In a culture that tends to pigeonhole practically everything for the sake of convenience, Slightly Stoopid defy any notion of easy categorization. They even defy their own branding, with an adept combination of reggae, funk, hip-hop, rock, and punk that's far from what their goofy name might imply. Unlike other bands who don't dare to step out beyond their self-prescribed boundaries, Slightly Stoopid wander willingly, and frequently, in fact, into varied terrain, allowing themselves to be taken wherever their muse might carry them.
A favorite on the festival circuit, their freewheeling populist appeal has brought them an ever-increasing following -- unapologetically dubbed "the Stoopidheads" -- since the release of their eponymous debut in 1996. Their latest effort, a CD/DVD combination entitled Live at Roberto's Tri Studios 9-13-11 shows them in their natural setting, with guests like Bob Weir and Ivan and Ian Neville in tow. We asked singer, guitarist and founding member Miles Doughty to share some insight into the Slightly Stoopid MO.
New Times: First off, please give me a backstory. How did the band come together?
Miles Doughty: Kyle (McDonald, guitarist, bassist) and I started it when we were 15 and 16 years old, only sophomores in high school. We grew up together in San Diego -- brothers from another mother -- and we always dreamed about starting a band together. It's been a long journey. It's our 18th year in the band, so its pretty crazy.
Who came up with the name?
I think Kyle came up with it. We were throwing around a bunch of ideas for a name. "Slightly something," "that was stoopid," then we just came up with "Slightly Stoopid." Back then, when you're punk rock kids, you don't really care as much. It's a funny name that always sticks in people's heads and makes people laugh.
How would you describe your sound and style?
I like to call it a "melting pot of madness!" A little of everything. We play so many styles - acoustic, reggae, hip hop, funk, blues, punk. You can't really put it in one zone because there's so much going on.
Who influenced you early on?
We grew up listening to heavy metal and punk rock. Our first influence was Mötley Crüe. Watching their videos made us want to be in a band. Growing up, we listed to Operation Ivy, Minor Threat, Metallica, Mötley Crüe, the Descendants, and Sublime. Bradley from Sublime took us under his wing and brought us into the Skunk Records crew when we were just teenagers.
What have been some of the milestones in your career so far, and why?
Honestly, just that we're able to do these amphitheater tours every summer and share the stage and recording studio with people we looked up to growing up -- Don Carlos, Ian and Ivan Neville, Karl Denson, Bob Weir, Angelo Moore. That's what is all about!
How do you come up with your material? Do you guys write as a group?
We do it both ways. Kyle and I have ideas that we will present to the group. Or sometimes we're just jamming in the rehearsal space and someone will have an idea to go off of. Sometimes Kyle and I will want a certain thing here or there. The great thing about this band is that everyone has the ability to do what they do best and add their part to the songs. Me and Kyle write the lyrics, but we let the guys do their thing. It's good to let the guys get their jam on. It's nice to have an eight-headed dragon!
Considering the fact that you're known for your live performances, do you find it difficult to translate that live energy to the studio?
It all depends on what you're trying to go for. Sometimes you won't have the same adrenaline you get from the live show, because there are people screaming and going nuts when you play live. I don't think you could ever really recreate that in the studio unless you had an audience and party in the studio.
We have our own studio in San Diego now, so we can sit there and play music until we are 100% happy with it. We recorded (2012's) Top of the World in our own studio at our own pace. The recording process is only going to get better as we continue to build out our studio.
How would you describe a Slightly Stoopid performance? How would you describe the audience's reaction?
Our audiences are always the best! The Stoopid crowds are good fans, they treat each other and all of the bands well. You know, sometimes you go to shows and fans are there for the headliner only. Stoopid fans just wanna have a good time and hear music. Our crowd is always going nuts. If we're employing punk, the pit is going crazy. If we're playing reggae, they're getting their dance on. That's why we love the Stoopidheads; they set the tone.
Do you prefer playing festivals?
Not necessarily. I like both playing festivals and our own shows. At festivals, it's nice to see other bands and reach a new crowd. But it's also nice doing your own shows, playing to your crowd. You get a longer set and get to use your own gear and PA.
Have any of these icons you've collaborated with ever offered any advice or shared any interesting anecdotes? The folks you've jammed with like Bob Weir, the guys from Black Uhuru, Ivan Neville, Tommy Chong, Snoop Dogg, Sly and Robbie...
Yeah! We've gotten a little information from all of them. I don't like to elaborate what we talk about privately, but they gave us tips on live shows, the recording industry, and just life in general. They have done it at a high level for so long, it would be foolish to not listen to them.
When Don Carlos and Bob Weir speak, everyone in the room listens. These guys have so much wisdom. When we did the TRI Studios session with Bob Weir, we were singing "I Know You Rider" together, and it was magic -- something I will always remember. We don't take it for granted, because we love the company of those musicians, and it's an honor for us to record and play with them. We've developed long relationships with them. Don Carlos is with us all the time, G. Love is with us all the time, and we're going to do another TRI Studios session with Bob Weir. Angelo Moore of Fishbone is my number one favorite, the greatest front man to ever walk the stage. We're definitely blessed.
What are your immediate plans?
To keep on touring, making music for the fans and ourselves, and live the life of a musician. That's all we know how to do. We're road dogs; that's our life and we love it. After two decades of making music, to maintain the level of shows and success we have had is a blessing beyond belief. Every day I have to wake up and pinch myself. It can't get much better that that.
Slightly Stoopid. 6:30 p.m. on Saturday, August 24, at Sunset Cove Amphitheater, 12551 Glades Road, Boca Raton. Tickets cost $45. Call 561-488-8069.
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