Peer Reviews

Other musicians have a few Brad Nowell stories to tell

"The thing about Subime was, when you went to see them play, you never knew what you were gonna get," Kanal explains. "It was either the greatest, most incredible, unbelievable show or a train wreck." And even when it was a mess and total chaos, you'd always go back and see them again, Kanal adds. "Because there was something so great and beautiful and real in that chaos. The sincerity in that chaos was addicting, and you wanted to see it again and again. When they were great, they were great."

One reason for that was that Nowell was an incredible front man: "The best way to describe him was real. He would just wear his heart on his sleeve and let things pour out," Kanal said.

Of course, most of Kanal's memories of Nowell are happy: Sublime played at a surprise party No Doubt vocalist (and Kanal's then-girlfriend) Stefani threw for him on his 22nd birthday. "The instruments were set up my in my parents' living room in Yorba Linda, the same house they live in now," he says. "I will never forget my mom was walking around, serving hors d'oeuvres, and Brad was singing about licking pussy. It was so surreal. That was pretty rad."

Also: "In 1994, No Doubt, the Offspring and Sublime played a snowboarding or spring-break tour," he recalls. "When we got to Utah, they were late for sound check, and they arrived all frazzled. We found out they flipped their van with Lou Dog in it. And they came and played the show. It was just par for the course with Sublime. You just never knew. . . ."

Kanal says Sublime were just scratching the surface of their potential when Nowell died. "That's just proven by how iconic and legendary their self-titled album is and how much it has become part of the Southern California lifestyle. It just becomes bigger and bigger as years go by. That album is spectacular, and the writing shows how incredible a songwriter Bradley was." (Lilledeshan Bose)

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DEXTER HOLLAND, THE OFFSPRING: 'Bradley Nowell Was Really a True Voice of Southern California'
"Maybe the best way to describe [Sublime's] influence is that Bradley Nowell was really a true voice of Southern California. His lyrics were raw—nothing was sugar-coated—but it rang true on both the good times and the frustrations of living in SoCal. Cigarettes, tattoos and flip-flops . . . It felt real because it was real, and people could really relate.

"I remember Brad's dog bit the head KROQ guy at the Weenie Roast one year—that's one guy you probably don't want to piss off. Luckily for him, they were already in heavy rotation . . . otherwise his dog might have put Sublime in the 'Where are they now?' file!" (As told to Gustavo Arellano)

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JOE ESCALANTE, THE VANDALS: 'He Did It. That Record Has Nothing But Hits on It'
"It was 1995, I think. Bradley was backstage at a Vandals/Sublime show in San Diego at the club that later became Canes.

"He was telling Dave Quackenbush and me that he was writing their new album and what was different about it was that it was going to have all hits on it. He was like, 'No, seriously, I'm only writing hits. Every song a hit, a classic, a single, front to back.'

"We were amused by the thought of only putting hits on an album and no deep cuts. Genius. 'Good luck with that, Bradley,' we were thinking, but later, when we got to hear the songs on the self-titled album, we were pretty stunned. He did it. That record has nothing but hits on it.

"I've heard other people say they were going to do that. They usually end up with exactly zero good songs on their crappy albums. Bradley was a gift to this world that was gone in a blink of an eye. I always thought there would be time later to get to know him better. What a loss." (As told to Vickie Chang)

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PAUL LEARY, BUTTHOLE SURFERS: 'As a Musician, He Was Incredible'
"I went out to California to do pre-production for the album [Sublime], and we didn't connect until the third day, when we finally had breakfast—the whole band got drunk and went to Mexico except for Brad. So Brad and I got to hang out for quite a bit, and I saw a little bit of what was going on with him.

"I could see him struggling with heroin. It was a drag and a dilemma; I wondered how to address it and what to do. Shoot, and now he's not here anymore.

"As a musician, he was incredible—a lot of what you hear on that album was recorded live with a drummer on the studio. Brad was really able to sing and play guitar during the tracking, and you could use it all on the record. He could really sing. That was before pitch correction and all that; we were just recording on analog tape. It's really rare to come across a musician like that.

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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.


awesome. miss brad and lou ;(


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


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


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.


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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