There are few things more deserving of respect in the music industry than when a band comes onto stage and sounds amazing live. The purity of unedited music is worth a few thousand screams and claps. The December 27th opening installment of Slightly Stoopid’s Holiday Tour 2013, at The Wellmont Theatre in Montclair, N.J., offered just that-naturally talented musicians, sweet vibes, and good times. Quincy Mumford & The Reason Why’s and Passafire opened for musical contortionists, Slightly Stoopid, marking the beginning of “Holiday Tour 2013.”
New Jersey’s own Quincy Mumford & The Reason Why’s started the show off with the right vibes to help the crowd move along throughout the rest of the show. They were funky, smooth, and knew how to work the crowd, like a child making a delicious musical mud pie. Opening a show for Slightly Stoopid takes a certain kind of intensity, which they definitely nailed. Quincy Mumford & The Reason Why’s more than helped to turn the night into the beautiful success it was.
Passafire, originally from Savannah, G.A., busted onto the stage with heavy bass and powerful drums- followed by an impressive relaxed, reggae lyrical performance. The ability to take two contrasting styles of music and turn them into something that makes an entire crowd scream and throw their fingers in the air with pure and loving ecstasy made their performance such a pleasurable and body-moving experience. Flawlessly paving the stage for Slightly Stoopid, Passafire was able to hold their own and judging by the crowd’s reaction-they definitely have a loving, following of relaxed, peace-loving fans.
Having tremendous opening acts for a tour must give Slightly Stoopid an ego boost (which they more than deserve) The opening show for the Holiday Tour 2013 was one of the best shows I have personally seen myself. From the beginning to the end, the vibes floating around the venue were positive, loving and full of smiling energies. Ending the year with Slightly Stoopid was an amazing experience. They always give such memorable and explosive performances. Bodies constantly moving, the crowd continuously singing along, chronic smoke-filled air, and excited screams are just a little vision of what to except from a Slightly Stoopid crowd.
From the first song to the last (after the Slightly Stoopid clap-chant, of course) each moment in the crowd is a spine-tingling experience. For some, the vibes, positive energy and feeling of oneness are enough to create a spiritual awakening. The feeling of being in the crowd with so many other individuals who are there for the same reason you are, listening to the same music, and moving their bodies the way you do is an amazing feeling to take in. Slightly Stoopid allows for the crowd to feel like one and be at peace-then the next song they will break out into some of their older punk songs and a quarter of the crowd turns into a mosh pit, arms and leg flailing, girls screaming-then, Slightly Stoopid will play another song that is the farthest thing from punk. Truly, encompassing the individuality of music and being their own bosses.
Ryan Moran aka Rymo was kind enough to sit down with me before the show started. He talked with me about a few things including the process of preparing for shows, the evolution of albums, and his personal musical tastes. Feeling “recharged” and ready to tour, Rymo was as cool as musicians come:
I know that Slightly Stoopid has been playing on stage for a while, but do you ever get nervous about performing?
“I get nervous all the time! I mean, I wouldn’t say it’s a nervousness like I’m terrified, I’ve been doing this a long time-I know I’m prepared I’ve done the practice and all the work to be able to perform on stage, but I mean yeah when you hear a crowd of 15 to 20,000 people and it’s loud, your heart is definitely pumping. It’s like you’ve got friends in the crowd and you’re trying to balance the party zone backstage and you’ve got to get focused to get on stage there’s a lot going on, for the big shows. It’s not like a fear nervousness it’s more like I’m anxious to get out and play! I’m ready for it! But, I definitely get the butterflies, especially for the bigger shows. You have to learn how to control your adrenaline, a little bit too ya know? ‘Cause you get a rush going out there and it’s easy to play everything really fast or to squeeze through stuff that needs to be more relaxed. So, you definitely learn how to balance the adrenaline and the whole-party-distracting-side-backstage and then the focused-relaxed-side-on-stage.”
What are the pre show preparations-anything to ease the transition from backstage to front and center?
“I usually have a couple tricks. The guys smoke pretty heavily to prepare. Aside from that, you just try to get a few deep breaths on your own just so you can get your head in the right place. You get so distracted and get pulled in a lot of different directions, especially on the bigger shows so you kind of just go and get away from that stuff for a few minutes and focus on what’s coming up and get through the night and go onto the next day.”
The Holiday Tour has an amazing band opening for you guys, Passafire. Are you excited to jam with them?
“I haven’t heard them in awhile so I was excited to hear their music again. We definitely have done a handful of festivals over the years and I’ve met them in passing so I’m looking forward to seeing them over the next nights of the tour. A lot of the times you see them at festivals and there’s like 50 bands and 50 stages so you’re kind of like “Hey how’s it going” you don’t really get the chance to sit down and talk to people.”
The Holiday Tour is a smaller tour in smaller venues but, in terms of the larger tours you’ve done, how was touring with Snoop Dogg?
“It was great and definitely one of the high points for us, in terms of touring. He’s larger than life and always has a big entourage around him so you can never really get close to him. There’s always like ten guys in suits that won’t let you anywhere near him but they’re all really nice. You can see him from a distance-he’s being pulled in 10,000 directions so, if you get a nod from him it’s a sign of respect. It was a lot of fun watching him play every night. Every song he sings is a hit. To be out in the audience and be like “Okay, we have to play after him” and there’s like 15,000 or 18, 000 people in a huge venue. It’s a little intimidating but it’s also like ya know we worked hard too. It was definitely a high point. Miles and Kyle smoked with him. He keeps it smoky-a couple of the guys burned down with him a few times, but yeah he keeps insulated because he has to, which I understand. It was a great tour!”
Music like Snoop’s is a little outside of your genre of music. What other types of music do you personally enjoy?
“I’ve gone through tons of listening phases of music, ya know, since I’ve been into music. Probably one of my all time favorites would have to be Led Zeppelin. Rush, too-I’m a huge Rush fan-I’ve been listening to a lot of Tool lately-Carey is a phenomenal drummer there music is kind of darker. I like some of that stuff. I listen to all kinds of music from rock to jazz. I went through a really intense jazz phase for years. I studied a lot of jazz drumming because it’s some of the most challenging drumming to learn, and if you could get your hands on that and start learning about that you can apply it to any other style of music. You’ll have the tools you need to be efficient in different styles. I listen to everything-reggae and punk rock, of course too.”
Since Slightly Stoopid is so eclectic, how long does it generally take for you guys to work on an album, such as Top of the World?
“Every album process is a little different. We try to approach each record individually, in a way, because, really, an album is a snap shot of where you are in time. So, ya know you could look back and go “That music is so different but I was in a different mental place or I was going through this or that in my life.” Music captures a lot of that because it’s like an emotional thing. When you’re going through certain things in your life that album is a snap shot of that time in your life.So that being said, Closer to the Sun, for example, took a couple months-we were working eight or ten hours a day, every day-just playing songs and working on stuff, changing stuff, and re-writing. We wrote a lot of extra music for that album. Then, the last one that we released, Top of the World, was a little bit of a different process because a couple of the guys had just had kids or just had been married. We had been on the road so much that when we got off the road we were kind of burnt out, so we took some time off and wanted to start recording when we were inspired. We didn’t want to force another album; that album had a little different type of approach. It wasn’t like all of us were in a room. We weren’t sculpting things as we were going-it was more like one or two guys just had an idea and then two or three other guys would come in and work on it. Then, it kind of took shape in time, instead of all of us being there and doing one push to get it done. This one [Top of the World] took more time because we had our own place whereas in the past , when we played in a real studio, it was sometimes up to $1,500 a day to record. Most people say “Oh yeah, you can just bang it out in a day,” but to really make quality stuff it takes time. You have to refine stuff, especially if you are writing and recording at the same time, you want to put your best effort forward. Anyway, that process was a bit different so it took longer. Top of the World took shape over the course of more like a year to a year and a half because it was spaced out. Two guys would come down a couple times a week. Then, two other guys would be there and kind of piece stuff together and get all the bass drums and guitars done and the horns would kind of put their things on and the vocals were last. We created this cake, sort of, layer by layer as opposed to all being in the same room and banging it out all at one time.”
Over the next couple of months, Slightly Stoopid has so many performances and tours scheduled. The next show will be in Costa Rica for Jungle Jam 2014 (which will be beyond amazing, no doubt) then they’ll be headed across the United States through April when they perform at the Tortuga Music Festival. So, do yourself a favor and please catch one, two, three or maybe all of their shows. If you like good vibes, smiles, and being surrounded by positive energy you’ll be at home during a Slightly Stoopid show.
Photo Credit: Cheyenne Bosco