Interview: The Expendables

Interview: The Expendables

With the upcoming album drop of Gone Soft, an acoustic release of their fan and band favorites, The Expendables are exploring more styles of music than ever! The punk, metal, reggae band that have always been equated with electric guitars and ragin’ mosh pits, are trying new infusions of sound to incorporate into their music. The Pier got a chance to talk to Geoff Weers about all of the new experimentation with music in their new warehouse, which has allowed them to expand on their abilities!

Guitarist and lead singer Geoff of the Santa Cruz band kept things mellow but passionately shared his take on the band’s recent experiences and future plans. After delving into their acoustic album, he discusses the tour, working with Stoopid Records, and the ongoing video contests with the fans. Take a look at what The Expendies have up their sleeves!
The Pier: Thanks for taking time for The Pier today Geoff! The Expendables have only increased in popularity, with sold out shows, an acoustic album of favorite songs, and sick lineup to your headlining shows. From touring with big names such as 311 and Slightly Stoopid to headlining tours, what have you learned as a band in respect to staying true to your music at giant venues compared to home shows at the Catalyst?
Geoff: I try to treat everything like it is a backyard party almost (laughs). I don’t think about the venue being super big or super small. I just try to make it feel like how it used to feel when we would play in somebody’s living room or play in somebody’s backyard. When we are feeling like that onstage, that’s when we are the most comfortable.

The Pier: How has recording with Stoopid Records helped you guys stay true to your own style but at the same time continue to grow and expand on your abilities?
Geoff: We just like to play stuff that we like to hear. If we don’t think it sounds good, we won’t play it (laughs). I think we are all on the same page of what we like to hear and what we like to listen to as far as music in our own iPods. We all really like the same styles of music. And we all like music that sounds good so whatever sounds good to us, hopefully it works for the fans. But it has to start with it sounding good to us.

The Pier: The Expendables are recognized as a heavy electric band. One of my favorite parts of your shows, are watching all the fans run around and mosh! Your shows are usually dominated by fans who crave those mosh type songs, so how does the band plan to incorporate the acoustic tunes into the set list? Just because there are those fans who LOVE going to your shows just to rage to songs like “War Cry!”
Geoff: On tour, we are actually going to split it up with Josh Fischel and Unwritten Law. We are going to have Josh Fischel play a set, then Unwritten Law is going to do an acoustic set, then we are going to do an acoustic set. Then Unwritten Law is going to do an electric set then we are going to an electric set. It is going to be kind of festival style, acousticy, mixed up genre set. So we are not going to do a bunch of acoustic stuff in the middle of our electric set. We are definitely going to do a mellow thing first and then finish off the night with a bang!

The Pier: That’s awesome because it won’t change up the pace of one set! I’m stoked to check it all out live. For the upcoming tour, you guys are on the road with Unwritten Law and Josh Fischel, like you mentioned. How did that all get put together? From getting Unwritten Law to join you in a half acoustic set to getting linked up with Josh Fischel?
Geoff: Josh we have been touring with ever since the beginning, we have done a lot of shows at the beginning of our career. With Unwritten Law, we met them at Warped Tour last year and thought this would work. I think Unwritten Law is putting out an acoustic album as well so the timing worked perfect.

The Pier: That worked out pretty well for Unwritten Law to join you on the road since they are dropping an acoustic album too.
Geoff: Josh used to be in a band called Bargain Music and they were mainly electric, and then they kind of stopped doing stuff so electric. So he started doing a lot of acoustic stuff on his own. So he’s been doing that for a few years so it’s good to have him on the bill as well.

The Pier: The band recently posted a picture regarding the acoustic version of “War Cry.” I can’t wait to hear it! But how did you guys do the transition into acoustic?
Geoff: Raul really worked on that. That was kind of Raul’s department in the recording process but he worked hard on changing the arrangement a little bit, he added cool stuff at the beginning. I think it’s going to be great, I love the way it sounds on the album and when we perform it live its pretty cool.

The Pier: How many songs are on the album? Are there any songs that were recorded that did not make the final cut for the release?
Geoff: We are probably going to do around 12. We recorded a bunch, and were going to whittle it down to about 12 and see what happens with the rest of them. We might release those at a later date but we are not really sure yet.

The Pier: Will there be any guest collaborators on the new acoustic album?
Geoff: Any guest collaborators? On this album, not so much. We had a bunch of musicians come in. We had some violin and cello. We have OG from Slightly Stoopid doing a lot of percussion. We have some banjo. We have some mandolin. There are a lot different sounds on the new album.

The Pier: That’s so rad! I know the band has brought along musicians like C$ on tours like the Winter Blackout, to join them on stage during the set. Since the new album will have instruments including brass and other winds, will there be any other musicians joining The Expendies on tour to compliment the new material?
Geoff: Not at this time, I don’t think we will be able to. Some of the musicians that are on there are actually there in a band that perform downtown Santa Cruz, on the street. Our drummer Adam actually walked by them, it’s a group of girls that play violin, banjo, and cello. They were all jammin’ on the corner as Adam walked by and heard them and thought they sounded great. He asked if they could come perform on some of the songs on our album and they did (laughs). It’s pretty organic. We did all the recording here in our little project studio here in Santa Cruz. It’s been low budget. We’re going back to grassroots.

The Pier: Is this the warehouse the band recently bought? How is the warehouse working out for you guys? Were you able to find it a comfortable place to work on your music?
Geoff: Exactly. That’s where we played. So we moved into warehouse, got all of stuff situated, set up a recording rig, and started recording immediately. We love it. We love going down there and practicing and being creative.

The Pier: To jump a little forward, following the tour with Unwritten Law and Josh Fischel, you guys will be performing at the third annual, California Roots Festival. The Expendables have performed with bands like Pepper, Passafire, and Fortunate Youth who will also be there. Any collaborations or anything fun planned with the other bands at the festival?
Geoff: There could be but we haven’t really planned anything. I usually get on stage with Iration every once and a while. I’ve done stuff with Pepper. We will see what happens, I haven’t talked to those guys yet. It is kind of ways out but we might find some things to do to collaborate; we are all a bunch of friends.

The Pier: Going back to the new album, how has recomposing your hit songs for an acoustic album influenced the band for future materials and styles of music?
Geoff: This album definitely opened our eyes to a lot of different styles we can play. Our original thought it was just going to be a couple mics, a couple acoustic guitars, and it will be done in three weeks. Super quick. But it ended up being quite an involved project. And we started messing with styles we have never really messed with such as country and Latin. Showed us that we can actually play those and now that we are practicing for the tour, and we are playing them live over and over, we can start messing around with different styles such as country, Latin and more metal, acousticy stuff we never really tried before. This album was an experiment and great learning process to see where we can actually go with our style.

The Pier: You guys are already so wide-ranging to even have that experience to learn from is awesome. What songs came out differently and the band ended up really loving the new acoustic version?
Geoff: I just don’t want to say a certain song and it does not make it on the album (laughs). All of them I really enjoyed recording them and hearing them back. Then when we sent them off to get mixed and then hearing the mixes when they got back and hearing them with all the instrumentation and parts in there it’s really fun to listen to. It’s going be really hard to whittle down to 12 songs of 15 or 16 that we recorded. I think they are all super fun to listen to because they are so different and they are songs we already played before in a different style. I can’t say that one stands out because I don’t want people to be bummed if it doesn’t make the album. You guys will just have to wait!

The Pier: I understand but can’t wait to hear the ones the band did choose! I saw that Raul said something about writing for a new album. When can fans expect to hear some new tunes at live shows? Are there any plans for a release date?
Geoff: We totally are starting to write the new album. We have three songs pretty much ready to go so we might play at least one on the tour just to see how it goes and see how people like it. I like how the songs are turning out and yes we are definitely moving forward with writing our new electric album and hopefully we will get back into the studio and start recording and release within a year or so (laughs). It takes a long time to record and write albums but we are actually on the ball. And we have what I think is really good material so far.

The Pier: Do you find it more convenient to have the warehouse? In a sense that you guys have more time to do what you want to do on your time and your dollar.
Geoff: Yes, definitely. Already our writing process has gotten more streamlined. With the new studio and the new warehouse we are able to practice new songs and then immediately try to record it. To see how it sounds without playing it, to hear it back in the stereo. Hear how my part meshes with Raul’s part. How the vocal part goes with the bass line. The drums, the bass. Just to have an outside perspective to hear without actually performing it is great. So we can actually mold the song and change it a lot faster than we used to. We used to write a song and then try to play it live as much as we could to see how it goes. Throughout the process we find different parts we want to change or add to but this process makes it a lot faster with the studio and being able to record it right away and listen to in on the stereo.

The Pier: That’s cool because it gives you the opportunity to try new ideas, be more creative, and get to hear the differences in the material right there and then!
Geoff: Yes. We have already recorded the newer songs and we’re halfway done. Soon as they are done, maybe we will record them again and again before they go to the studio to be mixed. That’s how the process is starting to work these days with the new setup we have.

The Pier: The Expendies are always incorporating fans into your music and this time around it is the video contests. What was the idea behind creating this video contest for the fans?
Geoff: We just want to see how crazy our fans are! (laughs) There is the acoustic cover contest and then the lyrics and music video contests going on. I have seen a couple so far and it’s cool to see fans playing our songs and the way they interpret it.

The Pier: Well thanks for sharing today with us Geoff! I am a Long Beach local and will be at your show when you guys head into Orange County.
Geoff: Fantastic! We will be playing in Anaheim at the House of Blues when the tour starts. Thanks so much!

The Expendables Links:
The Expendables Editorials
The Expendables Show Locator
The Expendables Website
The Expendables Facebook

Interview By: Alyssa Torres
Photos By: Kit Chalberg, Irie AZ Photo, David Norris, Sergio Gonzalez

The Expendables “Trying to Focus” from the upcoming acoustic album, Gone Soft!