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NECANN At Night: The Slightly Stoopid Interview

Photo by Keith Zacharski

“The herbs kind of bring people together. There could be a funky moment and somebody pulls out a super spliff and all of a sudden the vibes just get to where they need to be.”

Talking Joints Memo has been close to the team behind the New England Cannabis Convention since its inception in 2015, and are excited to be partnering with NECANN on a special glossy print magazine in honor of the 10-year anniversary in 2024. The publication, which will be free to Boston convention attendees on a first-come, first-served basis, will feature everything from photo galleries and highlights from the past decade to editorials and interviews like this chat with NECANN afterparty performers Slightly Stoopid about ’90s weed, grassroots culture, new music, and their bill with Lil Jon.

Slightly Stoopid holds a unique spot in modern canna culture. They’re rarely mentioned among the main marquee musicians who are married to marijuana, while at the same time, for those who follow the beloved San Diego troupe, it would be unseemly to imagine their movement without it.

As Miles Doughty, who founded the group with lifelong friend Kyle McDonald in their native Ocean Beach in 1995, described their affiliation with the plant during this interview, they’ve always been enthusiastic advocates, but “not the face of the franchise.” It’s an admirable space to occupy and similar to that of Sublime, whose iconic frontman Brad Nowell signed Doughty and McDonald, then scrappy young punks playing backyard shows, to Skunk Records.

Their longitudinal and latitudinal likeability is partly by design, or perhaps lack thereof. Though certainly adored by reggae crowds for their Jamaican inspiration, the famously independent Slightly Stoopid is impossible to pigeonhole—not just musically, with their collaborations spanning Snoop Dogg to Dave Matthews, but also cosmically, as they have connected with countless niche cultural communities and fans across the planet.

With their latest tour dates just announced and a new album in the works, we spoke with Doughty ahead of Slightly Stoopid’s blowout NECANN afterparty show with Lil Jon at Royale.

Since the band is coming up on its 30th anniversary, and we’re chatting ahead of a weed convention, I wanted to start off by asking what you guys were smoking back in the mid-’90s.

Back in the mid-’90s, that’s when you were using a Graffix b[ong]. That was just kind of the vibe. And honestly, we were in high school and didn’t have much money, so you’d be getting the Mexican brick for a hundred bucks. You’d get a crazy amount of herb, you’d have herb for months. You couldn’t imagine spending $20 on just one gram of the super chronic. It was kind of a funny time.

We actually played a killer Graffix party with Sen Dog’s band SX-10. They were like a harder hip-hop rock band. It was dope. … We’ve known the Cypress Hill guys forever too. We just got finished doing Cali Vibes and B-Real came up and crushed a Cypress Hill song that was nuts with the full band behind him. It was epic.

It’s always seemed like cannabis is absolutely woven into the band’s fabric, but not necessarily center stage. How have you managed to embrace the weed community without being only about that?

I feel like Slightly Stoopid has something for everybody, so it doesn’t really matter that weed is part of our culture. That’s kind of been something since the inception of the band. We’ve never really thought anything of it except for it being a positive and part of the whole creative process and the whole surrounding of the band. We’ve always been outspoken about it, but we’re not the face of the franchise. There’s Cheech and Chong, there’s B-Real—Dr. Greenthumb style—where those guys are the faces of it. It’s pretty cool, but it’s not what we do.

What kind of crowds and opportunities have come from your embrace of the culture though?

I think it’s just part of our culture in general and it mixes with so many. You can be doing festivals with every style of music and it’s funny how the herbs kind of bring people together. There could be a funky moment and somebody pulls out a super spliff and all of a sudden the vibes just get to where they need to be.

I’m glad it’s being more embraced now and in society in general, but there’s nothing like the local grower, your homey who has nothing but love for the plant that he’s growing. It’s the fire, it’s not mass produced, it’s the kind of shit that brings a tear to your eye.

What’s the current Stoopid Strains operation look like? What are the goals with that endeavor? 

We’ve been slow to roll out our own brand and it’s cool because we’ve been kind of picky when it comes to that kind of shit. We have a grower here named Shauncron who anything he touches is just incredible. Then we work with Humboldt Seed Company

We’ve been … trying to just figure it all out still; even though we’ve been engaged in a bunch of it, we’ve never just full-fledged Dr. Greenthumb’d it yet. It’s been great though because we’ve gotten to work with some amazing people. My man Shauncron is actually on his way over here as we speak, bringing some old school Gorilla Glue and this stuff called Cherry Fritter which is just such a good flavor it takes you to a different land. It’s a perfect way to start the day.

Do you have any thoughts on licensed social consumption of cannabis at concert venues? Certainly it wouldn’t change very much at most Slightly Stoopid shows, or could it?

It would be rad if you could just go to the merch booth and get [some weed]. We’re making strides; even though it’s mass produced and it seems like everyone’s involved, it’s still about the local growers who keep that underground movement alive, which I like, because we came from the underground as a band. Like I said, music and the herbs kind of bring everybody together.

The band was on Skunk Records for the first five or so years, then you started your own label and seemingly never looked back. Did you ever imagine that you could grow your following this big without a major? Did you even care?

I don’t think you could ever imagine it getting to the way it is. It’s crazy because with every tour, you kind of pinch yourself going, This is incredible. We have such a grassroots, organic fan base. It’s rad to see, because you see people who have kind of grown up with the band, and now they are there with their kids and their kids are fans of the band. It’s something special and we’ve been really blessed. I think just the way we rolled out originally, nonstop touring—we were touring before the internet, so we’re going into 30 years. I appreciate it everyday. I get to make music with my best friends and you’re getting to travel around the world and see all the crazy people and all vibe out together. It’s pretty incredible.

You’ve said, “We love to play music, we love to be onstage, but we don’t want cameras in our faces. I’m not going to style my hair differently because that’s what’s hip.” And yet, the band has exploded in the social media era. Is that a case of you just being yourselves and the fans taking the rest into their own hands?

We’ve never really been those [kinds of people who are] always in the camera. That’s not who we are. We came from Ocean Beach, we grew up just beach kids surfing and skating and having a great time. We started the band together; me and Kyle have been friends since we were in diapers, so for us it’s just been the energy we get from the people, the energy we get from being on stage, that’s what we love. All the other stuff, that wasn’t really our thought process. We came from more of a punk rock kind of background. Yes, we have social media, it’s amazing … we’ll post important things about the band, and if you see us [in person], we’re going to kick it and have a drink with you, but we’re not going to sit there each day and go on camera and talk about the day. For us that would be kind of faking it. 

You’re collaboration kings, with an endless list of groups and artists you have toured and recorded with. But who is still somewhat elusive, maybe on your bucket list? And will this be your first show with Lil Jon?

I think it is the first time we’ve crossed paths with Lil Jon. I’m not sure who to do next, we’ve been having so much fun with the artists we’ve been working with. A lot of it comes spontaneously; we’ll be listening to music and be like, Oh, dude, we need to start recording with this cat.

Someone who’s been incredible in the studio and on the road has been Chali 2na. The guy just has such a stage presence and he’s one of the most chill cats you’ll ever meet. We have a new song coming out on the new record that we’re super pumped on, it’s talking about the chaos of the world today and how some shit is kind of flipped upside down.

You just announced a tour, so what’s that going to be like? And you’re working on new music. Will there be a new album soon? It’s been nearly five years for a full project.

We’re always recording, but now we’re in the process of doing an album and locking stuff in as far as the stuff that’s going to go on the record. We’re hoping to get it out this year, that’s kind of the plan, but the year just kind of got busy and everyone’s got families and sometimes the schedules don’t line up. Once you get home from a tour you kind of fall into whatever your family wants to do, whatever your kids want to do.

Finally, I know you have said you have basically forgotten that the word stupid has a “u,” and certainly your fans annoy the hell out of English teachers everywhere. But have you ever considered having your legions lobby the dictionary people to get it changed once and for all?

That’s honestly a genius idea, we should go about that right after this call. I only write it with “u” when I’m pissed at someone, because I don’t want to associate my name with someone being stupid, so I’ll use the “u” if someone’s actually being stupid. But it’s funny because even my kids, they’ll want to spell it like that because it’s how they see it all the time. And for me, it’s been 30 years in the band, so at this point I’ve spelled it with two “o”’s since I was a kid.

The Official Nova Farms + NECANN After Party with Dudemanbro, Slightly Stoopid, and Lil Jon. Friday, March 22, 6pm. Royale, 279 Tremont St., Boston. Entry is free and based on a first-come, first-served basis, and you’ll need your 2024 NECANN Pass and a valid ID (21+) to get in.