Q & A with Badfish: A Tribute to Sublime drummer Scott Begin


Photo by Standback Images

Badfish drummer Scott Begin talked with The Record and gave his views on Nickelback, the 2016 Presidential Race, legalization of marijuana and much more.

Dan Almasi, Sports Editor

Sublime broke up 19 years ago, but members of Badfish have since donated themselves as tribute.

Sublime is still around, but now known as Sublime with Rome after adding singer and guitarist Rome Ramirez in 2009.

The members of Badfish: A Tribute to Sublime started kicking around the idea about becoming a Sublime tribute band in college and officially began in 2001 to play Sublime’s music, including hits like “What I got,” “Wrong Way,” “Santeria,” and “40 oz to Freedom.”

For the past 14 years the band has become nationally known, touring around the country and is one of the few tribute bands to actually sell out shows.

The Record’s sport editor Dan Almasi – who also has a deep passion for music – interviewed Badfish drummer Scott Begin before the band played at Canalside in Buffalo on July 23.

Dan Almasi: Do you have any opinion on Buffalo’s music fans?

Scott Begin: We’ve played in Buffalo now for a lot of years. The Town Ballroom we’ve played several times. We look forward to going out there. Town Ballroom shows are always incredible. Generally we have a full crowd and the people are pretty great there.

D.A.: Have you played anywhere in Buffalo outside of the Town Ballroom?

S.B.: Yeah, back in the day we played at some smaller places. A few years ago we did this thing, this sort of outdoor summer concert with Flogging Molly, similar to what we’re doing tomorrow. The past four or five years have been at The Town Ballroom mostly.

D.A.: Do you guys prefer outdoor or indoor venues?

S.B.: They both have their, you know, pluses and minuses. In the summertime when the weather’s nice though, you really can’t beat playing outdoors, especially to a place that can accommodate so many people. That’s the best part about an outdoor show in a big space where you can get a lot of people out there. But there’s something that’s pretty fun about playing a hot and crazy indoor club, too, where people are packed in there. That sort of lends itself to a certain sort of vibe. That’s fun too. I like both, I really do.

D.A.: Have you ever played with Sublime with Rome?

S.B.: No, we haven’t. We’ve played some shows with the drummer from Sublime through the years. We’ve also played with some Sublime tour players at times. But no, we’ve never played with Sublime with Rome before. Essentially, we’re doing a lot of the same stuff they’re doing.”

D.A.: How indebted do you feel to the band that was, and kind of still is, Sublime?

S.B.: Very much so. Their whole body of work, all their incredible music that they put out that we’re able to perform, we pretty much owe it all to that. Over 20 years after the fact, their music still attracts fans, so we’re fortunate to be able to play music that a lot of people appreciate.

D.A.: Is your goal to play songs as similar to the original Sublime version as possible, or do you guys try to put your own spin on the songs?

S.B.: For the most part we try to stick to the original. We’ll take some liberty here and there during a set where we’ll go ahead and jam out a song, or let a song go where it wants to go. But for the most part, we try to stick to the original.

D.A.: Sublime, being a west coast band from California, they attribute a lot of the meaning and feeling to their songs to the west coast and where they’re from. How do you pull off that west coast vibe being from New England?

S.B.: We basically just draw inspiration from wherever they were writing these songs. Obviously, however these songs were influenced geographically, we can’t necessarily replicate that, but we just do our best to replicate the sound and the feel of the song and hopefully that vibe comes through in that way.

D.A.: At any point, have you said, ‘damn, look how far we’ve come. Look out the success we’ve had,’ and regretted being a tribute band? Have you ever wished that you’d done your own thing?

S.B.: No, not really. I think that there’s, to be an original band, there’s a lot of satisfaction and gratification in playing your own music and stuff. We’ll always want to create our own music and what not, but I think that being this tribute band that we are has really given us an opportunity that very few bands have to tour the country, to basically support ourselves playing music. We’ll always have a creative spirit and want to create our own stuff, but we’re very fortunate to able to be doing what we’re doing and I don’t have a single regret about that.

D.A.: If you search Badfish, you’re labeled as so many different things – Alt Rock, Reggae, Ska. If I ask you, ‘what genre is Badfish?’ what answer do you give me?

S.B.: Well obviously, to say what genre is Badfish is to say the same thing as what genre is Sublime. I think their music spans so many genres. I think in general it’s pretty safe to say rock or reggae sort of covers it. I mean, Sublime is one of those unique bands that fuses together elements of punk rock, hip-hop, ska, reggae, classic rock. I mean, it’s just a really good mix of different genres, so, they’re a band that kind of defies categorization in a sense. I think to say rock/reggae is a pretty safe bet. But, who knows? You know. I guess everyone has their own take on that.

D.A.: What are you into right now? What do you like to listen to?

S.B.: There’s a band called the War on Drugs, they’re a band that I’ve been kind of digging on lately. Some Miles Davis, actually. That and punk radio. And Howard Stern.

D.A.: What is your opinion on Nickelback?

S.B.:: That’s a great question [laughing]. I don’t know, I wouldn’t go out of my way to look for them, but, what can you say? They’re just a band playing rock and roll. They have a 
s— ton of fans, so I mean, what the hell. Not my cup of tea, personally. I know they’re universally hated on, so in that sense, I tend to, you know, not want to compound that, but they’ve sold a s—load of records, so, what can you say?

D.A.: What is your opinion on Kanye West?

S.B.: I think that he has talent, but he needs to keep his mouth shut. He always ends up shooting himself in the foot. People end up talking more about the outrageous stuff he says versus talking about the music he produces or performs. Being a musician and performer, I certainly would want people to focus on that, not the silly s— that I say.

D.A.: Are you in favor or against the legalization of marijuana? Why?

S.B.: I’m in favor. I’m not a heavy user of marijuana, but I don’t think it’s any more harmful than alcohol, in fact it’s probably far less harmful than that. The medicinal uses and the potential therapeutic uses of cannabis in general have a lot of promise and could probably prove to be effective therapies. We pump people full of a lot of drugs that have horrible side effects and I think that there’s a lot or promise in the research of that end of it. It’d probably save people a lot of side effects and save them from polluting their body with a bunch of needless chemicals, but that’s a whole other discussion about pharmaceutical companies and their stranglehold on the country. We won’t go into that, I guess.

D.A.: Who are you voting for in the 2016 Presidential Race? Why?

S.B.: I’m leaning toward Bernie Sanders. I think he’s got a platform that sort of resonates with the way I felt about politics my whole life. As far as how much money, you know, big money, and the billionaire class having control, basically, over the entire political process. There are humongous financial institutions that are bailed out by our government and he’s trying to turn that whole thing around so that we can finally have a political system that, as citizens, we can feel that we participate in and have an actual voice and that we’re not being led by a few billionaires into a situation that only serves to benefit them versus the poor and middle classes of the country. I think that’s kind of what his platform is about and I’m leaning that way.