Welcome to Part 2 of our Exclusive Interview with southern California artist, Opie Ortiz, who brings a strong tattoo influence and culture to his art. Ortiz’s work is best recognized as the visual art for Sublime and Long Beach Dub Allstars. He designed the infamous 40oz to Freedom sun and his face is on Sublime’s Robbin the Hood album. He later became one of the vocalists for Long Beach Dub Allstars where he continued his artwork for the group, designing both Right Back (1999) and Wonders of the World (2001).
In part 2 of this Exclusive Interview, Opie Ortiz further discusses his involvement with Long Beach Dub Allstars, meeting Barrington Levy with Ras-1, performing the Skunk Records 25th Anniversary show at this May’s 5th Annual California Roots Music & Arts Festival, as well as his relationship today with surviving Sublime members, Bud Gaugh and Eric Wilson. He touches briefly on Sublime with Rome and much like his song “Listen to DJs”, he encourages artists today to do their research when playing and experimenting with Reggae music — Enjoy Part 2 of this Exclusive Interview with Opie Ortiz…
You Can Read Part 1 of this Interview by Clicking HERE!
For a lot of the bands that were inspired by Sublime and Long Beach Dub Allstars, it’s heard in the sound that you guys pioneered. Did you have any idea the impact ‘Dub Allstars was having on the music scene and fans in general? I don’t think ‘Dub Allstars gets enough credit today for the music put out back then…
Yeah, we were ‘Dub Allstars and all that, but when we got there we were just there to have a good time. If we were having a good time, we were going to have a good time playing music. We didn’t live by the pen where we were all: “Okay we’re going to do this, our set-list is this” – We weren’t like that. We weren’t structured. Maybe that was part of why we were what we were, but maybe that’s what our epic downfall was. Once we started to get more structured and all that, it started to take away from what we were about. It’s hard to be in that whole structured world of music and be as big with as many members as we had. We were doing some wild stuff. We were bringing in artists that, normally, you would probably see some collaborations like that, but not as blatant as we were doing it. You knew you were going to see some good reggae like Barrington Levy, Half Pint or maybe HR or Mad Lion, Born Jamericans, something like that. We wanted to bring the stuff that we appreciated.
Yeah and I think it’s those very collaborations that introduced a lot of us Sublime fans to the depths of reggae music. It also set the tone for what bands do today with bringing on guest artists, some of them using the same artists that you guys first featured. How were you guys able to get all of these guest appearances on board? Just a few years prior Sublime was covering & sampling a lot of these artists and then within a couple years, ‘Dub Allstars formed & those very artists are gravitating towards your movement…
One funny story, is me & Ras-1, we played Reggae on the River one year… Ras & I were sitting there and we saw Barrington Levy and obviously you know who Barrington Levy is if you’re into reggae, right? So we’re like “Oh hey Barrington” and we’re just sitting there, rapping, telling him who we are and where we’re from and he straight says to us: “Tell Jon Phillips, I want my money!” (haha)…Just letting you know, that’s one of the connections right there! The other way to make a deal is: “Hey, we’ll put you on a little mini tour or we’ll put you on this album.” We’ll trade or barter, you know what I mean? A lot of those Long Beach Dub Allstar collaborations were ways to get a link with Barrington, get a link with Half Pint and now those links are super strong! You have Slightly Stoopid doing stuff with Barrington and Barrington doing a lot more collab’s – I don’t know if we opened the door for that, but it doesn’t matter, music is key to bring all cultures together. Play good music and there’s no way of denying it, no matter what culture you come from.
You mentioned Ras-1, do you still maintain a good relationship with him today? Is he someone that will be a part of the Skunk Anniversary?
Yeah! I don’t know about the first show. I’m more concerned with the first couple shows before the actual festival, so I don’t know the actual line-up of who’s going to be playing, but I’d love to have Ras on board. I mean we have Aaron Owens from Hepcat playing guitar right now and then we have Miguel. I don’t know, the players are going to be changing. We’ll see who’s jumping in for a set or for a song or two. That’s basically what I’m going to be doing. I’m just going to be playing 4 or 5 songs.
You said you have a couple new songs you’re going to be performing at the festival?
Yea one is called “Don’t Get Me Down” and another one is called “I Don’t Care.”
Would you say that performing with Long Beach Dub Allstars was your entrance to music in performing as a vocalist?
Yeah, I had a lot of people around me to give me pointers… The other vocalists Jack (Maness) & Ras would always let me know if I was out of my range or not. I would just try to be comfortable. We were just trying to play the jams and do the versions of it. It was never me trying to be Brad or whatever.
Then you started doing guest spots. I remember you did a couple songs singing with Capitol Eye.
Yeah, those are all just homies who’d be like: “Hey, get on a song!” It was never like we ever planned anything. I did a couple of those that were planned out. That was another band where we were just good mutual friends and I just love their music so we linked up.
You mentioned about music today being too digital & too produced. Tanya Moore of Moore Media had a question wanting to know, what the biggest change you’ve seen that’s damaged the music industry – And on the flip-side, what is the biggest advantage that musicians have today and what do you see as the next big movement in the industry?
The downfall I see is just the repetitive pop-culture! I mean, write one song and come up without having to write a full album. The shift has changed because of the shuffle on the iPod where it’s no longer a story, you’re no longer signing up for the movie, you know? The next song isn’t a continuation. When musicians write their album it’s kind of like a movie, you set up another song with another song to where it sets up a story or it creates visual or it flows together well. There’s no continuity to peoples albums anymore. There’s no story. Now it’s just “look at me, I have tits & ass, and I can yell and auto-tune and shake my ass and twerk and I’m the shit!” It’s all repetitive bullshit and it’s not teaching of the culture. Our culture is fucked because these lazy parents didn’t teach their kids their culture. So now you have kids wandering around going: “What do I do?” The laziness era of “Oh I can just go look it up on the internet”. Back in the day there was no fucking Internet! The music industry is scrambling for artists because they don’t make any money now selling albums, it’s all downloads. So I think they’re fucked because the video game people are taking over. They’re no longer going to be around because people are just going to be making up their own shit. Making their own albums, producing their own stuff for their own labels — which is good too… It’s like now, I been tattooing for 20 something years and on every channel there’s a tattoo show. On every street there’s a tattoo shop, & it’s all just become so saturated – it’s like the music industry! Everybody’s a producer, everybody’s a singer, and everybody’s a dancer. It’s like, who’s an actual writer anymore?
With you knowing Brad and seeing how quickly the Self-Titled album took off after Brad’s passing, how do you think Brad would have handled Sublime’s success on the mainstream today?
Brad was very charismatic with his words and his philosophy; I think he would have gone into some acting, cause he was so witty with his shit! He was just so on point and critical, but not loud about it. He wasn’t into writing pop shit. I think he thought it would blow up, but I don’t think he thought it would blow up that much. You know how Chris Cornell is doing songs for 007 movies? I can just see Brad doing that shit. Like him doing a solo album, being a hip hop producer. Cultural music was flowing through his veins, he knew that and I tripped out on him because of that. He wanted that knowledge & understanding of all things music.
Obviously the genre is widely influential. There’s a whole community with it that we’re seeing at Cali-Roots celebrating and sampling that sound. If Sublime would have stayed going and the tragedy with Brad didn’t happen, how might the music industry look different?
It’s always those 3 white kids playing reggae — everyone’s always like “Shut Up!” Then you hear it and its like “Woah” and its comparable to being at a reggae show. I trip out today when I see all these bands coming out and everyone’s like “oh they’re fucking good!” But to me, you listen to a song and the up-skanks doesn’t really make it reggae, you know? Reggae is not “Irie, fucking smoking doobies rasta-man,” okay? Reggae is island-soul; it has a lot more than just “irie-man”. It’s jazz, its fusion, it’s everything! It’s a lot of different music melded together to make it what it is. I’m not saying I’m Chuck Foster or anything, but I study my shit and I know era’s of music. You have to study your shit and know it and when you play it, don’t fuck around; Be authentic! Create something out of what people have shown you. That’s all Brad did. He was just trying to create something out of this wandering love he had for the music.
Do you think that’s a lot of what reggae-rock bands, today, aren’t doing enough of with their research? Like, too many bands are trying to immolate Sublime or maybe it rubs off as being the bulk of their influence? The sound, for a lot of them, can be very telling…
Well that’s their own downfall, you know? If that’s all your listening to! I remember this one time, ‘Dub Allstars played this show in Tulsa, Oklahoma and the Skatalites opened up for us & I was fucking blown away; I was just so stoked to see the Skatalites on this huge stage in Tulsa, Oklahoma. And all these kids kept coming up to me and they’re like wearing Rancid shirts & shit and I finally had it! I was like “You better shut up; this is the band that started it all.” I’m explaining to these kids: “You’re trying to talk to me, but you’re missing the Godfathers of Ska on the stage right now!” People are still jaded to the original shit! They have to study and figure it out. Brad wasn’t the originator of that style, he was just one of the players! That defines a good player too, because that’s what reggae music is – It’s like you write all the same rhythms, but you stand out because your shit is original!
Right and with you guys playing Cali-Roots, it’s a 3 day festival full of a lot of these Reggae-Rock bands – Are there any bands on that line-up or any contemporary Reggae-Rock bands that stick out to you that you’ve taken notice to?
Iration. I’ve heard them and a couple other bands that I felt had a lot to offer. They have really good singers and the foundation of music sounds solid. So I mean there are the kids that study and when they go up to play, they’re using, not just what Brad put out there, but there’s so much out there.
I wanted to touch on Sublime with Rome – I think in the beginning, a lot of fans were excited because they thought they were going to get that next coming of Sublime with Bud & Eric coming back together. As time went on, Bud left & die-hard Sublime fans were vocal in missing that Long Beach movement that the name ‘Sublime’ was tied to. As part of that movement, were you approached to be a part of that reformation?
Yeah I was approached, just like I imagined other people were. But I can see stuff, the smoke-screens and stuff like that. I did like one logo for them and I wish all the best for Bud and Eric on their musical ventures because we’re all homies! It doesn’t really matter what you do to make money as long as your kids eat and you’re providing for them. If you have an itch that you need to play music and provide music for people and you have a stage to do it, you better fucking well do it! But in the back of my mind, I was like “I will never go see that” you know? Because I have a bias opinion! I basically watched Brad grow into a full-fledged writer & composer… I went and saw, Badfish (Sublime Cover-band) one time and I took my kids. That was cool.
How is your relationship with Bud and Eric today?
We’re all cool. I see Eric more than Bud. I talked to Bud like right after he quit Sublime with Rome and he needed to talk to me about it. I never really talked to Eric about it because it’s not an issue; we’re homies beyond that. He’s big balling, shot calling you know what I’m saying? (haha) His brother Brad looked out for Eric. He has a love for Eric and Bud. I remember him for the longest time; they didn’t have Bud playing drums. Brad wanted Bud to play drums so bad, like he wanted to go take Bud hostage away from this Christian group that Bud was playing in. That’s how bad Brad wanted to play music with Bud. So we actually went there, to the Christian thing and we were going to like, hi-jack Bud! We were going to take him hostage! But Bud was just so happy we couldn’t kick him out of that, but it was a trippy moment. Brad was searching for that key element that he needed and Bud was a part of it.
What projects do you personally have coming up aside from the Skunk Anniversary & playing Cali-Roots? Any music of yours fans can look into?
I work with my brother off & on, his name is Philie-Ano. He had his album Holy-Homework come out on Skunk. He worked with Miguel and some production by Marshall and Miguel. He does like hip-hop stuff. I might be doing some more with my brother. I’m finishing up these songs with Miguel that we’ve been writing, but they’re coming along. We already have 2 of them, 3 of them in the works and we’ll play a couple of them.
Will you guys be playing some ‘Dub Allstars as well?
I think so. I think we’re going to throw some of those in there, like “My Own Life”. Possibly “Rolled Up” and a couple of other ones.
Right on – well we can’t wait for this set at the festival and I appreciate you letting me take up a bit of your time to ask some questions. Thank you very much, Opie! This was a long time coming with us talking!
Yeah, I support you guys because you’ve always supported us. I know a couple of you guys personally so I mean it’s always good to get the word out there to people that are going to relay the message in a proper way so everyone stays updated and knows what’s actually going on!
You Can Read Part 1 of this Interview by Clicking HERE!
Exclusive Sublime Blog
Miguel Happoldt Exclusive Interview Pt 1
Opie Ortiz Exclusive Interview Pt 1
Marshall Goodman Exclusive Interview Pt 1
Marshall Goodman Exclusive Interview Pt 2
Interview by: Mike Patti
Photos by: David Norris
Watch: Skunk Records 25th Anniversary Show – Belly Up Tavern. San Diego, CA
Listen: Long Beach Dub All Stars – “Listen to DJs”