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Badfish: A Tribute to Sublime to bear Sublime sound in Columbus

Courtesy of Chad Martel

Sublime formed more than 20 years ago, but another band prides itself on playing covers for the ska punk band for a dozen years. And like the changes made to Sublime, Badfish: A Tribute to Sublime has made a few changes as well in its time.

Badfish is slated to perform 7 p.m. Thursday at the Newport Music Hall.

Formed in 1986, Sublime was a ska punk band whose career was cut short by lead singer Bradley Nowell’s death from a drug overdose in 1996. The group resurfaced in 2009 under the name Sublime with Rome with new lead singer Rome Ramirez. But Badfish started performing the band’s music before then. The tribute band formed in 2001.

The group consists of four men, three of whom were founders of the band and computer science majors at the University of Rhode Island.

Bassist Joel Hanks said Badfish’s longevity is his proudest achievement.  

“Being able to stay together for 12 years is a huge accomplishment in itself,” Hanks said.

While some tribute bands consist of diehard fans of the bands they impersonate, Hanks said this is not the case for Badfish.

“We didn’t know a ton about tribute bands,” Hanks said. “It was (the fact) that many people hadn’t gotten to see (Sublime) live and it seemed like an awesome opportunity.”

Mike Hunter, promotions manager for PromoWest Productions, said the company has had success with Badfish in the past.

“(Badfish) performs once or twice a year (in Columbus), and it is normally a good show. (They bring) out the younger, party crowd,” Hunter said.

Mike Farley, the band’s publicist, said he has seen the band come a long way since he began working with it.

“I saw the band’s audience grow remarkably fast and to huge levels, and they remain one of the best draws in the country, for a tribute band or otherwise,” Farley said. “They still draw extremely large crowds of rabid Sublime fans, and are sonically as close to the real thing as a band could be.”

Farley said he enjoys working with the band and watching it grow.

“It’s exciting to be a part of something so successful on an indie level, and to see how much love their fans have for them,” Farley said. “Plus, they’re just good guys and easy to work with.”

Badfish does not stick strictly to Sublime songs. The band has also played covers of songs by Bob Marley, Led Zeppelin, Bad Religion and several other acts.

Hanks touched on how the band has grown together, in ways such as the addition of vocalist and guitarist Pat Downes to the band in 2007.

“We have changed. It used to be three single guys and now three out of the four of us are married,” Hanks said. “Now we have tour busses. It is very professional and we spend a ton of time together when we are on tour.”

Scotty Don’t and Shrub are scheduled to open for Badfish Thursday. Tickets are general admission and are $15 in advance through Ticketmaster and $17 the day of the show.

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