When Badfish first formed in 2001, they were filling a void left by the sudden end of Sublime following Brad Nowell’s untimely death in 1996.
“There was that absence…every party we went to people were playing Sublime’s music,” said Badfish drummer Scott Begin. “It was everywhere and there was no band playing it…we figured it we’d just play a set of Sublime’s music and see how it goes. We didn’t expect it to take off the way it did.”
Begin said that fans of the band at the University of Rhode Island, where Badfish was founded, loved hearing the music played live. And so Begin and his some of his University of Rhode Island classmates continued playing tribute sets to the Southern California ska punk/reggae band throughout college.
“People had the hunger to experience that music live,” Begin said. “There’s no way better way to experience music, so I guess it did fill that void.”
Begin said he was “late to the party,” when it came to learning about Sublime. A friend of Begin’s hipped him to the band around the time of Sublime’s major-label debut 40oz. to Freedom.
“It was a lot different than any of the other music I was listening to at the time,” Begin said. “That really struck me.”
He was sort of a passive fan of the group while their original lineup of Nowell, Eric Wilson and Bud Gaugh was active, he said. He’d hear their stuff on the radio, and was intrigued by Nowell’s death, but it wasn’t until Begin got to the University of Rhode Island that he became a “hardcore” Sublime fan.
“I knew their radio songs but it wasn’t until a couple years after the band ended when I met the guys in our band that I really was exposed to all of Sublime’s music,” Begin said. “I was like ‘Wow, this is really cool.’ There was this whole catalog beyond what I’d heard on the radio that was even more diverse than what I heard before.”
After the members of Badfish graduated from college they began touring and eventually became one of the biggest club and theater acts in the Northeast and Midwest. Now, they all have families and/or day jobs and tour sporadically throughout the year. They’re playing The Fillmore in Silver Spring on Friday, Jan. 2.
Badfish haven’t suffered from the 2009 reunion of Sublime with the new front man Rome, Begin said. As someone who toured and performed regularly in tribute of the original band, Begin heard his fair share of complaints about the band’s reconfiguration when they first came back together. But he’s happy they got back together.
“I think it’s cool. They’re musicians, they want to play,” Begin said. “And they have this great music and were part of creating this great music and of course they want to be out there playing this music they helped create.”
That was the music that first inspired the formation of Badfish and the essence they possess today – having a good time while playing great music. Begin said he hopes that people in the Washington, D.C.-region are “ready to have a good time” at the Jan. 2 show.
“We want to have the party happening and going off and have people dancing,” Begin said. “And just getting out and having fun with us. That’s the mindset we go out there with every night. We just want to have a blast.”
• For more information about Badfish, visit badfish.com.