With two decades of performing and eight studio albums to its credit, Southern California band Slightly Stoopid doesn’t mind giving fans a reminder — this time a jarring one — of how things started for the group all those years ago.
Smack in the middle of recording its 2015 “Meanwhile … Back at the Lab,” after seven songs that touch on the band's laid back mix of reggae, funk, soul and rock that has come to be Slightly Stoopid’s stock in trade, the group unleashes an in-your-face punk song with a less-than-clean title.
It’s a blistering, guitar-heavy, three-minute blast of pure punk rock so different from the band's previous work that it makes one wonder whether another band sonically hijacked the album.
Actually, that's not what happened. The song was written and recorded by Slightly Stoopid, and Miles Doughty — singer, guitarist and bassist with the band — feels it has an important function on “Meanwhile … Back at the Lab.”
“I felt like it was more of a statement, just saying look, just because we’re playing jammy reggae, blues, rock, hip-hop, just because we’re playing that stuff, doesn’t mean that we don’t remember our punk rock roots,” Doughty says during a telephone interview.
“That’s all Slightly Stoopid used to be when we first started as a band," he says. " But I don’t want to play punk rock my whole career."
Neither did Kyle McDonald, the band's co-founder and other principal songwriter.
"We’ve always been punk rockers at heart," Doughty says. "We grew up listening to Minor Threat, Black Flag, Descendents, Operation Ivy. That element is there in our music, and we just thought this record needed one of those in-your-face moments.”
On its 2016 Return of the Red Eye summer tour, one of Slightly Stoopid's first stops will be at 6 p.m. Thursday, June 16, at the Britt Pavilion, 350 in Jacksonville, supported by SOJA, Zion I, The Grouch and Eligh.
Tickets are $38 for lawn seating, $44 for standing-room only and reserved seats, and can be purchased online at brittfest.org, at the box office, 216 W. Main St., Medford, or by calling 541-773-6077. No outside alcohol will be permitted at this performance.
Instead of going punk, Slightly Stoopid became one of the forerunners of what has become an alt-rock subgenre — SoCal-styled reggae rock. The band can now legitimately headline outdoor amphitheaters and enjoy a level of popularity that seemed like a pipe dream when the group followed groups such as Subline and 311 onto the scene.
“Sublime really kind of set that tone for everybody really, when they blew up, that whole movement. Really, back in the day it was Sublime and 311, and we were like the baby band,” Doughty says. “There weren’t other baby bands playing SoCal reggae and rock. Now, there are a few thousand of them. bands. There are the Expendables, new up-and-coming bands like Tribal Seeds, bands like Rebelution. There’s Pepper. The list goes on. All them take their own twist on it, which is cool. Sublime really laid down the footwork as far as opening that door.”
Slightly Stoopid built its career the old-fashioned way — by touring relentlessly. As the miles piled up, the band added members. Today, the lineup includes Doughty, McDonald on guitar, bass and vocals, drummer Ryan Moran, Oguer Ocon on percussion and harp, Daniel "Dela" Delacruz on sax, keyboard player Paul Wolstencroft and trombone player Andy Geib, with sax player Karl Denson often touring with the group.
The band also saw its sound evolve and expand as it kept recording albums. It's 2015 “Meanwhile … Back at the Lab” is nothing if not diverse. The reggae that became a cornerstone of the Slightly Stoopid sound is well represented with songs such as “Come Around,” “This Version” and the dubby “Fades Away.” But there’s also acoustic folk-pop on the song “Prophet” — which appeared on Slightly Stoopid's first album and has been reworked here.
“Hold It Down” is a well-executed Jamaican-style ska tune. On “Time Won’t Wait,” the group digs into a deep funk groove, but adds some psychedelic touches and horns that put an inventive spin on the song. If Muddy Waters has grown up in Jamaica, he might have come up with something like this version of “Rolling Stone.”
It’s easy to visualize fans dancing and grooving on warm, summer evenings at Slightly Stoopid concerts.