Slightly Stoopid offers 'Everything You Need'
Three years ago, Slightly Stoopid received an invitation from a radio station in its hometown of San Diego to perform an hourlong concert.
In a sense, this invitation couldn't have come at a much more uncertain point for Slightly Stoopid, which is fronted by Miles Doughty and Kyle McDonald.
"At that point, we didn't have a drummer," Doughty recalled. "We had fired our original drummer and we really didn't know what was going on."
For a group whose sound heavily features the rhythm-centered styles of reggae and hip-hop, lacking a drummer created a considerable void. Because Doughty and McDonald usually write their songs on acoustic guitars and since the station's show was designed for unplugged performances, the duo decided to go ahead with the show.
The performance went so well that soon the listener phone lines were lighting up at the station, Rock 105. The response was so strong, in fact, that Doughty and McDonald decided to release the show on a CD called "Live and Direct — Acoustic Roots."
Although the CD was available only through the band's Web site, at shows and at a few select Southern California retail outlets, "Live and Direct" still sold nearly 20,000 copies. Doughty said the format of the CD clearly introduced Slightly Stoopid to a whole new audience.
"I think it opens us up to more horizons (a wider group) of music people," he said. "You know, like it's not just a punk rock-reggae kind of scene. It's generally every kind of person's album. It's acoustic music. It's something that everybody listens to. They can see, that's like a whole personal level when you're doing it like that. You touch more with the people because you're on that personal level with them."
Since those drummerless days, things have taken a significant step up for Slightly Stoopid. Not only have Doughty and McDonald filled out the lineup with Paul Vreiling on drums and O.G. on percussion, the group attracted the interest of several major record labels following the success of "Live and Direct."
Slightly Stoopid had outgrown the marketing and distribution capabilities of its original label, Skunk Records. But McDonald said the group rejected an opportunity to sign with a major label, fearing a major label wouldn't deliver on its promise to provide full promotional support or allow Slightly Stoopid complete creative control. In the end, Doughty and McDonald may have accomplished all their goals by signing with Surfdog Records.
"We're in the best situation we could possibly be in right now," Doughty said. "Me and Miles look at each other every day and we just smile. Could you ask for anything more, you know? Our new album, we're really proud of it, so it's a good situation."
The new CD that McDonald mentioned is called "Everything You Need," and it's the band's first release on Surfdog — and fourth CD overall. After the unanticipated foray into acoustic music, "Everything You Need" finds Slightly Stoopid returning to a plugged-in sound, and showcasing a wide variety of influences. Reggae figures strongly in songs like "Officer" and "Wicked Rebel," while "Runnin' With a Gun" draws strongly on hip-hop. On "Sweet Honey," the group shows a talent for tuneful acoustic pop, mixing those textures with a vocal that blends reggae-styled toasting and smooth R&B singing.
The range of music won't surprise fans who already are familiar with Slightly Stoopid. The group's beginnings date back to the mid-1990s, when Doughty and McDonald, who have been close friends since they were preschoolers, were starting to focus on music. Although they were still just in high school at the time, the band in 1995 caught the attention of Bradley Nowell, the late singer for the trailblazing rap-rock-reggae band Sublime. Nowell, who died of a drug overdose in 1996, signed Slightly Stoopid to his label, Skunk Records, and released the group's now-out-of-print self-titled debut CD in 1996.
In those early days, the group's sound leaned more toward punk. But by the time of the band's 1999 followup CD, "Longest Barrel Ride," Slightly Stoopid's sound had come to more strongly showcase reggae, hip-hop and other styles. Doughty said that diversity always will be a trademark of the group's music.
"We're not a one-style band," Doughty said. "We like to play everything as far as music goes. We don't like to play just one style of music. And I think people appreciate that more because today there are too many just like one-style bands. There's like a band that will have 10 songs on an album that will sound the same. Our album, like every song sounds different."
Slightly Stoopid plays Tuesday, May 4, at Pop's, 1403 Mississippi Ave., Sauget. Tickets for the 8 p.m. show, which also features Pepper and the Red Light Runners, cost $12.