The Ease of the Music, the Good Vibes, and The Expendables. Interview w/ Drummer Adam Patterson

There must be something in the air, or is it the water out in Santa Cruz, California? The ease of the music, the good vibes, and The Expendables. Having shared the stage with NOFX, Less Than Jake, Slightly Stoopid, Pennywise, Pepper, 311, and many others. Check it, as our musical bowl is full and the reggae-rock-punk sound invites. 

01/04/2015- Song River

It was finally a quiet warm California afternoon, the freeways were wide-open, and as the car tires road over the gravel driveway, the vehicle pulled up and parked outside an industrial sized building. The doors opened, and the studios couches called for a sit and a chat with drummer Adam Patterson of The Expendables.

Song River: Since 1997 The Expendables have been creating music. Blending reggae, punk, and rock. Without second guessing, The Expendables have fueled the rock-n-roll tank over and over again across the states. How many miles have you all tallied up as a band since then?

Adam Patterson: (laughed) We started in high school, sophomores and juniors. Wow, we have toured so much across the country, so many times. First a van, then another, now a bus... at least a million miles!

Song: What were some of the early influences, and how did your hometown of Santa Cruz, Ca. impact your style?

Adam: Early on we played in the style we play now. Sublime was a heavy influence on us, a lot of bands got into the sound/music. Santa Cruz was a heavy reggae/punk mix. It just kind of fit. It was already in motion, Santa Cruz wasn't heavily influenced by rap/rock. The mix of people, culture, lifestyle- surfers, hippies, skaters- those in between- it's a mesh, a little of everything.  

As we progressed the style was loved everywhere we went. When we toured Germany at first they didn't really understand the style, but now they love it, it is accepted. That was a great experience, Germany. We really enjoyed it and would certainly love to go back.

Song: Talk about how you infuse reggae and punk? Do they seem to be at odds?

Adam: As for style, I think reggae may sound different- but politically they aren't too far off. I see them as the yin/yang of each other. Bob Marley was adding a lot of rock in his later music. Tosh had a very aggressive reggae, listen to his lyrics. However, The Expendables, we are looking more to blend, so it is fun. It took us a while, we mimicked Sublime at the start, but we now even have a weird Iron Maiden vibe of influence, a heavy '80's rock. Our guitar player is very rock oriented. People call what we do- California Reggae.

Song: If you were to choose a 'mantra' for the band, or what The Expendables stand for, it would be?

Adam: We aren't crazy political, we are a party vibe band, here to have a good time! We don't get too serious, when you come to our shows after two to three hours you forget your worries. That is what our music is about, forgetting your worries, relaxing and good times with your friends.                                 

Song: How many albums did you produce independently, prior to going under the Stoopid Records label (Slightly Stoopid)?

Adam: Our first three full-length albums were completely independent: No Time to Worry (2001), Open Container (2003), and Gettin' Filthy (2004). [*According to The Expendables bio these three albums brought in a total of over 40,000 units sold with no physical distribution and no record label.] Then our last ones are under the Stoopid label: The Expendables (2007), Prove It (2010), Sand in the Sky (2015) .

Song: Has being under a label changed things?

Adam: Not really, we are still 100% in control of own production. It is hard to give someone else the control- they have worked with us. They help us with distribution, and that makes a huge difference.

Song: Your relationship with Slightly Stoopid has been a long one.

Adam: At 17 we started bugging them, (laughed) Slightly Stoopid, we would follow them around, we all were huge fans. We kept putting our music in front of their faces, not being pests, but they gave us shows here and there, and then as we got better, they even brought us on our first nationwide tour in 2002. Working with them is great. We 'share' fans and I think that adds to the package of the shows now.

Song: What is the band more drawn to festivals or smaller intimate clubs?

Adam: I think we play in more club settings, and do big festivals as well. Personally, I prefer being able to connect, its more of my personal feeling. I'll go hang out with fans after a show. Some of our good friends were our fans. I like to hang out with them as much as possible.  

Song: Band life I am sure life has changed from when you all first began- touring, recording. Now, there is family, etc..

Adam: I think now we can focus on songwriting, and recording albums more now. We have a studio spot, we used to do it in garages. Now though we are in a studio, with couches, in a spot where it makes it all so much easier. Plus, life is changing too. I recently became engaged, and our bass player has a child. So, making those steps to focus more on creating music, and doing tours maybe more like 3 weeks on, 2 weeks off, 3 weeks on.

Song: How do The Expendables keep from burnout, you've been together a long time. 

Adam: None of us have a back up plan (laughed). By default we are going to do the music together thing, we are friends, and we love what we do. We are taking steps, as I mentioned before. I still want to be touring when I am 80, but not doing 200 or more shows a year.

Song: In January you released your third album under Stoopid Records, Sand in the Sky, during your annual “Winter Blackout Tour.” Sand in the Sky was mixed by Butthole Surfer guitarist and legendary producer, Paul Leary (Sublime, Slightly Stoopid, U2, Weezer) and co-produced by The Expendables and Gordon Brislawn. The album has been well received and continues to be The Expendables full force. How was it working with Gordon Brislawn and what's next?

Adam: Yes, on this last album we worked with Gordon Brislawn, and it was great. As a producer he kept us moving. Spending more time working on having everything set, ready, go- so when we hit the studio, the hard-work had been done and boom in three days we had it. He is great and helping you on what to do, not telling you what to do.  

As for what's next. We already have 4 or 5 songs finished, and have written a few more. We took five years to do this one, and we don't want to do that again... (pauses) maybe 18 months for a new one? Meanwhile, follow us on social media, and our website- it is there you can keep track of our tour dates, and places we will be.

Busy, life is busy... but when you're doing what you love it is a part of your day to day living, and according to drummer Adam Patterson of The Expendables add to this list... a wedding in August...

For more information: (@theexpendables)

 Song River is the owner of CowGirlZen Photography. She is also a freelance photojournalist. Currently working with L3 Magazine, Vents Mag, Silverplatter. You can follow her interviews, reviews of great musicians, writers, artists on her blog,  She is also quite active in social media working as a copywriter for several companies, and individuals. Never wrong, always right... and filled with a twisted satirical outlooks on life sometimes... you have to be thinking out of the box most of the time to catch her.  A mess of delight and quandary at times, but known for her love and compassion to help others succeed. A die hard Nikon proficient! 

Contact Info: cowgirlzenphoto {at} gmail dot com
Social Media: 

Charity Involvements (past and present) : Playing for Change, Be the Change, Human Society Fundraiser, Tsunami Relief Fund, Red Cross, Grieving Parents Photography.