Free Moral Agents' Ikey Owens on Bradley Nowell: 'He Told Me I Played Too Much'

Sublime frontman Bradley Nowell, who died 15 years ago this month, left behind a legacy that is intrinsically tied to Long Beach and the rest of Orange County. This week's cover story 
pays tribute to the man who put Garden Grove on the map, who sang about the perils of date rape and invented the surf punk rock/reggae/ska hybrid that Southern California is now so famous for.

Long Beach resident Ikey Owens, former Long Beach Dub Allstars member, Free Moral Agents frontman and Mars Volta keyboardist, gives us his memories of Nowell and Sublime back in the day.


I was a huge Sublime fan. I used to see Sublime play at all these
backyard parties. They changed my life. They combined all kinds of
music–reggae, punk rock, ska. And I'd look around and see all kinds of
people at their shows.

To this day, there's no band that draws as many people in OC/LB as
Sublime did in 1992 … before they were signed by a record label, before
the Internet, they would just draw so many people. Stoner kids liked
them, metal kids liked them, hip-hop kids liked them, frat boys liked
them. It was THE band. It was the model a lot of bands based themselves
on. They created a culture.


In Mars Volta, we had a saying: “You bring your country with you wherever you go.”

They were one of the first bands I saw that brought their country
with them. I was in love with not only the music, but this whole
culture. When I was lucky enough to be in Long Beach Dub Allstars, I felt
like I already knew what that culture was just from listening to those
records. … All those people were true. And that culture carried on far
beyond Nowell's death.

Sublime put their culture on record: Long Beach, punk, reggae, the
drugs they did, the dogs, etc. They managed somehow to put more than
music on a cassette tape. It's beyond talent, and something I'm still
trying to learn. I'm still trying to put Free Moral Agents culture on