By K.S. Wang / Motor Trend / August 9, 2012
When members of the jam band Slightly Stoopid drive around Ocean Beach, San Diego, they are often recognized for being famous hometown sons. But when co-lead singer Miles Doughty drives around town, what usually turns heads is his 1942 Ford pickup.
“My dad got it for me 18 years ago when I was 16 and I was able to get it restored over the past couple years, so it’s pretty sweet,” Doughty says proudly. “We bought it in a farm area in Northern California. We were driving down the coast and there was this truck sitting out there in the field with a ‘for sale’ sign on it.”
They bought the truck, which is now painted metallic burgundy, for $500. It took Doughty two years to completely restore it. “It was a rust bucket,” he says. “It was a flathead V-8, max speed was 35 mph, and you had to start it in second gear just to cruise. I used to drive it around Ocean Beach when it was a rusty beater and it had the old original yellow orange paint job with primer everywhere to cover the rust.”
He took the truck to M & J Restoration in Santee. “They did a really good job. What’s nice about the ’42 pickup is it’s very limited as far as production because production was shut down in I believe February of that year, so there’s not too many of them around. That’s why it took us a long time to find replacement parts. I’ve got a 302 in there now. I can easily do 90 miles an hour down the freeway.”
They also swapped out the original stick shift for an automatic. “We switched it out to an automatic that had a push button that drops down the gears. It’s so much easier. I loved driving the stick but sometimes it’s just a lot easier to cruise when you can just pop it into gear and let it ride,” he says.
Doughty gives it a 9.5 rating out of 10 because he still has to fix a few things on it. “It runs perfect; it fires the first try every morning and it’s ready to go. You know those old cars, they can be quirky. I drive it about four days a week. I have another car too. I can’t take the kids in the truck,” he says with a laugh.
He likes that he often gets a wave or a smile from passersby when he’s in the Ford. “Any of the old folks that are in our neighborhood that grew up in the time of those kind of cars, you always get the thumbs-up from all the old cats and it’s cool,” he says. “A lot of the kids don’t understand it as much, but when I’m driving though Ocean Beach, everyone’s like, ‘Hey, nice truck!’ Being from Ocean Beach, a lot of the kids know who we are, so they see me driving around all the time. We’re local boys and we’re doing well and it’s a pretty small, tight-knit community.”
Rating: 4 “The Impala’s a beater,” Doughty laughs. “My next car on the dream list is either a ’57 T-Bird or a ’65 Chevelle. The ’65 Chevelle was my dad’s favorite car so I want to get one redone. I think he would be really, really pumped if that went down.”
Doughty plans to eventually restore the Impala, but that project is on hold because of the age of his kids. “I still drive it to make sure it fires up — you don’t ever want to leave the older cars to sit too long. There’s a lot of quirks in the car. I need to get some engine work done and a little bit of body work.”
1975 Ford Bronco
Rating: Above a 10 “Honestly, I wish you can go above a 10 because the Bronco is beyond fun. You always have the top down and you can drive through any kind of terrain and condition,” Doughty says. “To me, you get more looks in a Bronco than you do in a ’42 Ford just because the Bronco is like an everyperson’s car. Every guy would love to have a Bronco. Even a lot of girls would too.”
When he was a kid, getting the classic Bronco was one of his goals, and he realized it eight years ago. “It does really look like a Tonka toy,” he says, adding that Los Angeles-based Icon is now making replicas. “They’re using the ’68-’69 model frame, but it has all-new parts, all-new engine style, electronics.”
He likes that these older cars are more stylish their newer counterparts. “To me, the old-school cars have so much more style. Everything today to me is just cookie-cutter. It’s right off the stock line and back then it seemed there was love put into those cars. Look at the steel — I’m driving a ’42 truck, you can drive that thing through any wall,” he says. “It’s a beast.”
Favorite road trip
“One of my favorite trips we did was we went all the way from Oregon down to San Diego while we were doing a West Coast tour,” he says, referring to a trip the band took around 1997.
He recommends driving down the coast. “It is just amazing,” he says. “When you get into California, they have these huge redwoods as far as the eye can see, all the way up to the coastline.”
Miles Doughty Celebrity Drive
He says there were parts where they were driving on the edge of a cliff next to the ocean. “You’re looking out and there’s just freezing cold, beautiful water and houses all over the beach lines,” he says. “That was the coolest part — getting to see that. In San Diego and southern California in general, the coastlines are pretty flooded with property. To be up in northern California, you’ll get miles where there won’t be anything on the coastline and it’s beautiful. You really can’t beat it. Visually, it’s a nice drive.”
He says it was particularly nice around Monterey, San Simeon, and the Bay Area. The breathtaking scenery was quite the contrast to the old van they were driving in. “All the vents in the front couldn’t close, so air would always being blowing in,” he recounts. “We had holes in the roof where we had to put tape when it rained.”
Those early days makes him appreciate how far the band has come. “It was pretty sweet — that’s what’s so nice about where we are today, we’re touring in tour buses,” he says. “You get to look back on the journey, where we went through three different Dodge vans with 200,000 miles on every van. It was an incredible journey. We got to see so much of the country, with our own foot on the gas pedal, so it was pretty awesome.”
They went through those three vans over the course of 11 years before the band got into a proper touring bus. “There was usually a couple of us who split the driving shifts. Some cats would just chill and a couple of us would split the driving because we had the most experience driving on the road.”
“Top of the World”
Since forming, Slightly Stoopid has toured with Snoop Dogg (now Snoop Lion) and jammed with members of the Grateful Dead. Their new album, “Top of the World,” comes out on August 14. For those who aren’t familiar with their sound, they offer an eclectic mix of reggae, rock, acoustic, blues, and hip-hop.
“I always like to call it a melting pot of madness, because it really is,” he says of their music. “It’s just a little bit of everything.”
Some musicians on this album include reggae legends Barrington Levy and Black Uhuru’s Don Carlos, Fishbone frontman Angelo Moore, and longtime touring partner G. Love.
The band has worked on this album for a couple years in addition to the non-stop touring. Doughty sees it as a reflection of their growth as a band.
“We were able to lock down and we have our own studio here in San Diego now and were able to put the time in and make the music that we wanted to make,” he says. “Lyrically and musically, the music speaks a good vibe as far as the quality of the musicianship and the lyrical content.”
He says each album offers something slightly different. “Anyone that’s familiar with the band, we still stay true to our style, but we always have a little bit different sound. I think for us, we really grew in a different direction and we’re really happy with it.”
They’ve been playing these new songs on their current Unity Tour with 311, which wraps up on Sept. 5 in Redmond, Washington. “What’s cool about the Slightly Stoopid shows, there’ll be an age gap from 12- to 60-year-olds,” he says. “For us, you get to vibe out with all those different kinds of people. Obviously, not everybody likes the reggae, the punk rock, the blues, or whatever it is. There’s a little bit of something for everybody and it shows at the live shows.”
Doughty says the blend of ages and their mix of musical genres at concerts create an interesting live experience. “I think there’s a little more for them to gel with, there’s so many different things for them to hear,” he says. “Maybe if you don’t love this style for a second, you get a cocktail and when you come back, we’re back into the jam that you want to hear.”
Despite being in an era where bands often get pegged into one musical genre, Slightly Stoopid has been able to garner a loyal fan base, evident in their more than 800,000 Facebook likes.
“As a musician, we like to play as many different styles in music as possible,” Doughty says. “It keeps it fun. We have eight guys in the band now and we have eight different guys that have different influences and different ways they like to make music, so it’s cool to put it all together.”
Many of their fans have grown up with the band. “I’ve seen the same people and you’re going, ‘Whoa, I remember you when you were just a little kid!’ They were at those small shows and now we’re playing amphitheaters. When you’re a young act, a lot of times, you were sleeping on people’s floors and whatever you could do to survive,” he says with a laugh.
The band has also played a lot of the festivals that feature jam bands. “We do a lot of open-ended freestyle,” Doughty says. “What’s cool is we almost create a different vibe within that festival. When you’re playing with so many jam bands, it changes the level of intensity. We’re blessed to be doing what we do, that’s for sure.”
The band is offering fans an early preview of the new album with a free four-song sampler at www.slightlystoopid.com.