Lead singer tells story of local band

Payton Pruitt, lead singer of local rock band Carver Commodore, takes a break to practice guitar. Based in Florence, the group has performed across the southeastern U.S. and are currently working on their debut album.

by Life Editor Tyler Hargett

Many music fans know the Shoals’ history with country, blues and Southern rock music. However, one local band helps bring rock ‘n’ roll to the area.

Rock band Carver Commodore is set to begin recording their debut album in March, but their work in music has already begun.

The band is comprised of lead singer/guitarist Payton Pruitt, alumnus Phillip Blevins on rhythm guitar, bass player Daniel Clark and Noah Friedman on drums.

He said the band’s sound draws inspiration from rock groups from the early part of the millennium, such as The White Stripes and The Strokes.

Alex Wittscheck, Mane Room manager and technical director, said the band is one of the greatest Shoals-based performing acts.

“Carver Commodore is more than just another local rock band,” he said. “They have polished their performance and mentality, which is slightly uncharacteristic of rock bands in general. It is always great to see a local band or artist that cares about their live show.” 

The band’s name comes from Pruitt’s great uncle, who claimed to see an orb of white light come down to him from the sky. Commodore believed this was a sign he would die soon. Three days after becoming a Christian, a car struck and killed him.

Pruitt said the band incorporates Commodore’s story through displaying a man-made orb at their shows.

He said while some of the band’s songs have faith-based themes, the group is not an exclusively Christian band. 

“We’re not really targeting believers,” he said. “We’re just trying to reach everybody as much as we can. If (our music) leads to talking to somebody about beliefs, that’s great.”

Other songs have featured themes of disrespecting narcissistic bands, a new perspective of the first season of “Stranger Things” and Bilbo Baggins from “The Hobbit.”

Pruitt said despite being in different bands throughout his life, Carver Commodore is the one he wants to use as a career.

“Rock ‘n’ roll is where my heart is anyways, so it’s good to carry that out and pursue that,” he said.

The band began when Pruitt and Blevins met through the folk-rock band The Bear & the Bride, of which they were both founding members. After the group broke up, the two went on to form Carver Commodore in September 2016.

“We both grew up loving rock music in general (and) playing guitar since we were 11 or 12, and we, of course, like every kid that plays guitar, wanted to be in a rock and roll band, so it just felt the most natural,” he said.

Pruitt met Clark and Friedman through More Than This, a Gadsden-based worship band.

The band has since gone on to perform across the southeastern U.S. They released their self-titled debut EP Sept. 22, 2017.

“Where The Bear & the Bride was forthright and direct about matters of life and faith, Carver Commodore kicks down the abstract back door and lets the ghosts inside dance in the backyard as the cicadas pop quarters in the rock ‘n’ roll jukebox,” said the band’s website. 

He said music students should not be afraid to stay in Florence after graduation because of its small-town status.

“Some students see (Florence) as a small town that they can’t wait to get out of, but there’s so much going on here for music and for musicians,” he said. “Don’t be afraid to stay here and make it better.”

Carver Commodore’s first 2018 Florence show will be at 116 E Mobile March 16. For more scheduled appearances, visit carvercommodore.com.