INTERVIEW: Ryan Moran (RYMO) from Slightly Stoopid
SoCalMusicToday.com’s Chris Loomis recently spoke with Slightly Stoopid drummer Ryan Moran (RyMo) to discuss the bands current Summer Sessions Tour, Slightly Stoopid’s approach to writing new material, his You-Tube instructional videos and his favorite California sports teams. Slightly Stoopid plays two more Southern California shows this week as part of the Summer Sessions Tour – July 25 in Santa Barbara and July 26 in San Diego. Keep current on all the latest Slightly Stoopid news at www.slightlystoopid.com.
Slightly Stoopid just released a new song called ‘Words’ with Razz MG . . . Can you tell me a little bit about that collaboration?
Right, that’s correct. Yeah, it’s collaboration between Miles (Slightly Stoopid guitars/bass/vocals), Kyle (Slightly Stoopid guitars/bass/vocals) and Marshall Goodman . . . something they recorded recently. It sounds good.
Also Slightly Stoopid just released a new video for the song ‘No Cocaine’. How did that come about?
Well the video for the song features the guys from Inner Circle and some of our other friends from bands we’ve been touring with over the years, making cameos. It’s a song we released a couple years back and it’s kind of been a cult favorite with a lot of fans so we decided to get a video put together and it’s out now.
So you have a couple of shows coming up here in Southern California with NOFX, Stephen Marley and Fishbone. You also have one show with Cypress Hill. That’s a pretty impressive lineup. What can the fans expect from Slightly Stoopid at these California shows?
We always try to come with the same sort of things . . . a high energy, fun show and kind of a roller coaster ride really for the fans. You’re gonna get some reggae, some ska and some punk rock and some hip hop type stuff. I think that’s one of the fun things we bring to the show that people really enjoy. They get a real roller coaster ride of music instead of just one style of monotonous music all the way through the show . . . we really take people up and down and I think that makes for a good live show; a good, enjoyable show.
It’s been almost two years since the release of your latest album Top of the World. How does Slightly Stoopid decide when it’s time to make the next album?
Well we’ve been working on a new record for some time now. We started at the end of last year and then into the early part of this year and got a lot of work done. We’re already pretty much two thirds of the way done with the record but you know, we tour so much and that’s kind of how we make our living so it’s not that we want to wait two or three years. We tour nonstop.
So we come off a tour and just go right in the studio (it’s cool). Most of us are married with kids and we get off the road and we’ve been gone for a month or two and we want to spend a week or two with our families and then we ease ourselves back into the studio thing.
We take a little time off and kind of recharge the batteries at home and connect with our situations and when that’s done we’re ready to be creative again. We get back in the studio and start writing and recording. Right now we already have enough for two or three records recorded but we try to take out the best stuff and we try not to rush it because you know, nowadays . . . it’s nice to have a record out every other year of course but it’s not as imperative as it used to be. People aren’t buying records, CDs, cassettes and eight tracks the way they used to so really releasing a record, it’s just kind of a hype tool to stay on the road in a way. We released Top of the World in 2012 and then shortly after that we released our TRI Studios DVD which is a live thing we did with Bob Weir. So we’ve been tracking like crazy in our own studio and we’ve got a ton of material basically prepped and ready to go. So once we have a little bit of down time after this tour is over we’re going to finalize the record by the end of this year, get the artwork submitted and get it out early spring next year (2015).
How does the Slightly Stoopid handle writing material with so many different instruments and people in the band?
You know that’s a good question. We used to all just get in the studio together and just be in one big room and be together and be in the studio creating simultaneously. Things are a little different now. We have our own studio in San Diego and it’s a little less deadline-oriented than it used to be. You know, when you’re in a high-end recording studio it could be a thousand, twelve hundred, fifteen hundred a day. We ended up finding this place, a studio warehouse, and we’re basically paying that a month and we have it set up with all of the gear we want to use. So we can take our time to create the music.
Basically what’s been happening the last couple of records is that instead of all being in the same room at the same time and just trying to force the creation, force the creative moment, we’ve been able to get together in different combinations of people. One day, it’ll be two or three guys and the next day it’ll be two or three other guys. So it’s kind of like we’re starting the cake one day and then the next day someone else adds to the cake and the third day someone puts the icing on it and the fourth day someone puts the candles on and musically that can translate to first, we’re going to lay down the bass, drums and maybe guitar rhythms and get kind of a framework of song . . . like kind of a macro framework or whatever.
Then the horn guys will come in and kind of add their piece and the keys and the percussion will come in and kind of finish everything out, round everything out and then of course the vocals to finalize things. It’s kind of this new approach that we have to writing and it seems to be working really well because it’s kind of like the spur of the moment. You can be driving to the studio and you can be listening to Tribe Called Quest, Digital Planet or Jurassic 5 or someone that you love and you get down to the studio and be like “I want to record shit like that; I wanna throw a hip hop beat down like that” or Snoop… or whatever it is. You now basically have your own pace so it kind of takes shape over the course of time instead of having to be all done and in a deadline scenario that we used to work under.
Going back to what you mentioned earlier. Last year you released the Slightly Stoopid and Friends Live at TRI Studios with Bob Weir. What was your fondest memory of that whole experience?
I have a couple for that experience. We recorded that concert in my hometown. For me it was really cool, coming home and being able to visit some friends and family and then being at Bob Weir’s place (I grew up a big fan of The Grateful Dead). So for me it was really like a homecoming and we’re doing this really amazing thing with one of our idols from a band we that we looked up to when we were kids. To be able to rub shoulders and hang with Bob and chat with him and play music with him, it was just a really, really great honor for us.
Back in 2009 you released a solo album Structure and Flow. With all you have going on with Slightly Stoopid do you have any additional plans to record and release another solo record?
Yeah I do. I’m actually close to finishing another one, it’s just almost impossible to find time. Like I said a lot of us are new fathers. I have a one year old daughter and my wife is actually expecting in a couple of months so that’s all new sorts of busy for me. It’s a new experience for me so a lot of other side projects are on the back burner at this point.
My main focus right now is toward Slightly Stoopid and doing this. I have a lot of other musical influences that I can explore a little more in a solo situation. The stuff I’m working on is basically the same; I kind of did a lot of collaboration on that Structure and Flow record, so hopefully maybe next year I’d say. It’s not really urgent to release a solo record although it’s pretty cool. It will basically be an extension of Structure and Flow. It will have all of the same elements; a lot of world influence of course and some reggae, punk, some abstract-fusiony type of influences as well.
You have lots of instructional videos on You-Tube. What is the story behind how and why you started that?
I have a good friend of mine who is a San Diego musician and I met him about 15 years ago in San Diego and he was playing in the live music scene in Southern California. He started a You-Tube channel because he was teaching lessons and was teaching the same stuff all the time to his students one on one and he was like if I could just do one lesson and have everyone see that. You-Tube was just getting popular so he started making these videos for his students and started to get thousands of hits. So anyways I did a couple videos with him playing some cover tunes and these videos would get like 40,000 hits in the first couple days.
I had written a drum instruction al book that has never been published; I shopped it around but just couldn’t get any interest. So I took the ideas I had written in the book and created a bunch of short three minute videos. I did that a couple years ago when I had some downtime. I had my drums setup in my living room, I bought a decent camera and a trip and started making videos and throwing them up on You-Tube. It was really more for fun than anything. Hopefully I can get back to doing that at some point. It’s just a way of giving back to the drumming community to have a resource just to give back and have a resource for young drummers to learn from.
Playing a more mellow style of “feel good” music do you ever just jam out and play some Led Zeppelin, Metallica or heavy music while you are home practicing?
Yeah definitely. I play all kinds of stuff when I am by myself. Lots of times I will just plug into Pandora or my Ipod and play along to music I like. But in terms of playing live, Kyle and I will go down to the studio and jam and record some punk and metal stuff kind of reminiscent of old-school Metallica, kind of thrashy stuff with punky tempos. We explore lots of stuff as that helps our inspiration.
You have made many albums, toured around the world and played with some legendary bands. What would you consider your top career highlight to date?
It’s been crazy. Definitely traveling the world and seeing everything has been an interesting experience. But in terms of the shows . . . just touring with so many of the bands we have and making friends with all those musicians, just being able to rub shoulders with so many big household names . . . those are my favorite moments.
It just feels really great to be amongst your peers and to be friends with the generation that has done this before you at a high level and be in that inner circle . . . it feels really great. As a kid and a young musician I could have never dreamed I would go as far as we have. I guess my favorite moment is playing to a Sold Out crowd at Red Rock and playing in Irvine and San Diego, it’s hard to just pick one moment.
You are originally from Northern California and have lived in Southern California for some time now. So who where is your sports allegiance . . . the A’s/Giants or Padres, Raiders or Chargers?
I’m all Padres and Chargers now. I’ve been in San Diego for 20 years. I was born in San Francisco so of course I grew up liking the A’s, the Warriors, the Raiders so as a kid for sure those teams and the Giants and 49ers all the way. Obviously I am a musician not a jock so I am not about all those teams now but I like the Padres and have made some friends on the Chargers so my allegiance is definitely to Southern California at this point.
RYMO – Thank You so much for your time and best of luck to you with everything.