Badfish: Reggae, Ska, Psychadelic, Punk, and Americana

JUICE were scheduled for a chat with Sublime cover band Badfish at the Quiksilver Pro New York 2011 last September when disaster struck. Hurricane Irene swept in and the band’s performance was cancelled. However in the spirit of punk rock, and not letting ANYONE (even the weather) tell us what the f to do, we made sure the interview went ahead. 5 months later, in lieu of speaking face to face, we communicated with drummer Scott Begin via the magic of the interweb. Here’s what was discussed…

Who is the typical Badfish fan? Is your audience comprised of predominately Sublime fans, or next gen Badfish fans? Is there a difference?
I think the audience is comprised of a mix of both. Certainly the age of many of our fans is so young that they would’ve been toddlers when Sublime gained widespread popularity, but as all we’re doing is playing music that Sublime wrote, I would call the younger crowds “next gen Sublime fans”. We always put 110% in to our performance, so we hope that that makes people want to come back to our shows, but all the credit must go to Sublime for making music that remains appealing to young people over 15 years after the fact.

Have you composed any original Badfish tracks?
We are all members of the band Scotty Don’t, which is our original music alter ego. We typically play a 40 minute SD set before our Badfish sets on most shows. We’ve released an EP, and two full length discs, all of which are available in iTunes.

Are there international Badfish fans? Are you guys big in Japan?
We get several emails from abroad, Japan included, but we have yet to play outside of the US and Canada. We don’t rule out the possibility of travelling overseas someday for a tour.

Do you ever experience backlash for receiving fame for music that wasn’t of your own creation? 
The occasional email, yes. And I suppose that’s understandable, but the reality is is that we love being on stage performing and people enjoy coming out to see us do so. I’m not sure how you can really hate on that. We’re celebrating the incredible music of Sublime and our aim is to do the music as much justice as possible while we’re up there. We’re fortunate to have been able to make this our full-time endeavour, but it took several years of working our asses off as well as continuing to work our asses off. Some people may think that we snapped our fingers and were automatically selling out large club venues, but there was a long road of endless touring and just putting ourselves out there that led to where we are now.

Sublime’s music is considerably genre-blending, what are Badfish’s musical influence? 
Well our Scotty Don’t songs pull from different genres as well, but perhaps in a different way or in different quantities than Sublime songs. It’s all really rock n roll if you ask me, but our music runs the gammut of what one might consider to be reggae, ska, psychadelic, punk, and americana. It’s quite a diverse blend.

What’s Badifsh’s personal music taste; What have you been playing on your iPods lately?
All of us have many musical tastes in common as well as diverging musical tastes. If you’re riding in the van with us after a show, you’d be likely to hear Steel Pulse, then Iron Maiden, then Red Hot Chilli Peppers, then Zeppelin, then NOFX, then Johnny Cash.

What stood out about the track Badfish that inspired the band’s name over other Sublime song titles?
It’s almost too far back to remember… but that name just seemed to fit, and the track Badfish seemed to be in some ways the quintessential Sublime song. I’m not sure if that’s true, but it felt so at the time. It was one of those things that we didn’t even have to discuss, it just was always agreed that we’d call it Badfish.

How do you feel about working with a finite number of tracks? How do you keep things fresh?
Even over the course of a 2 hour set, we don’t even come close to playing every recorded Sublime song, so there’s always ways to rotate some deeper cuts into the set to keep it fresh. Though we stick to the recorded arrangements of the songs for the most part, we also allow ourselves a bit of flexibility in some songs to just jam out and see where it takes us. We’ve come up with some pretty interesting instrumental parts in some songs that have become permanent parts of the set just through improv style jamming. We’ve also been known to throw in a couple bits of songs from other artists that we like here and there. And drinking a lot of beer keeps everything fresh too.

Do you think you will get tired of playing Sublime songs?
We’ve been doing it for 10 years now, and we honestly haven’t gotten tired of it. Luckily it’s very fun music to play. So if we’ve come this far, I don’t think we’ll get sick of it.

Is the band formed with previous Sublime band members Sublime with Rome competition? Have you met the guys?
We’ve met Bud Gaugh a few times when we played with his other band Del Mar, and he and his bandmates are very cool. He’s even sat in on the drums a couple of times, which for me as the drummer was quite a trip! We don’t consider Sublime With Rome to be competition. We’re just doing what we do, and we hope people like it.

Would you ever consider playing covers off Sublime with Rome’s 2011 album ‘Yours Truly’?
If the demand was there, I don’t see why not. It’s a very unique situation with a band releasing an album so long after having not, while we’ve been doing all the earlier stuff in the meantime. Like I said earlier, we just try to put on the best show possible, so if people start screaming ‘Panic’, let’s give em what they want!

What will be the future of Badfish?
Keep playing, keep touring, and keep making music with Scotty Don’t. It’s tough to know where that will take us but we’re all very much enjoying doing this and it feels like as long as people still want to come out to see us play, we’ll be there to do so.

Badfish did not perform at the Quicksilver Pro New York 2011. But we got our interview anyway. For more Badfish watch the live video of ‘Santeria’ below, and check out