The Long Way Back, a new Sublime documentary, details how drug addiction ravaged the California ska-punk band after frontman Bradley Nowell’s 1996 death from a heroin overdose. The film premieres October 17th via VOD platforms, including iTunes and Amazon.
The doc’s gripping trailer, premiering at Rolling Stone, highlights how Nowell’s drug abuse and tragic death affected his family, bandmates and Sublime’s hard-partying entourage, including childhood friend Todd “Z-Man” Zalkins. “It was sex, drugs and rock and roll,” friend Mike Tracy says in the clip, detailing the band’s downfall. “Then it was drugs and rock and roll. Then it was just drugs.”
Two months after Nowell’s death, the group released their eponymous final album. Bassist Eric Wilson and drummer Bud Gaugh reunited in 2009 to form Sublime With Rome, performing the band’s songs with singer Rome Ramirez.
“When Brad died, I thought that would have been a wake-up call. It was the exact opposite,” says Dave Donaldson, who was friends with the band. “Stuff ourselves with whatever fuckin’ substances we can to numb the pain and act like we’re still having fun.”
The movie focuses on Zalkins’ slide into a 17-year opioid addiction, his eventual recovery and his quest to help Nowell’s son, Jakob Nowell, get clean after his own battles with drugs and alcohol.
“There was this subconscious desire to kind of understand what my dad’s experiences were,” Jakob Nowell admits in the clip. “Why would he smoke this? Why would he snort that? Why would he drink this? Why would he pop that.”
The trailer ends on an intimate note, as Jakob performs a solo acoustic version of Sublime’s “Boss DJ,” a track from the band’s second LP, Robbin’ the Hood.