Interview with Rymo from Slightly Stoopid

slightly stoopid
Slightly Stoopid

Interview by Scott Preston

With more than a decade of making music together, the members of Slightly Stoopid have perfected one of the rarest and most valuable skills a band can develop: the art of the stealth groove, that knack for quietly, almost innocently, sliding into a composition, and utterly lassoing anyone within earshot by mid-song. That’s where the band has come to reside, musically: deep in the pocket, that ever-elusive, funky trench where a band can entrance an audience, hypnotize it and hold on to it until the set or CD is finished. Built on a bedrock of nasty, oceanic slabs of dubby bass, meditative vocal harmonies, rock-steady guitar licks and tightly syncopated percussive rhythms, Slightly Stoopid illustrate a case study in underground success, steeped in years of hard touring, an improvisational business model, and a creative process that continues to unwind and push the envelope of a new jam-based genre the band helped to create.

Jamband News: What were some highlights for the band in 2010?

Rymo: 2010 was a really great year for us. In 2009 was a huge year also, we were out on the road with Snoop Dogg and Stephen Marley, so at the beginning of 2010 we were all asking ourselves how we were going to top that. We decided to just go out and have a good time and visit some of the same venues we had to been to the year before. We ended up going out with Cypress Hill, Steel Pulse, The Expendables. We had a really great summer and had a lot of fun. After that tour we did some one off shows here and there leading into the holidays. We also built our own studio here in San Diego recently and have been very busy with that.

slightly stoopid
Slightly Stoopid - Photo by Eric Krebs

Jamband News: Is Slightly Stoopid working on a new record?

Rymo: Yes we are, its still a work in progress. We started building the studio about 6 months ago from the inside out. Its in a corporate business park type of area. We have a studio upstairs and a storage area for all the road cases downstairs, along with an office in the front. Its really great to be able to go into the studio and have that creative outlet without paying $1,000 a day to an outside studio. Our record label, Stoopid Records is very active as well. We have a couple of our own releases on there, we also work with other bands on the label. We have done a couple records with The Expendables, one with a band from Shreveport, LA, Outlaw Nation, and another project in the works with a great reggae-ska band , The Aggrolites.

Jamband News: What led you guys to create your own label?

Rymo: Record labels aren’t offering what they used to offer, they have been pushed back a little by the internet and file sharing. For us to create Stoopid Records was a no brainer. We have always put out our own music and stayed independent. What it means is that we fund our own projects and have the final say in what we do and don’t do. We have had offers over the years from major labels, but sometimes you don’t want to have to answer to some old guy in a suit, with bad taste.

Jamband News: When did you first start playing music? has it always been drums?

Rymo: I have always had an interest in music. As a kid I played some piano, trumpet, violin. None of those instruments really grabbed me. When I was about 10 or 11 years old I decided I wanted to play the drums. I started listening to Led Zeppelin, Aerosmith, The Dead Kennedys. I had 2 older sisters who were listening to all different types of music, from the Grateful Dead to punk rock. I started playing drums along with Led Zeppelin records on my stereo at full blast. By the time I was 15, I knew playing drums for a living was what I wanted to do. I was very passionate about it and 20 years later I’m still going strong.

slightly stoopid
Photo by Jared Milgrim

Jamband News: When did you join Slightly Stoopid?

Rymo: All the guys in the band and myself have lived in the same neighborhood in San Diego for years. We were acquaintances and had seen each other play quite a few times. Its been about 8 years now, but one day we set up all the equipment in my living room and I learned as many of the bands songs as I could. About a week or two later we did a couple one off shows, we did Reggae on the River in California and I think it was the Ash Street Music Festival in Chicago. After those two gigs, the guys in the band pretty much told me the job was mine if I wanted it.

Jamband News: How does the band keep up the motivation to continue to tour with a somewhat hectic schedule?

Rymo: This is all we do, none of us have had day jobs for quite a while. We have been touring pretty consistently over the years because its all we know. Over the past few years, we have been on the road 6-7 months each year. It makes you a better performer and the band a stronger unit, but obviously can be very exhausting. In those early years, we did a ton of touring because we loved it, but we also had to pay all of our bills. Really in the last couple years, we can finally say to ourselves we don’t have to go out on tour for 7 straight weeks, 5 or 6 times a year. We can go out for a week here and there, do a larger 4 week tour. We can pick and choose what we want to do, which is a great feeling.

Jamband News: How do you feel about the internet and how it has changed the dynamics of how a band earns a living?

Rymo: The era of making a living selling records on its own is pretty much dead. Back in the early days you could put out a couple great records and retire. These days you have to put your money where your mouth is and get out their in front of people. If you want to make a living as a musician today you have to be able to deliver high energy shows night after night. For a band like Slightly Stoopid the internet has helped us stay in the public eye. I understand why bands that were around for many years before the internet were getting angry and suing people for downloading their music for free. It can cost $500,000 to 1 million dollars to put a high quality studio record on a major label. So there are a lot of expenses that needed to be covered. Now you are better off giving your music away and telling everyone to come out and see a show because we can do what you hear on that cd better live. For a band like us, we have always thrived on having that crowd in front of us.

Thursday February 24th
Orbit Room Grand Rapids, MI
With special guests Fishbone and Simeon of Outlaw Nation (acoustic)
AGES 16+

Friday February 25th
Madison Theater Covington, KY
With special guests Fishbone and Simeon of Outlaw Nation (acoustic)

Saturday February 26th
Cannery Ballroom Nashville, TN
With special guests Fishbone and Simeon of Outlaw Nation (acoustic)
AGES 18+

Sunday February 27th
Amos’ Southend Charlotte, NC
With special guests Fishbone and Simeon of Outlaw Nation (acoustic)
AGES 16+

Tuesday March 1st
The NorVa Norfolk, VA
With special guests Fishbone and Simeon of Outlaw Nation (acoustic)

Wednesday March 2nd
The Music Farm Charleston, SC
With special guests Fishbone and Simeon of Outlaw Nation (acoustic)
AGES 16+

Thursday March 3rd
Floyd’s Music Store Tallahassee, FL
With special guests Fishbone, Simeon of Outlaw Nation (acoustic), Karl Denson and Don Carlos

Friday March 4th
Jannus Live St. Petersburg, FL
With special guests Fishbone, Simeon of Outlaw Nation (acoustic), Karl Denson and Don Carlos
AGES 16+

Saturday March 5th
Plush Jacksonville, FL
With special guests Fishbone and Simeon of Outlaw Nation (acoustic), Karl Denson

Monday March 7th
House of Blues New Orleans, LA
With special guests Ivan & Ian Neville, Fishbone, and Karl Denson
AGES 18+

Saturday March 12th
9 Mile Music Festival Miami, FL
With special guests Karl Denson and Don Carlos
Other Artists: Stephen Marley, Damian Marley, Julian Marley, Kymani Marley, Major Lazer, more TBA…

Wednesday April 20th
The Greek Theatre Los Angeles, CA
w/ Bad Brains & Barrington Levy

May 20th – May 22nd
Hangout Festival Gulf Shores, AL
Other Artists: Paul Simon, Foo Fighters, Primus, Widespread, Ween, Flaming Lips, G. Love

Sunday May 29th
Hookaville – Legend Valley Thornville, OH
Other Artists: Yonder Mountain String Band, ekoostik hookah, more TBA…

September 29th – October 3rd
Rombello Cruise Tampa, FL -> Cozumel, MX
Other Artists include G. Love, Michael Franti, and more