Shortly after the passing of Bradley Nowell in 1996, Sublime was put to rest and the remaining members, along with a few frequent contributors, started the Long Beach Dub All Stars. Sublime had sold over 17 million records worldwide and the 10 members of the All Stars never planned on replacing or matching that greatness.
Within their first few years as LBDAS, they had released two albums and their single “Sunny Hours,” which features will.i.am from The Black Eyed Peas, became a regular on the radio. By this time, they had already lost three members and by 2002 they would disband altogether.
In 2012 the Long Beach Dub All Stars got back together, but since that time their lineup has been hard to keep track of. They put out a couple singles in 2017 and they have an album that will come out within the next year. After playing only festivals and one-off shows for several years, they recently embarked on a tour that will be landing in Aspen on Wednesday.
This time through, because some members were not able to make the tour, members of other Southern-California bands will join them. While many members come and go, Opie Ortiz has been the lead singer and backbone of the band since 2012.
Ortiz might be more known for his visual art, as a tattoo artist and muralist. His murals can be found around Long Beach and he was responsible for the “SUBLIME” tattoo across Bradley Nowell’s back, on the cover of their self-titled multi-platinum album. Ortiz also created the burning sun image on the cover of 40 Oz. to Freedom.
I caught up with Opie Ortiz while he and the rest of LBDAS were in Portland getting ready for a show. His roots in Southern California run deep and he sees a lot of growth in the genre that he and his hometown helped to curate.
“Rock/reggae is booming here in the U.S.,” says Ortiz. “It’s expanded into a whole other genre. With all the new bands coming out, there is obviously a wanting for it. We still struggle to find good reggae shops to get albums that we like, but now with the Internet you can just go right on YouTube and listen to whatever you want.”
In the past 20 years, fans’ access to music has drastically changed and everything is available. Many bands have stepped away from albums because listeners are looking for shorter sound bites, but LBDAS don’t want to overthink how they should release music.
“We don’t really conform to any kind of theory of how you are supposed to do it, and we never have,” says Ortiz. “I really don’t know how it works, to be honest with you, we just do music and the [higher-ups] tell us how to release it.”
Most of LBDAS members have families now and Ortiz tries to spend less time in tattoo parlors and more time at home with his kids. He is always focused on art, using painting as a source of meditation. Tours are less grueling for them now because they aren’t staying up all night like they used to.
“We’re all older now and not really partying like we were when we were young,” says Ortiz. “Now we’re just kind of eating and grubbing and enjoying the scenery. Were not all on drugs or anything like that, but we smoke pot and drink beer and a little whiskey every once in a while.”
The Long Beach Dub All Stars are focused these days, trying to get everything lined up to get their next album out. They love playing in Aspen and their show next Wednesday will surely bring the Southern-California-endless-summer feel to the Belly Up.
John Zelazny woke up in too many beds with girls he didn't know; he’s seen lots of brothers act tall and I watched them come and go; tell him why he’s not dead with them in the valley down below. He appreciates your comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.