Calling all Stoopidheads!! Slightly Stoopid’s new album, Top of the World, dropped Tuesday, August 14th! The much anticipated release is a compilation of the last few years creative efforts by a group who’s first big break came from non other than the late Bradley Nowell of Sublime. His keen eye, and big heart, helped propel the group on a path that has taken them all over the globe, headlining the largest of venues near and far. Their extreme musical talent is undeniable and their positive vibe is habit forming, so be warned.
Ever since my first listen to “Wiseman” back in 2004, I’ve been hooked to the distinct, yet ever changing sound of Slightly Stoopid. If you’ve heard them, you know what I’m talking about. If you have yet to experience this band… you aught to… now… no seriously, scroll all the way down the page to get the 4 song sampler from Top of the World for FREE. On your way down there, check out a recent conversation we had with drummer, Ryan Moran. We were extremely grateful to have him share with us details of the bands amazing new home, their appreciation of being able to give back the love that has been shown to them, the bands creative process and how life, in many ways, has come full circle.
How’s your tour been so far?
It’s been great. We’ve been able to hang with the 311 guys quite a bit, one of our favorite bands is out here with us, The Aggrolites, out of Los Angeles… and yea, we’ve had a chance to hang with them quite a bit… and have had a lot of big shows. It’s been a ball.
You guys have your album, Top Of The World coming out on the 14th, that’s cool you guys are showcasing it to the bands hometown, Ocean Beach.
Yea there’ll be a listening party, but we’re actually playing in Indianapolis, so the band will be on tour. So we actually wont be there.
We’ll that’s still cool you guys show so much love for the hometown.
Got to! Got to do that. A lot of the guys are from there, and most of the guys in the band still live in the San Diego area. So yea, it’s always home for us.
This album you guys have coming out is pretty exciting. You guys are working with Don Carlos, G Love, Chali 2na, and Angela Hunte. So you guys have been working on this album for a while, working on it live. What’s been the story behind the evolution of this album?
In the last few years, the last couple of albums we’ve released, its always been a bit of a struggle, cuz you go into these studios and you’re paying over a thousand dollars a day, and you’re in there for a month, or two months, and you kind of have this deadline. It gets really expensive really quick. We’ve never really had any major label support. We’ve been an underground band, an independent band, and uhh… we’ve always maintained our own creative control because of that.
Yea, which is great.
When we started to think about what we were going to do for this album, probably around 2009, we actually decided, “Hey, we’re gonna find our own place. We’re gonna build our own studio. Set it up with big gear, and create a recording studio. Have a facility where we can store all our gear we take on live tours“, and stuff like that. So we found this place in central San Diego, it’s basically a huge warehouse in a corporate business park and we scored! We got a really good price on the place, were able to confirm a lease for a few years. We basically built a recording studio in the upstairs area. The downstairs area is storage for all the boxes and instruments we take on tour. There’s an office, a game room, food room… it turned into this whole club house kind of thing. We have motorcycles down there and a half pipe, there’s like a little skate ramp.
We have a couple boards down there, so if you want to take a break from being in the studio you can grab a board, we’ve got a couple surf boards and skate boards. You can go push around on a skate board or go for a quick surf, we’re only about 10 minutes from the ocean from were the studio is located.
Yea, so basically, long story short, we ended up building this facility about 2 years ago, and once we kind of got that going we just started doing sessions once or twice a week. It was pretty informal. Wasn’t like the whole band was there and we were there from noon to midnight every night for like three weeks, or four weeks strait like we used to do it. Like one or two guys would come in, do a couple things. Next day, couple of other guys would come in, add to that. On some occasions, for some songs, we would all be there recording at the exact same time. So it was interesting because we have this process of… for some of the music we were building from the ground up, piece by piece, and other tracks we’re just, “Oh, that’s a good idea, let’s just all play it live, throw a couple mics on everyone… and go!” Umm… so, definitely, it was a really great process for us… and one that had a little less pressure. You know, we’ve been touring so consistently for the last, I don’t know… since I’ve been a part of the band, so like nine years. And even before that, the bands been together for almost 20. Everyone’s made their bread and butter by being on tour. So when we have this chance to kind of slow down, still do tours to make ends meet, but then have the in between times to focus on the studio… it was a great experience.
Yea, absolutely! And a lot more conducive to creative thought, than being so stiffled.
So is that the home base for Stoopid Reacords right now?
Yea, pretty much. You know, Stoopid Records is basically a label that we started… and we don’t have office buildings full of people, answering phones and things like that.
We and our management company, in agreement with the band, basically formed a partnership to help bands that we like, and bands that are out, kind of doing the same kind of stuff that we’re doing. There out touring, constantly, and making CD’s so they can continue touring. Yea, so we’ve been able to help a couple bands out as well through that avenue.
Yea, which is great to be able to return a favor that passed down to you guys from Bradley Nowell.
So that’s really great!
That’s really the way we look at it too. Back in the day, Brad saw something in Miles and Kyle. I wasn’t even around then, most of the guys in the band now weren’t there aside from Miles and Kyle, and Brad basically met those two and was like, “Yea, you guys are really good!” He saw something in them, and at the time Miles and Kyle were 17 years old and it was a huge opportunity. They were still in high school. That being said, Sublime wasn’t anything near what they sort of are perceived as now, in terms of their size and their music. I mean, everyone knows about Sublime now. Back then, they were still doing bars and touring in a van and working really hard to grow. Definitely Brad and Miguel, who’s produced a couple of our records, had been really instrumental in passing the torch. So now we’re able to extend that to bands that we respect, and you know… it feels great.
Absolutely. And the fact that you guys have gotten to the point you’re at now on your own terms without a major record label, is very inspiring for other artists as well, that you don’t have to compromise. There’s a lot of upstart record labels were people are realizing there’s not a whole lot a major label can do that they couldn’t do for themselves.
Yea, absolutely. Especially now, because of the way that the entire music industry has changed, in terms of selling records and what that means. Back in the late 80’s, or even before… the 70’s, 80’s, 90’s… you have these big marketing teams and publicity fronts, and people were making MTV music videos… when MTV was still playing music on MTV…
It was this huge kind of… publicity machine working for these acts. Nowadays, all that stuff has been very well undermind by iTunes and Apple, not to mention all the other file sharing websites out there in the early 2000’s it shifted the whole music industry, and turned it upside down. Look you can be Joe Schmo and if you have a computer and an internet connection, you can be right along Metallica, Guns N Roses and other household names.
So we were fortunate enough to never have to compromise our creative control to get the major publicity, the major promo(tion). We were always able to make the music that we wanted to make. Luckily, we’ve been able to continue doing that all on our own… on a larger level.
The connection you have with your fans… and your message and your music, it’s such a positive vibe that’s so great to see… that resonates with so many… is helping you guys play these huge amphitheaters which is amazing to do on your own terms.
The album you have coming out now is a great testament to the different styles of music you guys play, as the different influences have driven the tracks like the old western gritty rock sound of “Hiphoppablues” with G Love… the more world beat, kind of Theivery Corporation like sound of “Just Thinkin” with Chali 2na… and even hip hop and surf style. Have there been any more recent styles that you guys have taken on? Or is it just a continued exploration of just music in general?
I guess it’s both. We all have tons of influences, and we’ve all listened to tons of different types of music. So… what’s cool about that is we can kind of listen to someone’s idea or rhythm… or lyrics, as a starting point and we’ve all done enough listening to where we can think, “hey we want to take this in a more hip hop direction, how do we do that?”… or we want to take this in more of a funky, blues, old school, low fi, country-esque kind of thing. All of us are… we’re getting a little older now, most of us are in our mid-thirties, and we’ve been able to draw on those influences. We were all pretty much music nerds who would listen to everything from jazz, classical, rock, world, littlerally listened to everything… reggae, dub, punk… so when we have a direction where there’s sort of a starting point, everyone’s able to contribute in a way that fullfills that idea. We’ve been able to do ska tunes, and the very next is a blues/funk, then shift to a reggae/one drop thing to… fast forward to like a punk rock thing. There’s really a lot of variety in Stoopid’s shows, and I think the new record really reflects that very well.
Yea, and I’m sure that’s very satisfying to play and to create and to not get bored with it… to constantly change it up.
I saw the interview you guys did with Bob Wier and Tommy Chong at the TRI studios. I just have to ask… how did that feel? How awesome was that to get to sit next to a founding member of the Greatful Dead and Tommy Chong? Can you summarize that experience?
It was huge! I kind of grew up with both of them, in a way. I was born in San Fransisco and raised in San Rafael, went to middle school, high school and stuff like that. That’s one of the headquarters for the Dead. I know they have their business office in San Rafael, and we would see Jerry driving around. I actually went to school with one of his daughters, in high school. So they were always this presence in the city, and one of my sisters was super into them. She’d travel and go all over the place, around the country, and watch shows… even live out of a VW van… you know, the full experience. So it was always a huge influence on me, and I’m sure a lot of the other guys, as well. So to kind of hang out with them, and do a song with Bob, then hang and talk with him… it was really, really great. I thought, “hey, maybe this has come full circle“… I hadn’t been home to that part of the state, my parents retired and moved away, so I hadn’t been to San Rafael in years. So, to come home, to my home town, and actually play with Bob… in his studio… then hang and talk with Tommy Chong… like, how many of his movies had I seen as a kid, you know? Smoking joints and watching Cheech and Chong movies, and laughing my ass off. It was a really cool, full circle kind of experience. It was really, really great.
I have to imagine if there was ever an “I made it” moment, it’d be that.
Was definitely one of them… there’s been a string of em… but that was a big feather in the cap for sure!
…and don’t forget to grab the four song sampler below!!