Sublime's Eric Wilson and Floyd "Bud" Gaugh have taken legal action against Southern California tribute band Sublime Remembered for allegedly claiming to feature original members of the band in its promotion. The tribute band says it's a misunderstanding.
Craig Huber, attorney for Wilson and Gaugh, filed the complaint September 22 in Los Angeles federal court claiming trademark infringement and dilution, unfair competition and unjust enrichment. Included is a demand for accounting with the goal of securing a permanent injunction.
Huber said the allegations come from reports that Sublime Remembered musician Mike Houlihan, who uses the stage name Q-Ball, claims he used to perform with the original members.
"That's one of the allegations. They've also been, in their advertisements, representing themselves to be comprised of former members of Sublime. I've got two of their flyers and both of them actually said 'featuring' former members of the band," the attorney told Pollstar. "That's how, as we understood, they were representing themselves to the venues when they tried to get bookings.
"It came to light that at least in some venues, this Q-Ball - because of his physical similarity to the actual bass player, Eric - was pretending to be him."
Sublime disbanded about 10 years ago following the death of lead singer Bradley Nowell, but its popularity hasn't waned. Wilson still performs with his band, Long Beach Shortbus, and Gaugh has worked with various bands including Eyes Adrift and Long Beach Dub Allstars.
Huber said Wilson and Gaugh want any references to their former band to be removed from the tribute band's promotion materials.
"I've talked to [Houlihan] extensively and I've been negotiating with him to get them to stop and to shut down that band. He's agreed to stop using the name Sublime Remembered and to change their name," Huber said. "One other part that Bud wanted was that they aren't able to represent themselves even as the band 'formerly' [known as] Sublime Remembered.
"That's one of the things our guys were adamant about - they want [the name] 'Sublime Remembered' dead because of the abuses."Houlihan confirmed to Pollstar that he's in negotiations with Huber to work out the situation, but the details aren't ironed out yet.
"I knew Bradley, I grew up in Long Beach. I was involved in producing a few Sublime concerts at different clubs in Orange County and Long Beach. I love the music, so when the opportunity came up to do a tribute to Sublime, we did it. "Our Web site clearly states we are a tribute band, and it always has. There were some conflicts, us using the logos, this and that," he said. "I've heard people from the audience yell 'Hey, Eric!' because I have a bald head. Every chance I get, I correct them on it."
The rumored dispute carried over to the Internet, with Sublime fans bashing the tribute band on message boards for Long Beach Shortbus and Skunk Records, calling them posers, among other things.
Documents obtained by Pollstar include an attorney's letter, dated September 21, from Houlihan to Huber claiming slander and libel in regard to those posts. In October, Skunk Records' chat board posted a notice asking that negative posts about Sublime Remembered cease because of "pending legal issues in court."
Meanwhile, Sublime Remembered continues to perform, with shows booked through the end of December, but announced on its Web site the name would be changing in January.