Celebrating the Smiths (arguably, the most influential band of the 1980s), Ordinary Boys will make their debut appearance in Savannah on April 7 at The Jinx.
Founded in 2010 by singer AJ Navarrete in Miami’s “CBGB of the South,” Churchill’s Pub, Ordinary Boys have become Florida’s premier Smiths tribute act over the last eight years.
“We put it together and it went over ridiculously well,” Navarrete said. “Then after that, the venues started coming out of nowhere. We realized we had lightning in a bottle and we’ve been running with it ever since.”
The Smiths formed in Manchester, England, in 1982 with guitarist Johnny Marr, singer Morrissey, bassist Andy Rourke and drummer Mike Joyce. They released four albums from 1984-87. Despite success in the UK charts, the band broke up in 1987 due to infighting. Marr and Morrissey have both had extensive post-Smiths careers. Morrissey released 11 solo studio albums, while Marr has become a highly regarded session musician and had stints in a number of bands, including the Pretenders, The The, Modest Mouse and the Cribs.
Over the years, Ordinary Boys has gone through a number of lineup changes. The original four-piece added a second guitar to handle Marr’s infamous layered guitar work on The Smiths’ albums. Instead of physically emulating the icons, Navarrete and company keep the pageantry simple and focus on the music.
“To be honest, you can’t take yourself too seriously,” Navarrete said. “It’s a very niche personality to try and impersonate. First of all, he has an English accent, so I can’t be up there talking in an English accent when I sound like a Miami Cuban. I can fake it as much as I could. Funny enough, our drummer is from South London. He could give me some pointers. At the same time, it’s probably best if I kept it neutral on my end.
“We tried to do what Morrissey does with his band, where all of the guys in the band dress alike and then Morrissey dresses in a suit or in a completely different outfit than everybody else. Now it’s gotten to the point where everyone in the band takes their own individual style and runs with it.”
From the 73 songs in The Smiths catalogue, 11 Morrissey albums, and one of Marr’s solo albums, Ordinary Boys have about 50 songs in their revolving setlist. They switch it up based on a balance of personal tastes and a desire to entertain the crowd.
“Ever so often, guys come in with requests,” Navarrete said. “… We keep it in rotation for a good three or four shows, then bring in a new batch of songs.
“I’ve always known that Morrissey is, for lack of a better word, Morrissey. Just the type of person that he is on the stage and off the stage and saying what he wants. I have that more or less in common with him.
“I don’t like to be too serious. There are a couple moments where we do. If there’s a social issue that me and the guys have a strong feeling toward, I’ll mention something on stage. For the most part, it’s joking around and flirting with the crowd and dancing. Just having a good time.”