Illustrating the perfect underground success story (and a testament to the new music model), Slightly Stoopid, and their label Stoopid Records, has become a case study in how to ‘make it’ without the aid of radio or MTV circa the early 21st century. Slightly Stoopid is all the proof you’ll need to show that once and for all, with hard work, new technology and file-sharing, die-hard fans, and the right tunes, anything is possible. The group – which features Miles Doughty (Guitar, Bass, Vocals), Kyle McDonald (Guitar, Bass, Vocals), Ryan ‘RyMo’ Moran (Drums), C-Money (Trumpet, Keyboard), DeLa (Saxophone), and Oguer ‘OG’ Ocon (Congas, Percussion, Harp, Vocals) – has built a large n’ loyal fan base, who are lovingly known as either Stoopidheads or Ese Locos. And the buzz surrounding the group continues to increase with each successive release – as their album catalog sales have topped the 500,000 mark, while the group has no problem filling prestigious concert venues throughout the world.
“When it comes to radio, MTV or any of the traditional music industry channels, we don’t rely on them,” explained Kyle. “We just do whatever we do. Most of the time when we get played on radio or TV, it’s background music – it’s not like the ‘hit single of the week’ playing every five minutes. That’s cool with us – we don’t want to go in that direction. We just have fun. If people ask us, ‘What’s your new hit single?’ we tell them ‘we don’t got one! We got a bunch of songs that we put on our record…and we like them.’”
The Slightly Stoopid story can be traced to Ocean Beach, California, when childhood chums Miles and Kyle formed the group in 1995, mixing reggae and punk sounds into one smooth stylistic cocktail. Soon after, late/great Sublime frontman Brad Nowell caught wind of the group, and signed them to his Skunk Records label – while the band members were still in high school. A pair of releases soon followed for Skunk - 1996's punk-tinged Slightly Stoopid (featuring a guest appearance by Nowell on the song “Prophet” – later covered by Sublime and released on their box set, Everything Under the Sun) and 1998's surf-inspired cult classic The Longest Barrel Ride.
The group self-released 2001’s Acoustic Roots: Live and Direct (a 40-minute acoustic set, captured live at San Diego 's Rock 105.3 radio station) – the first for their own label, Stoopid Records, before issuing 2003's Everything You Need on Surfdog (a musical departure for the band, that sold more than 130,000 copies). The band's talent for mixing styles was never more apparent than on 2005’s Closer to the Sun (on Stoopid Records/Caliplates/Reincarnate), which featured collaborations with such renowned reggae names as Barrington Levy and Scientist. A year later, Slightly Stoopid issued their first-ever electric live album, Winter Tour '05-'06, as well as their first-ever DVD, ‘Live in San Diego,’ while 2007 saw the release of the group’s fifth studio effort, Chronchitis, which debuted at #55 on the Billboard 200, and #2 on the indie charts.
And through it all, Slightly Stoopid has logged some serious road miles – in addition to their incessant criss-crossing of the U.S., which includes appearances at prestigious festivals such as Coachella, Lollapalooza, Austin City Limits, and New Orleans Jazz Fest, among others, the group has played sold-out shows in Australia, Japan, Guam, Amsterdam, Portugal and Denmark, the U.K., Germany, Holland, and the Dominican Republic. “Without [the fans], we’d just be playing at the bar,” admits Kyle. “They make it worth our while – when we go out and people are having that good of a time, the energy goes back and forth. Just a good time – we rely on each other’s energy.” And all you have to do is look at the list of artists that Slightly Stoopid has played with, to get a feel for how much of a large and diverse audience they appeal to - the Dave Matthews Band, Damian “Jr. Gong” Marley and the Marley Brothers, Sublime, the Roots, G. Love & Special Sauce, Ozomatli, Toots and the Maytals, and Pennywise, among others, as well as their first-ever sole headlining tour of amphitheatres in 2008, joined by their friends Pepper and Sly & Robbie.
“I think consistently touring is important,” explains Miles. “Most people take the route of trying to be successful without even getting out there for people to hear what your band is about. The most important thing is you can be playing in front of zero people or 20,000 people, and you’ve still got to rock the show. When we were first starting out, literally, we played in front of nobody. We’d show up at the club, and it would be bartenders and security guards, and ‘Yo, play your hour set – here you go!’ But after you play that show, they tell some of their friends and their friends tell some friends. I think the Internet has helped us a lot too, because people were able to spread the word about the music easier. The most important part is being out there 200 days a year. You’re going back to towns twice a year, so people get to come out, and that gave us a real loyal following. Wherever we go, you have these Stoopidheads going crazy. For us, it’s pretty much the greatest job in the world.”
2008 sees the band issuing their first-ever ‘odds and ends’ collection, Slightly Not Stoned Enough to Eat Breakfast Yet Stoopid – the group’s newest release for their growing label, Stoopid Records (which will also feature releases by other groups, including the label’s first signee’s, Santa Cruz’s the Expendables). Included on Slightly Not Stoned Enough are outtakes from both the Closer to the Sun (including tracks that were previously issued as a limited edition bonus CD) and Chronchitis sessions, as well as bevy of new material recorded at Miami’s famed Circle House Studios, and such cover tunes as UB40’s “I Would Do For You” and the traditional “I Know You Rider” (most notably covered by the Grateful Dead). Also making their first appearance on a Slightly Stoopid studio album are newly recorded renditions of such long-time live standards “False Rhythms” and “Sensimilla.”
Seemingly always on the move, there appears to be no slowing down in sight for Slightly Stoopid, and according to Miles, that’s precisely what fuels the group’s creativity. “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 ain’t worth it.”