Premier guitarist Nokie Edwards was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2008 and the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2006. - Photo by Bob Pennell

A new wave of surf rock

More than 125 miles from the nearest beach, local quartet The Nautics found its inspiration, not in sand and swells, but in a preteen appreciation for '60s surf rock.

The Medford-born band includes cousins Mike Seus, 22, on rhythm guitar and lead vocals, Joe Seus, 24, on drums, Paul Seus, 20, on lead guitar and Matt Seus, 22, on bass. The four musicians attend Oregon State University but recently decided to take a brief hiatus from school to concentrate on music and touring.

Unlike The Partridge Family or The Jackson 5, The Nautics aren't your stereotypical family band. Rather, they consider themselves to be musicians who love surf rock and happen to share the same grandparents.

"The hardest thing for most bands is keeping the band together, and for us, we don't have that problem," says Matt.

As youths, the cousins formed this inseparable brotherhood over recess.

"We were on the playground at school and we were like, 'Hey, let's make a band,' " says Matt.

Paul joined the lineup a year later.

In 1998, the cousins appeared in their first public performance, a talent show at the Craterian Ginger Rogers Theater, where they played The Venture's hit single "Walk, Don't Run."

Tonight, Oct. 29, exactly 12 years later, the musicians will again play at the Craterian, but this time they will be accompanied by Ventures' guitar virtuoso Nokie Edwards, who was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2008.

"He's the inspiration for all we've done," says Mike. "I never would have picked up a guitar if it weren't for Nokie."

The anniversary performance is at 8 p.m. at the Craterian, 23 S. Central Ave., Medford. The Medford show wraps up The Nautics' two-month, West Coast tour in support of its 2010 album, "Black Light Doves."

The program will open with a half-hour set of The Nautics' original tunes, before Edwards comes on stage to lead them in a reminiscent set of Ventures' songs, including "Hawaii Five O," "Pipeline," "Surf Rider" and, of course, "Walk, Don't Run."

Since childhood, Mike, Joe, Paul and Matt naturally preferred the classic, surf-style rock of The Ventures, The Beatles and The Stray Cats. The Ventures' instrumental surf songs were especially attractive to the boys.

"We weren't keen on singing when we were 9 years old," says Mike.

When Edwards heard from a local friend that a young group of boys was playing his music, he graciously made a visit to the Ventures enthusiasts and listened to them perform in a family setting.

Over the years, The Nautics have developed an individual soundscape as heard in the title track of "Black Light Doves."

"We found the sound we like to make," says Mike. "When we were young, we tended to think of our songs by other groups. ... The song ("Black Light Doves") has its influences but is definitely coming from us."

The 10-track album is punctuated with Joe's splashy drum beats, Matt's propulsive bass lines, Paul's clean guitar and Mike's original lyrics. But beneath all the slides and reverberation is The Nautics' signature retro, surf sound.

Mike, the songwriter, says the band's surf anthems speak of the "difficulties of being young and finding yourself in the scape of going to parties and work and that kind of stuff."

Girls also are a major theme, because "let's be honest, girls make the world go around," says Mike.

Many of the lyrics draw from "old-school" movies, including the song "Irma," which references the 1949 film, "My Friend Irma," starring Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis.

Tickets to the show cost $24 to $28 for adults and $16 for children, ages 12 and younger. For more information, call 541-779-3000 or visit www.craterian.org.

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