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Ordinary Boy Preston is back with new line-up
FIVE years ago the Ordinary Boys were anything but ordinary. Frontman Sam Preston was on the front page of every tabloid after a stint in the Celebrity Big Brother House saw him meet and marry Wickford glamour model Chantelle Houghton, sales of their second album Brassbound were through the roof and their dedicated fans were dubbing themselves the Ordinary Army.
But two years later it wasn’t just Preston’s brief marriage that had come to an end. The band, too, had split. A solo album was shelved and Preston moved to Philadelphia in an effort to escape the media circus.
He returns to Chinnerys, in Southend, with a reformed version of the band.
But as he talks about the whirlwind time, he muses: “I can’t really remember it. It just all really seems a bit weird and other-worldly.
“I guess it took us by surprise. It was hard to work out how it happened, especially because the first album is really deconstructing and critiquing that whole world anyway.
“It all seemed like it didn’t make any sense. If there was anyone less deserving or completely uncomfortable in that situation it was me.”
He admits he jumped at the chance to go on the reality TV show, which would see the band’s profile sky-high, and naively made the decision without thinking too hard about the consequences.
He says: “I kind of didn’t think it was going to be a big deal. I didn’t really think about it for very long. I just thought it was a bit of fun, which it definitely was. I enjoyed every second of it. I even enjoyed the glitzy side of it for a while. But then it’s just so cheap.”
Having been in bands from the age of 12, the sudden fame thrust upon him was unlike the hard graft he was used to.
As a result, he found it difficult to deal with and slipped away the moment the spotlight dimmed on him – unlike his ex-wife Chantelle (pictured) who continued to court the limelight. He says: “It just feels like two completely different people. It’s weird to think about it now.
“Chantelle and I still text sometimes, but I don’t envy her lifestyle. I think it’s fun to do when it’s all easy and everyone cares, but as soon as everyone stops caring I think that’s the time to bow out. I actually moved to Philadelphia when I decided to didn’t want to do it anymore.”
The band, too, had run into problems as members decided they wanted other things out of life, leaving Preston to deliver their third album practically single-handedly. The fun had definitely gone from being a successful, much-loved band.
Preston says: “The third record is a really good record, but I reckon it should really have been my solo record because everyone else was off doing their own thing.”
It wasn’t long after leaving UK shores Preston decided to return, this time in a behind-the-scenes capacity penning songs for other artists.
He found success with his new niche, propelling Essex boy Olly Murs to the Number One spot after co-writing his hit, Heart Skips A Beat. He says getting involved creatively without the pressures of having to perform was “the absolutely best option”.
His return to fronting a new version of the Ordinary Boys is a bit of an indulgence. He’s not out to make money out of playing huge arenas like in days gone by, but now he has a “proper job”, as he puts it, the fun is back in his hobby.
It’s not the same line-up as the old days, but Preston says the new band formed out of the same old friendship group from Worthing. He’s been in bands with all of them before.
“It’s a self-indulgent nostalgia trip for me,” he admits. “I’ve just been so amazed at how responsive everyone’s been. Our first album came out in 2004 and the whole tour just feels like going straight back to where we began, which was kind of the best fun in my life, so it’s just been fantastic.”
“I hadn’t done it for five years. I was unsure whether I would just stand there and be more sensible, but it turns out I’m not more sensible at all.”
The Ordinary Boys Chinnerys, Marine Parade, Southend.
Support from the Heartbreaks and Plastic Youth.
Tomorrow. £12 in advance 01702 467305/b