From left, Tim Frankeny, Pete Fontes, Michael Belk and Daniel Tello, of The Originalites, play a mix of reggae, rock and ska. (Don Leach, HB Independent / January 15, 2013)

The last thing they want is to become a generic surf band after growing up in conservative Fountain Valley.

To gain some traction and grow a fan base, they decided to move a city over.

It's taken them four years to find their sound, and with the help of the easygoing vibe found in Huntington Beach, it has helped them receive a nomination from OC Music Awards.

Drummer Peter Fontes, guitarist Daniel Tello, bassist Tim Frankeny and saxophonist Michael Belk make up the Originalites, a ska, reggae and punk fusion band from Fountain Valley that is up for Best Surf.

The Originalites are joined by nearly 90 bands —12 from Huntington Beach and Fountain Valley — who will compete in 25 categories this year. Now it'll be up to the OC Music Awards Academy to decide who gets the prize.

The Originalites were surprised, yet honored to be nominated for their category. But they're not your typical surf band. You won't find Dick Dale riffs with this bunch.

"It felt awesome that we're recognized as a surf band strictly because we sing about surfing and we surf — not because we play Dick Dale guitar," Fontes said.

And they're up against stiff competition.

The Growlers, who won the category last year, have the typical surf-band vibe, but Fontes hopes his band's music will make a good impression on people.

"Whether our songs are good enough or not, what I'm wondering is what other people think and how will they react to our style of music compared to the rest of the surf bands?" he said. "Are they going to choose the more simplistic style?"

And simple is not what the Originalites do.

Fontes keeps a steady, fast-paced beat while sitting behind his "Frankenkit," comprised of various drums from different manufacturers, Tello comes in with the ska guitar licks, Frankeny adds melodic bass lines and Belk spices things up with sultry notes from his sax.

An example can be found on the track "Spinning 'Round" off their debut LP, "The Originalites Vol. 1" with 17th Street Studios.

Each member draws inspiration from different genres of music. For Tello, it's the English Beat and various ska bands as well as guitar greats like Jimi Hendrix and Carlos Santana. But he also finds inspiration from surfers like Kelly Slater.

"To be able to make music at a level where they can maybe use it for their surf videos or clips, it's inspiring to get to that point," Tello said.

Belk has roots in David Sanborn and Kenny G because of their ability to hit high notes with finesse and studies Mars Volta when it comes to vocals, he said.

And the band members as a whole realize that as the times change, so must their musical styles.

"It's not OK to do what you used to do," Frankeny said. "You have to change and become relevant in the world that's here today. When we were in high school, the world was completely different, and we're all adults in this whole new world that we're trying to sell our music in."

A band is usually never the same after undergoing a few lineup changes. You can't take Bradley Nowell out of Sublime, and the Originalites feel the same way.

"There's no four guys anywhere in the world that [are] this tight and one with each other," Fontes said. "No one can take any of us away from the band and still have it be the Originalites. It's either us four or no Originalites."