Life with Slightly Stoopid: Drummer Ryan Moran on the band's evolution

eshaw@islandpacket.comApril 30, 2014 

Slightly Stoopid will play sold-out show May 2 at the Music Farm in Charleston.

JEFF FARSAI — Submitted photo


    Slightly Stoopid will play a sold-out show with The Expanders on May 2 at the Music Farm in Charleston. The band also will play at House of Blues in Myrtle Beach on Aug. 10 with Stephen Marley. Details:

Reggae-fusion band Slighty Stoopid is bringing its sunny grooves and feel-good vibes to the Lowcountry. After nearly two decades, the heavily-touring band from San Diego continues to provide summery jams and Caribbean-inspired music to the masses.

Formed in 1995 by founding members Miles Doughty and Kyle McDonald, Slightly Stoopid has grown considerably over the years, both physically and musically.

From simple guitar, bass and vocals, the band has expanded to include congas, percussion, drums, saxophone and trumpets, lending a more complex and sophisticated dimension to its sound, which is especially evident on the group's 2012 album "Top of the World." Yet over the course of eight studio albums, Slightly Stoopid has stayed true to its California roots, using members' surfing, smoking and skating-fueled lifestyles to drive the music.

Lowcountry Current spoke with drummer Ryan "Rymo" Moran about the band's evolution, the new album in the works and how touring with Snoop Dogg was the coolest thing ever.

Question. You guys will play in Charleston and then after that you have your Summer Sessions tour coming up. What are you most looking forward to about that?

Moran. I'm really looking forward to the other artists we're playing with. We've got Stephen Marley on the bill, a punk band from California called NOFX and a bunch of shows with G. Love & Special Sauce. So we've got a pretty good lineup of all styles of music, and we're going to be hitting both coasts and some points in between as well.

Q. The band has done collaborations with some pretty big artists. Who has been your favorite artist to play or collaborate with?

Moran. Snoop Dogg was one of my favorites. All his band guys are really cool. We toured with him back in 2008. Just about every band we tour with we've become pretty good friends with, and this summer will be an extension of that. We've toured with G. Love & Special Sauce many times over the years, and Stephen Marley was with us on the Snoop tour. We play with bands that we like, both the music and the people.

Q. What has life in the band been like since you all released "Top of the World" two years ago?

Moran. We basically tour year-round, all the time, no matter what. Things are the same in a way, but things have also grown considerably. We continue to do our thing. We've been going overseas lately. We went to Brazil last month and we were in Costa Rica in January, and we're just trying to expand our horizons and keep growing.

I've been with the band close to 11 years. The size of the shows has increased over the years. This summer, for instance, we'll be doing what we call "shed" shows, which are the outdoor amphitheaters in the 5,000 to 15,000 people range. So things have grown considerably since back in the day when we were doing 200- to 300-person clubs.

Q. In the early days, Slightly Stoopid was known for living the so-called Southern California life: surfing, skating and smoking. Is that still the lifestyle?

Moran. We're adults now, too. Most of us are well into our 30s and married with kids. Things are a bit more calm, I'd say. We had a pretty notorious rap for partying a lot and doing our thing. Most of the guys still surf a lot. We don't skate as much anymore. It's harder to bounce off the concrete now. Once you get to a certain age, it's not quite worth the risk as it used to be.

Q. To the casual listener, Slightly Stoopid might seem like just another reggae band, but your music is actually pretty varied and complex. Can you explain where that musicality comes from?

Moran. In the beginning, the band was playing mostly reggae-influenced stuff and punk and ska-influenced stuff. At that time, that's just what the guys were listening to primarily. It used to be a three-piece band, just bass, drums, guitar, with Miles and Kyle sharing vocals. Then they added OG (Oguer Ocon), the percussion player, then I joined shortly thereafter. Then we got a couple horn players, a trumpet player, a sax player, and then added a keyboard player. Each time you add a member, the music changes a little bit. All of the guys listen to a broad range of music, and we all practice a lot and work at progressing as musicians. In the last few years, we've been able to branch out and experiment with different styles like hip-hop, Afro-beat and funk.

We're all kind of music nerds. We listen to all kinds of stuff. There's not a genre we don't listen to, so that music comes through us.

Q. I also heard there might a new record in the works? Can you tell me more about that?

Moran. Yeah, definitely. Typically we tour pretty hard spring, summer and fall. This past year we finished touring in September and so November to February we were in the studio like crazy, so we have a ton of new material. We kind of got interrupted because we did a spring tour in March and are going out again for the summer. We're going to get back to it when we get home, and I would say realistically we'll have something out in early 2015.

I think it's an extension and an evolution of what we've been releasing over the last several years. It will have a broad spectrum like our last records. There will be some reggae and some punk. This album will have all of that as well.

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