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Sublime With Rome: New music, Lancaster show

Sublime With Rome’s new album, “Sirens,” is a studio album in about the most literal sense possible.

The band essentially did every phase of the album – from songwriting to recording and overdubs -- at Sonic Ranch studios in El Paso.

Studio time isn’t cheap, and adding songwriting to the list of tasks that go into making an album can bust any reasonable studio budget.

But it’s not like Sublime With Rome’s original plan was to arrive in El Paso with no songs to record. In fact, the trio of vocalist/guitarist Rome Ramirez, bassist Eric Wilson and drummer Josh Freese planned to start hammering out songs on tour in summer 2013, using a mobile studio they could set up whenever they had down time.

Instead, the group found it difficult to get in the right headspace to write songs while in touring mode.

“It’s a whole different machine going off (on tour) and being in the studio writing and to fuse the two,” Ramirez said in a recent phone interview. “I’m not saying it’s impossible, but it’s definitely very challenging to be able to pull yourself so far out of your current element into something that’s so personal as songwriting.”

When the 2013 tour was over, Sublime With Rome had failed to write any songs they deemed keepers, and the trio didn’t have any down time available for writing sessions either.

The lack of progress before the recording sessions looked to have become a bigger issue when a first session at Sonic Ranch in December 2014 yielded very little music.

“We walked away with a handful of ideas, all of which were pretty bad,” Rome said. “And then we came home for about a month or two and then we went to Brazil to go and tour.”

It was in Brazil, though, that something clicked, and Ramirez and Wilson started to zero in on a feel for the album as they jammed
together. That was a good thing because the second recording session at Sonic Ranch was scheduled to start two days after that tour and the group needed to hit the ground running.

“We needed something like that to spark everything off,” Ramirez said. “And once we hit Sonic Ranch in February, everything just started taking off. We had quickly gathered 19 songs by the end of that whole entire trip and we had to whittle them down to 11. But every day, it was just getting together, writing.”

Despite having basically made “Sirens” on the fly and on a tight schedule, Ramirez is pleased with the album and hopes fans will like
what it adds to the Sublime legacy.

There is, of course, a notable history and back story to Sublime. The original Sublime, with singer/guitarist Bradley Nowell, Wilson and
drummer Bud Gaugh, formed in 1988. The group was preparing to release its third album, a self-titled effort, when Nowell died from a heroin overdose in May 1996.

His death brought a wave of attention to Sublime, and the lead single from the self-titled album, “What I Got,” became a chart-topping alternative rock hit. Before it finished its run, the “Sublime” album had gone five times platinum and helped cement Sublime’s place as one of the pioneers of what is now a thriving reggae-rock genre.

The Sublime With Rome chapter began in 2009 after Ramirez and Wilson met while working at the same studio. After some jamming, the idea of bringing on original Sublime drummer Bud Gaugh to form a new edition of the band surfaced.

By early 2011, the group was in the studio working on the first Sublime With Rome album, “Yours Truly.”  Gaugh left the group later
that year, but the debut album was a significant success, spawning a top five alternative rock hit with the song “Panic” and giving Sublime With Rome a strong measure of legitimacy.

Now Ramirez is hoping for similar success with “Sirens,” which he thinks better showcases the qualities Wilson brought to the original Sublime.

“It was a band effort,” Ramirez said of “Sirens.” “Eric Wilson is all over that ... album. And it’s very raw in that sense, because
that’s what he brings to the band. He brings this edginess and he brings the punk side, the dirt and the grime that makes Sublime.”

That grit is especially noticeable over the second half of “Sirens,” which features three rocking tunes “Best Of Me,” “Run and Hide” and
“Put Down Your Weapon.” But even reggae-centric songs like the title track (a collaboration with Dirty Heads), “Brazillia” and “Wherever You Go” have a good deal of edge.

Ramirez said the group will play about a half dozen songs from “Sirens” on tour this fall. That leaves plenty of room for songs from the original Sublime’s catalog as well as a few tunes from “Yours Truly.”

“We’re only going to play maybe about half of the new record,” he said. “So we have another hour to pick from all of the great music
that the guys created back in the day.”

If you go

What: Sublime With Rome, The Expendables

When: 6 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 18

Where: Chameleon Club, 223 N. Water St., Lancaster

Cost: $32.50 in advance, $35 day of the show