Hailing from Ocean Beach, California, Slightly Stoopid has been psychedelically shaking up the reggae rock scene since 1995. Co-founders Kyle McDonald & Miles Doughty as guitarists, bassists and vocalists, lead this multi-instrumental group. The other band members consist of Ryan “RyMo” Moran on drums; percussionist Oguer “OG” Ocon; Daniel “Dela” Delacruz as one of two saxophonists; keyboardist Paul Wolstencroft; trumpet and trombone player Andy Geib; and the “unofficial 8th member” Karl Denson on saxophone.
Slightly Stoopid has made ten studio albums and on June 30th, they will release their latest musical project, Meanwhile… Back at the Lab. This release will be debuted under Stoopid Records, the bands’ own label. Back at the Lab will kick-off Slightly Stoopid’s Summer 2015 tour, “Everything is Awesome” on July 8th; I was lucky enough to talk to RyMo about what’s new and what’s next for this relaxed, Cali bunch.
Known for their heavy tour schedule, Slightly Stoopid has almost always conducted a Summer tour since their debut when Bradley Nowell of Sublime originally signed them. While the tours almost always fall after a release of new music, I wanted to know the reasons behind Slightly Stoopid touring more than any other band of their genre or popularity level.
“We tour a bunch because we love it,” RyMo explained. “We have always been a working, touring band. It is a conscious decision for sure because it has consistently been the way we support ourselves. Nowadays, the industry has shifted, and the Internet has leveled the field for artists. File sharing, iTunes, YouTube, Facebook and others have helped to change the old style of the ‘album release followed by tour’ thing. Now you can release music as you wish, when you wish, and touring is where you can make a living.”
There is not a band in the industry that hasn’t decided to reinvent the wheel in terms of musical releases, especially lately with the plateau of music piracy and rise of music streaming. Not many however, really talk about the industry effect they are faced with due to illegal file sharing. With advances in technologically it is impossible to combat this dilemma altogether, but by constantly touring and providing fans with an irreplaceable music experience, Slightly Stoopid seems to have solved the equation.
“It is advantageous for us,” RyMo described the process of the band having there own recording studio and record label complex, while simultaneously keeping a consistent tour schedule. “We can choose when, and how we work. A few years back, we would pile into a studio, pay $1000 a day for its use, and try to crank something great out in a month or two. Now, we have the luxury of leaving all of our gear set up, and working when we want. The gear is familiar, and we can work in different combinations to maximize the flow of each tune. Touring and recording an album are two different worlds. Having our own place means we don’t have to force recording, it just happens naturally.”
“We had been throwing a few different album names around over the last couple of months, and this one just stuck,” said RyMo when discussing how their latest album came about. “We came up with this combination of songs over time and the album title just worked. As with most of our albums, this one connects with the artwork. The cover art is a real cartoonish portrait of our studio. The Lab.”
The cover art for their latest project reflects “the lab” A.K.A., the bands studio. It is a cartoon-driven rendition of the environment in which Slightly Stoopid creates their musical compositions when inspiration strikes. Fitting to the bands’ attitude and persona, it doesn’t try to glorify their environment, instead it captures the truth behind their everyday – just like their music.
“I have several (favorite songs off of the album). I’m really proud of the writing and contributions by all involved. It has a good flow for sure. “
Having experienced a Slightly Stoopid Summer tour myself in 2014, I needed to know if the atmosphere was transitional to all of the cities that the band visits throughout their crazy-hectic, music-sharing sessions (the word “tour” just seems to dull for this group). They do so much more than just play music for an eager audience. They create an atmosphere that allows their fans to feel like family.
“Of course it depends on who we know (in each city), but we have friends and family and extended family just about everywhere,” RyMo touched on the fact that I noted the backstage area where I was during their 2014 show in Philadelphia, seemed to be more crowded than the front of house. “We always try to provide a fun atmosphere backstage for our people as much as possible. Barbecues, beer, a sound system, more beer, some vodka, food, jagermeister, it all adds to the fan experience.” The man doesn’t lie, there was a lot of food… and beer.
As for this year’s tour, RyMo confessed, “I’m really excited to check out the other bands. They are really good. We’re all friends… and drinking buddies.”
Being a part of such a transformational group that makes such an impact with their craft, I wanted to know the highs and lows of having such a busy schedule and really turning your passion into your career. There can be a fine line that runs through loving what you do and doing what you love.
“The biggest challenge I currently face is learning the new role of husband, father, and teacher. I have a two year old and 7 month old daughter. Being a parent can be difficult. There are tons of sacrifices made daily, but it is worth it 100%,” RyMo said with no reservations, clearly so proud of the new roles he’s been fortunate enough to adopt in his life.
“And the accomplishment I’m most proud of,” he continued “is just being able to do what I love. Music has been such a huge part of my life since I was about 13 years old. I’m happy to say that I can make a living doing what I am most passionate about.”
The band will start their tour in Simsbury, CT on July 8th. “Everything is Awesome” will span until early September, touching down in major cities such as Boston, Philadelphia, Salt Lake City, Boise and Las Vegas (to name only a few). The myriad of cities represented on this tour only further promote the spectrum of fans Slightly Stoopid easily attracts with their organic, heavily-instrumental, feel-good music. Their mission is less about making money and more about doing what they love while sharing it with people who will understand. They make it clear that their fans are part of their family. By the time you leave one of their shows, you’ll be expecting to see them around the table for Thanksgiving at your Grandma’s house.