Pepper and Hirie contribute on new Sublime compilation ‘The House That Bradley Built’

A 2019 photo of Pepper performing at the Wonderfront Music & Arts Festival.
(Isiah Jones/ )

It’s hard to imagine anyone could have predicted the enduring legacy of Long Beach ska-punk trio Sublime — especially during its tumultuous decade as a band.

Although guitarist/singer Bradley Nowell, bassist Eric Wilson, and drummer Bud Gaugh were undoubtedly headed for mainstream success at the time of Nowell’s 1996 overdose, achieving worldwide superstardom never seemed like a possibility.

But thanks to multi-platinum album sales and extensive influence on like-minded acts, Sublime did become a superstar band, and continues to be one of the genres most beloved bands.

Now, with the release of “The House That Bradley Built,” the Sublime’s legacy is set to include a very different kind of chapter.

In hopes of constructing a 6-bed opioid recovery center, The Nowell Family Foundation — a nonprofit founded by the late frontman’s relatives in 2017 — has teamed with LAW Records for the upcoming benefit album, out Sept. 4.

Featuring 24 acoustic Sublime covers, artists and bands such as Pennywise, Trevor Young of SOJA, G. Love & Special Sauce, Descendents, and Long Beach Dub Allstars are part of an extensive roster contributing to the cause.

Also participating in the project are a couple of local favorites (both via Hawaii): Reggae-rock trio Pepper, as well as the Trish Jetton-fronted Hirie. Each make an appearance on the album, while Pepper’s LAW Records is the label behind the release.

“It’s been an incredible opportunity to work with all of these people,” said Pepper singer/guitarist Kaleo Wassman. “Bradley and his band inspired us and now we’re able to work with his family through our record label. I just feel a ridiculous amount of gratitude. It’s a beautiful situation.”

Born from a single phone call between LAW Records General Manager Paul Milbury and Nowell’s sister, Kellie Nowell, the project came together with relative ease.

The extended web of bands that at one time had a relationship with Sublime, or were directly inspired by them, got on board without hesitation, especially because profits from the record will help build the Bradley’s House rehab center.

“I’ve had my own struggles with abuse,” said Hirie’s Jetton. “So it’s amazing to be a part of something that could really help someone else. It’s great to be able to give back in that way.”

“People are inherently good,” added Wassman. “I’ve never lost my faith in them. And now all these connections are allowing us to be a service to others and really help. It reminds me of how beautiful humanity can be.”

With 24 bands choosing a song to cover, things could have gotten messy. But Wassman says that didn’t happen — not only are there no repeats on the album, each contributing act ended up covering the song that meant the most to them.

“When you deal with a band that has such a massively good catalog,” explained the Pepper front man, “it wasn’t very hard for different songs to resonate with different bands. And that really goes to show the power of Sublime.”

For Hirie, the decision to cover “Saw Red” was a simple one. The band was already playing it in its set. But for Jetton, the song holds a deeper meaning.

“Everything we do is so regimented,” she said. “And when I saw Bradley and (No Doubt singer) Gwen (Stefani) doing it on YouTube, they were just so loose. Putting it in our set is a constant reminder to just be in the moment. So it really was an easy decision to incorporate it into the album.”

“The House That Bradley Built” will be released on Sept. 4 across all platforms, and will also be available as an 180-gram collectors edition vinyl.

While the album stands as a testament to the many professional and personal lives that Sublime touched, its potential to truly make a difference for other musicians who are struggling with addiction should prove to be its greatest achievement.

For the Nowell family, it represents the possibility of saving others from the suffering they’ve had to endure, as well as the chance to become a fundamental part of Sublime’s legacy.

“Bradley’s music lives on in the hearts and minds of his fans and fellow musicians,” said Nowell’s father, Jim “Papa” Nowell. “Through the combined effort of everyone who has been touched by his music, Bradley’s House will happen. People will be transformed. Lives will be saved. And it will truly be the house that Bradley built.”