How did Slightly Stoopid climb up to the #1 spot? By making great music over and over and over again!
Signing to a major record label is far from a guaranteed success, but when it works, man it really works! There is just so much promotional muscle behind major-label artists; not to mention the distribution footprint and the access to radio airplay. Like all industries based on economies of scale, major releases flood the media outlets and you just can’t help but hear and know about them.
When an independent artist breaks into the national music conscious, it really is a huge feat. You may not think about this but let me try and put it all in perspective. When an artist that is not associated with a major-label really makes it, they have essentially co-opted an infrastructure. They’ve bypassed multiple filters and they’ve overcome institutional obstacles. They’ve bucked the system and defied the odds.
When you take a few more steps back and really start to analyze how a band without major-label support got famous, you are hit with the realization that they’ve worked ridiculously hard and that they’ve earned their fans honestly—one at a time over a relentless and grueling touring schedule. And this is exactly why I’m so proud of the guys in Slightly Stoopid. They’ve done it! Their years of endlessly crisscrossing the country have paid off.
Slightly Stoopid is currently co-headlining the 2012 Unity Tour with 311 and they’re about to release their 7th studio album, Top of The World. To date, they’ve sold over 800,000 records on their own Stoopid Records label, they’ve performed at every major festival and they’ve sold out venues around the world. They’ve done this by constantly being out on the road—connecting with fans since 1995.
One of the first major fans that they won over was Bradley Nowell, the late lead-singer of Sublime. He immediately signed them to his Skunk Records label even though they were still in high school. At the time, the band was only Miles Doughty and Kyle McDonald. Both sang and played guitar and bass. They released 2 albums on Sublime’s independent label before branching off on their own.
I first met the fellas in 2005 after they had just released Closer to The Sun. They had flushed out the lineup by adding Ryan ‘RyMo’ Moran on drums, Oguer 'OG' Ocon on congas and percussion, C-Money on trumpet and keyboard and Dela on saxophone. Rymo and OG had played together in the B Side Players while C-Money and Dela had been part of John Brown’s Body.
By this time, Slightly Stoopid was building buzz outside of southern California and really coming into their own sound. Now I’ll admit, when I first heard of them, I thought their name was a bit silly and I was put off by the overt pot references but I got over it. And I’m glad I did or I’d be missing out on some wonderful music. The band is made up of amazingly talented musicians showcasing beautiful musicianship.
I went to one of their shows and I couldn’t believe how happy everyone in the audience was. Everyone was singing and dancing and just down-right enjoying themselves. This was so different from a lot of the shows I was attending at the time. Sure, every audience interacts with the band in one way or another but this was different. This was happy and fun and the kind of music that you want to play at your own parties with your own friends. This was social and lively and it brought everyone in the room together.
The band improvised, jammed, and just fed off the audience for over 2 hours. It was a nonstop party. The horn section was fabulous. The rhythm section was out of this world. And everyone left the venue better than they were before the music. I swore that their trumpet player, C-Money, was the soul of Miles reincarnated.
Listen to C-Money playing some of his own tracks at the San Diego Music Awards.
Slightly Stoopid are known for their fusion of reggae-dub-surf-rock and they’ve really helped codify the southern California sound. They blend mellow beats with lush horn arrangements and floating vocals. The new album delivers exactly what we’ve grown to expect.
Top Of The World is 21 tracks and it is full of guest appearances. Reggae legends Barrington Levy and Don Carlos of Black Uhuru make appearances. G.Love shows up. Frontman Angelo Moore from Fishbone sits in. So does ex-Jurassic Five emcee Chali 2na. And oh, did I mention that both Ian Neville and Karl Denson from the Greyboy Allstars are heavily featured? Just like their live shows, their albums are a party with the more the merrier!
Take a listen to the title track, Top Of The World.
This is a fun album. It full of great grooves and catchy hooks. It’s for get-togethers and afternoon bar-b-cues. And while you are listening and sharing it with friends, just think about the idea that these guys did all this on their own. They’ve been in different cities every night for over 15 years now—making music that makes people happy. Slowly but surely, they’ve traveled the country over and over again finding new fans at each stop. Fans like Bob Weir from the Grateful Dead.
In 2011, Bob Weir invited the band down to his TRI Studios for a 2-set live-in-HD performance. Later this year, an in-studio performance will be released with special guests Bob Weir, Don Carlos, Ivan & Ian Neville, and Karl Denson. So for now, enjoy the new album and just know that a follow up is coming right behind it. Catch a preview of the in-studio album here:
If you liked what you heard above, then dig a little deeper:
Want more in-depth music reviews? Check out these other music features:
Mike Dias is a huge fan of music, of telling stories, and of laughing. And lucky for him, he’s somehow managed to make somewhat of living from this. He designs funny and creative apps for the iPhone. He is the music supervisor for Ultimate Ears and he writes about music and the music industry. He’s always happy to talk about artists, apps, and headphones so feel free to reach out about any of those topics. Email him directly.
If you enjoyed this piece, you’ll probably like some of the other things Mike does too. Get more music recommendations at @michael_a_dias or read more interviews and artist profiles on his Facebook Page. If you’re in the mood for a good laugh, download Mike’s latest free app, Mad Lips, and make all of your photos come to life. And if you’ve ever thought about owning custom Ultimate Ears, talk to Mike first. He’ll answer all your questions in an honest and funny way.