As part of their 40 show Winter Blackout tour, Santa Cruz quartet The Expendables bring elements of ska, surf rock and punk with a heavy dose of reggae to the Fillmore on March 16.
We caught up with vocalist and drummer Adam Patterson about to talk about the band’s longevity, growing up in Santa Cruz and plans for new music.
When and where did you first discover your love for reggae music?
Well, growing up in Santa Cruz it’s hard not to. It’s a very hippie town. I kind of just grew up on reggae. A lot of reggae acts came through. Reggae is one of those types of music that’s really hard not to like some of it.
The Expendables have been a band since 1997. How have you been able to maintain that longevity?
I was in high school. We started a long time ago and we’re all really good friends. Being friends always helps. There’s lots of times on the road it gets lonely or hard. When you’re with your best friends, it makes it easier. We really have nothing to fall back on. It’s kind of all we got. That combo is a pretty good reason to keep doing what we’re doing.
Why did you elect to release records with no physical distribution and no record label for the band’s first seven years of The Expendables?
We just kind of did it that way because we didn’t have any other way to do it. It wasn’t like record labels were coming after us. We just did it ourselves, independently. Bands like Slightly Stoopid, they did that too. There’s a way you can make that work. We kind of modeled ourselves after Slightly Stoopid. We still are, really.
It’s a harder path, but I think it’s a better path in some sense. It really gets you to create a solid, loyal following when you go that route. You’re not just being pushed in front of everybody. I feel like it’s really hard, but it’s something that’s made us who we are.
Having grown up in Santa Cruz, what do you like most about that city?
That’s a tough question because I don’t know any other city. I was born there and I have never left. I never will. I love Santa Cruz; It’s a great place to grow up and I’ve been everywhere else in the world.
It’s a good combo of surf, hippie, kinda liberal, cool town. There are so many good things about it: surfing, the ocean, the redwoods, they’re all all there. It’s a cool place.
Do you have a favorite surf spot in California?
I don’t surf as much as the other guys do. I body board, boogie board, whatever you want to call it. I like to surf Midtown, like Black Beach. Pleasure Point is awesome. Even the Lane—Santa Cruz is pretty sweet. There’s so many surf spots. It’s all kind of different.[Locals domination of surf spots] is kind of unfortunate but that’s how it has always been. For me as a body boarder or a boogie boarder, sometimes it can kind of teach you a life lesson. It’s unfortunate if you want to learn to surf, you should be able to surf.
What’s different about touring today compared to 10 years ago?
Well, we’re in a bus now, which is huge. It’s just a lot more comfortable. We kind of do the same thing, but now we’re headlining a lot more, which has made longer sets. We have 90-minutes set try and put on the best shows we can. It’s always the same vibe since we first started—have a good time, do our best and hopefully the crowd will feel that. Forget all the bullshit at home, money problems, just have a have a good time for a couple hours.
Does the band still plan to release a split album—one all metal and one reggae?
Yea! Someone said that the other day and I can’t even remember how it came about. I think it was an idea. But I think for me, we have our own studio now and these kind of things would be really fun to put out in between albums. That’s a great concept and would love to even feel it out.
I don’t even remember who said that but this is like the third or fourth time I’ve been asked about it. I would love to do some of our punk songs and make them reggae and take some of our reggae songs and make them punk or metal. It would be awesome just to give it away or something, just for fun.
What are your plans following the conclusion of this tour?
To actually sleep would be cool. And then, we’re trying to put out an album. We have about 20 songs recorded. We’re just trying to get those song ready for the album.
Hopefully we start putting out more albums. I apologize to our fans. Things have happened, you know: money, touring. It won’t happen again.