You must have Adobe Flash Player to use this function.
By Jarrod Dicker
New Brunswick, NJ, USA
Slightly Stoopid and completely kick-ass, this Ocean Beach, San Diego band has been flooding the industry with reggae, punk and rock infused stylee’ (as Bradley would say) since 1996. After being signed to Skunk Records by Brad Nowell, Slightly Stoopid took control of their musical reins and rode their uniquely infused fashion and rhythm up the industry’s hierarchy, hitting the road and living the true grassroots rock n' roll lifestyle. Now a veteran group, Stoopid is headlining shows and collaborating with bands throughout the world. Front-man Miles Doughty states, “For us, the most important thing in the future, we just want to stay busy and always playing music – whether creating, touring, or just sitting on your couch and jamming. I think we'll always be recording. And just have fun – without the fun part, it aint worth it.” Amen. Jarrod Dicker speaks with drummer Ryan Moran and gets the lowdown behind the life, the partying and most importantly, the music that makes Slightly Stoopid…well…so BADASS!
(credit: Jeff Farsai)
THIRSTY: Who are Slightly Stoopid’s musical inspirations?
Rymo: Back in the old school or currently?
THIRSTY: Back in the old days… prior to Bradley Nowell signing the band in ‘96.
Rymo: There’s a lot of punk rock, honestly. In the beginning when Miles and Kyle started the band, they were listening to Operation Ivy, Rancid, Pennywise, Bad Religion, NOFX, tons of punk rock stuff. A lot of reggae influence too, you know. Of course Bob, but way deeper than just the Marley stuff like Barrington Levy, Half Pint,Yellow Man, Beenie Man, Buju Banton. Kind of all parallels of reggae, punk rock and ska…stuff like that.
THIRSTY: Specifically your role in Slightly Stoopid…Who were the main musicians that propelled you towards wanting to become a drummer?
Rymo: Who were MY main? Hmmm, well I started playing drums when I was a kid. There’s kind of a funny story I like to talk about involving my sister. I was bumping tons of Casey Kasem’s top 40 and all that crap, listening to that and “Putting on the Ritz” and all those 80’s cuts. My sister was into rock and punk, just the different styles of music. So she came into my room one day and gave me this cassette tape of a Led Zeppelin mix, and that changed my whole world. I started listening to Led Zeppelin, which became my favorite band when I was like 10. I would start playing drums along with John Bonham. That was sort of the beginning of it all. Then I went through tons of other influences like The Who, Motley Crue, Rush, and Living Colour. After the rock thing I started getting into a bunch of jazz. I got way into a lot of Jazz groups throughout high school and college. Kind of a pretty broad gamut of influences on me personally.
THIRSTY: How much does California shape the type of music Slightly Stoopid produces?
Rymo: I think California has an obviously great influence on us because we LIVE the California lifestyle. A lot of people that listen to this music...well let’s say it’s a popular genre and it’s fun...a lot of people can pick up a guitar, learn three chords and try to skank along and stuff. I think to really truly play it, and mean it; you also have to live that lifestyle of surfing, skateboarding, smoking, partying and having fun. We try to bring a little bit of the beach into the music because we’re all beach heads. You can’t really fake that. We just kind of grew up living that lifestyle and listening to those styles of music. We sort of bring the true California essence into what we do because we’re all born and bred here. I think that shows through the music.
THIRSTY: Marijuana is cherished in Slightly Stoopid’s lyrics. Is that more of a shtick or is that all real? The constant chronic smoking…
Rymo: Oh that’s no bull. It’s totally real, no shtick about it. The guys sing a lot about it because it’s a big part of their life and our lives in general. Why fake it? Spreading the happiness of the herbs…there it is.
(Image courtesy of Slightly Stoopid)
THIRSTY: How far back does your relationship go with Kyle and Miles?
Rymo: I’ve known them for probably eight years, and I’ve been a part of the band for six. Back in the day, I played with another group and we toured through the western region for three or four weeks. So we [Miles, Kyle and Rymo] got to know one another as friends and on an acquaintance level then. We also lived in the same neighborhood of Ocean Beach, San Diego, so we always knew of each other. We knew who we were from the scene even before we met officially eight years ago. So we go a little ways back.
THIRSTY: So when you joined Slightly Stoopid six years back, were they already something that you knew you could bank on? Their first LP was made in ’96 after signing with Bradley to Skunk Records, so they already had some history. Did you know that they really had something going on?
Rymo: Yea, I mean, for me I liked the music because when I toured with them in the past I thought they had some really great songs...something different, something cool. By the time everything came full circle and they basically invited me in, I knew it was already a place I would like to be. In fact, aside from the musical influences we had in common, it was also going back to the lifestyle thing...surfing, skating, smoking. I knew we were going to get along on a lot of levels, so it was sort of a natural choice. The group I was playing with before them, at about the exact time, was sort of at a stand-still, or a plateau so to speak. It just sort of came along at the right time. They gave me a call, and the group I was with was planning to take time off and make a record…be off the road. We were already all broke, barely making enough money to pay our bills. So when Miles and Kyle gave me a call they said, “Hey we have this big tour lined up, we need someone that can fill in and we think you’re the guy.” And I just said, yea I’m there! It was no looking back, just upward and forward from there. It’s been a good ride.
THIRSTY: Did you ever get the opportunity to cross paths with Brad Nowell?
Rymo: You know, I didn’t. I didn’t get to meet him. I heard of Sublime, of course, in the mid ‘90s and in San Diego I had friends that were really into them who were from LA. They had all the early records like 40oz to Freedom and Second Hand Smoke, Robbin’ the Hood, one of the first EPs. I knew who they were, and thought that the stuff was cool but I never got a chance to meet Brad.
THIRSTY: And now, other Sublime notables like Bud and Eric are musicians you see frequently, no?
Rymo: Kind of, I’ve never really met Bud. I played shows with Eric and Long Beach Dub. There is still a connection between our management and Sublimes old management with the Gasoline Alley thing. We were essentially the little brother band, and then when that whole Sublime thing sort of ended, we were the next one’s in line to continue on in that genre between Sublime and the formation of Long Beach Dub. That was sort of the natural progression of things.
THIRSTY: Slightly Stoopid is continuously touring, estimating around 150 shows a year. Is there a favorite place you guys like to go? Country or state?
Rymo: Anywhere where there’s a coast line, to be honest with you. Within the country we do really well, and we actually have a very decent following around the entire country now which is great. Outside of the immediate country we love to go to Hawaii, Guam, Japan, Australia those kind of places that are warm and fun, we love those places. We’re getting ready now to go to Europe in a week or two. We definitely prefer to be somewhere warm and sunny with a nice coastline. It’s part of the job. You’re paid to basically travel and music’s the fun part [haha].
(Image courtesy of Slightly Stoopid)
THIRSTY: Is there a specific venue where you guys love to play?
Rymo: There have been a few, but definitely Red Rocks in Colorado is one of my favorites, and the Greek Theatre in Berkeley. I used to go see shows there when I was a kid, because I’m originally from San Francisco. It’s a real cool honor to have had seen shows somewhere and then you get to eventually play there. The Gorge in Washington is totally beautiful, definitely on par with the finest natural beauty and surroundings, and a great “nice feeling” venue. We played Central Park a few years back and had a great time there. We wanted to go back, but kind of got banned [haha]. We would like to play there again. That’s a legendary place to me, if you look back on the acts that have played there it’s basically a “who’s who” of musicians who’ve played there. I like playing venues where the four fathers have been, the heavyweights…those are the places that I look at and say this is cool, we’re playing where the Grateful Dead used to play, or Dave Matthews played here last week and now we’re headlining it. It’s an honor to follow these bands that are really in “that thing” and they make a touring blueprint that we’re following. Not mainstream pop acts but more grassroots/blue collar groups who tour and tour and tour like Phish or a Pink Floyd, Santana thing back in the day, an act that’s built on touring. To think those guys played it and now we get to play it, you know? COOL!
THIRSTY: Slightly Stoopid is on their own independent label, Stoopid Records. What are the perks with having your own label? Do you enjoy it?
Rymo: Absolutely. We have control over our catalog which is huge because people commonly mistake the idea of a record deal. It is essentially like a glorified loan, someone’s giving you 100, 200, 300,000,000 dollars to record an album that they want to promote, that they’re initially interested in. If they don’t like it, then maybe you get to keep the 10k or whatever they let you put in your pocket, but the rest of that money freezes and they can shelf your album, never to be seen again. It will end up on the shelves somewhere and then the record label owns you and your balls. So, when you have an independent thing, what we’ve been able to do fortunately is preserve the ownership of all our music. We own our masters, we decide what artistic direction we’re going to take on every disc, it’s not like we have to go to a studio and please some guy in a suit in a tie. You know? Some idiot that doesn’t even know about music. It’s like we want to put music out that we think the fans are going to like or else what’s the point? We don’t have to please some dude in a suit that doesn’t know musically his ass from his elbow...we don’t have to do that with our own independent thing, we call the shots. So there we have artistic freedom and artistic power in that. That is, I mean, it’s like nothing else, that’s the most important perk that exists.
(Image courtesy of Slightly Stoopid)
There are obviously advantages with going with a major label when you have a machine working behind you. You have people paying to get you on radio stations, and your marketing team gets you on the cover of Rolling Stone whether you deserve it or not. But when you do it underground grassroots, you get a more loyal fan base and a more true respect because the musicianship always shines in a touring atmosphere. That’s the funny thing when you look at all the bands who come and go and change their style every five years to whatever’s “hip” right now. All these bands have spiked hair and look like they haven’t showered in two weeks and are wearing eyeliner. Years ago, all those bands trying to do the rap/rock thing, and five years before that they were trying to do something else, whatever the flavor of the moment was. So it’s like we just look at those other bands and say “look nice try but were not dressing up or dolling ourselves up to go with whatever metro trend exists right now.” We dress the same as we did when we started. What you see is what you get. Musically that allows “it” [the music] to stand on its own two feet. We aren’t dolling it up with a bunch of makeup and light.
THIRSTY: Stoopid’s played with various other musicians. Which one specifically was your favorite that you truly enjoyed collaborating with on stage?
Rymo: We just did a pretty fun tour this past summer. To date, it was one of my favorite tours because we had Mickey Avalon, Stephen Marley and Snoop Dogg. We were co-headlining with Snoop so we would switch who would headline each night. We had him come on stage with us a couple nights, and Stephen Marley came up and sang with us on a couple tunes. It was just so fun because here we are, guys who grew up listening to Snoop. Of course in more recent years Stephen, Damian and Ziggy Marley in that matter, listening to that too. And to be able to play with these guys and have them sit in with us is just a huge honor. Not to mention it was all the way around really fun, and all three camps were totally getting along and hanging out every day. That was one of my favorite tours. And we’ve had the opportunity to play with a bunch of different bands and all types of music. Our favorite tours are ones where we’re all hanging out. All the bands are gelling and creating one big happy family. If you’re on the road for a month you’re seeing the same guys every day, day in and day out seven days a week. It’s the same crew guys and band guys so if you could get along and high five and work out the social atmosphere it’s great. We’ve also been on other tours where we haven’t gotten any love on a social level. I won’t mention any names, but this one particular band that I was a huge fan of weren’t showing any love. They weren’t even trying to talk to us. We know those guys are cool but they aint THAT cool. To us, the most important thing is to be on a good social level. You have to create a fun atmosphere where everyone can get along and hang out. The best about this last tour was everyone getting along, grooving, great fun.
THIRSTY: Is there a specific song or album that you were a part of that you were extremely happy with? Or one that’s extremely personal to you?
Rymo: Yea I have a lot of favorite tunes. Man... I’m happy with every album I’ve been a part of. We’ve done three studio albums since I’ve been in the band and one live double disc. I’m really happy with each of them; they’re all a little different and highlight different evolutions of the band. My favorite songs that we’ve done as we go is “Collie Man” and “Closer to the Sun,” a couple of my favorites, couple of Kyle’s tunes. I like the mellow stuff but I also like the stuff that’s more punk rock depending on my mood like “Righteous Man.”
THIRSTY: What’s currently going on in the Slightly Stoopid camp? What should the fans expect after the European tour? Is there a new album? More touring?
Rymo: After this…well we’re just coming off this fun Snoop tour and playing huge amphitheaters, selling tons of tickets. We’re going over to Europe and trying to start from scratch there. No matter how big and how much better things get there’s still so much to grab, it’s a big world out there. We’re basically going over to Europe to start over, playing for 200-500 people a night at smaller clubs and bars and little music venues. So we’ll be over there for about three weeks doing different things and traveling our asses off. Once we get home from there…well we just recently got this new jam studio/office space and it’s been great because we haven’t really had a really good place where we can leave all our shit set up and jam and have all our road gear and things sort of in the same building. It’s always like you have some gear at your house, at the studio, in the storage space. Now we have everything in a centralized place and I think between now and after the next tours over we’re going to get back and start writing and refining some tunes in the studio here. I think the next album is going to be great because we’re going to have a lot more time and energy to focus on the new record. We’re hoping to get something out by the summer of next year.
THIRSTY: Good luck to you guys in Europe. You truly do great stuff and I’m sure they’ll love it over there. I’d love as soon as you guys come back and release a new album to speak with the group again, it was great fun.
Rymo: That’d be great, I think we’ll be in the NY area in November.
THIRSTY: Sounds great. Good luck man.
Rymo: Thanks Jarrod, appreciate it, talk to you soon.