Peer Reviews

Other musicians have a few Brad Nowell stories to tell

To this day, Happoldt still thinks about Nowell, especially when he performs with his band, Perro Bravo. "Brad used to tell me, 'You know, Mike, it's harder than it looks.' When I'm up onstage and I think about how you have to play guitar, sing, hit the pedals, entertain the crowd, I realize it is harder than it looks!" Happoldt says, laughing. "With all the lessons Brad taught me—I learned a lot from that guy, and I sneak some of that stuff into what I do. And hopefully it resonates with some people." (Lilledeshan Bose)

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MILES DOUGHTY: 'The Reggae/Rock/Surf Scene of Southern California Expanded Into the World'
Slightly Stoopid's Miles Doughty and Kyle McDonald were big fans of Sublime. "We'd go surf and listen to them before we paddled out, and it was part of our culture growing up," Doughty remembers. "As kids, we idolized [Bradley Nowell]; Sublime were one of our favorite bands."

Nowell discovered the Ocean Beach band as teenagers and signed them onto Skunk Records, his label with friend and Sublime producer Michael "Miguel" Happoldt, in 1995.

"He and Miguel really took us under their wing when we were 15, 16 years old," Doughty says. "We owe them so much. It really opened the doors for Slightly Stoopid in the music world, even a couple of years after he passed. They brought us to their studio in Long Beach and let us record our first record. They were really supportive and positive toward us."

Doughty credits Nowell with not only teaching him how to play a reggae chord ("before then, we were more of a punk rock band"), but also opening their eyes to being a successful touring band. "They taught us to always go back to these towns multiple times a year," he says. "You gain your fans that way. They said, 'Boys, get on the road,' and we haven't stopped since."

The day Nowell died, it was Slightly Stoopid bassist Kyle McDonald's birthday, and the band were playing a house party in Ocean Beach. "Everyone just gathered around, and we played for hours—it was a good day, even though it was a bad day," he recalls. "It brought a lot of people together."

After Nowell was cremated, Doughty was part of the group that scattered some of the ashes at Nowell's favorite surf spot in Surfside: "We all took a bit of his ashes in our hands, paddled out in the ocean, sprinkled them out and surfed."

Doughty says it doesn't feel like Nowell has been gone for 15 years. "It's tragic that his life was cut short; I can only imagine the kind of music they would've made if he were still alive," he says. "He was a great songwriter, great vocalist, and they were the biggest band at the time when he passed. A lot of people—kids—hear their music for the first time and don't even realize he's gone."

Sublime's sound marked a paradigm shift in the popular music of the day, Doughty says. "Kind of the way Nirvana changed the style of music from hair metal—Sublime came and changed it from grunge. The reggae/rock/surf scene of Southern California expanded into the world."

"I don't think anyone realized the impact his music was going to have," Doughty continues. "No one could see at the time how much the music touched people's lives, how much people loved Sublime. The world was crushed by his death. But in the end, he gave a lot."

There's one final lesson Doughty takes from Nowell: "We'll always be grateful for what he did for us. He's irreplaceable. But you have to learn from people's mistakes. I smoke herb, and I drink alcohol. That's about it. Don't do hard drugs—that is what you take from it. We've learned from losing brothers what not to do." (Lilledeshan Bose)

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TONY KANAL: 'It Was Either the Greatest, Most Incredible, Unbelievable Show or a Train Wreck'
In the early '90s, the two most prominent OC/LB bands were No Doubt and Sublime, and they were entwined in more ways than geography. The two were fans of each other's music and performed together; Gwen Stefani even guested on the track "Saw Red" from Sublime's second full-length, Robbin' the Hood.

No Doubt bassist Tony Kanal remembers the first time he heard Sublime in 1990. "One of their friends came to a No Doubt show and gave me a demo tape—the one with a green cover. Gwen and I listened to that tape like crazy, over and over again, until it almost started to fade in some parts," he recalls. "I think we listened to it so much we broke it. Our favorite song on it was 'DJs,' and that was the beginning of us becoming huge fans of Sublime."

Sometime later, Kanal was introduced to Sublime's producer/manager, Miguel Happoldt. "We always tried to figure out when we could play together," Kanal says. When they finally set up a gig together (Hawaiian Gardens, 1991), Sublime were supposed to open for No Doubt. But in true Sublime form, the band didn't show up in time to do sound check—or even set up their instruments. "There was a curfew for playing, so we had to play first, and Sublime played after us. The club kind of cleared out, and we all stayed around to watch them, and we got our own private Sublime show that night.

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8 comments
Sessionsale
Sessionsale

I grew up listening to Sublime and Slightly Stoopid. Bradley Nowell created music that I could just sit and listen to and be truly happy, music that I will never get tired of listening to.

glhRM
glhRM

awesome. miss brad and lou ;(

JEPage
JEPage

Reading this made me cry. Sublime has had such an influence on people and music. Its the ultimate socal band. Imagine what they could have done had he lived. The greatest tribute to Brad is to keep listening to the music so that he, and it, live forever in us.

Melissa Vasquez
Melissa Vasquez

This article leaves me in awe. It's amazing how much of an impact Sublime has had and I can hear the influence through every performance I've seen of Slightly Stoopid. These guys really appreciate good music and culture, just another reason why I never miss a Stoopid show!!! The Sublime legacy lives on.

Brandy Johnson
Brandy Johnson

bradley and Sublime changed my life and the way i listen to music forever! I was in a violent and very abusive marriage when I first found Sublime in 92! I used to put on one of their Cd's and let the music take me away from my problems. I think i would have killed myself without brad and my headphones!! I was inconsolable when Brad died for so many reasons and I just wanted to say Thanks to everyone who helped make that wonderful music that saved my life

nasserk215
nasserk215

This is really sick....Bradley Nowell was truly an inspiration and his music will live on forever. His ability to fuse so many genres of music so well with so much soul and raw passion was insane. Its awesome to see how much Miles and Kyle really appreciated Sublime. I remember when I was back in high school and met Miles Doughty in Street Scene in San Diego one of the questions I asked him was, "Man how sick was it playing with Brad"...and he said "Man it was some of the greatest times of my life"...His influence truly shows in Slightly Stoopids music and its great to get to seem them carry the torch and do it just as well as Sublime did. Jah Bless

Collieman11
Collieman11

Awesome interview. Speechless. The Sublime and Brad legacy will always live on and I'm glad Slightly can continue to grow and spread the culture of California.

mrene
mrene

Bradley is a god! Left us with great music and Slightly Stoopid. All I can do is thank him for that.

 

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