One of the most tragic things that can happen to a musical act is to lose a band member to drugs. But in the case of Sublime, the tragedy of losing their singer Brad Nowell in 1996 to a heroin overdose could not have come at a worse time. The band was just about to release their self-titled third album and were on the verge of exploding in popularity. Once Nowell died, the band effectively dissolved as their album raced up the charts, backed by the success of the hit singles “What I Got,” “Santeria” and “Wrong Way.”

Fast forward 13 years to 2009, when the surviving members of the band teamed up with Rome Ramirez, a singer/guitarist and lifelong Sublime fan, who was eventually offered a chance to front the band (now known as Sublime with Rome).

Sublime with Rome have stuck together to record two albums (with a third in the works) and at 8 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 12, they are headed to Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa for a one night only performance. We had a chance to speak with Ramirez on what it has been like going from fan to frontman. Here’s what he had to say…

Atlantic City Weekly: Tell us how you ended up getting involved with Sublime.

Rome Ramirez: Well I moved down to LA around 2007 and I met the bass player Eric Wilson at a recording studio in Orange County. Me and him just kinda became friends and then he always used to throw these really great parties where musicians would jam and everything. I went to a lot of those parties and we would jam and a lot of people would request Sublime songs, so we would play them. After about two or three years, he asked me what I thought of the idea of joining Sublime. I said ‘hell yeah!’ and here we are.

ACW: Were you always a fan of Sublime growing up?

RR: Yeah they were my favorite band growing up. They are the reason I got into guitar. I always had a love for live music, but I always used to listen to reggae and hip hop, but when I heard Sublime for the first time that’s when I was like ‘whoa!’ Sublime got me into punk and into guitar and it was pretty awesome.

ACW: You’ve been singing with the band for a while now. Have you noticed a change in the fans reaction to you compared to when you first started? Are they more accepting now?

RR: Now it’s a lot more laid back experience. I no longer feel like the audience is looking at us and saying ‘can they do it?’ because we have been a band for so long now. I just kinda feel like the people who don’t really want to rock with us, they don’t come to the shows and obviously all the people who do continue to show up and they are great people and it continues to grow. We are really fortunate because it’s been 10 years and we are still rocking. It’s a really special situation to be in.

ACW: Tell us about the new record.

RR: This is the first thing we have put out since 2015. We went into the studio a couple of years ago to try and do some music and we came out with one track. The rest of the songs were just ‘alright’, nothing great that we wanted to put out. And it wasn’t until we had the song Wicked Heart that we got really excited. The album just kind of came together after that. It was the spark we needed. We had some great producers like Rob Cavallo and Andrew Goldstein working on it with us and we just put together 12 great songs.

ACW: Does it feel like old sublime or does it go in a new direction.

RR: Everything we do will always hold the integrity of the old stuff and the sound of what the band is, but we want to keep moving in a forward direction and see what elements we can bring to the band. And how we can engage new listeners and pull them into the Sublime family. We have a subculture within the reggae rock community and its growing. I think it’s important to keep the sound familiar, but keep expanding musically as well.

ACW: What can we expect from the live show?

RR: We kinda live by the rule of thirds. So it’s a third of it is hits and classic Sublime stuff that everybody loves, the other third is b side favorites and some things from “Robbin the Hood” and then the last third is Sublime with Rome songs where we do some stuff from the last two albums and some new stuff. We’re bangin’ man — it sounds good!