The Carvers, a five-piece ‘60s surf-rock group, are quite possibly one of Wilmington’s most unique live acts to date. Sporting blazers, ties and a tight performance, the refreshing blast-from-the-past is set to hit the stage this Friday, March 20 at Satellite.
Comprising Jason Delamar (lead guitar), Seth Moody (saxophone, guitar, keyboards), Ben Moore (bass, vocals), Brian Drake (rhythm guitar), and Steve Harrington (drums), The Carvers is the result, as Moody puts it, of a marriage between three bands that intersected paths long ago in Wilmington: The Palmreaders, The Stunt Doubles and The Noseriders. Delamar and Moore both played in The Palmreaders. Moore and Drake were in The Stunt Doubles, and Moody and Drake played with The Noseriders. A big game of musical chairs amongst the bands eventually bore The Carvers in 2011. Moore had a vision to create an authentic surf-rock outfit that aimed to capture the look and sound of the mod era.
“We really like each others’ projects,” Delmar says.
“This band is geared more toward the past,” Moody details. “When Ben writes music for The Carvers, it sounds like he’s on a beach in 1969.”
The Carvers immediately establish an ethos with the listener through raw vitality. They draw an indelible fine line between washed-out has-beens who are attempting to make a comeback and a talented troupe with a passion for classic rock ‘n’ roll vibrations. Definitely taking on the ladder of these attributes, The Carvers sell this persona rather naturally.
“When you’re playing a solo in The Carvers, you don’t want to play a bunch of hot licks like these modern guys,” Moody comments. “Because in the ‘50s and ‘60s people didn’t play like that. We’re really consciences of what we play and how we play it.”
Moody, who is as prolific as he is talented, also plays saxophone in Deadly Lo-Fi, a spooky experimental rock project he dubs “horror-rock.” This band blurs the lines of soft-rock and edgy roll. The vivid leads he plays with Deadly Lo-Fi, compared to the minimalistic sax leads demonstrated in The Carvers, bear witness to the deliberate steps the band takes into consideration with their sound. Not to mention, Moody took up the saxophone just three years ago to fill in the necessary niches he saw in his musical undertakings.
“He’s definitely a dynamic soloist,” Delamar comments. “He is basically our live show.”
Delamar himself is a fine example of The Carvers’ eclectic musical makeup. “I always had a solid foundation in blues and rock,” he informs. “But what I love about surf is that it’s a big mix of influences. Bands like Dick Dale and The Del-Tones didn’t listen to other surf bands: They fed off of everything else.”
It also helps that the whole group is on the same page musically and more than capable on their instruments. “Brian [Drake] communicates best with machines,” Delamar says. “He’s an excellent mechanic, skateboarder and musician; anything he touches he becomes proficient in it.”
The group is fast to admit, though, that Moore is the ultimate source of their material. “Ben is the mastermind,” Delamar admonishes. “We all stand on his shoulders and put our fingerprints on the music.”
Moore is even responsible for recording their LP, “The Carvers’ Surf and Stop Combo,” (2014) and the EP “In Person” (2013). “We recorded it above the Dixie Grill,” Delamar describes. “The room was filled with junk and antiques. It was musty and dirty, and the wallpaper was stripped all the way down to the confederate brick. We felt the dirtiness of the room would translate to the album.”
The goal was to do it with a minimalistic approach: less microphones and less tampering with the sounds the instruments naturally produced. “In the end, the most important thing is the recording,” Delamar details. “Having that documentation or artifact was a very important piece of the puzzle for us.”
The album is a perfect representation of what The Carvers are going for sonically. “Juanita” kicks off with a lead-in on the drums, the guitar strumming sharp; trebly staccato chords make audiences instantly want to dance. Moore’s deep growls are followed in every verse by the vocal refrain “Hey! Juanita!” Moody has a prominent saxophone role in this song, and serves the listener a solid and tasteful solo, and appropriate accompaniment sprinkled throughout.
“Stand Down” is an instrumental featuring Moody on saxophone, as well as on keys. It has a Doors flair to it because of the Hammond organ tone Moody uses, but the song is a surf-rock jam through and through. The guitar plays the repetitious leads over again while the drums remain mostly on the ride cymbal, maintaining a solid tempo for Moody to solo over. “It’s perfect for drinkers,” Delamar adds. “Then they see us in blazers and ties playing twangy guitars, and that helps sell us a lot.”
The Carvers play this Friday at Satellite, and Moody’s other troupe Deadly-Lo Fi will take the stage on Saturday.
Satellite Bar and Lounge
120 Greenfield St.
Friday, March 20, 9 p.m.
Deadly Lo-Fi, Lou Shields
Saturday, March 21, 9 p.m.