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8 Questions w/ Badfish: A Tribute to Sublime – By Katie Coleman

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The ska-punk-reggae scene is living on through Badfish, Sublime’s most acclaimed tribute band, who will perform on Saturday, Feb. 28 at 7 p.m at Town Ballroom in Buffalo.

Taking their name after a song on Sublime’s 40oz to Freedom album, original Badfish members were inspired after Sublime’s lead singer died in 1996, leaving behind a huge fan-base, many whom never got to see them perform live.

Badfish has spent the past 14 years replicating Sublime’s music, and has cultivated a huge fan base from around the nation.

Bass player Joel Hanks has been with the band since day one.



AV: Can you talk about the evolution of Badfish as a tribute band over the past fourteen years?

Hanks: “I guess it’s evolving as a business more than a tribute band. It started out as kind of a giant party, and now it’s very professional in terms of touring, and the life-on-the-road aspect.”


Badfish is on tour this time for two months, with an eight-day break in the middle. The band members are at their respective homes in Rhode Island now, leaving on Friday to finish the tour around St. Patty’s day.


AV: What’s it like playing at Town Ballroom?

Hanks: “The venue’s great, the staff’s great- we like going there. There are a lot of places we look forward to, and plenty that we don’t look forward to playing at. Some of these venues are really well run and professional. And some are just not, you know?”

AV: Anything Badfish is working on right now?

Hanks: “Last month, we played the 40 oz. album for first time… for the first time in long time we had to practice and learn a few songs we had never played before.”

AV: Can you talk about life in a tribute band, as opposed to creating original music?

Hanks: “Well, there’s less stuff to fight about. It’s much harder dynamics when there’s creation involved, and it’s a whole diff thing. It’s definitely easier on that end. I mean, look, when we started the band, it was just like, wow, there’s so many sublime fans, and most of them never got to hear sublime play. Let’s just play some sublime songs, and see what happens. We like this music, so it’ll be fun either way.”


From there, Badfish started growing a fan-base and gaining credit for their Sublime replication.


AV: How’d the band form?

Hanks: “I started playing when I was 16 or 17, and the decision to play bass was a classic case of too many guitar players. The band started in college; the original lead singer and I went to high school together, and in college I met the drummer in class. We were kind of all in different bands that weren’t really doing anything, and had this idea a long time ago and started revisiting it.

AV: What’s the hardest part of being part of a band?

Hanks: “The interpersonal dynamics are very difficult. Communication is such a big aspect of any relationship. When you start touring, it really changes things when you have to live with these people seven days a week and really get to know them. It’s not always so fun when you’re on the road. It’s mentally tiring. It’s difficult. I think overall, we have it really good. We get along really well, and that’s why we’ve been able to continue to do it for as long as we have.”

AV: So what’s Buffalo like for you?

Hanks: “I hope its not cold. I hope it doesn’t snow. It just makes me wonder what people

AV: What’s your favorite song to play?

Hanks: “Songs that groove really well with the drummer, and are really fun to play: Badfish, Don’t Push, and Garden Grove are a few.”

AV: Any personal goals as a musician right now?

Hanks: “You’re always trying to get a little better. Its great now that there’s a lot of Youtube stuff out there if you want to learn a different technique. We didn’t have that twenty years ago when I started playing bass, so people have a lot more tools out there to get better and improve. Even some of these apps they have, it’s pretty cool stuff.”


~ Katie Coleman


7pm Town Ballroom, 681 S. Main St. (852-3900 / $17.50-$20