Slightly Stoopid’s Grass Roots
Photo by Michael Weintrob
There’s a bland, unassuming office park in San Diego’s warehouse district. On one corner, in the center of the building complex, adjacent to a janitorial company, is Slightly Stoopid’s recording studio. The only indication that the opaque black door leads into an office space, pot leaf-emblazoned lounge, a storage area replete with skate ramp and an upstairs studio is an askew band sticker slapped across the entrance.
“Our practice space was full,” Miles Doughty, the nearly 34-year-old guitarist, bassist and vocalist, says, leading the way through the studio. “This costs almost the same amount.”
The band moved in about a year and a half ago and, now, the group’s tour manager uses the front area as a base of operations. Merchandise and CDs fill countless shelves. There are so many pot leaves decorating the walls and covering the ceiling’s florescent lights that it would be easy to mistake this for a head shop.
In the back, amid piles of gear, is a half pipe where Kyle McDonald, the group’s other guitarist, bassist and vocalist, skates. Massive skulls props leftover from 2009’s Blazed and Confused tour—which Slightly Stoopid co-headlined with Snoop Dogg—watch over the ramp.
“After a long-ass day, you get to come here, skate, make music and hang out,” Kyle, 33, says. “That’s what the band is—a family that hangs out together. So the more we can do that while we’re off the road is always good. Good things come from hanging out.”
Slightly Stoopid, which also includes drummer Ryan “RyMo” Moran, percussionist Oguer “OG” Ocon, keyboardist Paul Wolstencroft and horn players Daniel “Dela” Delacruz and Christofer “C-Money,” believe in the power of collaboration. The band has shared the stage with artists like Ian and Ivan Neville, Don Carlos, G. Love, Steve Kimock, Cypress Hill and Snoop.
The attitude—embodied by Kyle’s statement that “if you go solo you’re just a cock squeezer”—is that everyone should just have a good time together. No ulterior motives, no blueprint, just the music and the vibe. If you’re doing what you like, others may like it, too—as long as you all do it together.
Exhibit A: The Greek Theatre, April 20. The outdoor venue, nestled in the side of a hill in Los Angeles’ Griffith Park, is overwhelmed with smoke from the capacity crowd of approximately 9,000. White bursts billow upward, creating a small-scale simulacrum of the ash cloud that overtook the sky when Iceland’s Eyjafjallajökull volcano erupted last year. If there was ever any doubt about whether it’s possible to develop a contact high, the answer is unequivocally, yes.
The vibe is uninhibited excitement, a bacchanalian exuberance tempered only by the effects of the excessive pot smoke that pervades the air. While Miles says Slightly Stoopid’s fans—the Stoopidheads—vary “from 15 to 55,” there’s no denying that the crowd here is largely twentysomethings—the sort of people who rushed frats in college and who, even in adulthood, consider 4/20 an important national holiday. When the band takes the stage after an opening set by punk legends Bad Brains, the plume of smoke expands and audience members pass joints to Kyle and Miles while a collection of family and friends members smash together onstage behind the musicians.
Today may be a particularly special occasion, as the oversized clouds of pot smoke suggest, but Slightly Stoopid attract these types of loyal, impassioned fans wherever they go. The band’s early touring career began on the West Coast, with frequent jaunts inland to places like Boulder, Colo. and Reno, Nev.
In 1999, the funk-metal band Fishbone gave the group its first national tour. The band began spending more than 300 days a year on the road, visiting each town several times during a one-year span. Less than a decade later, Slightly Stoopid co-headlined the Summer Haze tour with longtime friend and collaborator G. Love in 2007—a trek that G. Love says was a “real good stepping stone for each of us to become headliners in the sheds.”
By 2009, the group invited Snoop Dogg out for a summer amphitheater tour. “It was pretty nuts,” Miles admits, looking back. “We were nervous, just because it was Snoop Dogg. It’s the godfather of rap right there. When we were doing that, me, Kyle and the boys were just going like, ‘Fuck, man, this is nuts.’ Every night, you’re going, ‘Dude, we’re on tour with Snoop.’ That’s what we kept telling ourselves.”
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