Ocean Beach, CA’s Slightly Stoopid are already coasting into their second decade of rock n’ roll at the ages of 26 - 27 years old, and are set to release their fifth album, Closer to the Sun, on April 19, 2005. Fusing acoustic rock and blues with reggae, hip-hop, and punk, Slightly Stoopid have cemented a signature sound and created a legion of die-hard fans in the process. The band, whose D.I.Y. nature has seen them thumb their nose at more than a few major label record deals over the course of their career, will release Closer to the Sun on their own imprint, Stoopid Records/Caliplates Recordings, in conjunction with Reincarnate/BMG. As Miles Doughty, one of the group’s two front men explains, “It’s all about the grass roots style – you’ve got to tough it out, got to get your hands dirty touring and making music. We have 100% creative control of what we do, and we’ve worked way too hard to have other people telling us how to do it. It’s working, so we don’t feel we need to change.”
Recorded at Total Access studios in Redondo Beach, CA, Closer to the Sun is loaded with 20 new jams that both refine and cement the group’s trademark sound. The album, which flows through a seamless mix of dubbed out funky blues, rock, and reggae, and a few clashes with old school punk, re-enlists production alumni and soundboard manipulators Miguel (Sublime, Long Beach Dub, Unwritten Law, Skunk Records), Philadelphonic/G-love & Special Sauce resident producer Chris D, and Dub Reggae legend (and King Tubby protégé) Scientist for the follow up to 2003’s Everything You Need.
The album’s first single “Somebody” is a blues romp peppered with a timely sample of the late ODB from Wu Tang’s “36 Chambers” (eerily recorded less than a month prior to the late hip-hop luminary’s overdose, and scratched by the infamous D.J. Field Marshall). The solid bass lines of the band’s newest weed anthems “This Joint” and “Fat Spliffs” lend deep grooves to hip-hop rhythms. In fact, reggae legend Barrington Levy, who appears on “See It No Other Way,” said, “I took this song back to Jamaica and my kids wouldn’t let me take it out of the tape deck.”
Boasting dual front men, Slightly Stoopid possesses a unique dynamic and kinship. They share a multitude of influences, from the acoustic leanings of Cat Stevens, Tom Petty, Django Reinhardt, and the Grateful Dead, to old school reggae and dub artists Augustus Pablo, Lee Scratch Perry, Yellowman, and UB40. In addition, their more modern influences such as Sublime and G-Love certainly shine through, and hint towards the band becoming the natural heir to the close-knit musical lineage which spawned them.
Back In 1995, while still in high school, Miles and Kyle caught the ear of Sublime vocalist Bradley Nowell, who then signed them to his own Skunk Records label. Staying true to the D.I.Y ethic of punk rock, the band released its first two albums independently on Skunk. With minimal distribution (primarily in Southern California), the Skunk label released the punk-tinged debut Slightly Stoopid (1996), and the heavier-produced reggae leanings of the band’s surf inspired Longest Barrel Ride (1998). After a couple of years of hard core gigging, and between recording a legitimate new studio album, Slightly Stoopid delivered a live CD from an hour long live acoustic set from San Diego’s Rock 105 through their own Stoopid Records imprint. Titled Acoustic Roots: Live and Direct, it featured both players on acoustic guitars and vocals, and was recorded live, one take with no overdubs. Then in 2003, Slightly Stoopid released Everything You Need, their first legitimately produced studio album since 1998. A departure on some levels, Everything You Need was the culmination of the band reaching a new creative plateau, forging their own brand of music without abandoning the philosophy of where they started. According to co-front man Kyle McDonald, “Miles and I both love music, and we have been friends since we were one and two years old. We are just like brothers, and it’s really nice to be able to make music with your family. We’ve been listening to music together all of our lives, have been playing together since our mid-teens, and are in our 11th year as a band.”
On the live front, the band’s fans, who are known as “Ese Locos” or “Stoopidheads,” flock to nearly 200 live shows a year. Slightly Stoopid’s touring schedule typically has them locked into two-plus hours of improvisational jamming, five days a week. Along the way, they have supported such acts as The Marley Bros, Sublime, The Roots, G-Love and Special Sauce, Blink 182, Toots and The Maytals, N.E.R.D, Pennywise, and The Warped Tour, to name a few. The group’s diversity appeals to a wide demographic of music fans. “Our live shows are fun, and we get every sort of person you can imagine in one room,” Kyle reveals. “And a lot of them are crazy. We’re all about having fun - we interact with the crowd and get ‘em riled up.”
Slightly Stoopid remain a group devoted to the pursuit of the perfect mix of lifestyle and sound. With Closer to the Sun, Slightly Stoopid have created a soundtrack to compliment their quest for the most crucial mix, and prove that hard work, perseverance and staying true to their roots is their path to genre bending musical integrity.
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