In anticipation of Slightly Stoopid’s upcoming DVD/CD box set release of their performance at Bob Weir’s TRI Studios in Southern California, Miles Doughty (singer/guitar/bass) got on the phone with The Pier to discuss the upcoming release of the “Live At Roberto’s TRI Studios 9.13.11” session, along with various highlights of the star-studded performers present. Also, it was ideal timing for an interview, especially after the enormous announcement of 311 and Slightly Stoopid coming together for this summer’s Unity Tour, while bringing The Aggrolites and SOJA on the road, as well.
One of the more heartfelt sides of the Slightly Stoopid story is their upbringing under the guidance of Bradley Nowell, Michael “Miguel” Happoldt and the entire Sublime family. As Miles, and Kyle, approach nearly twenty years since their first encounter with their childhood idols, the wisdom has proved to be abundant, and it only felt proper to hear that side of their early upbringing as a three-piece, growing into what Slightly Stoopid has become today.
Although, the topic of Brad is always a gentle subject, the nature of this interview was upbeat, comedic and freewheeling, in a proper Slightly Stoopid style. Plenty of jokes and laughter from start to finish, but it was all valuable musical material prevalent to the happenings within Slightly Stoopid’s world. Enjoy!
The Pier: Miles! It is always great to catch up with Slightly Stoopid! It has been a few months, but there hasn’t been much rest for you guys. Along those lines, let’s talk about the TRI Studios session! How the hell did you guys stay seated for over 30 songs?!
Miles: Oh, man! (laughs) That’s great! Just to imagine, and looking back when you have an opportunity to play with those kinds of cats, all you have to do is show up! Everything else, just happens, it all comes together smoothly. Playing with Bob Weir, Karl Denson, Don Carlos, Ian and Ivan Neville and all the boys in Stoopid, it’s like the ultimate arsenal! It was like a dream come true! I always thought it would be kind of a cool way to tour like that, just because the band sounds so massive and everyone goes off on solos. We were all just having fun playing together! Musically, I thought it was really cool with all of the stuff that is going on in the songs, that aren’t usually there. It’s just a little butter on the toast!
The Pier: While watching the DVD straight through, you could really feel the emotion and complete camaraderie between everyone on stage and all of their instruments. One thing that can’t go unmentioned is the work by all the camera crew and production team. Were they TRI staff members or had Slightly Stoopid utilized this crew before?
Miles: Oh, I know! They have a really professional crew up there…They don’t mess around! Once it’s game time, everybody just kicks into gear and they do a really great job. We didn’t do any of the camera work ourselves, at all. The TRI guys did it all completely! And like I said, they did a phenomenal job! We couldn’t have been happier with the way it turned out!
The Pier: Now, going back to 2001, both you and Kyle McDonald recorded Live and Direct: Acoustic Roots. Was this latest recording at TRI more of a follow up, in the sense of Acoustic Roots #2 or a Deluxe version?
Miles: We didn’t come into it with that in mind, at all. We just wanted to give our fans a different side of our music and give them a taste of what we were doing on tour at that moment. For those songs, it was just a new twist on some old songs, but a lot of what we were doing on tour also. This was a completely separate project, and an awesome opportunity to play in Bob Weir’s studio for a little bit, and just get down! (laughs)
The Pier: Along those lines, you guys are known for not really writing set lists, or tending to stray away from a set list if one is written. For a recording session being filmed and distributed all over, were there any songs that needed inclusion?
Miles: We don’t really think like that. We have so much music that we just sort of play, and anything goes. We made some sort of set list for that day, because when you have 12 guys, it helps to have something to go off of and look at. I don’t know if we necessarily went into thinking, “We need to get this song recorded!” I guess you could say one of them that we all wanted to do was “I Know You Rider” with Bob Weir. The Grateful Dead did it for so many years, but I don’t think we really thought about it too much further beyond that. We just wanted to make a good record and a good DVD, something cool for the fans, and just something different. Not that many people have had the chance to do that whole experience at TRI Studios. So, what we captured is something the fans will really enjoy!
The Pier: Aside from Bob Weir playing with you guys on that Grateful Dead track, along with “Baby I Like It” and “Ocean”, one of the major highlights was having Don Carlos take the stage on five of his songs, and lending a nice chant at the end of “Wiseman”. Are there any plans to go into the studio to record for any upcoming albums with DC?
Miles: We actually have recorded most of all of that stuff. We are talking about possibly releasing Don Carlos’ next record so… Pretty cool!
The Pier: Did I hear that right? Don Carlos’ next album will be released on Stoopid Records?
Miles: That is what we are talking about right now. There are no guarantees, at this moment. We have a good relationship with DC, and we have already tracked quite a few songs with him. Hopefully we make a lot more!
The Pier: That’s something new and unexpected for the fans. Just another big name musician with the Slightly Stoopid brand attached! In terms of Slightly Stoopid, when can fans expect the next studio album release from the band? Is 2012 still in the works, or is “Live At Roberto’s” going to push a studio album release date back?
Miles: Oh, no! Not at all. We are finished with the record now! I am literally singing the last song I have to sing on, and then I am done. We are pretty much just wrapping up and we are going to get set for a summertime release. Obviously, it will be later in the summer. But, it is pretty much set to roll!
The Pier: Always good news to hear that Slightly Stoopid sound in summertime! The thought of new music could only stir up the pot further! With the music set to roll, are there any album titles or a certain theme behind this album?
Miles: Oh…(laughs) You know I can’t throw that out there, just yet! Come on now! (laughs) No, people will definitely be stoked with a lot of cool shit and all the different styles of music on it, crazy guest stars. I mean, we have recorded a lot of songs. We tracked enough songs where we can keep releasing new albums, almost every six months if we wanted to. Now that we have our own studio, we have the ability to record whenever we want, but at the same time, we sit there sometimes and over analyze certain things and ideas we have. Just having that ability to have that at your disposal is great. We are really happy with the product, and we are going into final mixing this weekend. After that, it just goes into the process again.
The Pier: Wow! So there is tons of new material waiting to be heard! You touched on the new studio Slightly Stoopid built with a half-pipe skate ramp inside of it and plenty of other goodies. With nearly four years since your previous release, at any point did you guys get too comfortable with your new environment?
Miles: Yeah, dude. I mean, honestly, there was a six-month period where we did get a little too comfortable, and we were basically just fucking around for six months, instead of doing what we needed to do! (laughs) But, when you have that opportunity, sometimes you have to take advantage of it. We never really had that chance, we have always been in different studios, when you have a three-week timeline, and you just bought all that time. So, get your ass down there and lay the tracks down, you know? This is our stuff…we don’t have to do shit. Just pay the rent and we are good to go! (laughs) It’s pretty cool! What’s nice about this album is that it has a really organic feel to it. Everything was done here, in-house, and we are really excited for it. I think all the fans will like it. We are getting ready to release it and just hit the road for the summer!
The Pier: Since you mentioned guest stars and appearances earlier, and you said you’re in the final mixing coming up, the last we heard, Don Carlos, possibly even Barrington Levy and G. Love were down in the studio with you guys… So, I have to give it one more shot! Can you confirm any of those superstar talents on the record?
Miles: No confirmation, man! (laughs) I’m not going to tell anyone or give away any of our secrets! It’s all a surprise! I think you and everyone out there will be super stoked! Musically, there are a lot of great songs on there. So, we are just excited for the record and the direction the band is going and what we are able to accomplish here at our own studio. I think that fans are really going to dig it!
The Pier: I’ll respect that! Just a little Slightly Stoopid surprise! Obviously, the big news recently was regarding Slightly Stoopid joining forces with 311, for one of the ultimate tag-team lineups for the annual summer Unity Tour! Give us a little insight as to how that tour came about…
Miles: Well, we kind of put an idea out there of which bands we thought we would like to tour with for the summer. We thought it would be cool for the fans to just put it up on the website like, “Would you rather us tour with Atmosphere or 311?” Pretty much, “Who would you guys dig the most?” We had our opportunities being explored through both avenues, and the fans spoke up. The package came together best for Slightly Stoopid, 311 and all the fans. We were just coming up when 311 were getting big with “Down” and that whole album…. (Miles starts mimicking the chorus of 311’s “Down”) That shit was literally blowing up everywhere! (laughs) What’s dope is…those guys always do their annual summer tour, and we normally do our annual summer tour, this is the first time in awhile for a co-headlining tour. It’s co-headlining, but 311 is still going to close the show. There is no doubt it’s going to be great! The way it’s set up, we are still going to play a nice, long set. And, to split it up with The Aggrolites and SOJA…it couldn’t be better! It’s going to be fun, man! Every summer we try to come up with some pretty cool names for the tour, but the Unity Tour has it already locked in! It’s all going to be good! It’s almost kind of easier for us this year. We can kind of focus on getting the album out and getting ready to go for the summer!
The Pier: The timing of it actually works out pretty well for your guys! If you think about it, you guys can sit back, enjoy the 311 show after your set is over, hang out you’re your brothers The Aggrolites and SOJA, wait until your album drops, then let it blow up, and then go on your own headlining tour afterwards, right?
Miles: Yeah! I expect the album to drop in the latter part of the summer. Once it drops and after the summer tour, we will do some little gear tours and what not in different areas. The tour with 311 was a great opportunity! It’s going to be so cool for the fans, too! No matter what, the show is going to be a dope show!
The Pier: Along with the theme of surprises, any chance fans can come to the shows this summer with 311 and see you or Kyle jump on one of 311’s tracks like “All Mixed Up” or “Homebrew”? What about Nick Hexum or SA Martinez teaming up with you guys on a Stoopid song? I think we all know how incredible that would be…
Miles: That would be amazing! It’s really entirely up to them. I mean, you know how Stoopid rolls! We like to play with everybody! We always do crazy encores and bring the crowd up with guests and friends. Hopefully they want to do something and stuff like that, you know what I mean? (laughs) We are a pretty freewheeling band, where we just kind of throw and go, and just have some fun on stage! I’m pretty sure they are going to be the same way! (laughs) It’s just a matter of whether they want to do it or not. People pay the money to come to the shows and travel all these miles to see us, they are not just going to want to see this band or that band play, they are going to want to see the all-star jam, you know?
The Pier: That’s exactly right! Going off of those all-star jam collaborations onstage, give me a three-band lineup of some current national touring acts you would only dream about being on tour with… Let’s keep it current touring acts, you can’t bring back Marley or have Zeppelin return!
Miles: Man, that is tough! We really have fun on tour with any band we play with in the summertime! That’s really difficult to say, especially for a three-band tour. I can pick so many… Going back on tour with Snoop would pretty sweet! I wouldn’t mind doing that tour again, just because it was out of control to a whole new level! That one was cool, but also a little awkward at times, because we did all sorts of cool publicity things for that tour. We don’t normally do stuff like that for tours. But, seriously, we’re going to have to comeback to that all-star jam question! (laughs) I’m going to have to think about that one!
The Pier: Next time we will get it! Let’s stick with live performances. For Slightly Stoopid’s show, how do you and Kyle go about choosing the vocal arrangement and guitar and bass rotation from start to finish… Flip a coin, rock-paper-scissors, what?!
Miles: (laughs) That’s nice! We just kind of roll with whatever makes it sound best. For us, I mean, we both like to play guitar and bass. So, we always switch back and forth. When we are on tour and have all of our guys out there, they dial in on everything, pretty much. Most of our soundboards that we bring are all like total recall. So, we have all of our instruments that we use every night, just show up the same way they were the night before. It’s awesome, that we can just plug in and go, “Here is this, here is that…” You may have to make a couple adjustments during the set. As far as what we are playing, and who is playing what, we just like to jam and let if flow. Anyone can start off on the mic and guitar depending on what we are feeling that night. Both of us like to get down on the mic, you know? (laughs) We may start the set with an acoustic guitar, play some songs with it, then put it away and maybe not use it the rest of the set. It all just depends on the crowd and the vibe.
The Pier: What about in terms of writing a song, have you ever wrote a song that Kyle sings, or vice versa?
Miles: Oh, yeah! We both sing on each other’s stuff all the time! It all just depends. A lot of times we like writing our own lyrics. Definitely, we always play on each other’s music.
The Pier: Now, the last time I got a chance to catch up with you guys was back on the Seedless Summer Tour in AZ, and I spoke with Kyle, as carne asade was on the grill, classic reggae being blasted from the speakers and a whole host of performers from the tour only a few feet away… You could say I was slightly shocked at where I was and didn’t have the onions to ask this question: How was the upbringing from Bradley Nowell and Sublime at such a young age once you began playing, and now those times led to where you are today as Slightly Stoopid?
Miles: Oh, man! It was insane! I was just a sixteen-year-old kid. We used to listen to Sublime when would be paddling out, going down to like K-38 or K-59 in Mexico to surf and all that stuff! We had an opportunity to meet those guys, and then we did a show up in Long Beach at the Foothill Tavern. After that, Brad and Miguel kept saying, “Let’s go make a record!!!” We were just 15 and 16-years-old thinking to ourselves “Holy shit, dude!” Being little kids, they were our idols, really! They were really cool people and took us under their wings. Obviously, unfortunately Brad passed a few years later. It’s hard for millions of people to deal with that, as far as, losing a great musician and vocalist, father, husband, all of that and everything. He was a good dude. It’s tough. What the good thing was, we had Miguel right there to kind of help us and guide us along, helped us out with our recording, getting that Skunk name on the Stoopid brand, and they really opened a lot of doors for us, really! They taught us how to tour, stay on the road and be a touring act… Just how to play music the way you want to play it! Don’t follow the guidelines of someone else… Just play the music from your heart and get your ass on the road!
The Pier: As a band, Slightly Stoopid has certainly stayed on the road and followed the teachings both Brad and Miguel bestowed upon you guys as just teenagers. To finish up on a lighter side, recently at a hometown show at the Belly Up Tavern in Solana Beach, CA, Prince Harry was in attendance! When did you guys find out about his appearance, and how does it feel to know your music has reached Buckingham Palace and the “Royal Family”?
Miles: Yeah! (laughs) We found out he was there checking out our show during, and then afterwards. We had no idea he was coming… But it was pretty cool! (laughs) I didn’t get to talk to him or anything, but I hope he enjoyed the show! I wouldn’t mind partying in a castle or a palace over there in England. Maybe next time in Europe! (laughs)
The Pier: Well, I think I’ll end it on that one! We got a pretty good mix of everything. Can’t wait for the album to drop and we all know the Unity Tour is going be pretty outrageous to witness first hand! As always, The Pier appreciates the insight from Slightly Stoopid! Thanks, Miles!
Miles: Oh, yeah! We are really excited for the release and the tour! It should be fun! Thanks, man!
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Interview By: Kris Siuta
Photos By: Kit Chalberg, Jenni Anspach, David Norris
Slightly Stoopid – Devil’s Door (Live @ Robertos 9-13-2011)