After a decade-plus of herb, harmony, peace and love, California natives Slightly Stoopid still have what it takes to show you a good time. With a recent tour with Snoop Dogg under their belts, and a highly acclaimed sixth studio album completed, it’s becoming clear that the band’s reggae/punk/hip-hop sound will only improve with age.The State Press recently caught up with the Slightly Stoopid’s drummer, Ryan “RyMo” Moran, to get insight on the band’s music and philosophy.
State Press: You weren’t always in Slightly Stoopid. Can you tell us about how you came to be the band’s drummer?
Ryan Moran: I actually lived in the same neighborhood as the guys down in Ocean Beach, San Diego for years and my old band kind of played around some of the same spots, so we knew who they were. It just so happened that in 2000 or 2001, both of our bands were on tour together. From that point, me and Slightly Stoopid just kind of hit it off together and became friends. About a year later, they called me saying they had a big tour coming up minus a drummer and were wondering if I would like to give it a shot. It all just kind of fell into place and it’s been that way ever since.
SP: How has your tour experience been over the years?
RM: Every tour gets really fun, really crazy. Between the eight hours on the road and hanging out and playing shows, a lot of things go on. Whether it is kids doing huge stage dives, or getting into near-miss car accidents, there are all kinds of stuff, you know. It’s pretty surreal because you’re constantly walking off the bus to get out in the middle of nowhere and always entering new terrain and seeing new people, wondering, “Where am I?” It happens everyday.
SP: I bet that can get pretty weird.
RM: Yeah. Once the show is over, you pack the gear, get into the bus, go to sleep, wake up and play a new city to do it all over again. A lot of the times you don’t take into account that you’re moving 500 miles a night while you’re sleeping. It’s weird. Instead of waking up to your own bed, you’re waking up to an entirely different environment — entirely different surroundings.
SP: You guys have played all kinds of shows and arenas, as well as intimate bars. Do you have an inclination toward one?
RM: Man, you know, I kind of like them both, but for different reasons. You really can’t beat playing up-close and sweaty, intimate shows because of how much you can really connect with the crowd. But the energy you get playing in a larger setting is great, too — just different. There’s definitely a lot more pressure to put on your best and play your best, and different levels of intensity and focus you have to put forth when playing those kind of shows. The whole time, it’s just pure adrenaline. But if I had to pick between the two, I’d have to say an up close and personal show. I can definitely get a little crazier.
SP: Recently you guys did the “Blazed & Confused” tour with Snoop Dogg and Stephen Marley. Can you tell us a little about that?
RM: The tour was unreal. (Laughs.) Basically, Snoop Dogg is just how you would picture him in your head. Just a super nice dude, and super stoney and laid back — a really fun person with a lot of charisma. The tour really was one of the best ones I’ve ever been on. It spanned about 30 days across the country. The turnout for every show was huge and everyone got along real well. Marley was super cool, too. No one there had any kind of egos. Everyone was just really laid back.
SP: You guys are known for your open use and avocation of cannabis. Why is it such an important part of your lifestyle, as well as your music?
RM: We all grew up around the beach, you know. Along with surfing and skating, it’s just is kind of a natural part of that whole scene. It’s always around, so just have always grown up with the herb. It’s something that enhances music, whether it be jazz, reggae or punk rock. When you have exposure to it [at a young age], it just kind of becomes your thing. You sing about it, you talk about it, you live it. I mean, why not enjoy what God gave us, you know?
SP: What is the creative process you guys go through when making a song?
RM: You know, there’s really no science to it. It all depends. Sometimes, one of the guys will have a baseline or riff and that’s what starts it all. Then everyone adds on from there. Other times it’s a percussion rhythm that starts it all off. Everyone then just kind of jumps on from that and figures out their own little part. We all have a mutual respect for everyone’s talent, and allow everyone to bring forth their unique musical style.
SP: What is Slightly Stoopid’s general worldview and philosophy on life? Can you share it with ASU?
RM: We’re just all about having a good time, you know? Life is way too short to be stressed out and worried all the time. You just got to get out and live — find your calling and follow it. You know, all of us have been professional musicians since we were about 17 or 18 and have pursued our dreams. One of my main messages is to have a goal or dream. You could do it, but you have to work hard to get it. We’ve all definitely busted our asses to achieve it. We’re not the biggest band in the world, but whatever, that hardly matters. We’re having way too much fun with it and following our dreams.
SP: When did you first realize you wanted to play drums?
RM: When I first heard a Led Zeppelin mix tape. I was just like, “Yeah, I wanna do that!” so I just tried to play along with John Bonham’s beat and got super inspired when I was 10 or 11. And pretty much, MTV played a huge part as well, back when it was actually “Music Television.” I would watch all the cool programs like “Headbangers Ball” incessantly when I was a kid. All that inspired me to get out there and learn the craft.
SP: What was it like growing up in the So-Cal music scene as an adolescent?
RM: The whole scene was extremely diverse, you know. You had kids that were super into punk rock, kids who were super into hair stuff, metal, hip hop — whatever. I guess that’s why I’m into everything. Everyone in Slightly Stooped has their favorite stuff, but we all really do listen to a broad palate of music. I think our blend of reggae, punk and even thrash gives you pretty good representation of how diverse the music scene really was.
SP: What’s currently on your iPod right now?
RM: (Laughs.) I don’t know if it will all fit on this interview. I’m listening to a lot of Radiohead and some old school [Iron] Maiden. Also, I’m listening to a lot of Del Tha Funkee Homosapien and Mos Def right now. Just a little bit of everything.
SP: Final question: Orange juice with or without pulp?
RM: Definitely with pulp.
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