Friday 2 December 2011

The not so Ordinary Boy - Exclusive Interview with Preston

The Ordinary Boys are back! It has been a while - five years to be precise. We head down to Leeds Cockpit to have a catch up with front man Samuel Preston ahead of this evening's gig which will be the first night of their reunion "Maybe Someday 2011" tour.

Hi Preston. I know you did a gig in Brighton last night but tonight is the first official night of the tour – how are you feeling about this evening?
PRESTON- The first gig we ever did as a band on a tour was this stage- eight years ago or something and it’s just weird. It’s been so long since I thought about that time. I've been watching lots of videos back, trying to get into that head space again. It’s been really good- it’s a total nostalgia trip for me. So far it’s been awesome. 

Are you nervous about tonight?
The Ordinary Boys -photo by Lizzie Duffel
P- It’s weird because I’ve remembered all the words and all the chords as muscle memory- they’re just there. And the more I try and learn them, then the more that I over think it and forget them. So I did forget quite a few lyrics actually last night. I think there’s a prefect level of sobriety where you’re drunk enough not to over think it, but you’re not so drunk that you’re just a mumbling, drunken slurring mess. So I need to keep my blood alcohol levels at an optimum, peak level.  

What can we expect from the set list? 
P- It’s pretty much the first album [“Over The Counter Culture”] – it’s for all self indulgent reasons, but I think that’s the era of the band that I want to remember. I just want the whole story of the band to have a better narrative arc than it did. And I think that this is the best way for me to feel really good about it and move on, and feel good about it as something I did in my life. 

What’s the response been like since you announced you were reuniting? 
P- It’s surprising! I just kind of assumed that I had alienated anyone who ever liked The Ordinary Boys [T.O.B] via the multitudes of bizarre things that I did throughout my career. But there’s still people that are crazy about it and it’s a really nice thing. I moved on and I’ve got a job; I work everyday at the studio and stuff, and I’d distanced myself from this and a lot of the music I used to listen to. Because I’m song writing now I like to keep abreast of what’s happening in music now. And this [reunion] all seemed like, by nature a recherché; we are a retro band and I think I fought against that when we started. I liked to think that we were doing something different, but now I quite like the fact that we sound like the 70s. When you’re just a kid and you’re not in a band and you like Morrissey, then you do your hair like Morrissey and wear Morrissey glasses and you just do everything to emulate your hero. But then when you’re in a band it’s kind of frowned upon a little bit; but I love Morrissey and throughout my career all I’ve tried to do is be Morrissey with varying degrees of success. But it’s quite nice to do this. We’re not making any money out of this, so it’s just for fun and just having the security of knowing everyone knows it’s for fun. It’s easier to take moments, even on stage, just stand back and go “this is happening, it’s fun.”                                                                                                   
The Ordinary Boys on stage at Leeds Cockpit
Do you think you didn’t do that first time around?
P- Not at all, I was such a little prick. I think it’s not a coincidence that almost all front men are insufferable dickheads- it’s because they’re best at it. So I think I’ve grown up a lot and I like to think that I’m not an insufferable dickhead these days, but it makes it a bit more difficult to try and do a show. I try and channel the insufferable dickhead (that I once was) when I’m up there I guess. I have actually found myself doing that, like affect this swagger. It’s really embarrassing! For all his faults I do still have a soft spot in my heart for the young Preston. [Laughs] That’s really pretentious, not only referring to myself in the third person, but also really bigging myself up in the third person.

What have you missed most about being in T.O.B?
P- Just that it is a cathartic thing being up there, especially because we are quite an energetic band anyway. It’s just nice to get all the frustration and anger out, although I haven’t really got that much frustration or anger these days. I think that if I started a band now we would be so chilled, but I am glad that I can get up and be energetic and just get it all out. 

You said you wanted to reunite T.O.B before you turn 30. I’ve spoken to bands before who want to be still touring into their 50s. Do you think that rock n roll has an age limit? 
P- Some people can do it. We were very conscious from the beginning of this band, and the reason we split up is that we didn’t want to be doing it when we were grown men. It would be different if we were really successful living in Beverly Hills wearing sunglasses at night and stuff, but just to soldier through it..! I’ve landed on my feet now I’ve got a career outside of being in a band and I’m much happier with that. There are different ways of viewing it I guess. I would be feeling different I guess if we were playing the ‘enormodome’, wherever that is. 

The band line-up has had a bit of a shakeup- How has that affected T.O.B?
P- I don’t know. I mean we [the band members now] go back way, way, way back anyway, so the rest of the [original] guys were really happy for us to do it. So it hasn’t really had much of an effect at all. A lot of the reason we split up was due to little disagreements that bands tend to have. On this tour everyone is here to have a good time. And sound wise it sounds exactly the same, just because they are really good. 
The Ordinary Boys -photo by Lizzie Duffel
Do you feel the music industry has changed since you first started? 
P- Yeah, I mean it was so easy to get signed when we got signed, when everyone was getting signed. In fact Toby’s old band [The Agitator] went on Jools Holland and didn’t get signed. It’s fascinating in a way, because the idea that in 2004 if you were on Jools Holland you were playing Brixton- [big venues]. It’s weird and the internet has just changed everything. Even still, with Band Camp and Mixtape, music is essentially free now and it makes being a good live band much more important which I think is really good. But the whole shift to music being readily available is great. I hate listening to the radio, unless it’s something like Radio6, but a lot of the main radio stations rub me up the wrong way. But I love the idea of just being able to go to a website or blog that you trust anyway and you can just go through and audition hundreds of musicians and decide what you want to download, for free.  

Your new song "Run This Town" sounds a lot more like the earlier T.O.B tracks- was this a conscious decision? And do to intend to stick to this?
P- Yeah, I think it was. I think that’s what we should have done all along. But also I feel like the third album should have been a side project, or a solo record. I feel like I might have bullied everyone else into doing that a little bit. Just because I started getting really into electro and it’s like one of those things- as soon as you get into it you want to play with all the toys and start programming and stuff. And now that’s what I do at work so it’s fine, so this can exist as it is. It was definitely what should have happened with the third album I think, “Run This Town”.

You've been working behind the scenes more on the production side of things- How has the success of projects like the Olly Murs "Heart Skips a Beat" track affected your vision for T.O.B? Is that where your future lies?
P- I remember when I was a kid and you'd have shitty jobs and you’d rush home and go to band practice with all your spare time. And you would take time off to do gigs and it made it much more exciting. Where as if the band is your career, then you kind of forget what drives you to do it and how exciting it is. I’d be on my Christmas holidays now, but this [tour] is my Christmas holidays because I really really want to do it. I feel as excited about being in a band as when I was younger because it’s a side project to what I do at work. But also, using what I’ve learnt production wise I can just do the music for free in my studio. So, if we wanted to do any other songs we can just do a day in my studio. 

Do you ever think you will come back to your solo project?
The Ordinary Boys debut album cover
P- I want to, yeah. It’s a real shame about that because I did the whole record and I’ve actually re-honed some of the songs with other artists now. It’s a really good, dark record. It was me trying to do The Cure “Disintegration” sort of stuff. I thought it was a great record, but it was just one of those things. It didn’t get on the radio and the label just kind of said don’t worry about it. But I’ll definitely do another one. I think it’s much easier now to just record it. I could definitely record it all on my own now, and then I can just put it out. I mean, I don’t even care putting it out for free. I don’t want to make money out of it. I feel like music is a lot more fun if you’re not trying to make money out of it, unless you’re doing writing and production. But that’s more of a skill based thing, where as being in a band is more creative.

I’m guessing you are living back in Brighton now? Why is it such a special place for you and is that always the place you will go back to and call home?                                
P- I don’t know. I’ve actually been thinking about moving, but the only move is to London and I just feel like it’s so obvious. But, Brighton is a cool place. There are so many musicians there so that helps, especially with our side projects that we just do. We are actually in a speed metal thrash band called “To Kill The Swarm The Host Must Die”.

What does the future hold for The Ordinary Boys?
P- I don’t know. I said this was going to be just the goodbye tour, but I think it’s more like being in a permanent hiatus state, where we can just do this whenever we get bored and everyone’s got time off. 
Thanks Preston!

And here is what happened when The Ordinary Boys took to the stage

The Ordinary Boys -photo by Lizzie Duffel
It’s been a while since anyone has heard from The Ordinary Boys [T.O.B], and after speaking with front man Preston earlier in the day we hear they are back; and even better second time round.
Eight years have passed since T.O.B “Over The Counter Culture” [O.T.C.C] first graced our ears and a lot has happened since then! Tonight however we are wiping the slate clean of everything “in-between”; including Preston’s Celebrity Big Brother stint, and indulging in the memories of who T.O.B originally were.
The Cockpit is filled with a diverse mix of T.O.B fans from across the years, waiting with baited breath for the return of the five likely lads from Brighton. It would have been easy for the band to have been rather blasé about the reunion. The boys could have easily given a half hearted attempt at blasting out their former hits, reliant on their loyal fans for support. However, T.O.B are here to prove something this evening and not only for the fans, but to themselves as well. Regardless of anything else they can still deliver the full paced, high energy show, better than ever before.

The Ordinary Boys on stage at Leeds Cockpit
Frontman Preston on stage at The Cockpit
Playing songs primarily from the debut album O.T.C.C, Preston and the boys bound around to hits such as “Week In, Week Out” and “Talk, Talk, Talk”. New track “Run This Town” fits perfectly alongside the established “Boys Will Be Boys”, as does the impressive cover of Buzzcocks “What Do I Get”. The quintet put on the perfect show and looked at home; content to be back up there on stage. Concluding their triumphant return with “Seaside”, T.O.B are well and truly back. The unique thing about T.O.B is the feeling of solidarity that they bring to their live show and this can’t help but be transferred to the crowd. You are lucky enough to partake in T.O.B experience, but more so, you get to be a part of their gang for that one night. The only question remaining is, when do you want to join?