Before The Expendables show Tuesday night 2/4/14 at Mill City Night in Minneapolis, MN I had a chance to sit down with bass player Ryan Demars to discuss their current tour, working with bands such as Slightly Stoopid, and their new album.
Minnesnowta Music Blog: How has the cold weather been treating you so far? Are you guys surviving?
Ryan: Yeah so far, I have family who lives out here and they said that this is actually not bad, how it’s been
MMB: Yeah a few weeks ago it was about -40 degrees, so you missed that by a little bit
Ryan: How do you even go outside?
MMB: You don’t
Ryan: Like at a certain temperature does it even feel colder?
MMB: Well… -40 did feel quite a bit colder than this
Have you guys been through MN before?
Ryan: Yeah a few times. We have done a couple headlining spots up here, and then we’ve done some opening shows for G. Love and Special Sauce, Slightly Stoopid, Pepper.
MMB: What venues have you played?
Ryan: Usually First Avenue, when we play with the bigger bands
MMB: You are in the middle of a pretty big tour right now correct?
Ryan: Yeah we are just about 2 weeks in, on a 6 week tour.
MMB: How has the tour been going so far?
Ryan: It’s been going really good. We’ve been dodging some of the Hercules storm, or Maximus…whatever they are called. We’ve had some hard snow in Aspen and in Denver, but as far as the shows people are still coming out, and we’ve been having really good turnouts. We’ve got Stick Figure and Seedless band who are pulling their weight, and it’s a good package, and everything is going really good.
MMB: Any particular show highlights?
Ryan: Denver was awesome. It was a packed house, and it was the day before the Super Bowl. Better then the day AFTER the super bowl.
MMB: You guys tour quite a lot, and have been doing it for quite a while now, and are sort of known for these big long tours…
Ryan: Yeah the way we have developed our career is we do like 1 big headlining major market tour, and then we’ll do another like tertiary market type tour later in the year, and we’ll try to hop on other shows with bigger bands. So it’s definitely how we make our money, and you have to just keep pushing that product, just like anything else really.
MMB: Do you ever get sick of touring?
Ryan: Yeah you know, it was a lot easier the younger we were. And I just think that now it’s just such a business the way we go about it, that yeah we get sick of it. But it’s just one of those things where you’re like “Yeah we gotta do this” we’ll get through it, we’ll get home. You know it’s fun but there’s always those days where you’re like, “Dang, I wish I was home right now.”
MMB: I bet, like what you drive in to -10 degree weather in Minnesota
Ryan: Haha yeah exactly
MMB: It’s know that a lot your success has come from the band Slightly Stoopid, and they are known as sort of a big brother band to you. How would you describe working together with Slightly Stoopid, have you learned anything from them?
Ryan: Yeah, definitely when we first started touring, Slightly Stoopid was the band that took us on tour. And their tour manager, and their whole touring technique definitely rubbed off on us, because we knew that we wanted to be a headlining band, and there is so much more behind the scenes that a lot of people don’t know about that makes an actual production happen. Even on smaller levels, like ours compared to Slightly Stoopid, you still have to have a schedule, and show up, and get everything running smoothly. We owe a lot of our knowledge of touring to them and for the first couple years we toured with them we got a lot of their fans, and then we’ve kind of branched off and done our own thing.
MMB: Do you still stay in touch with them?
Ryan: Yeah we just did a show with them in Costa Rica with them a couple weeks ago, we are under the same management, and it’s just one of those kind of things like, we’ve known them since they could barely even draw people, and know they are a huge band. They’ve done this since I was like 17, when I met those guys, and I’m 31 now, so they are definitely like our big brother band, like you said.
MMB: Who else have you worked with/toured with that has stood out?
Ryan: A big tour we did that was really cool was the Unity Tour with 311 and Ziggy Marley, that was back in 2009 or 2010. We took Rebulution on their first national tour, and they have since… blown up, haha. Yeah like I said Slightly Stoopid, Pepper, G. Love. You know our genre is very unique where we kind of know all the bands, the smaller and the bigger ones. So anytime we can get our family on together tour, it’s always been good times.
MMB: You mentioned something about G. Love earlier too?
Ryan: Yeah he did a song with us on one of our albums a few years back, and we’ve done some touring with him. He’s also correlated in the Slightly Stoopid family. It’s just like a big network of bands and musicians.
MMB: I saw you recently released a song called “Zombies in America” that will be on the newest album you guys are working on?
Ryan: Yeah we haven’t released an album yet, we’ve cut about 20 tracks and that was just something that got finished quick, and we threw it out there. We’re probably going to release a couple more tracks before the album is released. It’s just kind of something to let people know that, we actually are going to release and album and that we are making new music.
MMB: Has a date been set for the release of the new album?
Ryan: No no yet, all the tracking has been recorded, we just need to get it mixed and mastered. After that we’ll have more of a date in mind.
MMB: How would you describe the songs off your new album? Is it going to be similar to your older stuff? Is there going to be anything different?
Ryan: I wouldn’t say its something necessarily different. I would say it’s definitely something our older Expendables fans are going to like, people that liked our earlier albums. We’ve added a little more element of keyboards, and you know every album is just different. You go through phases in your career and something inspires you one way or the other and it’s just kind of a natural process. I would say though, we recorded the album live, and we’ve never done that before. So the biggest thing about this project is, everyone says “oh yeah your live shows are great, the album just never really captures that,” so that’s what we were trying to go for, is what we play live, trying to make that sound. So we’re not adding anything totally crazy that we would never do live or anything, we are just really trying to copy our live show.
MMB: Speaking of live shows, your previous release “Gone Soft” with acoustic songs was quite a bit different from some of your normal stuff right?
Ryan: Yeah that was basically, our whole career people have been like “Oh I’d love to hear acoustic stuff from you guys” and we finally got around to it, because we came into a studio back home that is kind of our headquarters. So it gave us the freedom and ability to record stuff, so we recorded that whole album ourselves. We just had fun with it. You know covering our own songs acoustically and in different styles. We turned a punk song into like a salsa song or like another song we turned country. It’s just more fun than anything.
MMB: How about your live shows? Have you tried to work any of those songs into when you perform live?
Ryan: We’re such a high energy electric band, that it’s hard to translate an acoustic kind of vibe to a show. We did a couple shows that were just all acoustic, and it was cool, people supported it, but I think that for us, we’re just that high energy kind of deal. But during our set we always bring out the acoustics for a song or two, and give just a little taste of what else we can do.
MMB: Is there any good music you’ve been listening to lately?
Ryan: Haha oh my guilty pleasures…you know The Expendables we all listen to so much different music people would probably trip out. I personally am very intrigued by Pop music, and what makes it appeal to people. So I’ve been listening to the new Miley Cyrus album, and there are songs I like on it, I’m not gonna lie. I listen to a lot of Metal, Techno, Blues, even a little Jazz, Reggae. Reggae has always been big with us. Steel Pulse, Bob Marley…we listen to the bands we play with and end up liking them after we play with them and tour with them. It’s kind of funny how that works, you’re like “Ah, I’m not really into this band,” and then you go on tour with them, and after the tour you’re like “I love this band!”
Be sure to check out The Expendables as they continue their Winter Blackout Tour: