Earlier this year saw the announcement of Beachlife, Southern California’s newest music festival. The line up boasts legendary acts such as the Grateful Dead’s Bob Weir, Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys, Willie Nelson, Steel Pulse, Donavon Frankenreiter, Violent Femmes, and Grace Potter making for one of the regions most regarded festivals. And, today, the festival announced that Ocean Beach-based Slightly Stoopid will be added to the lineup, and will perform a majority of songs from their renowned unplugged Acoustic Roots record.
Over the weekend we caught up with Miles Doughty, frontman and guitarist of Slightly Stoopid, to chat with him about being added to the bill, hanging out with Bob Weir, smoking OG Kush, getting searched by customs in Canada, and what it was like to know Sublime’s Bradley Nowell—Long Beach’s man, myth, and legendary reggae-rock hero who started it all.
High Times: I’ve heard the Slightly Stoopid set at Beachlife is going to be an acoustic set?
Miles Doughty: Yeah, it’s going to be a stripped down set. We just did this at our festival in Cancun called Closer To The Sun. We’ve done it for the past five years—it’s a really awesome destination event. But this is the first year where we actually played the Acoustic Roots record to its entirety. We put the record out in 2001, and it was the first time we ever played it. We got such a good reaction from it. We play so many different styles [of music] so to do something like that, it’s like stripped down version of Stoopid.
Are you guys going to play that album in its entirety at Beachlife?
We’re gonna play a lot of the record. We might not play it to its entirety because we have a lot of other songs to add to it to make the set what it’s going to be. But it’s definitely gonna just be a more organic Slightly Stoopid
Would you compare the style of this set to an old school MTV Unplugged?
Yes. It’s exactly like that. We’re basically going to be stripped down, we got a lot of percussions and really light drums just over percussions. We still have our horns and different things, but it’s all just kind of pulled back a little bit. It’s not going to be right in your face, it’s going to be more laid back and a totally different experience.
Tell us about the collaboration with Slightly Stoopid and Bob Weir. How was your experience with him and what was that like for you?
We even geek out over it, honestly. We were able to link up with Bob Weir up at his studio called TRI Studios. We did one of those acoustic Slightly Stoopid sets and he sat in with us for a couple songs and it was amazing. The guy’s a legendary musician and who’s seen so much. Kyle [McDonald], my partner in Slightly Stoopid, was like, ‘when you look into Bob Weir’s eyes it’s like looking into a galaxy’ because he’s done everything and been everywhere. It was an incredible experience. (laughs)
One of the highlights was back in his dressing room at TRI Studios and he and I were doing harmonies for “I Know You Rider” and I’m just sitting there singing with Bob Weir kinda looking over going like, ‘holy shit, I’m singing harmonies with Bob Weir right now’.
What’s awesome is that it really opened up our fanbase. We have a lot of Deadheads at our shows now because of that collaboration. That’s why I like to say the Stoopidheads meet the Deadheads. It’s a beautiful thing, man. We’ve been so blessed to do what we do and it’s kinda like icing on the cake as you keep moving with your career.
The relationship between Slightly Stoopid and Sublime is undeniable. Bradley Nowell spawned a whole movement of musicians and bands interested in dub and reggae; and infusing those styles with different variants of rock. How has Slightly Stoopid evolved since Brad signed you guys over the last 20 years?
Honestly, we were just kids when Brad [Nowell] and Miguel [Happoldt] brought us into Skunk Records. We were, like, 16 or 17-years-old and we were fans of Sublime, and this was in the days when we’d listen to 40 Oz to Freedom on a cassette tape…They did this show in Ocean Beach at this old biker bar called Dream Street and my mom got them to meet us and start rapping with us and slowly from there Brad and Miguel kind of took me and Kyle under their wings. We were more of a punk rock/ska band back then, still rebelling against the system.
But Sublime is the [band] that bridged the gap as far as the Southern California rock, reggae style goes. Their creation of a genre did what grunge did to hair metal–like when Nirvana came out, boom: hair metal morphed to grunge. When Sublime came out, it changed grunge into SoCal [rock]. You have to tip your hat to what they did. It opened the door to so many different artists. Back in the day, we were really the only baby band of that genre. There weren’t 10 million bands of this kind of genre—it just didn’t exist. There was Sublime, 311, No Doubt, Fishbone.
Brad Miguel would always just say, ‘You need to get your asses on the road. Tour as much as you can and keep going back to that same town because those five fans turn into 25, those 25 turn into 100; 100 to 500–it just keeps building and building.’ And we did that…Brad was taken way too early. He had so much more to give. What’s funny is you still hear a Sublime song on the radio and it doesn’t sound like it’s 20-something-years-old. So many people owe so much to that vibe.
I couldn’t agree more. Props to your mom for getting you guys to meet Bradley. She deserves an award.
Yeah, she made it happen. People always ask us, ‘Why don’t you guys cover Sublime songs?’ and we always just say, ‘You know how we pay tribute to Brad? We did exactly what he said: We put our asses on the road and worked our butts off and continue to play music and do it the right way.’ We never wanted to just sit there and ride that coattail. We wanted to pave the way ourselves and work hard. We pay our respects by busting our ass’ just like he said to.
Not only is that a special experience, but to have words of wisdom from Brad and his blessing is what most people today would kill for.
It’s pretty cool. There were so many times where I was just bringing his guitars into shows, hanging out, and driving him around because he didn’t have a license back in the day. So, I was like a little brother hanging with him in Long Beach. It’s something I’ll never forget or take for granted. We’ve been blessed with the career that we’ve had and, and nothing was really given to us. We went out there and worked our ass’ off, slept on floors or in the van, or didn’t sleep at all and just kept moving, and trying to make it happen.
So, how does cannabis fit into your daily routine?
It’s something I’ve partaken in my entire life since I was young. It’s been part of my musical journey and a part of my life journey. We’ve always been very adamant of our support for blazing weed. There isn’t a time of day where I wouldn’t smoke a good OG Kush. I will smoke it right when I get up, when I’m having a good time, and when I’m going to bed. It doesn’t matter.
I’ve always said the ones that curse it are the ones that don’t understand it. You can sit there and talk about the hundreds of thousands of people who die from alcohol every day that the government taxes. You can talk about the hundreds of thousands of people that die from smoking cigarettes that the government taxes. But, now, the government’s finally putting their hands in the weed jar—and my only complaint is, I don’t go to dispensaries. Most dispensaries, to me, are selling crap. They’re just selling cookie cutter shit for the general population. I still support my local grower because he puts way more care into it than the mass quantities that are meant for the general public.
I want something that brings a tear to my eye. And that’s what OG Kush does for me. It’s my go-to. I’m an Indica lover and Kyle loves Sativa. And even in life, we’re kind of like that yin and yang energy: we’re completely different but what we do together it’s an unstoppable force almost.
How does weed impact the creative process for making music?
The feeling you get when you pick up the guitar and when you’re blazing at the time, it just opens up a different window in your brain and it feels better. Certain things come out. [Cannabis] has always been a part of it, so I don’t know if there’s a certain key element that defines what it does. But, it for us, it’s, it’s something we enjoy. I’ve never seen it as a problem. I’ve never seen it as harmful—you know, the way the media and the FDA have said it is. They just don’t understand it.
Have you guys ever had any issues touring with weed?
Every now and then, but not really. We’ve been pulled over a couple times, but nothing really happens. To be honest, the problems in Canada. It’s sucks because now we can’t really play there because they’ve made it so difficult for us to cross the border just for having weed in our bus. So now we just stay out of that zone. People often say ‘Hey, why aren’t you guys up here?’ and our thought is, ‘[We] don’t feel like sitting customs for five hours and dealing with the bullshit because of a couple sacks of weed.’
Did you guys actually get taken into customs?
Oh, yeah. We spent like eight hours while they stripped our bus down did all this shit. But we’re extra careful now to avoid those problems—it’s just not worth it, you know? These are the same guys who pulled Willie Nelson over, so. Hello, this guy’s [performed] for presidents, and you’re busting this dude for free-gain!
BeachLife has a really awesome, pretty sweet lineup. How does it feel to be included in the first iteration of this celebratory party?
It’s going to be amazing. There are so many awesome acts. I mean, you got the legendary Willie Nelson out there, Bob Weir, Brian Wilson–it’s really a ‘pinch yourself’ kind of show. So we are really looking forward to it. Willie Nelson’s close to 85-years-old now and he’s still playing shows and talking about how important marijuana is to the world. It’s incredible. To be apart of a show like this is such an honor.
Beachlife is happening in Redondo Beach on May 3-5, 2019. For tickets at more information go to beachlifefestival.com