"To tell you the truth, I started playing drums because I was the only one who could almost carry a rhythm," Patterson said during a phone interview with The Park Record from Lake Tahoe, Nev. "I bought a drum kit in hopes that someone who could play would use them, but I ended up being the guy who could sort of play."
The drums weren't the first instrument Patterson picked up.
"I started playing piano and singing in the church choir when I was eight years old," he confessed. "My mom made me do those things. But, I'm glad she did, because I took that early training and used it later on when I started playing the bass in high school, but I still wasn't very good at it."
When he switched to the drums, Patterson expected he would learn things along the way.
"I was dumb and never took lessons, so it took a long time to get to the point where I was at least mediocre," he chuckled. "I mimicked the bands I liked — Eek-A-Mouse, Bob Marley's band and Slightly Stoopid. Over time I kind of figured out how it works."
Still, Patterson's slow start didn't hinder The Expendables Patterson, guitarist Geoff Weers, lead guitarist Raul Bianchi and bassist Ryan DeMars — from playing the music they loved.
"We just started out like most bands do and covered old classic-rock covers and some Green Day tunes," Patterson explained. "We kept playing and every once in a while, we would write something."
Since Santa Cruz is a college town, and the musicians heard a lot of punk and reggae. "Those were the shows we went to see and used as our influences," Patterson said. "We really didn't sit down and say, 'Hey, let's be a reggae/ska/punk band that plays metal sometimes.' We just wanted to play all different styles."
That was 16 years ago.
These days, The Expendables play shows all around the country. So, Patterson was able to quit his day job in 2008.
"I never had dreams of winning a Grammy and being a kajillionaire," he said. "For me, making it meant just us making a living doing what we love to do. And the past four or five years, I have been able to live by playing music, which is a really cool thing."
Still, the long tours do take a toll on the players.
"It is hard to keep relationships and friends when you're gone all the time, but you can do it," Patterson said.
Throughout the years, The Expendables have recorded six full-length albums, beginning with the self-titled debut in 2007, up to the most recent "Gone Soft," which was released a few months ago.
"The albums are definitely a snapshot for any band, us included," Patterson said. "If you look at our first albums, we were really bad as far as musicianship goes.
"We were 18 or 19 years old and hardly knew how to play anything, let alone know what we were doing," he said with a laugh. "The progression and musicianship develops over the years and that's just part of being in a band."
While the band's songwriting has gotten noticeably better, the concepts of the albums have also progressed.
"The first two were about partying and stuff, and then we got a little more serious a little later, while keeping things lighthearted," Patterson said.
The new CD "Gone Soft" is a collection of the band's songs done acoustically.
"I don't really consider 'Gone Soft' as a real album, but think of it more of a sidestep for us," Patterson said. "It's not a bunch of new songs, but songs that we liked or the fans liked or both."
The band members reworked the tunes into acoustic compositions because they thought the renditions would be cool for the fans.
"It was easy to do and we did it ourselves, but we're not going to turn The Expendables into some soft-rock band," Patterson explained. "The next CD will be full of new songs, all electric and wild."
So far, the group has 15 new songs in the works.
"We want to get a bunch of songs together, so we can narrow them down to make the best CD we are able to," Patterson said. "We've been writing like crazy these past couple of months."
Like the track listing of a CD, a set list is important to The Expendables when playing live.
"We pretty much stick to a set list unless we're playing a weird, drunken bar night, which doesn't happen very often," Patterson said. "The good thing about making a set list is that we can see what songs we've played the last time we were in Park City or Salt Lake City and change things up. I don't want to play the same set or something similar. I want a fan who came to a show the last time we played hear some new stuff."
The Expendables will perform today, Saturday, March 9, at Park City Live, 427 Main St., at 9 p.m. Tickets are available by visiting www.ticketcake.com . For more information, visit www.parkcitylive.net.