Pop-rock-reggae band Slightly Stoopid once made albums under the pressure of budgets and deadlines.
“We’d go in the studio and pay a grand or $1,200, $1,500 a day,” drummer Ryan Moran said from beautiful San Diego. “You try to block out three weeks. You go in there already prepared with 12, 15 ideas for songs and just bang them out.”
But following five years of solid touring, Moran and his Slightly Stoopid bandmates built their own studio and hangout in a San Diego corporate business park.
Owning a studio allowed Slightly Stoopid to show up in various numbers. Sometimes four or five guys working on new ideas, other times one or two. “We’d come in every night after about 5 p.m.,” Moran said.
Fifty sketches for songs, Moran said, evolved into 50 solid, well-written songs. The group picked its favorite 20 from the original 50 and refined them for the album that became Top of the World.
Slightly Stoopid also brought musician friends in as guests for the album. The guest list included Fishbone’s Angelo Moore for “Ska Daddy,” Dumpstaphunk guitarist Ian Neville in “Way You Move” and G. Love for “Hiphoppablues.”
In a move that made sense for a band so heavily identified with touring, the group hired its touring sound engineer, James Wisner, to produce the album. “So it sounds and feels like a live show,” Moran said.
Top of the World, released last August, became the band’s biggest selling project date. It debuted at No. 13 on the Billboard 200’s all-genre albums chart and No. 3 on Billboard’s independent albums chart. And the title song and “Don’t Stop” got radio airplay.
“We were really pleased with the way it was received,” Moran said. “And we’ve been really happy with the way it’s helped us stay on the road. It’s been a fun ride.”
Slightly Stoopid, a band formed in 1996 by Miles Doughty and Kyle McDonald and quickly signed to Sublime leader Brad Nowell’s Skunk Records, built a sustained career.
“We’ve never had that flash in the pan success,” Moran said. “It’s always been solid, steady growth, which is what you can hope for in a longer career. We do some tours in the spring and winter and then do the big summer shed tour and play in all the beautiful outdoor venues.”
Slightly Stoopid followed Top of the World this month with the DVD Slightly Stoopid & Friends: Live at TRI Studios. The Grateful Dead’s Bob Weir not only owns TRI Studio in San Rafael, Calif., he’s also a guest for the DVD.
“I grew up listening to the Dead,” Moran said. “So to go up to the Bay Area and actually work with Bob Weir and record at his place, it was a huge honor.”
Other DVD guests include Karl Denson, Tommy Chong and Dumpstaphunk members Ivan and Ian Neville. The latter Nevilles also will make guest appearances with Slightly Stoopid during the band’s Thursday, April 25, show at the House of Blues in New Orleans.
“They’re just phenomenal musicians,” Moran said. “We always try to invite some of the artists who are in New Orleans, like Big Sam, and a couple of the horn players who we’re friends with from various bands. It’s a real honor for us to have them come up and sit in.”