Badfish, a tribute band to Sublime, always looks forward to coming back to Fort Wayne. On Feb. 15, they will make their return at the Clyde Theatre.
Badfish drummer and co-founder Scott Begin and bass player and co-founder Joel Hanks were friends in college. Though they were in separate bands at the time, they always bonded over a mutual love for music, specifically Sublime’s music.
Sublime stopped playing in 1996 after lead singer Bradley Nowell’s death.
To honor their music, Begin and Hanks solely wanted to put on a live show featuring Sublime’s music, but not necessarily to start a tribute band.
Filling a void
“Locally for us, in Rhode Island and New England, there was no one playing these songs live,” Begin said in a phone interview with Whatzup. “So, we figured we’d give it a shot because we loved the music and everyone we knew loved the music. It went really well and we decided to continue doing this long-term.”
The name Badfish originates from the title of a Sublime song on their debut album, 40oz. to Freedom.
“It’s just one of those iconic, quintessential Sublime songs,” Begin said. “It wasn’t a radio hit, but it was the type of song that if you knew Sublime more than just on the radio, you knew the song ‘Badfish.’”
In addition to being attracted to the song, Begin felt it was an easy-to-remember two-syllable word, making it an obvious choice for their name.
The group has also met several people that are in the extended Sublime family who have shared the stage with Badfish, and who have even done short tours with them. Sublime’s drummer Bud Gaugh has even performed a whole show on drums with Badfish.
“We’ve gained the unofficial acceptance and endorsement of the remaining members of Sublime,” Begin said.
For the most part, Begin feels that their tribute act has been well received by many.
“I think people realize that what we’re doing is trying to be as respectful to the music and the legacy of the band and Bradley’s music as possible, and they understand that,” Begin said. “As far as the fans go, same thing. They see we’re doing the music justice and we’re doing it respectfully and that resonates.”
The hits and the deep cuts
As a tribute band, Begin said there is always a small contingent of people that may look down on them. But overall, it’s been way less so than he would’ve assumed going into it.
There’s a handful of radio hit songs Badfish will perform at each show.
Beyond those, though, they rotate in some of Sublime’s lesser-known songs.
“We’ll throw in some rare songs that hardcore fans might know but might not be as obvious to the casual fan,” Begin said. “That keeps it interesting for us and changes things up for the crowd as well.”
As the drummer, Begin prefers uptempo songs since they are exhilarating to play. However, he said his favorite song changes practically every night.
“A certain song might be vibing a certain way for a while, and then next thing you know, this other song has this cool thing,” Begin said.
They keep true to the arrangements of Sublime’s songs but also allow themselves a little flexibility to improvise a touch with certain songs that more lend themselves to an improvisational type of mood.
“A song like ‘Pawn Shop,’ for instance, is kind of a slower tempo song, and there’s not much of a tight arrangement to it,” Begin said. “It’s kind of a loose song anyway, so we can play with that and have fun. If we have some horn players on a show, we can have them take some extended solos and make a cool thing of it, or we can mess with the tempos, so sometimes those might be my favorite to play.”
Bringing the spirit
Badfish’s unofficial mission statement is to bring the spirit and vibe of Sublime to the stage, and all that that encompasses.
“Whether or not it was intentional on Sublime’s part, their music has taken on a kind of attitude like, ‘Let’s party,’” Begin said. “People that rock out to Sublime are looking to let loose and have a good time.”
According to Begin, there are many songs the crowd can sing along to, as the lyrics are second nature for people.
“We like to take all of those elements and really crank them up to 11 and put on a kick-ass show, and try to make it the best show that any audience member has seen,” Begin said.
Performing is a part of Begin and the essence of who he is. The 100 minutes the band is on stage every night is easily the best part of this adventure for him.
“Being behind the drums for me, that’s the ultimate,” Begin said. “That makes it all worth it.”
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March 27 • The Clyde