California singer/guitarist Geoff Weers can't resist joking when asked what he hopes his band, The Expendables, will be able to accomplish with its next recording. "I hope we sell a billion records," he says.
For a group that in a literal sense began as a party band, and considers creating a fun atmosphere at its live shows as one of its priorities, that sort of response makes sense. Weers does have realistic goals for the new album, which is scheduled to be released in April.
"I hope this album gives us a little bit more respect from you guys, the critics," he says. "We kind of get hounded on for being just another ska, weed-toking, reggae-punk band, but I feel like we have a little bit more substance than that, and I hope this album kind of proves it."
It will be the fifth album from the band, which formed in 1997 in Santa Cruz, Calif. Like a pair of other ska-influenced groups who recently made waves — Slightly Stoopid and Pepper — The Expendables' career has been a decidedly do-it-yourself undertaking. It started as humbly as possible.
Weers and his bandmates — guitarist Raul Bianchi, drummer Adam Patterson, and bassist Ryan DeMars — showed that they weren't simply aiming to be a bar band by getting into songwriting and album making early on. The group's first album, No Time to Worry, came out in 2000. They followed up a year later with Open Container.
By 2004, the group showed signs of progress. The album Gettin' Filthy included several songs that have been staples of their live set. The group also landed its first legitimate tour, opening for reggae artist Eek-a-Mouse. It was around this time that the Expendables made a pivotal connection with Slightly Stoopid. The group took The Expendables out on tour and eventually signed the group to its record label Stoopid Records for a self-titled release.
"I think this next album is going to be good because of our growth as songwriters," Weer says. "We're not writing two-chord reggae songs. We're not sticking to the same rut that we were last album. I think we've definitely grown since our last album."