Amplif[ie]d | Badfish

By: Marissa Scheerer


The snare taps; pace of the drums pick up. The electric guitar rips, and the long-missed voice of Bradley Nowell energetically blares: “We're only gonna die for our own arrogance, that's why we might as well take our time.”

Though Bradley’s live performances sadly came to an end with his untimely death in 1996, through the music of Sublime tribute band, Badfish, the unique melodies, electric energy and rock-reggae-ska legend lives on. “The first sublime song I heard was ‘We're Only Gonna Die [For Our Own Arrogance],’” says Badfish bassist, Joel Hanks. “It’s a cover of a Bad Religion song, and I was a big punk rock fan, so it was very interesting to me to hear a punk/ska version of the song.”

Perhaps it was coincidence that Joel’s first experience with his favorite band, Sublime, was through a cover song. But after all the success of the Badfish’s Sublime tribute performances over the past 14 years, it seems the inspiration simply continues. We were lucky to catch a conversation with bassist, Joel Hanks, as Badfish set off on their current two month tour.

Q. Who are your band members?

Joel Hanks: I play bass. Pat Downes is on guitar and vocals. Scott Begin on drums. And Dorian Duffy is our keys, guitar and sample guy.

Q. How did you meet?

Joel: I grew up in a surf town on the east coast in Rhode Island. I met Scott in college in Rhode Island. We were all in different bands then. One day, jammin’ together just happened to turn into a show.   

Q. What called you to Sublime?

Joel: Sublime is my all time favorite band. I was always into ska and punk influenced music. Like: Bad Religion, NoFx, Pennywise. I love the mixed styles Sublime pulls together. It’s really fun music.   

Q. I understand the group is named after a song appearing on the album 40oz. to Freedom. Why “Badfish?”

Joel: When we were picking the name of the band we felt it should be a song name, and we just went down the list of all Sublime songs and quickly agreed that it should be “Badfish.” It was actually a very quick process.

Q. What makes Badfish different from other tribute bands?

Joel: There are lots of different types of tribute bands out there. The main thing I think that is different for us is that many of the people that come to our shows never got to see Sublime play because of Bradley's untimely death. Also, I believe that we helped pave the way for a lot of tribute bands, ‘cause when we started touring, most venues were not booking tribute bands.

Q. If you could go back in time and ask Bradley one question, what would it be?

Joel: How does he go about the song writing process, and how does he come up with those melodies?

Q. Tell me about some memorable performance experiences!

Joel: In Las Vegas, Bud from Sublime played a few songs with us. [I could hear Joel smiling over the phone as he told me this]. It was absolutely surreal.

Q. I bet! So, what about future performances? Tell me about your current/upcoming tour. What’s going to make it just as awesome?

Joel: This tour we are doing the whole 40oz. to Freedom album! It’s our first time ever doing something like this! The tour will go for about two months with a one week break. We are headed to California and back. Then to Florida and the east coast.

So, when and where can you catch Badfish in California? If you want to catch Badfish in the IE, they will be playing on February 6th at Riverside Municipal Auditorium.

They’ll also be in LA on January 29th at El Rey Theatre; San Diego on January 30th at the House of Blues; Anaheim on January 31st at the House of Blues; San Francisco on February 4th at The Independent; Santa Cruz on February 5th at The Catalyst. Buy your tickets and find more info on the band on their website and Facebook page.

Wherever you find Badfish, get ready to witness the legend of Sublime truly living on through the inspired and talented Pat, Joel, Scott and Dorian. If you can’t happen to catch Badfish in Riverside, LA or Anaheim you may just consider traveling . . . Bud will be joining the band again for three more shows! As Joel said, playing with a member from Sublime is crazy awesome and surreal. IE Sublime fans: put Vegas, Santa Cruz or San Francisco on your list! This collaboration will be one you don’t want to miss.