Ryan DeMars, bassist from the Santa Cruz, Calif., reggae rock outfit The Expendables, looks forward to playing the Utah Reggae Festival in Ogden next Friday, July 13.
The band is scheduled to go onto the Ogden Amphitheater stage at 10:30 p.m., the final act on the first day of the two-day festival.
“Festivals are a lot of fun, though,” DeMars said, calling from home before hitting the tour trail. “Usually, you have a lot more bands, and there are vendors of all kinds and a lot of cool things going on. They bring a lot of people out — and usually, they have things earlier in the day, so people bring their families. It’s just pretty cool.”
The band, which also includes Geoff Weers (guitar/vocals), Adam Patterson (drums/vocals) and Raul Bianchi (guitar), played Utah last year as a headliner on the Warped Tour.
It was during their down time on that tour they developed the idea for their latest album, “Gone Soft,” which arrived this May. It is an all-acoustic redo of some of their fan favorites, recorded in the band’s new workspace.
The Expendables were doing a lot of meet-and-greet sessions with the fans during Warped Tour last year. In order to kill time, they began to fool with arrangements of their previously recorded work while they waited backstage. They turned those jams into mini-acoustic sets. The response from the fans was good. When the band finally secured a decent warehouse/recording space earlier this year, they started laying down those acoustic arrangements.
“We have always played acoustic guitar, and we have used them for songwriting. But we never really have performed acoustically before that Warped Tour. We were just kind of testing it out and, lo and behold, it turned into us recording an album.”
Popular Expendables songs like “Bowl for Two” and “War Cry” were worked up in various new forms for the acoustic album — some with markedly new rhythms.
“Sometimes, those new versions came from old versions — from the original versions,” said DeMars. “When we wrote the song, we wrote it a couple of different ways, and then by just jamming and experimenting, we’d find a different way of doing it. Some of these versions were a matter of returning to the original way of doing it.”
As bass player for the band, DeMars took his contributions down a level for the album.
“Obviously, it is a guitar-dominated album, Geoff and Raul really had their chance to open up and experiment with it. I just wanted to add my little texture, and changed some of my bass lines so they were not so busy — a little more relaxed, maybe, you might say.”
For the Ogden festival, and others on this tour, the band plans to play mostly electric versions that the fans know best, DeMars said.
“We will probably do one song acoustic — that is probably how we will handle things the rest of the year. We do want to let people know we did this album, and did it in our own spot — and that we had fun with it.”
In January of this year, the band invested in a warehouse that has become its headquarters. The building has a big room for storage, as well as smaller rooms for offices and recording/rehearsal spaces. The members are in the midst of bringing in couches and carpeting to make the place more of a cozy, creative center for all things Expendables.
“Up until the first of this year, we have been practicing in a friend’s garage,” said DeMars. That is quite a run, considering the band has been together since the late 1990s.
“Getting this warehouse gave us an opportunity to get all our stuff somewhat organized — and we have accumulated a lot of gear over the years, so that’s been good. It’s nice because it is kind of like our headquarters now. It is kind of the one-stop Expendables shop.”
The band is using the new space to start tracking new songs for a new studio album, which they hope to release next year.
“That is another thing about the warehouse, is we can come hang out and see where it leads us. We have been doing that, a lot of the songwriting and stuff, right here. And then we will be able to just go and record it.”
He laughed. “Hey, if we have to pay for it every month, we have to get as much as we can out of this space as we possibly can.”
The Expendables will be playing a half-hour sneak preview set at 2 p.m. Friday, July 13, at Brewskis, a 21-and-over venue at 244 Historic 25th St., Ogden. The set is presented courtesy of radio station X96, KXRK 96.3 FM. Admittance is first come, first served. For further details, call the club at 801-394-1713.