Slightly Stoopid bring their escapist enlightenment to ARISE on the heels of their ninth studio release Everyday Life, Everyday People
By Sarah Baranauskas
The first weekend of August will play host to the 6th annual ARISE festival, once again bringing an immersive environment to Sunrise Ranch in Loveland where both consciousness expansion, and the joyous revelry that serves as a reset to this work, harmoniously converge. When it comes to that revelry, there’s possibly no band better suited to the task than the southern California genre-fusing rockers Slightly Stoopid.
“By nature we’re escapist, we try to bridge reality and fantasy,” said drummer Ryan “RyMo” Moran when The Marquee caught up with him a week into their School’s Out For Summer tour.
“Everyone is entitled to their opinion and I respect that, but nowadays everyone thinks they are professionals because they watch TV or read something on the internet. More power to you but, when we’re at the show, we aren’t going to talk about that shit. Our music is ultimately about forgetting all that and having a good time with your friends. We’re just going to have fun.”
Under the banner of fun flies a band with a deep and varied musiciality that stretches from punk, hip hop, folk, funk, and reggae. This is reflective of the melding of music influences in the ’90s So-Cal music scene that birthed bands like Sublime, whose departed guitarist Brad Nowell was an early champion of the band, even signing them to his Skunk record label while the first members of Slightly Stoopid were still in high school.
This month, the band will release its ninth studio album, Everyday Life, Everyday People. The album’s recording was a journey in and of itself, as they recorded in San Diego, Los Angeles, New York, Miami and Kingston, Jamaica. It also brings in longtime collaborators such as Chali 2na, G. Love and Yellowman, alongside newer studio collaborators such as Sly and Robbie and Ali Campell of UB40.
The album reflects this global soul and community-based creative process, with a strong emphasis on reggae sounds.
“It’s just such a unique style of music,” Moran said, describing what he finds inspiring about reggae. “It’s always been close to my heart. Because of the approach it’s different than a lot of western music, the rhythms are placed in a lot of places that aren’t the same as rock and jazz, for example. One of the things I like about reggae is it’s a little more minimalist. The great reggae drummers are clever in the way they place their notes, as opposed to just playing a million notes all the time — which is very technical and amazing — but with the great reggae drumme,rs it’s all about placement. When I listen to the greats, Sly and Robbie, Grizzly [Steel Pulse], Horsemouth, all these amazing players that are from that tradition, they place their notes strategically. It’s a beautiful thing to listen to.”
The choice to cover “Legalize It,” which features Campbell, was not only a chance to work with an artist whose work Slightly Stoopid sees as a touchstone (they even covered “I Would Do For You” on their 2008 release Slightly Not Stoned Enough To Eat Breakfast Yet Stoopid), it was also an opportunity to speak to the legalization issue that is close to the band’s heart. As much as they may be thought of as a party band, there is a drive to get a message out that, ‘hey, we could be doing a lot better as a society.’ The societal evolution around marijuana points to hope that we can make progress in many respects, despite political turmoil. In this context, “Legalize It” becomes an empowering reminder of how far we’ve come to help see us through for the work that’s still ahead.
“We’re seeing a lot of things change obviously, as more and more states are becoming recreational,” Moran reflected. “I think most people are finally starting to realize that there are legitimate medical uses of the plant so let’s stop demonizing it. Especially with all the deaths associated with oxycontin and all these opioids that are being prescribed super easily. We’ve always been involved in marijuana culture, that’s always been part of our lifestyle. So it felt like a natural choice.”
Naturally then, it would make sense that Slightly Stoopid has had a long love affair with Colorado. But that relationship goes deeper than smoke signals. ARISE will mark another chapter in the community the band has cultivated over several years of touring in the state. “Colorado has been our second home from early on,” Moran recalled. “When I started in Slightly Stoopid, we were going and hitting all the ski towns. We’d hit Vail, Aspen, Gunnison, Crested Butte, Steamboat Springs. We’d play on the mountain, we’d play at the little bars near the mountain, like Sherpa and Yeti’s in Breckenridge, all those places. We just felt the love because we were going through there every single winter and we built a following doing that. We now have friends all over Colorado. We’ve done Red Rocks the last ten years, but we’re looking forward to the ARISE festival this year. We’re super stoked to be a part of that.”
Although many bands find the festival environment challenging, Slightly Stoopid embraces it as an opportunity to reconnect with old friends, as Moran described. “Festivals are really great because we get to see a lot of people that we’ve known for years and we can finally cross paths with them. There’s no negatives in playing a festival for us. We wouldn’t mind sometimes playing longer but if you’ve got an hour, sometimes it’s nice to go in and do a quick power hour. It’s always been really fun for us.”
Go If You Dig:
- Sly and Robbie