Memories For Bradley Nowell Tribute

UPDATE
No Doubt Tweeted this morning about the story on OC Weekly

Tony remembers Sublime’s Brad Nowell in this week’s OC Weekly. Read the full tribute here http://bit.ly/jqkBuk
10 hours

We mentioned a couple days (thanks to Vicky from OC Weekly for sending into us!) that Tony was interviewed and participated in a moving tribute and magazine cover special dedicated to the late Bradley Nowell from Sublime. We know that he was a very good friend to the band and shared many memories with him and Sublime. Sublime has always been one of my favorite bands and it’s such a shame that his life was cut short but we wish his family the best and thank him for the legacy and music he left behind. Tony has nothing but nice words to say and it’s amazing to hear the stories about Sublime pllaying a surprise birthday concert for him (put on by Gwen) in his house and how Sublime showed up late to a very important gig for No Doubt.

OC WeeklyTONY KANAL: ‘It Was Either the Greatest, Most Incredible, Unbelievable Show or a Train Wreck’

In the early ’90s, the two most prominent OC/LB bands were No Doubt and Sublime, and they were entwined in more ways than geography. The two were fans of each other’s music and performed together; Gwen Stefani even guested on the track “Saw Red” from Sublime’s second full-length, Robbin’ the Hood.

No Doubt bassist Tony Kanal remembers the first time he heard Sublime in 1990. “One of their friends came to a No Doubt show and gave me a demo tape—the one with a green cover. Gwen and I listened to that tape like crazy, over and over again, until it almost started to fade in some parts,” he recalls. “I think we listened to it so much we broke it. Our favorite song on it was ‘DJs,’ and that was the beginning of us becoming huge fans of Sublime.”

Sometime later, Kanal was introduced to Sublime’s producer/manager, Miguel Happoldt. “We always tried to figure out when we could play together,” Kanal says. When they finally set up a gig together (Hawaiian Gardens, 1991), Sublime were supposed to open for No Doubt. But in true Sublime form, the band didn’t show up in time to do sound check—or even set up their instruments. “There was a curfew for playing, so we had to play first, and Sublime played after us. The club kind of cleared out, and we all stayed around to watch them, and we got our own private Sublime show that night.

“The thing about Subime was, when you went to see them play, you never knew what you were gonna get,” Kanal explains. “It was either the greatest, most incredible, unbelievable show or a train wreck.” And even when it was a mess and total chaos, you’d always go back and see them again, Kanal adds. “Because there was something so great and beautiful and real in that chaos. The sincerity in that chaos was addicting, and you wanted to see it again and again. When they were great, they were great.”

One reason for that was that Nowell was an incredible front man: “The best way to describe him was real. He would just wear his heart on his sleeve and let things pour out,” Kanal said.

Of course, most of Kanal’s memories of Nowell are happy: Sublime played at a surprise party No Doubt vocalist (and Kanal’s then-girlfriend) Stefani threw for him on his 22nd birthday. “The instruments were set up my in my parents’ living room in Yorba Linda, the same house they live in now,” he says. “I will never forget my mom was walking around, serving hors d’oeuvres, and Brad was singing about licking pussy. It was so surreal. That was pretty rad.”

Also: “In 1994, No Doubt, the Offspring and Sublime played a snowboarding or spring-break tour,” he recalls. “When we got to Utah, they were late for sound check, and they arrived all frazzled. We found out they flipped their van with Lou Dog in it. And they came and played the show. It was just par for the course with Sublime. You just never knew…”

Kanal says Sublime were just scratching the surface of their potential when Nowell died. “That’s just proven by how iconic and legendary their self-titled album is and how much it has become part of the Southern California lifestyle. It just becomes bigger and bigger as years go by. That album is spectacular, and the writing shows how incredible a songwriter Bradley was.”

4 Replies to “OC Weekly: Tony Shares Memories For Bradley Nowell Tribute”

  1. Sublime and No Doubt have albums for $7.99 on iTunes right now. Tragic Kingdom and Sublime.

    I emailed you a photo of the Tragic Kingdom album with the iTunes price, but not the Sublime one. I sent it to jenny@beaconstreetonline.net

    Welcome back from Vegas. 🙂 I hope you had a good time!

  2. I love both No Doubt and Sublime and it’s even more amazing that they were real good friends too ♥

    R.I.P Bradley Nowell ♫ Love is what I got, so remember that ♫

  3. Great article. Anyone heard Sublime With Rome yet? Was just checking out some of their live performances on YouTube the other day. That kid is good.

  4. Rome is not Bradley. I saw Sublime many times, in back yards, at bars in Long Beach and the last time at the Palace. Bradley was Sublime, he was that music. Putting that kid on stage to sing those songs just doesn’t feel right.

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