Back in 1998, in an effort to celebrate the release of their fourth disc, Cypress Hill decided to turn their own record release party into an all day, outdoor festival with some of their favorite rap and rock artists and djs. Thus was born, The Cypress Hill Smokeout, an all day “mind opening experience” with a diverse mix of artists and a ton of resources and workshops centered on the joy and functionality of marijuana. On October 16th The Cypress Hill Smokeout finds its way back to San Bernardino California with possibly it’s most eclectic line up in years. The veteran rap group will perform their debut, ground breaking disc in it’s entirety and the masses will also get a chance to sample a wide variety of sounds including international (Manu Chao, Maldita Vecindad), indie rock and hip-hop (MGMT, Atmosphere) 80’s and 90’s heavy rock (Living Colour, Incubus) and even some reggae (Damien Marley w/ Nas, Slightly Stoopid, Collie Buddz). During the festival there will be panel discussions, informal talks and a plethora of information regarding the many uses of cannabis. The festival may have special significance this year, as California heads towards an election that could see the legalization of the aforementioned herb, in November.
Before the fire gets lit on this year’s Smoekout, I had the chance to chat with two of the artists who will be hitting the stages at the festival. Slightly Stoopid’s Ryan “RyMo” Moran, and Living Colour’s Corey Glover got a chance to wax poetic on the all day “mind opening festival”, the legalization of marijuana and how they both intend to keep the party alive and smokin’ when they take the stage.
It’s a Family Affair with Slightly Stoopid
Reggae/Punkers Slightly Stoopid just wrapped a successful summer tour with Cypress Hill. How will they celebrate? By getting together with Cypress Hill again, to play the rap group’s Smokeout festival. Drummer Ryan “RyMo” Moran is gearing up to hit the main stage at the festival and he let me know how the “Stoopids” keep the party going and keep it “family” all summer long.
David Carr: Ryan how did your summer tour go with Cypress Hill and how did you guys get on the Smokeout bill?
Ryan Moran: The tour with Cypress was great! We actually met the guys in Cypress Hill earlier in the year before we started planning the tour. Once we got them on the bill and the tour began, it was a blast. We barbecued every night with them after every show. Whenever we go into planning a tour we go into it with a family approach in mind. We want to be able to hang out with and get along with whoever we are on the road with, and it worked out well with all the guys in Cypress. Half-way through the tour, B-Real basically said he was having a lot of fun with us and then we started talking about being on the Smokeout festival.
David: Are there any bands in particular you want to see?
Ryan: Incubus was a huge band for me back in the day and I never got to see them live! I am really looking forward to seeing and hopefully meeting them. Living Colour was also a really big influence for me so it will be great to see them too!
David: Now part of the Smoekout is of course, the educational discourse that goes on with regards to legalizing marijuana. I may already know the answer to this question but I’ll ask it anyway. Are you hoping to see the legalization of marijuana in California?
Ryan: We are 100% hoping for the legalization of marijuana this November. I guess it’s no secret that we are recreational users, but we also want to see it legalized for folks who use it for medicinal purposes. When we were on tour in Detroit, we met this fan who had cancer. This guy had tried everything to alleviate his pain. The only thing that worked was marijuana. Also, the taxation of it could possibly help the economy in California. We are definitely hoping this happens.
David: It really seems like on your big summer tours, the goal is to create a family vibe and a party vibe with who you tour with. Is that the case?
Ryan: Yeah, definitely! We really try to pick bands whose music we are into and who we think we will have a good time with on the road. I mean when you are on the road you are all in it together. You are all missing your family and friends so the goal is to have a great time and a good vibe while being on tour.
David: You have been able to play massive amphitheaters and tour with Snoop Dogg, Bad Brains, Fishbone and Cypress Hill. How have you been able to do this without being on American Idol or Dancing with the Stars?
Ryan: HA! We have done it on our own two feet! It’s all about relentlessly touring! We have been touring non-stop for fifteen years. We have made it this far because we have put our blood, sweat and tears into this. We started out playing small clubs, college towns, ski towns — we played with other like minded acts. We got to open for bands we really admired and respected. We tried to model ourselves after other acts that had the same type of underground vibe; groups like The Dave Mathews Band or The Grateful Dead grew their audiences by word of mouth and touring. We made sure we were on the road 180-200 days a year. We used to play six nights a week with one night off. The internet has also been a huge help. Basically we have been able to do this and keep it going by making sure we play good shows.
David: You say you modeled yourselves after a few bands but with your success, is it safe to say Slightly Stoopid has become the model?
Ryan: In a way you are right. We have become the model. A lot of folks are starting to take notice. A lot of bands are starting to do their thing the way we do it. A few years ago radio wouldn’t deal with us and now we are starting to get some descent radio airplay.
David: The band has its own record label. Are you working with any acts who share your DIY attitude?
Ryan: We are working with The Expendables and The Agrgolites. Both bands have discs coming out soon on our label. We are always looking for bands to work with that have our same road dog mentality.
David: With the amount of touring the band does, is it tough to be away from family and friends for so long?
Ryan: Actually, this winter we are looking forward to taking a break. A couple of the guys in the band are married and have had kids. We are gonna finally have some downtime this winter and focus on family for a while.
David: It has been a while since there has been new Slightly Stoopid music. Will the band be hitting the studio anytime soon?
Ryan: Absolutely! Our last disc “Chronchitis” came out about three years ago. Like I said, this winter we will take some time off but early next year the goal will be to hit the studio to record a new disc, in order to get back out on the road next summer.
Corey Glover and Living Colour Give Each Other Room
Corey Glover is indeed a rock and roll renaissance man. He is the singer/frontman for New York rockers Living Colour and he is also an accomplished actor on both stage and screen. Add to that husband and father of two, and you have a jack of all trades who has truly mastered them all. As he and his bandmates prepare to hit San Bernardino for the Cypress Hill Smokeout and The Lift Off (the Pre-Smokeout show featuring Living Colour, Slightly Stoopid, Cypress Hill and Mickey Avalon October 15th at the Pozo Saloon in San Luis Obispo) and while picking up his kids from school, Corey and I got a chance to talk about his up coming shows in California and the long hard road his band has traveled.
David Carr: Corey, I believe I read that earlier in the summer you lost your voice and had to cancel a show. How is your voice doing now?
Corey Glover: My voice is ok now. Honestly, the issue was I didn’t get any sleep the night before the gig we had to play. That was the gig we had to cancel. I was not getting enough rest. That’s how I keep my voice strong. I sleep. I try to give my voice a rest as much as possible. Now that I am getting some rest, my voice is fine.
David: It has been quite sometime since Living Colour has played a big music festival in the US. Are you excited to be hitting the Smokeout stage in October?
Corey: I am excited! We did a bunch of festivals over in Europe this summer but you are right, we have not been on any big stages in the US so yes; I am looking forward to this show. We need to be seen by this particular audience. We need to be seen by bigger audiences. This band has been back together for about ten years and to be honest, we still have yet to be seen on some of the bigger stages here in the states.
David: Why do you think it has been so tough for the band to get in front of a wider audience? Hmm — I guess if you had the answer, we would not be having this part of the conversation right?
Corey: Exactly! If I knew, you wouldn’t have to keep asking this question! HA!!
David: Touché! Ok let me ask it another way. Are you seeing any light at the end of the tunnel with regards to this issue?
Corey: Yes, I do. We have to go to where the people are. We have to be the ones now to reach out to folks. We have to get to those particular audiences and it takes time. I am not sure why it has taken so long but we are slowly getting there. We have to be part of certain scenes. The issue for us is, this is a band that can easily be in a number of scenes! It’s a tricky position to be in. On a certain level, we have to reach out to people and let them know, we can be a part of all of these scenes!
David: There are some great bands on the Smokeout bill this year. Is there anyone in particular you want to see?
Corey: There are a bunch of bands I want to check out. The trick with playing a festival is that it comes down to time. Usually by the time we get to the festival we have fifteen minutes and then it’s time to go on stage. Then if I want to see any bands, I have to stay ALL day! I know I want to see Cypress Hill. Really, I need a schedule so I can see when the bands are going on.
David: A good portion of the festival is dedicated to pushing for the legalization of marijuana and this is looking more and more like a reality in California. What are your thoughts on this? Do you think marijuana should be legal?
Corey: My definition of what a drug is might be different from most people. To me a drug is anything that can be enhanced with chemicals, anything that can be cooked. To me that’s a drug. Marijuana is natural. You can’t die from an overdose of marijuana — I just don’t see it as a drug; therefore I don’t think it should be illegal.
David: Do you miss acting at all? Do you have any acting gigs coming up?
Corey: I do miss acting. I am going to be part of a rock opera type production in Nashville called “Sighing Tree” next spring. For now, that’s the only acting thing I have coming up.
David: It’s been a year since “The Chair In The Doorway” was released. Is the band planning on getting in the studio and releasing a new disc next year?
Corey: This year also marks the 20th anniversary of the release of our second disc “Time’s Up”. Yes, another record is definitely in the offing. We are gonna make another record and the plan is to try and have something new out in the fall of next year. That’s the plan anyway!
David: It seems like it becomes tough to get everyone together when you are all involved in so many different projects.
Corey: It’s tough to navigate. Will is doing a lot of stuff in Africa. Doug is a hired gun. Vernon is doing music for a ton of soundtracks.
David: So with so many outside projects, what brings you four back together?
Corey: Hmm — the reality is there is no real leader. Vice is my band. Masque is Vernon’s band. With Living Colour we are all equals in this. In this band all four of us have our own particular strength and we compliment each other very well. It’s the four of us in a space and place where we are all each others peers. We can acknowledge each other’s strengths and we are able to make room for each other. We make room for each other and respect the fact that collectively we are a strong unit, stronger than anyone else’s musical outlet. That’s what brings us together.
Be sure to check out The Cypress Hill Smokeout October 16th at the NOS Events Center in San Bernardino. You can also check out the Lift Off (Pre-Smokeout show)
On October 15th at the Pozo Saloon in San Luis Obispo.