Ryan Moran From Slightly Stoopid (drums) Talks with Sensible Reason @ North Coast

At North Coast Music Festival, we got a chance to meet up with one of the members of one of the biggest raggae/punk groups still touring today. As other groups have fallen apart and fallen off the map, Slightly Stoopid continues to sell out shows and travel the country every year. With North Coast being one of their last stops in the festival circuit, we caught up with the drummer of the group, Ryan Moran, to see what they’ve been up to. Unfortunately, this writer had been a bit out of the loop with the band for a couple years, so when I asked about what they’d been up to lately, Moran informed me that they try and get to Chicago at least once or twice a year. It’s remarkable how much these guys just keep on moving. After being put in my place, we got to chatting.

Ashley: What brings you to North Coast?

Moran: Music. We’ve been pretty much all over the U.S. for the last few months, specifically these past couple weeks up in the North and Central U.S. So tonight wraps up our tour, and after that we’re going home tomorrow.

That’s exciting! So you just got here today?

Yeah, we just pulled in. We were in Ohio for the last couple days, Pennsylvania before that.

What other festivals have you played this summer?

We did Bonnaroo a couple months ago, we did Summer Camp in Illinois, and a handful of other festivals. We did a reggae festival in Utah a while back. We just toured with Stephen Marley all summer long, and G. Love & Special Sauce, Cypress Hill and NOFX. We had a pretty eclectic summer, they were all on a couple shows.

Our photographer, Dylan is a big fan of NOFX, so he chimed in for a moment: How’s Fat Mike?!

Oh he’s incredible, he’s my hero, I love him.

Dylan: They’re all f**king crazy. 

They’re one of my favorite bands, so it’s been a crazy summer, we’ve been all over the place.

So what was your favorite festival?

I’d have to say Summer Camp was one of my favorite festivals. Today is great, too, but this is our first time ever playing it . Bonnaroo was cool but it was so so big that it was hard to go out and experience the festival as a fan because they’re always shuffling us around, but I know there were a lot of incredible bands there. But Summer Camp allowed us to actually be fans of other bands as well.

What have you noticed at North Coast that you really enjoy so far?

The weather, it’s perfect. It’s a good size, but it’s not go gargantuan that people can somewhat have an intimate festival experience. It’s in the city but it’s in the park so it feels more like a festival, you know what I mean?

Yeah, not just a bunch of people gathered together. Another question: What has been your most memorable experience as a musician?

I’d have to say when we have guest artists sitting in. That’s always something that sticks out in my mind as some of my favorite moments. Like, we had Stephen Marley sit in with us a few weeks ago, had G. Love sit in with us, and Snoop Dogg a few years ago. We toured with Snoop for a whole summer, and just being able to play behind those acts, those landmark names, to me is a highlight as a musician. These were artists that I grew up listening to and idolizing, so being able to share the stage with these guys and high five them later is a nice feeling to feel like you’re a peer to these guys that you’ve sort of put up on a pedestal.

Working with a lot of different types of acts has also been a high point. Playing with hip hop acts, then reggae acts, and punk acts and being able to straddle these different worlds and being able to meet all these different people with all these different experiences musically has been a lot of fun.

Yeah, you guys are a very versatile band, so it’s awesome how you can go from one spot to the next. 
I’ve never interviewed someone who is in such a large band before. What is the best thing about touring with a group?

It’s like the best and worst thing. We’re kind of like a family, so we all kind of butt heads here and there. Everyone’s ribbing each other all the time. You’re not going to get away with anything, let me put it that way. You’re sharing such a small space, these tour buses they look all huge, and they can be if there’s only two people on them, but we roll pretty deep. There’s 12 guys on our bus. So there’s zero personal space

That’s a lot of people!
How many members are in the band?

There’s 7 to 8 of us. Right now we have 2 horns, percussion, keys, drums, guitar, bass, and then we have a third horn player, Karl Denson who kind of comes and goes. He’s got his own band and does other projects so he’s not at every single show, but he does a lot of shows with us as well. And then, 4 or 5 crew guys.

So you guys talk a lot about smoking a bunch of ganja, what is your favorite veg-out-on-the-couch munchie food?

Probably popcorn and beer. You know, like when you’re watching movies and such a little popcorn goes a long way.

Are you a buttered popcorn fan, or kettle cooked?

I like kettle cooked. I like kettle cooked chips, too.

Do you have a favorite strain of marijuana?

It’s funny, because I’m one of the only members that doesn’t actually smoke anymore. Just once in a while. But, I’d have to say the stuff that gives you kind of an up vibe, so you can go out and do stuff and enjoy the day. So where you can still focus, ride your bike. I smoked for a while, about 15 years straight, growing up in northern California and we used to smoke that sticky icky, so I just grew up in that world and after a certain point, I just stopped. So now I just drink too much?

What’s your drink?

Lately I’ve been really heavy in the craft beer.

Being from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Dylan and I got to talking with Moran about various craft beers from the area, speaking highly of the many craft beers Wisconsin has to offer including our favorite Spotted Cow. Then, Moran let us know what beers he’s enjoyed with his wife in his neck of the woods. After this, Dylan sort of took over the interview as a huge fan of Slightly Stoopid as well as the other bands on their label, such as Sublime. He wanted to know if Moran had ever met Bradley Nowell and it sparked a conversation that I couldn’t help but record:

I never got to meet Brad, I started with the band and the label a little bit after. The rest of the band got to meet him, though. I hear he was pretty cool. Of course Brad passed away, sadly so Miguel kept that label going for a couple years. And nowadays I think he still does a few releases here and there, but it’s not like it was before when we had a lot more going on. He’s still producing acts, though.

What are you going to check out today?

Well I actually just went for a swim in that pool over there, there’s a pool next to the park. That was like my shower, so I got a nice swim. I’m definitely going to watch Snoop Dogg. I kinda saw The Young Blood Brass Band that was on an hour ago, they were great. I don’t know a lot of the acts so I’m just going to walk around and see what I like and check out as much as I can.

For being in huge a huge band, Ryan Moran was extremely friendly and down to Earth with us. It became easy to talk about silly things like popcorn, as well as delving deeper into what such a huge artist thinks of the festival circuit. We greatly appreciated the opportunity to sit down and chat with Moran and hope to run into Slightly Stoopid in the future.


Ashley Cizek

Went to school at UW-Madison, graduating with a BA in psychology. I hula-hoop, I write, I enjoy sunlight.

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