Rome Ramirez always understood that heeding his parents’ advice didn’t exactly validate his street cred. But as a bored teen in Fremont who regularly escaped via BART to Berkeley and San Francisco concerts, he did it anyway.
“All my mom ever told me since I was a kid was ‘Do what you love and the money will follow,’ and she didn’t care what I did, as long as I was happy and healthy,” recalls the charismatic singer, who — as simply Rome — just issued his soulful debut EP “Dedication” and appears with his all-time favorite band Sublime in Berkeley tonight.
“Mother knows best, and everything she’s ever told me about the world has been true,” Rome says.
Rome, 24, is amazed that his Mexican-American folks not only approved of his two dozen tattoos, but encouraged him to leave home to pursue a rock career. They even introduced him to crucial Motown, reggae, hip-hop and punk rock records that would form his taste and R&B-smooth vocal approach.
“My mother always trusted me with the knowledge that she bestowed on me, trusted that I would use it wisely, and I feel like I have,” he says. “I don’t do any drugs, don’t belong to any gang, never got caught up in any bulls---, ever. I’m all about my music, my fans and my family.”
The kid has lived a charmed life. He picked up guitar at 11, then picked up bass, piano, drums and Pro-Tools. “I was broke, so I had to guerilla everything, and now I’m a firm believer in micromanaging,” he says of his early efforts.
Even on “Dedication,” and its full-length follow-up in September, he played almost every instrument, then allowed his work to be polished by top-flight producers like Benny Blanco, Robopop and The Futuristics.
Rome met Sublime’s founding bassist Eric Wilson — who closed the book on his band after frontman Bradley Nowell’s death in 1996 — by accident a few years ago, when they were both haunting the same Costa Mesa studio.
They started jamming, then Wilson asked him if he would perform a Sublime song with him at a house party. The protégés jumped at the chance, and soon they were recording the 2011 comeback “Yours Truly” as Sublime with Rome.
No matter how well “Dedication” does, Rome will stay with Wilson as long as he’ll have him.
“There will always be a Sublime. Always,” says Fremont’s local hero. “My solo career? That’s a job. Sublime is just fun to me. If I wasn’t with them professionally, I’d be singing Sublime songs in a cover band somewhere!”
IF YOU GO
Sublime with Rome
Where: Greek Theatre, 201 Gayley Road, Berkeley
When: 6 p.m. today
Contact: (800) 845-3000; www.ticketmaster.com