Slightly Stoopid

Anyone who is into surfing, snowboarding, skateboarding or extreme sports knows Slightly Stoopid, the San Diego band that has been bringing the “soundtrack of the California lifestyle” to tour stops around the nation for the last five years, 200 dates a year.

Miles Doughty and Kyle McDonald founded the band in 1993 when they were barely teens growing up in Ocean Beach, Calif., after knowing each other since they were toddlers. As with many aspiring rock bands, it was a cool way to meet girls, but the two discovered that finding a venue to play outside of house parties wasn’t a slam-dunk.

“It was tough. When you call clubs and stuff, they actually laugh at you like it’s a joke that you want to do shows,” Doughty told POLLSTAR. “When you don’t have management and your name’s not out there, they don’t have faith that you’re capable of doing anything.

“Now, we’re selling out shows across the country and people are singing the songs.” McDonald was with friends driving to a local skateboard shop and yelling out the car window at girls when he talked to POLLSTAR about those early days. “It’s a tough life. You go through times when you’ll be playing in front of nobody, and you go through times when you’re playing in front of everybody,” he said. “That’s what it’s all about – hitting each place every so often, and building up what you’ve got going there. “The crowds have been insane. You look out and you can’t see the end of them, but they’re all just bouncing and having the time of their lives. I love that shit.”

The band, comprising Doughty and McDonald on guitar, bass and vocals, new drummer Ryan Moran and O.G. on percussion, combine punk, reggae, ska, hip-hop and heavy metal in a way that appeals to people from 14 to 45. It was that sound that caught the attention of the late Sublime vocalist Brad Nowell in 1995, and then Matt Phillips of Silverback Management, whose brother, John, managed Sublime.

“I was going to college and working for Skunk Records (Sublime’s label) and doing all the street promotions for them. John and Brad kept telling me about this band, Slightly Stoopid, that Brad was into and who were, like, only 16 or 17 years old,” Phillips told POLLSTAR. “I remember Brad used to say, ‘These guys are going to be better than me.’

“They were young, but they were really good songwriters and a really good band that had a ton of potential.”

Nowell’s interest got Slightly Stoopid a deal with Skunk Records, which gave the band the springboard it needed. Through constant touring, early on with a then-unknown blink-182, gigs in those elusive higher-profile venues starting happening.

“The first time I saw them, they opened for Sublime at the House of Blues,” Phillips said. “You could just see them starting to mature and transform from being a punk band to a band that mixed all styles, rock, punk, reggae, metal.”

Slightly Stoopid

By the time The Longest Barrel Ride dropped in 1998, Slightly Stoopid was a popular independent band within the Southern California and West Coast markets. The band and Phillips had also forged a friendship that led to their business partnership.

“Me and Matt and Kyle, we all just communicated and everything was cool. When he wanted to go into management and work with us, we said, ‘You’re the guy for us,'” Doughty explained. “It’s tough to find people who commit to you and not try to take from you. Matt’s a stand-up guy; he’s honest with us.”

The band kept its DIY philosophy and released two independent albums, one self-titled and Longest Barrel Ride, on Skunk. Slightly Stoopid then switched gears and released 2001’s Live and Direct, Acoustic Roots, that was recorded during a radio gig. Its current album, Everything You Need, dropped March 18th and was selling about 1,000 copies a week at press time, mostly by word of mouth.

Slightly Stoopid was courted by major labels Interscope, Universal, Lava and Warner Bros., but chose to sign with Surfdog Records for its latest release.

“What we really wanted to create with Slightly Stoopid is, we want them to build their own identity and real fans that will always be their fans,” Phillips said. “Sometimes with a major label, you only get one shot at radio and they don’t pay attention to you anymore. With Slightly Stoopid, they know they can build a career without any of that.”

The band is currently out on the Sprite Liquid Mix Tour, after which they’ll headline a tour through Thanksgiving. Phillips said treks to Japan, Australia and Hawaii, where Slightly Stoopid has a huge underground following, is also in the works.

“Being at one of their shows is like looking at a college courtyard, you get diversified groups of people. It’s a reflection of the type of music they play that fans from all those scenes respect what they do,” Phillips said. “Where Slightly Stoopid goes is usually where the party is at. It’s a real fun vibe.”