Over the course of a career that dates back to 1995, Slightly Stoopid has become something of a rainbow coalition of music. While its sound started out being rooted in reggae-rock, it has grown into one of rock’s most eclectic groups. Some might suggest that the varied nature of Slightly Stoopid’s music makes the band’s music unfocused and turns off some listeners that don’t like certain styles that filter into the group’s music.
Slightly Stoopid frontman Miles Doughty, though, thinks the eclecticism works in favor of the band.
“I feel like we have our own sound,” Doughty said during a teleconference interview with reporters. “For us it works for Slightly Stoopid. I don’t think it hurts us as far as creating our own sound and our own original music. I mean we’ve made eight records, so for us I think it’s going the way it should be.”
If anything, Doughty said, the variety might have helped the group appeal to a larger audience.
“I think even in like the live show, it’s something for everybody,” Doughty said. “Maybe not everybody likes reggae or maybe not everybody likes the blues music or the punk rock or hip hop.
“When you go to the shows, you’ll see people from age 12 to like 60 years old in the crowd. And it’s pretty insane,” he said.
“And for us as musicians, it keeps it fun and fresh to play all styles of music. You know what I mean? We’re fans of everything so we don’t really have to be classified as one style because we play a little of everything.”
The group’s eclectic nature is apparent on “Top Of The World,” Doughty said, the latest Slightly Stoopid CD, which was released last August.
Of course, there is reggae on the new CD (“Don’t Stop” and “Ur Love” are prime examples). But the CD branches out with songs like “Devil’s Door,” which leans toward funk, the title song mixes a reggae and hip-hop pulse in its laid back groove and “Way You Move” is a musical melting pot in itself, with elements of soul, funk and rock percolating through the song. The songs overall are relaxed and pleasant, and also spotlight Slightly Stoopid’s ever-growing talent for building melody into its songs.
While Doughty said he feels the music shows the continuing growth and maturity in the songwriting of the band, the biggest evolution comes in the lyrics.
“I feel like we were more lyrically conscious on this record,” he said. “Not that we weren’t on other records, but other records it was more of like a party a lot, in the vocals. It was kind of talking about that kind of scene. And this, as an artist and as a songwriter, I feel like we kind of took the next step.”
He said the shift toward more mature lyrics reflects how the lives of some band members have changed. The band includes Doughty (vocals/guitar/bass), Kyle McDonald (guitar/bass/vocals), Ryan “RyMo” Moran (drums), “Oguer “OG” Ocon (percussion), Christopher “C-Money” Welter (trumpet), Daniel “Dela” Delacruz (saxophone) and Paul Wolstencroft (keyboards).
“Myself and Kyle and our buddy Dela in the band, we all have kids and we started families and I feel like it really kind of helped us in our writing,” Doughty said. “You feel like your soul is kind of at peace, once you have children and you start a family. I believe your mind is kind of as whole as it will ever be. And I feel that that helped us with the record and being able to do it in our own studio and really capture the vibe.”
Slightly Stoopid fans have had to wait a considerable amount of time for “Top Of The World.” That’s something that Doughty said wasn’t ideal.
“It kind of sucks that it took three-and-a-half years,” he said. But the reality was that the gap between albums was pretty much unavoidable. As he told reporters during a recent teleconference interview, between needing to make time for new families, touring and other projects, it simply took this amount of time to complete “the right album at the right time.”
“The thing about us is we were on the road 200 days a year recording, not recording, but playing live shows,” Doughty said. “And then me and Kyle both started families. We both had a couple of kids and we kind of just laid low a little bit. We actually started our own studio in San Diego a little over a year ago, maybe a year and a half ago. And basically we took that time to start recording the record. We didn’t really want to be on a certain timetable as far as making music.”
The “Top Of The World” project gave Slightly Stoopid a chance to collaborate with a number of the band’s musical heroes and friends.
To start with, the band worked with producer Jay Whiz and El Brown (reggae legend Bob Marley’s original engineer), an experience Doughty said was amazing.
“Both those guys are top notch, as far as engineers and producers,” he said. “What’s good is that they kind of just let you do your own thing and they put in their feedback after and tell you what they might recommend as far as what you could retake or what’s good to go.
“I mean, we took our time and recorded at our own studios in San Diego and we were able to really gel together and really kind of create a family atmosphere and make the right record for us at this time,” Doughty said. “I’ve got nothing but praise for those two guys and we’re blessed to be working with them.”
“Top Of The World” also features guest appearances from an array of notable artists, including G. Love, Don Carlos, Barrington Levy and Karl Denson.
“We were fans of all those guys,” Doughty said. “As musicians and fans of music, I grew up listening to Don Carlos and Barrington Levy and Karl Denson, who’s also from San Diego. And it’s cool we get to make music together. And G. Love, we’ve been friends with for about 15 years, and for us, he’s an amazing musician.
“And it’s cool. For each one of those guys, they have their own flavor and it blends well with Slightly Stoopid,” he said.
“It’s an honor for us. It’s not like we want to put them on just for the sake of putting them on. They’re all incredible musicians, whether they’re singer-songwriters or guitar players, singers. Each one of those guys, honestly, brought the record to a whole new level as far as the collaborations that we’re able to do together. So we’re excited and I think the fans will dig what they did and I hope that they like it.”