By day AJ Navarrete works in marketing and sales for a chemical manufacturer. But by night he’s rocking bell bottom pants and belting his heart out singing “This Charming Man” as the frontman for Miami’s only The Smiths and Morrissey tribute act, Ordinary Boys.
In Miami, the city of the side hustle, it’s no surprise that Navarrete’s got a day job to support his passion project — in fact all of the members of the band have full time gigs. We’re kicking off our series, Suits with a Side Hustle, with Ordinary Boys.
The day job: I work for a chemical manufacturer out of Miami in the pool industry. I’ve been doing this for 16 years. It’s mostly sales and a little marketing and sometimes I help do installations of the storage tanks that house the chemicals.
The side hustle: I’m the lead singer of Ordinary Boys, a The Smiths and Morrissey cover band in Miami. (I also have another project where I play drums.)
Ordinary Boys has been together since February 2011. (We’re Ordinary Boys not The Ordinary Boys, because The Ordinary Boys is a pop band from the UK, haha.)
Anyway, we started rehearsals in December 2010 and our first show was February 2011 at Churchill’s. Churchill’s used to do a lot of tribute shows to Radiohead and David Bowie and Tool and that stuff. So I asked the guy who was running the shows at the time and he said “why don’t we do one for The Smiths and Morrissey?”
So we did an anti-Valentine’s Day thing and one show turned into two which turned into five. I thought, “we seem to have lightning in a bottle here, so we should probably run with this.”
How much time does it take?
We try to practice at least once a week but it depends on the guys’ schedules. Some guys have kids, one guy is a full-time bartender, so we have to coordinate schedules as best we can. The average is once every other week.
What the other guys do:
Our guitarist Byron Lopez works for an airplane manufacturer, our other guitarist Michael Setton does real estate. Rees Bridges, our drummer, works at a MoneyMutual and Ned Correa, our bassist, is a full time bartender.
Why do you do it?
The money is nice but the bigger payoff is being able to perform and to be able to perform THESE songs. We know we mean something to someone else. Most of these people haven’t had a chance to hear The Smiths or Morrissey live. I’m not saying we’re just as good or better than the real thing, but we get to recreate it. And the band is great — any little hiccup will be picked up immediately and we’ll be able to recoup in a millisecond. They’re really hardworking guys in every sense of the word and if it’s not for them, Ordinary Boys doesn’t exist.
What’s your favorite song to perform?
My favorite song to perform, just because of the massive reaction we get every time, is “There is a light that never goes out.” The crowd is just waiting for it. Sometimes we just have people yelling it out and I have to say “patience, patience.” (Laughs)
Any advice for people who are just starting out their side projects?
I don’t see why anyone that has a passion for music can’t eventually find time put together a project. Just sit for an hour a day. It’s almost like working out. If you put 45 minutes or an hour a day to fulfill your passion, that’s good enough.
The next step is to put it on stage and have people on stage with you and get that feedback from a crowd. There’s not much more of a rush than to be in a room — feed off them, they feed off of you. It’s amazing. Anyone that cherishes that will find a small amount of time in their lives to make that happen.