Slightly Stoopid has been around for decades and they’re still going strong. On Sunday, February 9, they’ll perform at One Love Cali Reggae Fest at Queen Mary Park in Long Beach. Hailing from Ocean Beach near San Diego, the beach-friendly bandmates consist of founders, multi-instrumentalists, and childhood friends Miles Doughty and Kyle McDonald, along with drummer Ryan “Rymo” Moran, percussionist Oguer “OG” Ocon, saxophonist Daniel “Dela” Delacruz, keyboardist Paul Wolstencroft, and trumpet and trombone player Andy Geib.
The diverse musical ensemble came into fruition in 1994, quickly catching the attention of Sublime frontman Bradley Nowell. After discovering the band, he asked them to perform at Foothill Tavern in Long Beach. Eventually, Nowell went on to sign them to his Skunk Records label while they were still in high school. (Crazy!)
The band’s claim to fame has everything to do with their sound — a fusion of eclectic genres spanning folk, rock, reggae, blues, hip-hop, funk, metal and punk — along with their mantra: Spreading positivity in all ways they can. While their lyrics and music speak for itself, it’s the group’s humble journey from performing small, intimate bars to touring the world. Since then, they have done almost every major festival, from Coachella to Harmony to Lollapalooza to Austin City Limits.
Last year in July, the group unleashed their ninth studio album titled Everyday Life, Everyday People, a testament to their normalcy, independence and humility. The 13-track project features appearances from Ali Campbell (UB40), Alborosie, G. Love, Chali 2na (Jurassic 5), Don Carlos, Yellowman and Sly Dunbar (Sly and Robbie).
Still going strong after more than 20 years, Slightly Stoopid has created their own counterculture at the intersection of music, art and social action. Their philanthropic efforts do not go unnoticed, with the band oftentimes working and raising money for various charities and nonprofit organizations.
Irvine Weekly caught up with lead singer Miles, who cherishes his off days with his three beautiful daughters, as he prepares for the One Love Cali Reggae Fest in Long Beach.
Irvine Weekly: You guys came into fruition in 1995, how have you evolved since with the times and the social media era?
Miles Doughty: Well in my mind, we’re a little bit behind the ball of the social media world [chuckles]. Just because we grew up the old school way of touring: nonstop, flyer in the towns, our street teams always taking care of stuff. The wave of social media, that’s basically what people are on 24/7 nowadays. We’ve been trying to step up the game a little bit and be more conscious of it. Because the way we grew up touring, we never really had that in the beginning. We’re behind the ball just because we started the grind a little early.
What are your fondest memories of just the early days and just coming up?
Just mashing in the van all over the country with your boys, having some of the craziest shows and bars all over the country. Starting out in those small bars, it’s so intimate and just rad because the fans are up close and the chaos is right in front of you. You miss those days a little bit because when you’re playing the bigger venues, the stages are always a little bit further from the crowds. There’s something to be said about that whole circa 1,000-capacity rooms or smaller, where it’s just really tight and right. The pits are dope. The dancing’s crazy. The fans are right up in your face, so it’s pretty rad.
How has the energy in the group shifted as a dynamic between the members. The same? Is it different now?
Me and Kyle, we grew up since we were 1 or 2 years old. We’re basically brothers from other mothers and we’ve been making music since the start. For us, we’ve just evolved as people and musicians over the years. Like anything, you mature in what you’re doing. Still have the same mentality, but more aware of what’s going on around you. Not always the chaos at the party and whatnot. Creatively, if you listen, every record sounds completely different except for it still has the staple sound of Stupid. We always try as many styles of music as we can, because we enjoy it as fans of music ourselves. Just not being stuck in one little genre, we like to play it all.
What are you most excited for with One Love Cali Reggae Fest approaching?
I mean, it’s always raging when you’re playing in SoCal. Damian Marley is going to be nuts. Iration, J Boog, Common Kings, there’s so many killer bands. The whole weekend’s rad really: Dirty Heads, Rebelution, Stick Figure, Atmosphere. It’s going to be killer. What’s dope is that the scene has just gotten so big and crazy. The people that come out are amazing, just all the fanbase. You’ve seen this culture and movement stretch across the country. It’s really dope to see just as someone who’s toured for a couple of decades around the States. Just to see it grow like it has, it’s turned into something special.
Growing up in San Diego, which is super close to O.C., how do the two counties compare?
Each kind of has their own vibe. I grew up in a town called Ocean Beach, which is a very hippie kind of town. Still kind of true to its roots, one of the last old-school vibe towns. What’s good about the O.C. is just the energy that people bring always. In general the beach culture and Southern California, everyone rolls together in that vibe. That’s also something that’s spread around the world globally, the SoCal beach culture, surf roots, rock/reggae vibe. It’s pretty cool to see.
What’s your favorite part about Long Beach?
My favorite part about Long Beach is just the whole Skunk Records crew. Growing up, seeing those guys back in the day from teenagers till now. Miguel Happoldt, Opie Ortiz, all those guys, It’s just cool to go up there every time we’re there, to hang out with our boys that we’ve known for a couple decades. That’s really what we look forward to.
Favorite song to perform in a set?
That’s a tough one. I always like playing “Officer.” “Wicked Rebels” is fun. “Wise Man” is a fun track to play. “Closer to the Sun.” Those are four songs that are always fun, just the message in them and the energy you get from the people. When those songs start to play, there’s something about the songs that elevates people to a certain energy level. It’s fun to play them.
Your last project was Everyday Life, Everyday People. What’s one thing you want fans to get from this one?
Well if you listen to the words of the songs, it’s our experiences through life. What and how we see things, what we’ve gone through from our experiences on the road through our experiences raising our own families. Just like anything, music evolves and people evolve. Like the title says, we’re just regular beach kids that surf, skate, grew up hanging out together and we just happen to play music. There’s nothing different about us except that we’re on a stage preaching a certain message about a lifestyle that we enjoy, that we embrace and try to push to the people.
Talk about creating your own counterculture following through music, art, social action.
We let everything speak for itself as far as not necessarily creating the culture, but just absorbing and embracing it. The way we lived growing up, surfing and skating. Me and Kyle we literally spent our whole lives at the beach as kids, and you can feel it in the music. When we walk out on stage, what you see is what you get. We’re going to be wearing probably some Vans or some Converse. Whatever we wore all day, we just walked right on the stage with the same stuff on. We’re there to have a great time with the fans, party as hard as we can while we’re there with the fans and hit the next town. [laughs]
Best encounter you had with a fan?
Honestly, there’s too many. We have a really amazing fan base: the Stoopidheads. It’s a very organic, grassroots fan base that’s been with us a long time. They travel all over the country. All-year long, they’re at multiple shows so it’s hard to say the best experience. We’re on a first name basis with hundreds of people that we’ve seen along the way over the years. It’s pretty special that what we’re doing affects their lives in a certain way, but we’re also friends with them outside of the music. It’s pretty cool to have that engagement with a lot of the fans.
Your fans have been with you for 20 years, what is it about Slightly Stoopid they love?
I think just our attitude and what we’re talking about. Our energy that we put out. What we’ve talked about in our music, people come up and say it does certain things for their lives. For us, that means everything because what we’re saying that’s affecting our lives, is affecting their lives. It’s really cool to see the message being absorbed the way it is.
Ideal day off?
Being home with my family: my kids and my wife. Let and watch the kids play, surf, whatever they want to do. Go to the beach, play ball, everything. Family time is not to be taken for granted when you live on the road. You miss a million moments. When I’m home, every day off I have a chance I literally try to fly home so I could try to catch a couple of moments.
What are some goals for yourself at this point of your career?
My goal is always just to keep bringing music to the people and keep the energy the same level. I don’t want to be out there just to play. We love to be on stage and play music, so I want it to continue like that as far as my passion for it and always loving what you’re doing. I don’t want to just do it for the sake of doing it, you know? It’s not worth it. Music is a special thing. I don’t care who you are, music reaches everybody. It’s something that’s universal. There’s no borders anywhere in the world that can separate music from people, so it’s pretty cool to see that.
Slightly Stoopid performs at One Love Cali Reggae Fest on Sunday, February 9 at Queen Mary Park in Long Beach.