Could you imagine making plans with your friends to go see Incubus play with Sublime? Well it happened, twice in 1995 and back then it was Incubus opening up for Sublime. Incubus founder & drummer José Pasillas dishes to The Pier on the experience.
Sublime played their first show on July 4th, 1988 in Long Beach, CA. Incubus officially formed their band as sophomores at Calabasas High School in Calabasas, CA in the fall of 1991. What’s so fascinating is how musically diverse and adaptable both Sublime & Incubus are with uniquely talented lead-singers. While the two groups are in no way associated as the same genre of music, they each helped define the musical landscape of the 90’s and the live pairing of these two bands makes complete and timeless sense.
“We were always good with sort of adapting,” José tells The Pier of Incubus. “We played a combination of funk that we loved and heavier music, alternative music, so we managed to fit in no matter where we were, even though we didn’t fit in at all. We just made it work.”
[Related: Exclusive Interview – Incubus]
Back in those days, shows came together much differently. The absence of social media, or the lack of influence from the internet, meant that in the early 90’s you were handed flyers for upcoming gigs. Promoters and promotion companies would hire kids to pass out flyers, or if you had a band, the promoter would exchange flyering for a gig. This lead to college campus parking lots, house parties and other live-events getting papered with flyers for miscellaneous upcoming shows.
In the case of Incubus, lead guitarist Mike Einziger was working for an LA promotion company called Goldenvoice. Rick Devoe, who is now Blink-182‘s manager, was Mike’s boss at Goldenvoice. As José recalls, “Rick would tell Mike: ‘Go to this show, and paper it, promote this other show and I’ll throw you on a random show here and there.’ So Rick threw us on a 311 show, and a Primus show. Eventually, down the line, Sublime came up.”
The two shows took place a week apart in October of 1995 in San Diego & Los Angeles, CA. “The first show we played with them, they partied, so the show was not very tight,” José recalls. “They were probably 3 hours late. It was funny, because before those shows we played with them, I would go to Santa Barbara to see them when I was in high school and it was awesome. They’d play these stingy little clubs, show up 2 hours late and it didn’t matter, we’d have the best time. So sure enough, a few years later when we hooked up with them in San Diego, it was the same thing; they were drunk, sloppy, but it was still awesome.”
The second and last time Incubus opened up for Sublime was on October 21st as José recalls: “We played with them here in LA, about a week later, and it was the tightest show I had ever seen. They played incredible and they were so tight. I don’t know what the change was, but it didn’t really matter to me, I was just a fan anyway.”
The Los Angeles show at The Palace was actually recorded and released by Sublime as a DVD/CD box-set titled 3 Ring Circus, Live At The Palace 1995. While Incubus is nowhere seen or heard on the DVD, Sublimes legendary performance that night was documented and later released in 2013. Incubus was the first band on the bill that night, followed by Lordz of Brooklyn, and Wesley Willis & his Fiasco Band. Sublime headlined, performing 27 songs that would end up being their first ever complete live recording on DVD and CD.
“I remember finding out about Sublime like maybe, 1990?” José recalls. “A friend of mine had a cousin who lived in San Diego and he had a demo of a lot of the ’40oz to Freedom’ songs. I remember listening to it incessantly and loving it! I didn’t hear anything like that before. It was a combination of so many different genres and Brad was such an insane guitar player and singer. I fell in love with it! That was one of my favorite bands growing up, and still to this day; I love those records!”.
Incubus is the largest active band to have ever opened for Sublime. They’ve sold over 23million records across 8 studio albums and are considered one of the most influential Alternative Rock bands in the world. One can only play the What If game on the number of tours these two groups could have shared.
Watch: Sublime – “Badfish” (Live at The Palace. 10/21/1995)
Watch: Incubus – “Wish You Were Here”