For the past 18 years, The Expendables have been as reliable as a Sylvester Stallone movie - at least the ones that were released in the '80s. The Santa Cruz-based outfit have been a fixture in the West Coast reggae rock scene, spending most of their time on the road. However, the past five years have been a departure from what their fervent fan base has been accustomed to.
Though the group released an all-acoustic album in 2012, Gone Soft, it was composed of previously recorded tracks. Singer Geoff Weers called it experimental, but not for the reasons fans may have expected. That album he says was a trial run - not to see whether or not acoustic songs would be their next stage - but instead to test out the studio they were in the process of building for themselves in Santa Cruz.
"It helped us realize we could probably do a full album there," the singer says during some downtime before a tour stop in Corpus Christi. "After the acoustic album, we started investing in creating a better place for us to be in our home studio and it took a while."
But the arduous, lengthy process that went into building the studio was worth it to the band. The Expendables cut 70 percent of their album in the big warehouse space that has multiple customized features they designed to their own specifications.
Music may not have been at the top of their priority list as they put the studio together, but they didn't cease touring during the time between original material. The group maintained a rigorous tour schedule As their annual Winter Blackout Tour winds down, Weers says that the band is excited about what the year has in-store for them. Their sixth full-length, Sand in the Sky, has resonated with fans and though some fans have lamented that the record is a bit softer than their previous work, the response to the new material has been positive overall.
Several of the songs that made Sand in the Sky were initially going to be left by the wayside. Producer Gordon Brislawn helped them resuscitate songs like "Nothing I Wouldn't Do" and "Weatherman" and the group is glad that they made the cut.
Now that they're older, some of the album's subjects tackle things that the band didn't pay close attention to before, like social media which they tackle on "Anti Social."
"I was frustrated with having to create a digital self," the singer explains. "I'm a little old school and that's the old school in me coming out complaining about having to deal with and live within the digital world."
Even as they near their 20th anniversary, The Expendables have few, if any gripes about how their career has played itself out. However, sharing its name with a movie franchise featuring former action stars has not only caused confusion, but hurt the band in other ways.
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"My mom bought me a copy of the movie and it's in my DVD folder," Weers says. "It sucks having the same name because all of our Google and SEO has been screwed up. Not a big fan because of that and there's three of them! C'mon when is it going to stop?"
The Expendables perform tomorrow at the Observatory. For full details, click here.