Britain's the Ordinary Boys are a brash, melodic rock outfit influenced by the classic '60s mod sound of the Kinks, as well as the '80s post-punk of bands like the Jam and the Smiths. Formed in 2002 in Worthing, England, near Brighton, the group (who borrowed their name from Morrissey's song "Ordinary Boys" off his 1988 solo debut Viva Hate), originally included Sam Preston (lead vocals, guitar), William J. Brown (guitar, vocals), Charles Stanley (drums), and James Gregory (bass).
Initially, the group gained national exposure with opening slots for Stellastarr and the Thrills, as well as appearances on the BBC Radio 1 show Live in Brighton. They soon caught the ear of legendary Smiths and Blur producer Stephen Street, who took the band under his wing and produced their debut, 2004's Over the Counter Culture. The album sold well, peaking at number 19 on the U.K. albums charts and spawning several Top 40 singles including "Week in Week Out" and "Talk, Talk, Talk."
The group's sophomore album, the Street-produced Brassbound, followed in 2005 and was initially a slow starter. After Preston's fourth-place finish on the reality show Celebrity Big Brother in 2006, however, Brassbound hit number 11 in the U.K. The lead single, the ska-infused "Boys Will Be Boys," also enjoyed a bump, reaching number three on the U.K. Singles Chart.
Buoyed by the exposure, the Ordinary Boys released their third full-length album, 2006's How to Get Everything You Want in Ten Easy Steps. Produced in collaboration with DJ Chris Reed, aka Plastician (formerly Plasticman), the album, while not a complete stylistic departure from their mod-influenced sound, revealed more of a synthy, dance-influenced approach. Included on the album was a bonus track version of "Boys Will Be Boys," which was also featured in the 2007 film Harry Potter & the Order of the Phoenix. Despite their growing success, whether fatigued by Preston's growing tabloid profile (his divorce from fellow Big Brother contestant Chantelle Houghton after a year-long marriage made headlines in 2007), suffering creative differences, or a combination of both, the Ordinary Boys called it quits in 2008.
In 2009, Preston debuted his cheeky, '80s-style new wave solo single "Dressed to Kill." After suffering a bicycle accident that left him with two broken arms, however, he had to pull out of promotional activities and dropped his plans for a full-length album. Choosing to back away from the spotlight, Preston turned his attention to DJ'ing and songwriting, penning tracks for Olly Murs, Enrique Iglesias, John Newman, and others. "Dressed to Kill" was later re-recorded by Cher and featured on her 2013 album Closer to the Truth.
Since 2011, Preston has helmed several reunion tours of the Ordinary Boys, minus original members Brown and Gregory, who declined participation. In 2015, a new look in the lineup of the Ordinary Boys featured Preston alongside original drummer Stanley and former Spectrals guitarist Louis Jones, and they released the group's fourth studio album. Simply titled The Ordinary Boys, it revealed a return to a more guitar-based, pop-punk sound and included the singles "Awkward" and "Four-Letter Word." ~ Matt Collar