311 & Slightly Stoopid, SOJA
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Doughty also admits that the creation of the band's own recording studio and rehearsal clubhouse, within the warehouse district of Mission Valley (just inland of Ocean Beach), certainly aided the creation of Top of the World. "In the past two years, we started our own studio, which really enabled us to make the record at our own pace, and to make the right record for us at this time in our career,” Doughty continues. “What's nice about it is having our own environment to record in and analyze the music, and it really lets you keep an organic feel. For us, I feel like it's a step into the next level, as far as understanding the process of recording, understanding the process of songwriting. We took everything that we've learned over the years and really put it into this record.” Another key ingredient to what makes Top of the World so special is the inclusion of several musical guests. "It really kept that 'family atmosphere' for us,” says Doughty. “I think it really shows in the music—it flows. It's like one of those records that feels like it's one giant song. It keeps building and building. For us, we couldn't be happier. Top of the World speaks volumes as to where the band is today; just lyrically and musically, we're really happy with the direction." "We had G. Love, Angelo Moore from Fishbone, Don Carlos, Barrington Levy, Ian Neville from Dumpstaphunk, Tory Ruffin from Morris Day and the Time and Fishbone, and singer/songwriter Angela Hunte. We've been friends with G. Love for over 15 years, and we've been able to work together quite a few different times in the studio. It seems like second nature. Whenever you're recording with G., it's almost
like you're really just hanging out with your bro, and you happen to hit record. We've done so many shows together and so many studio sessions, it becomes second nature. Angelo Moore to me is one of the greatest frontmen to ever step foot on a stage. As a fan and out of respect, I try to do something with Angelo every time we have a record, really. If you listen to his lyrics, his vocal performance—I don't know who could keep up with Angelo on stage. Don Carlos from Black Uhuru is one of the legendary reggae singers of all time, and we've had the pleasure of working with him the last few years." Riffing on some of the album’s highlights, Doughty says "I really love 'Hiphoppablues,' the song G. Love did. I love the song 'Way You Move,' Ian Neville did a great guitar line throughout the whole song. We worked with Barrington Levy on 'Ur Love,’ he is a true architect of the dance hall! Definitely 'Ska Diddy' with Angelo—it’s a fun rant and shout out to a lot of the nooks and crannies we play across the country.” Besides recording at their own studio, Slightly Stoopid has always been extremely hands on when it comes to their career, going back more than a decade to when they founded their own record label, Stoopid Records. "We started Stoopid Records around 2000,” Doughty clarifies. “At that time, we were in transition as far as what we were doing with our records, and we thought it would be good to have our own independent label—like Sublime showed us back in the day with Skunk Records. What's nice is we've had a following with the fans, where people understand that Stoopid Records is Slightly Stoopid and other bands we want to help break out." "For us, it was a big turning point, as far as having complete creative control over everything we do. That's something big for this band—we want to make the music for ourselves and for our fans. We don't really make music for someone in an office that tells us something needs to be there. We've always had a very organic, do-it-yourself attitude. I think it's paid off in dividends." In addition to the arrival of Top of the World, Slightly Stoopid should be very busy for the rest of 2012. "This summer, we're doing The Unity Tour with 311. That was really cool— those guys approached us about doing a tour with them. For the last five years, we've been headlining all the amphitheater tours, so it's kind of nice that we're going to co-headline with them. It's a good chance to not only play for our fans, but to play for 311 fans and show them the new direction of the new record. After the summer tour, we're going to do a fall tour and a winter tour, stay on the road as much as possible, promote the record, and keep making more music." Slightly Stoopid’s current line-up, featured on the Unity Tour 2012, consists of Doughty (guitar, bass, vocals) and McDonald (guitar, bass, vocals), along with Ryan “Rymo” Moran (drums), Oguer “OG” Ocon (congas, percussion, harp, vocals), C-Money (trumpet), Dela (saxophone) and Paul Wolstencroft (keyboards). Additionally, “unofficial 8th member” Karl Denson of Greyboy Allstars also lent his talents throughout Top of the World, and is joining the band on tour this summer. Nearly two decades into their ongoing metamorphosis, Slightly Stoopid continues to progress into new musical territory, defining their signature sound even further and creating a contagious feel-good vibe. An entire subculture has grown around the social statements the band makes with their music—and it’s been done entirely on their own terms. No wonder they feel like they're on Top of the World.
311: 311 and other ska musicians became popular during the '90s with fun rock-reggae infused tracks, and created a unique So-Cal music scene.
The band originally formed in Omaha, Nebraska when all original members met in high school. 311 released their debut EP, Unity, in 1990 and booked concert dates at local Omaha-area clubs. By 1992, the band moved to Los Angeles and were quickly signed to Capricorn Records. They released their debut album, "Music", in 1993 and scored a minor hit with "Do You Right". 311 concert dates were independently financed, and the band drove to venues in an old borrowed RV with borrowed equipment.
311 had better luck with their sophomore set, "Grassroots", which peaked at #8 on Billboard's Heatseekers albums chart and developed a loyal college following. They hit massive commercial success on their third try; Their self-titled album was released in 1995 and was eventually certified three times platinum. It featured the hit singles, "Down" and "All Mixed Up," and widened the band's fan base. 311 tour dates were booked in support of the album and they made an appearance on David Letterman.
They followed up with, "Transistor", which debuted at #4 on the Billboard 200 and was certified platinum. They toured extensively and filmed a live DVD at their New Orleans stop in 1998 and released one more album in the '90s, "Soundsytem", which featured the hit "Come Original".
In 2000, the band dubbed every March 11, as 311 day and every other year they gather in new Orleans to celebrate with a massive concert and play extended sets. This tradition has continued and in 2010 they moved the event to Las Vegas and played a 60 song set at Mandalay Bay. They released their sixth album, "From Chaos", in 2001 and it featured the hit reggae-infused single, "Amber". Two more albums followed, including "Evolver" and Don't Tread on Me", in the 2000s. They also scored their biggest commercial single with a cover of the Cure's "Love Song", which hit #1 on the Modern Rock Tracks chart and entered the Hot 100, marking their first entry on that survey.
311 tour dates have been particularly popular lately as their fan base has remained solid throughout the years. In 2006, they embarked on their Summer Unity Tour, which played to a record audience of 18,500 diehard fans at their Atlanta stop. Following the highly successful 37-date tour, the band announced a hiatus. They returned in 2009, and the 311 concert schedule included a revived Summer Unity Tour as well as an opening stint on the Offspring Tour.
311 released their most recent album, "Uplifter," in 2009, and are currently finishing up their forthcoming tenth album. Use Eventful as your source for 311 tour dates, concert schedule, and venue information.
SOJA: “I want to speak for people who don’t have microphones,” Jacob Hemphill says. “Our goal as a band is to stick up for the human race. We see the world and we try to make it better in the limited time we have here.”
This is the philosophy behind SOJA’s music, a simple statement that has driven the Grammy Nominated D.C. area band, who blend reggae, go-go, D.C. hardcore, Latin, rock and hip-hop. Originally formed by a group of friends while still in middle school and has built a massive, dedicated fanbase around the world since. In the years following, SOJA has sold more than 200,000 albums, headlined shows in nearly 30 countries around the world, generated over 4 million Facebook fans, and over 120 million YouTube views. The band has toured with Dave Matthews Band, Incubus, 311 and appeared at major festivals including Bonnaroo where they attract an almost Grateful Dead-like international fan base along the way, with caravans of diehards following them from city to city. After the release of their 2012 album Strength To Survive, the musicians started writing material for what would become their fifth full-length album, “Amid the Noise and Haste.”
For Hemphill, who pens the lyrics, chords and melody, each song starts with an experience: meeting someone, reading something, experiencing something that seems pertinent to the human condition. On this album, the songwriter is suggesting that “all of life’s problems, and all of life’s answers are within us. We’ve been conditioned to accumulate, compete and break others down around ourselves — not inherent to the human condition, but rather taught. Those things can be untaught. The real us is in there, somewhere.” All of this is translated into short, sweet packages of music.
The writing and recording process for Amid the Noise and Haste stretched out over a year and a half, mostly because the musicians kept finding new collaborators and new ideas along the way. The aim was to engage as many guest artists as possible, with each working on a song that had a legitimate connection to them. The album was produced by Supa Dups (Bruno Mars, Eminem, Rihanna, John Legend) and recorded at Circle House Studios in Miami and Lion & Fox Studios in Washington D.C. throughout 2013. Damian “Jr. Gong” Marley appears on “Your Song,” a buoyant, hopeful number that asks fans to remind the band why they got into music by singing along, while “I Believe” brings Michael Franti and Nahko together to offer thoughts on how to control your own destiny. Collie Buddz, J Boog and Anuhea are also featured on various tracks. “We wanted to bring together people who would help demonstrate each song,” Jacob says. “We wanted people who could either relate to or convey the message. The whole album is about the human race relating to itself and connecting with itself.”
For SOJA, whose live show is an explosion of energy and positivity, music is a means of helping people relate in a more affirmative way. It also asks people to look inside themselves and really ask what it is they want to do with their life and how they can be happy. SOJA’s music is about finding that happiness and peace we all deserve and helping others do the same, something Amid the Noise and Haste aptly conveys in its songs.
“I put words in my songs that I believe to be true,” Jacob says. “The point of the album is reconnecting people to the power inside themselves, getting them to fall back in love with life again. Look around, take a deep breath. All the answers are there.” ❖