At this point in their career, The Expendables know what they’re doing.
Hailing from Santa Cruz, Calif., the band was formed in 1997 by four long-time friends, and have been touring and releasing albums ever since. In 2007 they signed with Stoopid Records, a label founded by the members of Slightly Stoopid, another California band that The Expendables have performed with plenty of times in the past. Says bassist Ryan Demars, the band’s sound draws not only from their skater background, but from the broad variety of music that he and his fellow band members enjoy.
“The police, Bob Marley, reggae, lots of metal like Iron Maiden, lots of blues like Eric Clapton” have all contributed to their sound, says Demars.
On Sunday, February 22, the Expendables will be at Pardise Rock Club supporting their 7th album, Sand in the Sky. A few days before, Demars spoke on the phone with Blast editor Audrey Cooney for a short interview:
Q: Your first three albums were released completely independently. How did that experience differ from working with a label, and why did you choose to release independently?
A: Our first three albums we were still pretty young, and we didn’t really have any options so we just sort of did it for ourselves. That was when Myspace kind of was taking over, before Facebook was really a thing, and our music was getting shared on that and people were sharing it like crazy, so we didn’t even need a record a label really.
Q: And how is working with a label different from creating an album entirely by yourself?
A: More or less they just give you money to record the album, whereas without a record label you must have to come up with it yourself…. Plus you’re tied into their network as far as distribution, as well as anything else that’s included with the label.
Q: You have a pretty lengthy discography at this point. How do you choose which songs to play each night?
A: We’ve been able to figure out people like the most, whether it’s from playing so many shows or just clicking on Spotify or iTunes to see what songs people like, songs people don’t really like… We have our big guns like “Bowl for Two,” “Sacrifice,” “Ganga Smuggling,” “Down Down Down,” and then we have songs that maybe aren’t on the list but are still kind of popular.
Q: Sand in the Sky is your first full-length album in five years. Would you say the band has come back from this break from recording with a new approach to writing and creating an album?
A: We kind of just approached this album just like any other album. But I would say that every time we record we learn from the previous time what to do and what not to do. Every time we record an album we feel like we know what we’re doing more than last time.
Q: You and your fellow band members are all from Santa Cruz. What effect has your hometown had on your music?
A: Santa Cruz is very surf, skate influenced town, so we had that growing up, so it’s sort of a natural thing to write songs about. Skate culture was what we knew, so it had a lot to do with our sound.
Q: You’ve spent plenty of time both touring and in the studio, but what would you say is the best part of being in a band?
A: Playing live, connecting with the people that pretty much fund your career is pretty cool. It’s always cool to see different places, different foods, different scenery… It’s a lot of fun.
Be sure to catch The Expendables February 22 at Paradise Rock Club.