In HateSong, we ask our favorite musicians, writers, comedians, actors, and so forth to expound on the one song they hate most in the world.
The hater: Slow-voiced comedian Brian Posehn is no stranger to HateSong, having weighed in vehemently on Katy Perry’s “Firework.” With a new album, Criminally Posehn, out now on all digital platforms, he decided to pop back in with a little more hate, this time for something a little less adorably inspirational.
The hated: Sublime, “Santeria” (1996)
The A.V. Club: Why did you pick this song?
Brian Posehn: This is the second time I’ve done this, and it’s actually harder than one might think. Or at least for me, it is. It took a week or two to come up with this. I feel like going after a bad metal band is kind of the obvious choice, and the last time I went after Katy Perry. This time, kind of for the same reason, I’m going after Sublime.
It’s one of those things that I would never listen to on my own, but because I go outside sometimes, I’m exposed to terrible, terrible music in public. I haven’t actually heard this one in awhile, because I don’t go to Islands or Chili’s. There’s your regional shitty restaurant reference, right there. So I kind of haven’t heard it lately, but I feel that’s why, because it’s so overexposed. I hate any song that gets that in my face and already sucks, and this is just one of those.
There’s a lot of reasons with Sublime. We could keep going. I’m guessing we will.
AVC: Where are you from originally?
BP: Northern California. And that’s part of it. Sublime is so identified as a California band. I’m very old, so I’ve grown up with other shitty California bands. I wasn’t very proud of Starship when they did “We Built This City.” Even though I had Metallica… “Metallica, local band!” That kind of thing.
But then there’s these guys, and they just have that image. They remind me of guys I went to high school with that I don’t want to see at the reunion. Even though they’re SoCal, and that’s different from NorCal, it’s just that bro thing.
I think it’s only because the guy died. It’s sad that he died, the way that he died was sad, and leaving a baby and all that. And he’s young. But I think the real thing is they wouldn’t be at the level they are if he had stayed alive. They’d be forgotten. It’d be like Sugar Ray or 311 or someone else that you hated for a while, but then went, “Thank god I never hear them anymore.”
There’s a cult of Sublime. It’s like a terrible, stinkier Juggalo.
AVC: They became this legendary act that never lived up to their potential.
BP: It’s totally because those songs broke after he was already dead. If you look at the video, it’s terrible. All of the ones that they did are. It’s just the two guys that didn’t die standing around looking awkward and super Long Beach. Then they have Bradley [Nowell], because somebody got on their—well, they didn’t have cellphone cams back then—but they found shitty footage, and it’s all in black and white like he’s an angel now or whatever. Ugh.
I think that’s really the core of why they’re so huge. If he hadn’t have died, Sublime wouldn’t have been shoved down our throat as much as it was.
AVC: It feels a little bit like you can’t make fun of Sublime because the guy died.
BP: Well, I can see how some people would feel that.
AVC: But not you. And not me.
BP: Yeah. I can joke about that pretty quickly. Right after it happens.
AVC: What don’t you like about the song? I’m not into the appropriation of all the Spanish words.
BP: Yeah, it’s that whole vibe. It just feels fake. It feels like the guy you would hate in the quad that’s just all about fake, SoCal coffeehouse douchery.
I had to look up Heina, and the Sancho thing. It’s like, “Oh, wow, somebody in the band read Don Quixote.” The literary reference right there, that already throws me off, even though I usually love literary references in music. When Rush does it, they mean it. They all read Ayn Rand. But with this, it’s like, who’s Don Quixote? And they’re saying, “donkey hotie.” And then he has to go, “No, it’s this guy with this thing, never mind. Moving on.”
AVC: Even with Santeria you have to wonder what the band actually knows about that topic. They were undoubtedly not really that versed in the actual religion.
BP: This friend of his mom’s—the mom that he sings about smoking weed and crack, that mom—she has a friend who practices Santeria. That’s why.
And then the chorus comes out of nowhere. “All I really want to know,” and then it’s gibberish. He doesn’t say anything. “All I really want to know I already know / All I really want to say I can’t define, love that I need.” Fuck off.
I’m lost from the beginning. The lyrics and the shitty four chords… and I like songs that are four chords. I mean I love AC/DC and The Ramones. They just picked the worst chords. They picked the dumb chords. It starts with B, and everybody knows B sucks. And then from there it just gets worst. But it’s really the vibe.
AVC: The fake reggae thing? Or the bro thing?
BP: I know they’re not what a record company threw together, but it feels like that. It feels like they appropriated ska and took reggae, and it’s sort of punk, but not really, and then, just, ugh.
And acoustic guitars, too. I like acoustic guitars, but in this song, you just want to do the Belushi moment of taking it away from him and smashing it. If he was playing that around a fire along the beach, that’s where that song should have stayed. They should have never been signed. He should have just been sitting on the beach, and his friends should have said, “That’s a really good song, man.” That’s as far as that song should have gotten.
AVC: The line that really gets me is where he sings about popping a cap in Sancho. I know he was into hard drugs, but I doubt he ever thought about shooting someone or had anywhere near that amount of street cred.
BP: And he couldn’t get away with the next line either, about how he’d slap her down for some reason.
AVC: Sublime has a lot of questionable songs and lyrics.
BP: I wish [Bradley Nowell] were alive so we could question him.
AVC: At least you know the kind of guy that likes Sublime. They’re pretty easy to pick out. They’re almost emblematic.
BP: Right. And you don’t want to be around them. So why would you want to be reminded of them in a song? Being from California, they’re kind of like a spokesperson now. They’re like a shittier Springsteen. Jack Johnson, same thing. You would expect [it] while you’re grabbing a burger in Hawaii somewhere, and you’re mad that that song is playing.