The Indispensable Expendables

event ExpendablesLocal reggae-punk stars celebrate 15 years of skating, surfing and rocking out

Way back when they first started jamming with one another, the members of Santa Cruz reggae-punk outfit The Expendables used to joke that each member of the band could easily be replaced.

“We were all pretty bad at our instruments when we first started playing, and we would always call each other ‘expendable,'” recalls Adam Patterson, the band’s drummer and vocalist. But if The Expendables have proven anything over the course of the 15 years they’ve been writing and performing music, it’s that they are anything but a throwaway band.

Founded in 1997, when the local boys were juniors at Soquel High School, the group quickly blossomed into a hit among their peers and other Santa Cruzans, as they gigged around town with their potent cocktail of laid-back reggae vibes and kinetic ’90s punk energy.

Over the last decade and a half they’ve released five full-length records, crisscrossed the country, hosted a local radio show on KMBY and sold out plenty of shows.

Looking back at how far his band has come, Patterson sometimes can’t believe it. “I always dreamed of this,” he says, “but I had no idea that I could really actually make this my job. I’m still amazed it’s lasted this long and that we actually make a living doing this.”

Fresh off a co-headlining tour with Dirty Heads, which took the band through Canada and down to the historic (and reportedly “haunted”) Queen Mary in San Diego for a show opening for Pepper, Patterson says his band is pumped to return home for a set of shows on Sept. 13 and 14 at The Catalyst, where the group got its start, back when they were all recent high school graduates who spent their free time skating, surfing, partying and jamming.

“We are super excited to be back at The Catalyst, and to play in Santa Cruz again,” Patterson says, adding with a wink that the Pacific Avenue venue has been responsible for creating some of the greatest memories he’ll never remember. “The Catalyst is, and will always be, our home.”

The Expendables aren’t returning home empty handed. The group has a new single, “Zombies in America”—a slow-bouncing, spacey reggae jam—and, according to Patterson, a new album in the works.

“This time around we are recording half in a big professional studio, and then vocals and guitar at our home studio,” Patterson says, laying out the plan for the new record. He says the new approach will give the band more space and room to experiment and get things just right. “Recording is really hard and having that feeling that you’re taking too long, that makes it a lot harder.”

According to Patterson, the band has been spending a lot of time lately putting together a new studio in Santa Cruz, where they can write and track new music at their own pace. Even after playing music professionally for 15 years, Patterson says they are learning new things as a result of being their own sound engineers and producers. Not only that, he anticipates having the studio at their fingertips will allow them to be more productive as a band.

“Being on the other side of the recording process is a very new and crazy experience,” he says. “But it’s really helped us out as musicians and hopefully opened some doors for our future. I’m hoping this allows us to put new music out there more often.”

There is no name for the new album yet, but Patterson says the band has already recorded a handful of songs and is hoping to release their sixth LP in 2014. 

The Expendables will perform at 8 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 13 and Saturday, Sept. 14 at The Catalyst, 1011 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz. Tickets are $20/adv, $25/door. For more information, call 423-1338.

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