Catching up with hometown heroes Slightly Stoopid
It’s been a crazy summer for Ocean Beach’s own Slightly Stoopid. After nearly a decade of relative obscurity as a band flirting with mainstream success, they finally got their major break earlier this year when it was announced they’d be touring with MySpace phenom/foul-mouthed rapper Mickey Avalon and the King of the Chronic himself, Snoop Dogg.
This is Stoopid’s second consecutive summer of touring amphitheatres, joining Pepper and Sly & Robbie last year. In the near decade since they left the bars in OB to tour more extensively, they have played to sold out crowds throughout the U.S. and in Australia, Japan, Guam, Amsterdam, Portugal, Denmark, the U.K., Germany, Holland, and the Dominican Republic, in addition to gigs at major festivals like Coachella, Lollapalooza, Austin City Limits and the New Orleans Jazz Fest.
Naturally, this year’s tour would be called “Blazed and Confused,” and they brought their blend of alt/acoustic/reggae/rock/hip-hop/punk/jazz stylings to Chula Vista’s Cricket Wireless Amphitheatre last Saturday in front of a packed house of nearly 20,000 “Stoopidheads.”
The Friday before the show, I was privileged to speak with Slightly’s drummer Ryan Moran (or “RyMo”) over the phone. We discussed the state of the band today, coming back to San Diego after being on the road for so long, their newfound success following the best-selling album “Chronchitis,” among other topics:
Catch the interview after the jump…
You’ve been on the road for a while. How does it feel to come back to San Diego and play in front of your hometown crowd – this time at Cricket?
It feels great. We’ve only been on the road for a few months, so it’s not a huge homecoming for us. But it’s always very important to us to spend time with family and friends when we get some downtime in San Diego, which is what we will all be doing in the few days we have off after the show tomorrow.
What’s the “Blazed and Confused” tour been like this summer?
It’s been nuts, man. We’ve had some absolutely killer shows and great crowds all across the country. It’s been awesome to hang out with guys like Mickey Avalon Stephen Marley and Snoop Dogg all summer. They’re amazingly talented and great guys in general.
What have been your favorite stops on the tour thus far?
Well, we played a gig in Orange County [at the Irvine Amphitheatre] earlier on in the tour that drew about 15,000 or so people, and the crowd was absolutely wild. But farther from home, some of our favorite venues have been Red Rocks, which we just sold out, and The Gorge in Washington State, which has some incredible views and is just a great venue all-around. We really like playing outdoor venues like that more, especially in the summertime.
Who came up with the name Blazed and Confused for the tour? It’s much more clever than most collaborative tours have been able to come up with over past years.
The bandmates and I were kicking names around early this year when we were planning the tour, and Blazed and Confused was one of the names we came up with. We ran it by Snoop and the other artists, they all approved, so we stuck with it.
It seems like you guys have been blowing up in the past couple year, especially after the release of Chronchitis. How have you guys dealt with the change?
It’s funny that you ask that, because there are a lot of folks around San Diego who’ve been watching us for years that never really follow what’s been happening with us outside of San Diego. I guess it’s kind of one of those “out of sight, out of mind” things, since we’ve been touring around the whole country and have been now for the better part of a decade. We’re even getting as many, if not more fans at our shows in other cities than we are in San Diego, which is a bit weird, but great at the same time. But we still see ourselves as little fish in a big pond, but that’s what keeps us motivated to still deliver every night we get out on stage.
One thing you guys seem to pride yourself on, especially with the establishment of your own label Stoopid Records, is your aversion to mainstream tactics in building your fan base and recording albums. Can you expand on this?
Well, we put emphasis on touring and playing music constantly above everything else. And everything we have created has been done under our own terms, which is something we have insisted upon since day one. But we really attribute the success to our fans. We’ve got a true, loyal fan base that will follow us anywhere and we can’t say enough how much we appreciate all of them. We know that because of our fans, we don’t need to worry about trying to become more mainstream to remain successful.
Your 2007 album Chronchitis debuted at #55 on the Billboard 200 and sold 12,000 copies in its first week alone. And the single “2am” has been getting radio play all over the world. Did you, in your most optimistic expectations, think the album would be as big as it was?
We hoped it would do well but I can’t say that was exactly what we were expecting. We really poured our heart and soul into that album, like we do with every album, and for some reason this one has become more popular. The album is a weird thing. For us, they really capture a moment in time, and Chronchitis basically captured where we were in 2006 and 2007. It wasn’t like we sat down and said, ‘Okay, we’re going to record a hit album’ or anything like that. But we’ve been impressed by the response it has gotten, for sure.
Slightly Stoopid was one of the original bands signed by Bradley Nowell of Sublime before his death in 1996. What are your fondest memories of Bradley and do you see your band as sort of carrying on the Sublime legacy?
I never had the chance to meet Bradley myself, because this was before I had joined the band. Myles and Kyle knew him well and they would often jam in Brad’s living room or when Sublime was down in San Diego. One day, kind of our of the blue, he asked them if they were interested in getting signed to Skunk Records, and of course they took him up on the offer.
We are definitely aware of the similarities between ourselves and Sublime, and we are proud to be part of the ‘torch-passing’ of sorts. And of course, we are proud to be helped by and associated with Sublime. It’s not something we shy away from at all.
You guys used to be a staple of the San Diego music scene before you started touring extensively. Do you still keep tabs on what’s going on in the music scene here or are you more removed since you’ve been touring so much?
We try to follow the scene and check out newer bands when we can, but when you’re gone for more than half of the year, you can’t often get to the usual spots we like to check out, like Winston’s, Café Sevilla, Buffalo Joe’s, Blind Melon’s and others.