White-Boy Reggae Is Over

Tomorrow marks the 11th anniversary of the death of Sublime front man Bradley Nowell. Gadfly singer/guitarist Tommy Dubs says, "People are basically jacking the whole Sublime sound and style, and that sucks." He says Sublime copycat bands have "created a culture of cliché. It's called 'white-boy reggae.' I hate it when people get pigeonholed into that whole Sublime culture. Bands look like them and sound like them.... The fact that they even made 'white-boy reggae' a catchphrase is ridiculous. As far as I'm concerned, white-boy reggae is over and done with."

Gadfly is a two-year-old, all-original trio that does have loping reggae rhythms in many of its songs, but Dubs believes it's shortsighted for reggae-inspired bands to attempt to co-opt all things Sublime.

"People think Sublime was the first band to put reggae and punk together. They don't realize that 20 years earlier there was the Clash. Then there was HR and Bad Brains. I think the kids that are stuck in the whole Sublime cliché haven't taken the time to look into where Sublime came from in the first place."

No one in Gadfly has dreads or long hair. To further confuse stereotypes, bandmembers tend to wear country-western--style shirts onstage.

"No one knows what to expect when they first see us," says Dubs. "We get a kick out of that. Someone called us reggaebilly. We don't necessarily agree. We call our music rock-steady rock. But, basically, when something gets labeled, it's over."

It doesn't help Gadfly that some clubs may perceive homogeneity in reggae-inspired music played by white boys.

"One thing I noticed is local media and venues tend to cater to indie rock," says Dubs. "If you're not playing indie rock, you get ignored by the media and certain clubs. We have totally flown under the radar in San Diego.... We've only gotten [our music] played on KPRI.... And outside O.B. and P.B. we don't get a lot of gigs. We'd like to play the Casbah, but they're not knocking down our door."

Gadfly appears Saturday at the 710 Beach Club.

Share / Tools

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google+
  • AddThis
  • Email

More from SDReader


Log in to comment

Skip Ad