Quick hit

January 01, 2009|By Sam Sessa

Singer and guitarist Pat Downes plays another band's music for a living.

Downes is the front man for the Sublime tribute group Badfish. Several nights a week, Downes and his two bandmates re-create live shows by the incredibly popular '90s ska/punk group. Sublime disbanded shortly after lead singer Brad Nowell died in 1996. But demand for Sublime's music has only grown since then.

Badfish formed seven years ago. Now, the trio routinely sells out large clubs - like the 1,900-capacity Rams Head Live, where the group will perform tomorrow. Badfish's success is a testament to Sublime's songs, and in a way, part of Sublime's legacy, Downes said.

Why do you think Badfish is so popular?

Honestly, it's great music, and it needs to be heard somehow. I guess we're the ones to fill those shoes. It's a supply-and-demand-type thing, you know?

Were you guys one of the first? Or one of the best ones?

Well, the band's been around for seven years, so I'd say it was definitely one of the first. Through time, we've probably become the best, because over time you get to fine-tune as you go along. The band's been around for so long. You get to perfect the art, I guess.

Do you have a voice that sounds like Nowell's?

Yeah. It's been well-received. I've been singing with the band for about two years now.

How hard is it to make the same songs that aren't yours sound fresh to you each night?

You find ways. It's pretty cool. You start playing them and then you find a little thing to change to make it interesting for yourself. The crowd's different every night, and they're the ones that are really creating the excitement. As crazy as the crowd is, we're going to return that.

There's only so much you guys can do. People know the songs, and you don't want to change them too much, right?

Things that sound little on the outside are big to us. We know every little nook and cranny of the songs. But it seems to be well-received when we put it together and put the show on.

You also play in the band Scotty Don't and recorded an album with Sublime producer Paul Leary. What was it like working with him?

It was great. He a very experienced producer. He's a musician, too. He played in a band called the Butthole Surfers that was popular in the '90s, and he produced a few other well-known bands. He's a laid-back, experienced guy who helped steer us in the right direction as far as recording.

if you go

Badfish, SOJA and Scotty Don't perform tomorrow at Rams Head Live, 20 Market Place in Power Plant Live. Tickets are $20 in advance and $23 the day of the show. All ages. Doors open at 7 p.m. Call 410-244-1131 or go to ramsheadlive.com.

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