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Originalites make music top priority

Band with weekly residency in downtown H.B. looks to classic rock, jazz and punk for inspiration.

August 15, 2012|By Brittany Woolsey
  • The Originalites performed at Gallagher's Pub and Grill in Huntington Beach on Monday.
The Originalites performed at Gallagher's Pub… (Brittany Woolsey,…)

The Originalites' show calendar is not only booked on the band's website, but also in members' minds.

"We already know which shows we're going to play, so that's money already made," said drummer Peter Fontes, 22.

Booking as many shows as possible is part of the Originalites' method to make it in the music business.

The Originalites started in 2008 when Fontes, bassist Tim Frankeny, 22, and guitarist/vocalist Daniel Tello, 22, were told by their friend Eric Scoralle that they should start a ska band. Shortly thereafter, at their first gig at African Corner in Fountain Valley, they met Mike Belk, who would become the band's saxophonist.

Scoralle died last year, and the Originalites continue to play in his memory.

"When I get really tired while playing, and I need strength to keep going, I usually call on Eric to give me some strength," Fontes said. "He usually comes through."

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Since its formation, the Originalites have put music in front of everything else, including school and jobs. But according to the Huntington Beach band, they don't need jobs because music is their paid profession.

"[All the band members] had a choice between going to school, and having to cancel booked shows and not make any money or get our music out there," Fontes said. "We're so lucky and blessed because we figured out how to make money off of music. People always say it's not about the money. But if it's not about the money, then you're going to have to get a job and you won't be able to play music."

Despite ska not being the mainstream, Fontes said because it is relative enough to popular music today, it may make a comeback.

"I think ska is making a comeback because it has the most popular beat right now," he said. "It has the electronic dance music beat. That, I think, is partially why we chose to play ska because we're playing dance music, but we're doing it old and new school. We want to bring the musicianship back to music."

The Originalites have performed with popular ska bands like the English Beat, Fishbone, Tribal Seeds and the Toasters.

"The English Beat is my parents' favorite band," Fontes said. "So, if I'm playing with their favorite band, that means that I've accomplished something more than I may have accomplished if I had gone to college."

Fontes said the Originalites regularly play with the English Beat whenever they come to Southern California.

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