For the past ten years, each one of my playlists (on my now ancient I-Pod) has something in common. Each playlist has at least one Slightly Stoopid song. Since first getting a taste of their music in 2004, I have been identifying as a “Stoopid Head” and have been accompanied to every party and hangout by Slightly Stoopid’s tunes and good vibes. They’ve been with me for all of my ups and downs and everything in between-so, it’s no surprise that I have always had a dream to meet and talk to the band.
Slightly Stoopid’s drummer for the past ten years (what a coincidence), Ryan Moran aka Rymo, was the man who helped bring my dream to reality. He was beyond awesome and extremely kind to do an interview with me. With such busy schedules and so many tours coming up it was surprising to find out that Rymo had any free time at all. Enjoy!
Slightly Stoopid is so eclectic, which makes me curious, who is your biggest musical influence?
“I’d have to say one of my biggest influences at least in the beginning was Led Zeppelin. I have 2 older sisters and they were both listening to all different kinds of music. One of them gave me a Led Zeppelin disc set when I was about 8 or 9-It rocked my world! I was listening to the American Top 40 with Casey Kasem and then I heard Led Zeppelin and I fell in love with them from that point on. Since then, it’s become a pretty broad range of stuff. They’re the first band that got me to want to play music.”
What about your favorite Slightly Stoopid album?
“Ah-that’s tough. Probably, ‘Closer to the Sun’. It was the first one I did when I joined the band-I joined in the middle of 2003; I’ve been with the band for about 10 years. When I first joined, the band had just released ‘Everything You Need’, which was also a great album. We were touring and playing all of that music. But, before we finished those tours, we went into the studio and started writing a whole bunch of stuff-which became ‘Closer to the Sun’. So, that’s probably one of my favorite albums (for sentimental reasons, I guess.)”
Slightly Stoopid has such a unique style of music. How do you guys manage to be so creative and change up your style?
“We’re exploring different kinds of musical territories. We’re trying to explore a little bit. We know that we can play reggae and punk and we still love playing that stuff – that’s still our primary focus-but we also started to branch out into different realms like a little more hip-hop.
Other artists have helped us branch out from just being a “reggae band.” We always want to play songs that rock. We have been listening to Afrobeat and 70’s stuff so our music is like a big pot of music now and we’re just twirling it up and experimenting a little more. A lot of bands don’t really have that freedom when they’re on a major label. The label wants something they can market. They want to put you [bands] in a certain niche. It’s like ‘Ya know, you used to be a reggae band but now you’re a rock band so you have to wear eyeliner and have long hair.’ You can’t play anything except rock because that’s how they want to market you. Well, we never went that route. We can choose how we want to play our music. If we want to play a hip-hop song, we just do it. If we want to do more punk or more rock on an album, we just do that too! We have the freedom to explore a little more than other acts and I think one of the things that set us apart from other label bands is that we have the freedom to explore. I think that is kinda where we’re all going, musically, just trying to evolve.”
Favorite artist(s) to work with?
“There’s been a handful-we’ve toured with so many bands now. One of the biggest highlights was touring with Snoop. That was pretty crazy-one of the bigger ones. Also, touring with the Marleys, Toots and the Maytals, Don Carlos, G. Love & Special Sauce-and a lot of other legends. All of the acts we toured with we’re big fans of. It’s nice to get to rub shoulders, hang out and make music together.”
What’s your favorite venue to play?
“I have a few, but I mean one of my all-time favorite venues is the Red Rock in Colorado. Everyone I grew up listening to or listen to now has played there. For us to play that venue and have our name listed on the wall alongside some of their acts like Fleetwood Mac, Bob Marley, Blues Traveler, Bob Marley and the Marley Sons. It’s kind of the who’s who in the music industry, really. So, for us (and me), my favorite venues are always the ones that have some history behind them like the Red Rock in Colorado. There are a couple in San Francisco like The Fillmore. When we were in Philadelphia we played at Penn’s Landing-we liked that. Any venue where people are outside, having fun in the open air are our favorite places to play really.”
Okay, this is a question I’ve wondered for years: What’s your favorite part of being in Slightly Stoopid?
“I love being on stage. A lot of people look at our job and go ‘Wow, you guys are just caviar-and-champagne-and-rap-video-everyday. Actually, it’s not really like that-at all. We travel so much we’re always in planes, busses, cars, and taxi cab. We’re always moving, so that’s the best part of the day, for us, is that hour and a half to two hours where we get to play music, meet some of the fans, and have a couple beers after the show-that has to be the highlight of the day.
There’s so much effort that goes into the show. Just getting from show to show and city to city, people don’t really see that and don’t think about its taxing in its own way but the best part of the day is that hour or two when we’re playing and doing what we love to do.”
With upcoming tours like the Holiday Tour 2013, Spring Tour 2013, the Jungle Jam Costa Rican Festival, McDowell Mountain Music Festival in Phoenix, AZ, and the Tortuga Music Festival in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. How do you manage to keep in touch with your friends and family when it seems like you’re always on tour?
“I talk to my wife ten times a day pretty much. We have a little baby girl. She’s six months old so we do face time with the baby and it helps, it helps a lot. We’re on the bus together so we’re sharing a pretty small space sometimes. There can be up to 10 or 12 guys on one bus at a time so it can get really crowded so we (I) find ways to peel away and go for a walk, make a couple phone calls-I’d say that’s the best way to keep in touch.”
I’ll be at your first stop on the Holiday Tour in Montclair, NJ-anything you want to share about the show?
“It’ll be a fun one, we have Passafire and Quincy Mumford-who’s from the Jersey Shore or Asbury Park. So, it will be a fun run for sure.”
I’m also a big fan of G. Love; will Slightly Stoopid be working with G. Love again anytime soon?
“Yeah, absolutely! Garrett is a great friend of ours we’ve been touring, recording, and hanging out with him for as long as I can remember for the last 10 to 15 years. We’ll definitely be collaborating and doing more touring with him in the future and some recording too. So, yeah he is like one of our favorites, man, he is so talented and he is such a great guy. We just can’t say enough good things about him-his band too! They are all so professional and work super hard. They are really great live. We love watching them, and touring with them. We will be working with Garrett in the future, maybe on the next album and definitely doing tours.”
Any crazy tour stories?
“So many crazy things have happened to us on tour. You name it, we’ve been through a lot in the last 10-20 years from feeling like we were going to get into plane, bus, or van crashes. We have had a lot of close calls in transit and those are always, I think, the scariest crashes because those are the moments that we are all just kinda together and cruising. It’s like ‘Oh! We might just not make it to our next spot, ya know, we might just end up going in a tour bus down a snow bank.’ We’ve really had some scary close calls while traveling. Those are pretty crazy and a lot of us have families and stuff so, now, it’s a little scary because we are a little older. When we were 20 it was like “Oh that was nuts, I almost died haha!” but when you get to be 30 to 45 years old it’s different. I’m 37 now, so I’d like to stick around for a few more years, see my daughter go to school-those crazy things pop out in my mind.
I’ve seen pretty crazy stage diving. We had this one girl who really wanted to stage dive. She had never done it before. We were playing in New Jersey with Pepper and they were friends with the one girl. We were at Asbury Park, where the stage is eight or ten feet above the ground. They have a six food wide gap you have to jump over to get to the crowd-where the security and the photographers are before it turns into the stage. So, anyway, she was probably drinking while we are playing when she got the courage up [to jump] and we’re not thinking anything about it, just having fun. Suddenly she runs and jumps. Right before she jumps off the stage, she hesitated ever so slightly-she took a stutter step and didn’t jump far enough. She landed on her knees and dove forward with her torso up into the crowd and her knees landed on the fence like where the security guards are. It was a thick metal barricade. All of us were like “Whoa!” We were tripping out. We thought she got seriously hurt. It looked like she could have broken both her legs-that was pretty crazy.
Don’t ever stage dive! I mean it looks fun and everything, but once you get the crowd ready for you then do it but I’ve seen so many times where people go for it and just don’t make it. They jump into the crowd and then the crowd steps aside. They just land hard on the cement.”
This is completely random, but I’ve been thinking about getting a tattoo, have any advice for people like me?
“I have a few. I got things that I knew I would always like. I have a little musical note and, since I was born and raised in California, I have the shape of the state with a flag inside of that. It’s stuff that means something to me, ya know. If you get something random, because you just want to get something you’ll end up with a Tweety Bird wearing a sombrero and you’re going to be like ‘Why did I do that???’”
What do you think the official message behind the music of Slightly Stoopid is?
“We are basically kids, I mean we’re grown men, but we want to have fun. We grew up playing music, surfing, skateboarding, smoking and doing stuff that we enjoyed and our music is really just sort of an extension of that. So, in a way, we want to bring that positive vibe out to a crowd and make people just smile and forget about their troubles. We don’t really get super political and we don’t get super preachy about any kind of big issues. We’re pretty neutral in that realm. We just try to keep it about the party and leaving concerns at the door. We’re not using that musical platform to preach about a political message; we’re just there to have a good time and that’s what we want to spread. It’s about being light, having a good time, and not talking about the news. If you want to watch the news, ya know, stay home and watch the news.”
Anything else you’d like to share with us?
“We always have new merch-we cycle stuff in and out pretty quickly so, ya know, there’s always a new cycle of designs and limited edition stuff. We try to keep it fresh that way about every year we re-up the merch designs so they’re not the same thing. As for tours, we have this Costa Rica festival coming up next month that everyone is really excited about. We’re playing with a bunch of bands that we’re friends with. After Christmas, we’ll be touring the northeast for about a week or so. From March to April we’ll be back on the East Coast touring a couple different regions around there like the Carolinas and Florida. We try to make it [to the East coast] once or twice a year. It keeps us pretty busy.”
The Levity Ball would like to thank Ryan Moran and Slightly Stoopid for making time to learn more. Click on the Logo below for more information, Tour Dates and Tickets! Be sure to come back to the site in a couple weeks for Part 3 of our 3 Part series on Slightly Stoopid. We’ll be finishing up with Kylee’s review of their live show in Montclair, NJ and find out if Kylee disregards Rymo’s advice not to stage-dive!