The Originalites Enjoy Their 'Ultra-Tasty Song Smoothies'

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There's a scene near the end of This Is Spinal Tap! when the credits start rolling: keyboardist Viv Savage
espouses his personal philosophy slowly and deliberately, with bug-eyes
and a twisted half-smile–“Have a good time . . . all the time.” That
pretty much sums up the fun-loving essence of the Originalites.

If you've happened to be in a live music setting around South County in
the past four years, odds are you've seen this band. They gig hard,
playing upward of 20 shows per month. They play anywhere they can set
up–friends' bedrooms, retail locations–and lately, they've been holding
down a residency at Gallagher's in Huntington Beach while filling up their calendar by playing little clubs in close proximity to the PCH.


That's how it goes for a working band. The members of the Fountain Valley
foursome are all in their early 20s and have made the band their chosen
career path, while loving every second of it. They fill their downtime
surfing and skating. Three of them–bassist Timothy Frankeny, drummer Peter Fontes and guitarist Daniel Tello–started jamming after graduating from Fountain Valley High School in 2008, and they met sax player Mike Belk shortly thereafter. They've been hitting it hard ever since, with one exception:

“We really want to book the main stage at the damn U.S. Open of Surfing,” Belk
exclaims. “There are other places, but that is the one that eats at our
souls because our massive efforts are constantly shut down.”

Their music is as carefree as their surfrider lifestyle, a familiar
mix of punk, ska and reggae, indicative of the stuff that was coming out
of the OC beach scene 20 years ago and never really went away. “Sublime
is very important to our sound,” Belk says. “Their music proved to us
that, in life, as a musician, you should blend different genres together
into ultra-tasty song smoothies.”


Don't get the wrong impression here; this band isn't the next baby
Sublime to come down the pike–they're not as grimey. Their sound is
smoother, perhaps a band such as Rebelution would be a more apt
comparison. Lyrically, they're much more positive–writing mostly about
catching waves (see: “Neptune's Highway”) and rhyme-y love notes (see:
“Dub Love”). Because they're constantly playing shows, the band work
hard to keep things fresh for their fans.

“Some nights will be more of a reggae night, some will be more punk,
some will be more ska, some nights we will play more covers, some we
will play more originals, but all nights will be dance nights,” Belk
says. “Regardless of the night we play, our fans are loyal to the
fuckin' marrow. They surf and skate with us, which is epic and keeps all
of the shows fresh.”

They're currently tracking and mixing their debut LP, The Originalites Vol. 1, at 17th Street Studios (where else?) with Lewis Richards
(who else?) and expect to have things wrapped up before they hit the
road for a six-week tour Sept. 13. Richards, an ex-Marine with virtuoso
chops he honed in a USMC jazz ensemble and a recording/producing history
with Skunk Records' Miguel Happoldt, was inspirational for Belk and the gang, to say the least.

“If you can't play to a metronome or up to par with his standards,
[Richards] will kick you out of the session and tell you to come back
when you are ready,” Belk says. “He is a Mr. Myagi of recording, with a
sometimes brash, but always brutally honest yet homoerotic attitude–also
a lovely sense of humor. We would be nothing without him.”

With all the work they put into their band, they'll definitely amount
to something. Though their brand of song smoothies might not be quite
as fun or “ultra-tasty

The Originalites perform with special guests at Gallagher's Irish Pub & Grill, Fri. , 9 p.m. 21+.

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