Los Angeles-based vintage reggae revivalists The Expanders have been crafting their signature sound around classic 70's and early 80’s style reggae with three-part harmonies for the better half of the past decade. Press accolades have stated, “This exciting young band has mastered the sound of classic roots” (KPFK) and “Never has a sound so old felt so fresh” (Rudeboy Reggae). Currently the four-piece band is preparing to release their third full-length album on indie reggae powerhouse label Easy Star Records. The new record, Hustling Culture, will be released June 16, 2015. Pre-order begins April 28 on iTunes and via the band’s website. Pre-orders will get an instant download of the track “World Of Happiness” to get a taste of the new release.
Comprised of John Asher (Drums, Vocals), John Butcher (Guitar, Vocals), Chiquis Lozoya (Bass, Vocals), and Devin Morrison (Guitar, Vocals), The Expanders’ music emphasizes lush three-part vocal harmonies with strong and conscious songwriting rooted in the era of 70's to early 80’s style reggae, but with modern sensibilities. Their sound has made the group a favorite as a backing band for legendary Jamaican singers traveling through California such as Alton Ellis, The Maytones, and The Wailing Souls. The band is part of a burgeoning Los Angeles reggae scene that sprang in large part from The Blue Beat Lounge (the longest running weekly ska night that happened at the Knitting Factory) and LA’s longtime premier weekly reggae night Dub Club held at the Echoplex.
Hustling Culture is the band’s third studio album, but for the band members feels like their first proper album as a cohesive unit. Asher explains, “Our first album was a collection of music from good friends making a record together. Our second album was a great covers album, but Hustling Culture is the band coming into its own with our songwriting and musicianship.”
For The Expanders, having their album released with a leading label like Easy Star Records further legitimizes their music to the reggae world as a whole. With influences like Ethiopians, Gladiators, Mighty Diamonds, Culture, Sound Dimension, Aggrovators, and Roots Radics much of the group’s early reggae digging came from listening to Easy Star compilations like Sugar Minott's Hidden Treasures and Can't Stop Us Now: Linval Thompson Productions. Signing with the label has brought their love for reggae full circle. As Morrison enthusiastically states, “We are honored to sign with Easy Star Records. No other label in reggae has the reputation for putting out such high quality releases with the deep understanding of the entire genre. Easy Star has become the first label you think of when it comes to diverse and timeless reggae.”
For Easy Star Records, having The Expanders on the roster showcases how the label’s roots continue to influence a new generation of musicians and reggae enthusiasts. “The Expanders are carving out their own lane in the current reggae scene rooted in a vintage Jamaican sound,” says Easy Star CEO Eric Smith. “While we are honored that our label's past releases have inspired The Expanders, the truly wonderful thing is that their music, in turn, has inspired us as well. And we have no doubt that this release will be an inspiration for generations of musicians to come.”
In addition to being influenced by early Easy Star compilations, The Expanders grew up listening to famed reggae archivist Roger Steffens’ deep reggae collection. Morrison and Butcher grew up spending time with Steffens’ son and credit much of their knowledge to the accessibility and education of those experiences.
In support of the new album, The Expanders will be on tour leading up to the release and following it throughout the summer. A pre-order of the record is set to go live April 28.
The Expanders U.S Tour Dates
April 30 @ SOL Venue - Carson, CA
May 01 @ Elements Venue - Bakersfield, CA
May 16 @ Discovery Ventura - Ventura, CA *
May 17 @ Fat Cat Music House and Lounge - Modesto, CA *
May 18 @ Mcnear’s Mystic Theatre - Petaluma, CA *
May 19 @ Catalyst Atrium - Santa Cruz, CA
May 20 @ Blue Lamp - Sacramento, CA
May 21 @ Miners Foundry - Nevada City, CA *
May 22 @ Mateel Community Center - Redway, CA *
July 11 @ Chalice Festival - San Bernardino, CA
July 25 @ Reggae on the Mountain - Topanga, CA
Additional Dates TBA
* With Collie Buddz