INTERVIEW: Adam Patterson of The Expendables
In advance of their show on February 5th at The Rave, I talked to Adam Patterson of The Expendables. We discussed touring, new music, crazy road stories and his favorite beer. Check it out below:
B&E: You’re from Santa Cruz, California. Why did you come to the midwest in January?
AP: We do a Winter Blackout tour every year, and it’s not really the most ideal time to tour, but people need music and we need to play, so it works out (laughs). A lot of bands don’t tour right now, so it’s a good time for us to get out there.
B&E: Try to describe an average Expendables show?
AP: Well it all depends on what you’re into. A lot of people come pretty high, and that’s cool (laughs), but you know, we have people come sober and they all have a pretty good time. We try to have a party, and it’s for everybody, you know, whatever you’re into. Usually, there’s a lot of dancing songs, there’s some moshing songs, and everything in between. We just try to throw a crazy party and have people forget about work, or drama, and all of that, and just have a good time for a couple hours. Basically, that’s our goal.
B&E: You guys have been together since 1997. By my count, you’ve been doing this for 17 years now. how is touring and the whole music scene changed for you?
AP: Oh, god. Really? Something like that. We say 15 but 17 sounds cool (laughs). Yeah, it’s changed for us, obviously. When we first started playing nobody came to our shows, or we’d be opening for like, Slightly Stoopid, or Pepper, or Fishbone, or G. Love, where now we’re headlining a lot of shows on our own. The shows are bigger, and you know, we’ve just been kind of plugging away. The idea’s still the same though. We’re kind of an independent band and we kind of keep it that way. We obviously have a little help from everywhere, but we don’t have like a major radio hit or major label support or anything like that. We kind of do it on our own, so the idea’s still the same, we’re just kind of growing. Sometimes that’s the best way, I think.
B&E: The band moved 40,000 copies without a label or physical distribution early on. What is your advice for bands that are looking to do it on their own like that?
AP: I used to give the advice of “just keep at it and just never quit”, which sounds easy enough, but really, it’s hard to do. Especially when you have girlfriends and jobs and stuff. My other advice now is to not have anything to fall back on, because you’ll do it (laughs). There’s times that are so tough, where if you’re like “screw this, I have a decent job back at home, I’m not going to tour for free, or lose money” you know? So that’s my other advice now; don’t have anything else going for you in your life besides music (laughs). You’ll be fine.
B&E: That’s definitely useful advice.
AP: It’s kind of a horrible joke, but it is kind of serious, too.
B&E: Every band has a crazy road story, especially a band that’s been touring for a long time like you guys have. What would you say is the craziest road story of The Expendables?
AP: It’s weird, I mean we have some crazy stories. Some of them I can’t really tell, because people still might get weird about it. I mean honestly like, every other night there’s a crazy story. It’s kind of hard to pinpoint one. I’ll give you this; a long time ago, a girl took a number two in our van. That’s about as much as I can tell you. Into a noodles cup (laughs). We weren’t there, but it happened.
B&E: Okay? That definitely qualifies as a crazy road story.
AP: Yeah. It’s funny now, but at the time… and there’s a whole backstory that I can’t really get into, but yeah.
B&E: I think it might be better without the backstory.
AP: Yeah. Like, why would she do that?! Use your imagination (laughs).
B&E: You’ve played with a lot of really fun bands. Who is your favorite band to play with?
AP: Oh, man. That’s so hard to do. I mean, we’re friends with so many bands, and every time that we play with them, it’s like hanging out with your buddies. Obviously, like Slightly Stoopid, not only are they our friends but they’re kind of like our older brother band. Like, they really taught us how to tour. But anytime we go hang out with them, if it’s one show or it’s a tour, it’s always so much fun because we’ve known them for so long, and they’re like, such a big inspiration on us, and really are like our older brothers. Pepper is also a bunch of great dudes. We always have a great time with them. Super funny guys. Like, there’s so many bands in our genre that we’re now great friends with, which is pretty cool because every tour is fun. And we’re getting to know Stick Figure and Seedless on this tour. We’re all becoming pretty good friends really quick, so that’s kind of the cool thing about touring with bands. You’re going to end up being best friends after six weeks. Like, it’s for sure.
B&E: Yeah. I think that’s kind of a benefit of ska music. It’s just fun music.
AP: Yeah, but there’s also punk bands that we’re really cool with, too. Like, we’ve toured with NOFX and those guys are awesome. We did a few shows, but yeah. And with ska and reggae, we’ve got a common thing and it’s kinda happier music, so yeah.
B&E: That’s awesome that you said NOFX is cool. They’re honestly my favorite band.
AP: Me too, and they’re a huge influence on us, as well. And, I mean, they’re really cool. El Hefe actually did half of our last album. He did kind of like, the harder songs, even a couple reggae songs, too. So, yeah, he did a lot of songs on Prove It. He’s a good dude.
B&E: That’s awesome. Speaking of recording, is there a new Expendables album on the way? Your single, “Zombies in America” is out now.
Yeah! Actually we released one song, because we hadn’t put something out in so long. We were like “fuck, we need to put something out”, and we’d had “Zombies In America” for forever. So we ended up recording that one and we recorded like, seven or eight songs in a day. Which is weird, we just had all of these songs, and they ended up coming out really good. We said “screw it, let’s start the album”, and so we have about 20 songs that we finished recording and they just need to be mixed. It’s gonna take a little bit of time, but we’re going to start putting out some new music, and hopefully soon. There will be a couple songs coming out sooner than later. I don’t have a date, though, but it’s definitely in the works.
B&E: I saw that on your website, it says that you all live on the same street. How does that help the band?
Well that was actually a little while ago. We moved, but we’re not too far away from each other. We actually have a pretty sweet warehouse that we converted into a studio and practice spot. And that kind of has really helped us in the last couple years. We’ve been able to write so much more music, and just have a good spot to really be creative in, where before we would practice in like, a dude’s garage. There would be like, drunk dudes at 11 in the morning, you know? It was cool and it was fun, and cheap, but it’s kind of hard to write music in that environment. So we got the spot, and it’s really helped us. We already have like 20 songs and we’re already starting to write more. I’m hoping we do more albums in the future. Having this new spot is definitely a key to that.
B&E: That’s great, because you can come back and put something new out, and you’ll have like 20 songs ready to go.
AP: Yeah. And all 20 songs won’t make the record, but we’ll still have them for something.
B&E: Lastly, and possibly most importantly, when you come to Milwaukee, what beer do you prefer?
AP: My favorite beer in Wisconsin, and probably America is Spotted Cow. My cousins live in Madison, so I’m actually in Wisconsin quite a bit, but Spotted Cow, definitely. Oh, and Milwaukee’s Best! We’ll have that.
AP: I’m kidding. I’m kidding (laughs).
B&E: Okay, I was going to say…
AP: No, I’m kidding. Milwaukee’s Best is not the best beer in Milwaukee.