Music News & Reviews

Slightly Stoopid's work ethic has put it 'On Top of the World'

Slightly Stoopid: Miles Doughty (vocals/guitar/bass) left, "OG" Ocon (percussion), DeLa (saxophone), C-Money (trumpet/keys), Kyle McDonald (vocals/guitars/bass), "RyMo" Moran (drums).
Slightly Stoopid: Miles Doughty (vocals/guitar/bass) left, "OG" Ocon (percussion), DeLa (saxophone), C-Money (trumpet/keys), Kyle McDonald (vocals/guitars/bass), "RyMo" Moran (drums).

By traditional music industry standards, Slightly Stoopid is only slightly famous.

The band doesn't have earworm singles that have taken over your radio and it isn't blowing up the blogosphere as a new buzzworthy band you need to look out for. In fact, these Southern California reggae/rock road dogs have gotten to where they are by playing a town near you — many, many, many times.

"It's definitely been built by doing it over and over, that's for sure," said drummer Ryan "Rymo" Moran. "We have a work ethic that's created this success for us."

Slightly Stoopid built its grass-roots following through nonstop touring, but its first big break came through an influential endorsement. Formed in 1995 in San Diego by Miles Doughty and Kyle McDonald, the then-duo was signed by Sublime frontman Bradley Nowell to his independent label, Skunk Records. The band's first two releases, 1996's Slightly $toopid and 1998's The Longest Barrel Ride, partially mirrored some of Sublime's characteristics for combining the Caribbean sounds of reggae and ska with the aggressiveness and attitude of punk.

Since its inception, Slightly Stoopid has grown on multiple levels.

It's matured artistically. Over the course of seven studio albums (and a few live albums in between), the band has expanded its reggae-meets-punk template to incorporate styles such as blues, folk, jazz, psychedelia and hip-hop.

It's grown physically. What started as a trio on its first two releases is now a seven-piece ensemble, with Doughty and McDonald sharing guitar, bass and vocal duties; Rymo on drums; Oguer "OG" Ocon on congas and percussion; C-Money on trumpet; DeLa on saxophone; and Paul Wolstencroft on keyboards. The "unofficial eighth member" is Karl Denson, saxophone player with the Greyboy Allstars.

Finally, the band has grown in popularity thanks to its consistently packed touring schedule, playing smaller clubs in the winter months and either snagging prime slots at music festivals like Lollapalooza or packing amphitheaters in the summer as headliners or co-headliners with artists including G. Love, 311, Cypress Hill and Snoop Dogg.

"For us, it's been a blessing not to have a meteoric rise and fall. Throughout our career, we've seen a slow and steady growth," said Rymo on the band's popularity. "You earn the fans that are not only loyal, they want to hear the whole show."

The band is currently on tour promoting its latest album, 2012's Top of the World, and it was a record that benefited from the band slowing its pace. Instead of banging out an album in someone else's studio, they built their own, complete with a skate ramp and arcade. The band writes, records and rehearses plenty when it's on the road, but they were able to break off into smaller groups to collaborate and formulate the record — not to mention call up guest stars like G. Love and Angelo Moran from influential ska-punk group Fishbone to come sit in on a few songs. The creative experiment must have paid off. Not only was Top of the World critically well-received, it debuted at a career-high No. 13 on the Billboard Top 200.

"Each song was allowed to grow in its own direction," Rymo said. "It put the band's creativity at a higher level than it was in the past."

Regardless of how much the band might experiment, reggae always seems to be Slightly Stoopid's solid foundation. Rymo said the music has a cool feel that will outlast any popular music trend. For Slightly Stoopid, if it's the band a person has to see in concert to make their summer complete or if its music makes a must-hear playlist at a summer barbecue, that's the kind of fame they hope for.

"If you're to that point, that means your art has touched so many people," Rymo said. "I think that's why we're out here doing it. We want to touch people with our music. I don't think there's an artist out there who would say no to that."


Slightly Stoopid, Tribal Seeds

When: 8 p.m. April 17

Where: Buster's Billiards and Backroom, 899 Manchester St.

Tickets: $20 in advance, $25 at the door. Available at 18-and-older show.