Sublime/Brad Nowell and song writing
Whats up Andy i asked you a pretty long and detailed question about a bunch of random stuff a while ago and you gave me a really awesome answer. Thanks alot again for that. I have a new quesion for you that ive been thinking alot about. Was Brad writing songs when you lived with him? Like did he already have any of the songs that were on the 40oz album written before Sublime existed. Was he toying around with any of the ideas for the songs that came out on the albums tht sublime made whn you were with him. I heard somewhere that he wrote "date Rape" when he was 19. Im ultimatley looking for just some further knowledge as to his blossoming as a songwriter. When you knew him was he writing a bunch of songs or did he start writing more when sublime came together. If so was he just as good of a writer when you knew him? Thank you for your time. Greg
The short answer to the question if Brad wrote songs when I was living with him is absolutely yes. Which songs exactly, I'm not entirely sure.
Whenever Brad was writing or playing music, I was only sort of listening. I'm not really a musical type of person and I'm definitely not a musician so I couldn't 100 percent relate to his craft when he was doing it. I was also super young and too involved with my own crap so I didn't pay attention enough at all. Right before he moved out in June of 1988 from Santa Cruz and moved back to Long Beach, two different women came over and wrote down various lyrics and other stuff that Brad had written down. The answers to your questions lie in those notebooks and of course in the original notebook from Brad.
One song for sure that Brad wrote while we lived together is Ebin. Eben was this crazy looking guy, at least in 1987/1988. He was a white dude with super long dreads and then at the end of the dreads he had natural blonde hair growing out of them. First time I'd probably ever seen that. So Brad and I would see this dude around campus and be fascinated by him and then they had a class together. Eben came over to work on a project or something and they started to jam. It turns out that Eben wrote a song called Celebration or something like that and he showed it to Brad. Brad changed it around and intentionally misspelled his name and it turned into the song Ebin off of 40 Oz. to Freedom. Just type in "Eben Sterling's letter about Bradley Nowell" into a google search and you should get to read the letter in its entirety. I randomly saw Eben on the streets of San Francisco before Brad died and he had "changed." I'm so bummed that I never got to tell him this. He probably would have chuckled.
So Ebin is the only song that I know for sure that he wrote while we lived together but Eben's story makes me think that he wrote a few more. At least from the Ebin story, it sounds like Brad might have been inspired by something like a melody, a riff, a hook or a tiny snatch of lyrics and then just gone with it and cranked out a song relatively quickly.
This is what I think he did with the song Date Rape. Brad and I were at a party in Santa Cruz around 1987 and some idiot uttered the famous line, "If it wasn't for date rape, I'd never get laid." We were both disgusted but I didn't really think too much about it. I actually forgot about the entire incident until I heard the song (probably off of Jah Won't Pay the Bills). I was totally shocked. How the fuck did Brad take this little memory and turn it into an incredible song? Simply genius was my thinking.
So Date Rape didn't come out until 1990 but I assume that it was written right after we talked to the idiot at the party.
There are 4 songs on Sublime's first "official" recording, C003: Don't Push, Ball and Chain, Slow Ride and Date Rape. It is very possible that he wrote all four when we were living together but I will never know for sure. Actually, I'm pretty sure that Slow Ride was written during or after the summer of 1989. It's probably about Brad's girlfriend of the time Eileen. It's her and Brad's voices on the song after they have broken up or during a fight. This is just another incredible Sublime song and the only one of the four from C003 that didn't make it onto 40 Oz. to Freedom. If I had to guess, I would say that Brad wrote the song pretty soon after recording the two of them in that phone conversation.
One song that I think goes against my theory is Paddle Out. Most of the song is about Santa Cruz surf spots that Brad and I used to always check out and surf together. It is possible that he wrote the song while we were in Santa Cruz but I think it is unlikely. The song seems like filler on the self-titled album and I wouldn't be surprised if Brad wrote it in a rush while in Austin.
To be honest, I really don't know much about Brad's process as a song writer even when I lived with him. As I said before, I wasn't really paying much attention to those things. Brad mostly did his music thing by himself or with people like Eben. Brad and I would do basically four things together: surf, study, hang out, and party That was about it.
So sorry that I can't shed much light on Brad as a songwriter before and after the formation of Sublime. If I find any more information on it, I'll try to send it on to you.