Slightly Stoopid’s Grass Roots
Ocean Beach, Calif. is a small beach town community seven miles south of downtown San Diego. The sun-drenched city is a haven for surfers and pseudo hippies—the sort of place you’d expect a band like Slightly Stoopid to hail from. As kids, Kyle and Miles—who met when they were one and two years old—would sit around playing guitar and watching Mötley Crüe videos, hoping to one day ape that lifestyle. They took surf trips to Mexico with Kyle’s dad and, over the years, formed a truly brotherly bond.
The guys established Slightly Stoopid when they were in high school and it named as such because it “looks like the correct spelling for stupid,” according to Miles. Initially, it was a punk band inspired by Minor Threat, Rancid, Operation Ivy and Bad Religion.
“We were punk kids, so that was the vibe and we did a lot of punk rock shows,” says Miles. “I think as you get older, you evolve as a musician—you’re not playing with that ‘fuck the world’ mentality. That’s what you have when you’re a kid. When you’re that age, your vibe is screw authority, your parents, whoever. Every kid at that age is basically a rebel of some sort.”
Ocean Beach was receptive to music, bolstered by a strong reggae scene and a solid collection of venues like Winston’s and Dream Street. It was at Dream Street in 1995, where the duo first encountered Sublime leader Brad Nowell. (In Jon Phillip’s more exciting version of the tale, Miles’ mom, an RN, brought Nowell home to “nurse him back to health” when he was jonesing for drugs and played a Slightly Stoopid demo tape for him.) Nowell and Happoldt signed the band to Skunk Records, and Miles and Kyle began opening for Sublime around Southern California.
That was 17 years ago. And while Nowell passed away from a heroin overdose in 1996, just after Slightly Stoopid recorded its debut record, the band hasn’t quite escaped the shadow of Sublime. Even though Slightly Stoopid has since evolved from a scrappy punk rock band to a stylistically diverse rock group that assumes the guise of numerous genres, the typical chatter makes it seems as if the band only exists because of Sublime’s endorsement and help.
“I think Brad definitely helped steer them musically and give them a focus,” Matt says. “They were high school kids and he was there in San Diego writing music with them. He played bass on a few songs on their first album. He was very instrumental in that sense. They did a song, ‘Prophet,’ together, that Myles actually wrote but Brad played bass on and sang with them on as a hidden track on their first album. It was later released on Sublime’s box set.”
“That’s how much Slightly Stoopid tried to exploit that,” Jon underscores of Slightly Stoopid’s balance of respect and appreciation for Sublime’s impact on its career. “They put it as a hidden track. It was just part of their life, the progression of events. They never took it to the bank.”
There’s a vaporizer directly inside the door to Slightly Stoopid’s studio/office space. A bong looms over the soundboard next to a giant baggie of weed whose strain is named “Closer to the Sun,” after the group’s song. A pile of marijuana-themed shirts is scattered by the entrance, which Miles notes he can no longer don thanks to a gig coaching a wrestling team at a local high school.
The band’s jaunt last summer, with hip-hop pot champion Cypress Hill, was dubbed the Legalize It! Tour. Last spring, when the tour was announced, journalists received rolling papers and a lighter emblazoned with Slightly Stoopid’s logo along with a traditional press release. It all begs the question: How much is Slightly Stoopid, its music and underground success indebted to pot?
“It’s an everyday thing to us, just like everything else,” Kyle says of his use, almost shrugging off the question—one that the band undoubtedly gets a lot. “But yeah, we definitely like to have a good supply of some good greens. That’s just how it’s always been. [For] everyone in my family, it’s always been a part of their life [and for] all my friends.
“It’s not something we think about, but it definitely shines through sometimes. Everything you do, the way you feel. I think that’s where a lot those melodies and stuff come from—when you feel good and you’re just singing to yourself. You’re like, ‘I feel good’ and you’re humming along and you’re like ‘Yeah, that’s nice’ and you take it from there.”
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