On November 4th, Sublime with Rome released an EP titled Tangerine Skies. The reggae rock studs hadn’t released a new LP since Sirens in 2019, and they’ve only released three albums since joining forces in 2011, so any new music surely warrants some fanfare.
The band traveled to Texas to record the music at a studio they love called Sonic Ranch because, according to lead singer and guitarist, Rome, “It’s a wonderful place with amazing historic gear and it’s so separated from distraction. It’s perfect for a place like us. Plus we love the staff and the hot sauce!”
As stated by their press release, the four tracks on the EP had been four years in the making. Using the full extent of my math skills, I’ve calculated that’s, on average, one track per year. “Typically, I write songs a lot faster,” Rome shared, “and I would love to release them more often, but it takes a village to get these things out into the world, at least in our operation.” He added, “The good part of that is having the time to not rush and focus on quality.”
To that, I’d have to agree because Tangerine Skies packs a lot of juice in its brevity. The EP kicks off with a collaboration with Slightly Stoopid titled, “Cool and Collected.” Released as a single during the middle of this past summer while the two bands were touring together along with The Movement and Atmosphere, the dynamite track lives up to the sonic expectations that a collab of these two bands would illicit, fitting perfectly in both artists’ catalogs. The fact that it has over a million streams on Spotify already demonstrates that fans agree.
“I ran into Miles (Doughty, of Slightly Stoopid) backstage at Cali Vibes and we got to talking about making a new song that we could perform on our upcoming summer tour together,” Rome told me about how the song came about. “Well, it just so happened that I was heading to the studio the following day to begin recording the new record. Perfect timing!”
“Cool & Collected” celebrates life on the road with your entourage, enjoying herbal remedies and being grateful for life’s blessings, but then the chorus has the line, “Officer move, you can’t protect me” and the single artwork hilariously pictures Sublime bassie, Eric Wilson, with a raised, closed fist presumably about to slug a cop.
“This song is pretty much when the when the police show up to your party and shut it down. It’s about someone trying to rain on your parade. The pressure man,” Rome explained. “I wanted to make a record that could sit nicely next to 2 AM one of my favorite songs of theirs. So I pulled up a drum loop and this bassline that Eric was working on for the album and it all came together pretty easy. I know their vibe and I know how they like to tour so I was just trying to channel some of that energy with the colorful words in the verses.”
The next track, “All I Need,” checks the boxes of vintage Sublime with a hip-hop drumbeat, tumbling sub-bass and record scratches. In fact, the line in the chorus, “Lovin’ fallin’ all over me,” brings to mind “What I Got,” Sublime’s monumental Top-40 hit (which peaked at number 29 on the Billboard Hot 100 Airplay chart and reached number-one on the U.S. Billboard Modern Rock chart) that catapulted the Long Beach punks from regional success to international recognition all those years ago.
As for the lyrical content, again referencing the press release, it quotes Rome as saying, “This song encapsulates the idea of embracing your current life circumstances with confidence, trusting that the positivity you put out into the world will come back to you.”
I asked Rome if he had always been a confident person or if there was a turning point in his life that gave him confidence, and, relatedly, if stepping into this legendary band after Bradley Nowell’s passing intimidated him at all.
He thoughtfully responded, “I guess I’ve always been confident from a very young age. I’m by no means saying that I am the most talented or the best-looking person in the room, but I’ve always had self-assurance about what I wanted to do and where I wanted to go. I was definitely a handful growing up, but I’ve always been dead set on my visions.”
As for joining Eric Wilson and Bud Gaugh, he explained, “Fun has always been the goal in my life. There’s a Jim Carrey movie where he says yes to everything — I’m kind of like that. In a way, I’ve learned to say no the older I’ve grown, but I’m always down for adventure, and when I got offered the opportunity to sing for Sublime, that’s exactly how I looked at it as. To me, it was adventure, and an opportunity to continue the legacy and sing for my favorite band.” He then punctuated these sentiments by adding “Life is trippy!” echoing the phrase that is emblazoned on the trucker hat he has been known to wear.
Sublime with Rome’s sound is properly derivative of classic Sublime yet at the same time has its own unique vibe. One major element of Sublime which hasn’t been a big part of their music to date is ska, but Sublime with Rome brings that sound back with the next track on Tangerine Skies, “Battle Scar.”
“It just felt really natural to put it on the EP,” Rome said about including the track, which had been written during the pandemic. “We have some other ska songs that we recorded that may come out, but this one was our favorite.”
The ska-punk scorcher tells of how the haunting voices inside our heads cause sleepless nights and make us yearn for peace of mind. It features some lyrics that could speak to how political adversaries in our contentious society use misinformation to try to sway people to their way of thinking:
Everything you know
You gotta question from the start
Cause nobody’s ever looking out
For your head or your heart
Trouble from the left
You got trouble from the right
Don’t forget what they can’t take away is inside your mind
About its title, Rome said, “Battle scars are what you get left with when you face the problem head on. Trouble is around every corner.”
Finally the EP concludes with the title track, a laid-back, contemplative number with gentle acoustic guitar over a hip-hop drum beat and a catchy, stirring chorus. The tune has vibrant imagery and feels a bit melancholic because it references “hurt” and talks about having nowhere to go and no one to call, and saying goodbye to the city you love.
“The song is about moving away from California and taking everything that I’ve learned and loved and applying it to a new place and a better me,” said Rome. “That’s the beautiful thing about life, if you’re lucky enough to live it, you will inevitably evolve.”
Rome went on to mention that his favorite line is “Had to learn to love the small things and had to learn to let it go. Many rivers I have yet to cross, but I know that I’m on the right road and I know I’m going to get there.”
Another line stood out to me: “I don’t wanna live my life like that, where I’m always on the grind.” Considering the constant churn of a touring musician, I was curious if this was written from a place of personal truth or if it was more written from the perspective of a character?
“Definitely written from a personal place, and as a sort of generalization as anybody who gives himself completely to something that they love,” Rome explained. “I wasn’t necessarily speaking to the touring aspect, but more so the mental effort it takes to constantly give something your 100% and be creative and not let competition feel you or all that money sway your creative decisions. It’s about adjusting your mental framework to living life.”
Altogether, Tangerine Skies adds four awesome songs to the Sublime with Rome catalog and should give fans confidence that this band still has plenty of musical juju left to deliver.
Looking ahead, the fellas will be touring New Zealand in late December and early January, and Rome seems pumped for the trip down under. “We’ve been to New Zealand in the past and it’s a wonderful country. Very beautiful and the people are so kind. I’m bringing my family with me so they can experience the energy as well. That’s a beautiful thing about touring, every once in a while, you can bring the people you love to the places that you love. Talk about an intersection of happiness!”