Hey, so you can cancel those drum lessons with the guy who teaches out of his parents' basement. Ryan Moran, Slightly Stoopid's resident drummer animal, is ready to take over those teaching duties.
No, I'm not fucking with you. Those lessons exist, and are yours for the taking. Slightly Stoopid, with their mellow reggae-punk stoner roots, might have drum lesson-ed their way into becoming the most fan-friendly band out there.
From easily accessible free downloads to those badass live drum lessons -- conducted via Skype -- these guys are dead-set on making sure their fans feel connected, despite the distance between them.
In anticipation of Friday's Houston show at House of Blues, Rocks Off spoke with Ryan Moran, or RyMo, as he's known within the band, to wax poetic about cookouts, Cypress Hill, and just how the hell these drum lessons came to be.
"You know, I taught lessons for years," Moran says. "I studied music in college and have a degree in music. I've had tons of teachers over the years, and I respect what they taught me and want to pass it on."
The lessons, he continues, have "been a way to embrace the fans collectively, and interact with them when you're nowhere close to where they are. If someone's interested in learning, there's a way now to get to us directly and for me to transfer what I can offer to the student."
Moran is quick to point out how important social media has been to keeping up Stoopid's longevity -- connecting with the fans has been how the band has survived at a time when the music industry's climate is changing.
"Record labels are shrinking, record stores are shrinking, and yet everything is going towards social and online media -- everything's closing and something's happening," he says.
"Anyone who thought social media and connecting with the fans wasn't relevant is dealing with that choice now," adds Moran. "I think we've always embraced it and all those avenues.
The San Diego-based band has made it a point over the years to keep a level playing field, and stay accessible to the folks who support their music. Sometimes that even means giving their music away for free.
"We're not major multi-multimillion-copy-selling artists, so for us it's always been about touring and live shows," says Moran. "You can stream our music and if you do that, you might go download it and maybe come to our shows."
And oh, how notorious those Stoopid shows are.
As well-publicized supporters of medical and recreational cannabis use, the guys from Slightly Stoopid have always proudly displayed their stoner badges of honor, dubbing tours with names like "Legalize It" and "Blazed and Confused." It has created a kicked-back culture at shows that encourages the (gasp) taping and sharing of the fans' concert experience.
With an upcoming tour that touches down in Houston tomorrow and (of course) Colorado at the Hot Box Concert with Cypress Hill on 4/20, the band will be sharing plenty of that pro-cannabis attitude. Don't expect them to punk out over a little thing like cottonmouth, though.
"We've been dealing with that for years," Moran laughs. "We're pros at this point."
And they're stoked to be playing with Cypress Hill, too, counting the L.A. rap stars as some of the most chill guys to play with. Snoop is high up on that list of Stoopid's favorites, too -- and not just because he's got good bud.
"We're pretty fortunate; we've worked with some great artists," says Moran. "Snoop Dogg -- he was larger than life. He's a household name. The Marley brothers too; that was a lot of fun, working with them."
"Pretty much any band we tour with we've liked, and we try to become friends with them out on the road," he continues. "Some we've liked more than others, but most of the time we're hanging out together, cookin' barbecue and hanging out."
Gone are the good ol' days of those infamous cookouts behind the band's van, though. They're riding a real tour bus, a necessity now that they're dragging around more than just equipment bongs.
"We just got rid of the van like five years ago," says Moran. "The bus makes more sense now, because nowadays the production is twice as big. The more guys you have in the van, you know? With like 12 guys, the tour bus makes more sense."
Not that there aren't days where they wax nostalgic for the freedom of being those young punks stuck touring in that van.
"You know, we actually liked the van 'cause you could stop whenever you wanted and take breaks, but someone's got to drive it, so you're taking turns and all that," he laughs. "This just works better."
It was a good run in that van, though, graduating to that well-deserved tour bus after 18 years together. They've earned their stripes, pushing musically to grow from being known as the kids signed by Sublime's Bradley Nowell to a band with a sound and identity of their own.
"It gets boring for the band if we don't keep it fresh," admits Moran. "It challenges us and forces us to take chances, and that's really what's helped us with building a career with longevity, and kept us from disappearing with the other bands. We don't keep formulas, you know what I mean?"
"We've always tried to push ourselves musically, and I guess that's what causes that. We classify ourselves as reggae/punk but we listen to much more, and a lot of it comes out in the way we write," says Moran.
It seems the critics are taking notice of how far these reggae-punk boys from San Diego have come on their latest album, Top of the World. The album has been met with pretty decent commercial success, landing a spot at #13 on the Billboard 200 -- a career high for the band. (No pun intended.)
"I don't keep up with any of that stuff, so I didn't know that," Moran says.
"That's awesome, though. We're really happy with the album. We took our time making it. We want this to last and for this to continue as long as we can," he says.
He sums up his thoughts on their success in a humble way, as one would expect from a guy who is so dead-set on letting his fans know how grateful they really are for their support.
"I've been with the band ten years now, and it's been a great ride," he says. "We've been blessed. We want to keep it going, to keep touring, keep making music. If we can do that, we're blessed, you know?"
Slightly Stoopid plays with Tribal Seeds, Friday at House of Blues, 1204 Caroline. Doors open at 7 p.m.
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