Interview: Olly Murs

Working with Weller, touring the UK and a rumoured new job on TV, life’s never been better for Olly Murs. He tells Native Monster all about it.

Interview: Olly Murs

Olly performs at the Barclaycard Arena this month

Olly Olly Olly – Oi Oi Oi! If Olly Murs thought his career was moving steadily in the right direction, he was wrong. It’s now flying like a nuclear-powered exocet missile.

The former X Factor finalist was this week rumoured to be the co-host of X Factor, alongside his former Xtra Factor co-host Caroline Flack. The duo worked together between 2011 and 2012 and have been elevated following the departure of former X Factor host Dermot O’Leary.

There have been frequent suggested that Olly was being lined up to feature as an X Factor presenter, though he’s dutifully towed the party line.

Olly with Caroline Flack
Olly with Caroline Flack

When he spoke to Weekend, it was just before the announcement that Dermot was leaving X Factor. He admitted that he’d already spoken to Simon Cowell about the role.

“I’d love to be there,” he says. “I’ve said to Simon and various people that I’d love to do it. 

“Everyone knows my passion for the show. It would be great to go full circle and be back on the show. Being a judge would be incredible. I’m open to that. But music has to be at the forefront of it all and right now, I’m just focused on the tour.”

Ah yes, the tour.

When Olly was musing titles for his fourth album, he didn’t have to think too far.

Never Been Better were three little words that summed up Olly’s life, his musical career and more besides. It was the classic case of life imitating art. Or was it art imitating life?

Never Been Better, which was released in November, raced straight to number one, giving the Essex entertainer his third consecutive chart-topper. The album has been certified platinum and has been a success right across Europe.

With Robbie Williams
With Robbie Williams

In a few weeks, Olly will hit the road for his Never Been Better tour, which stops off at Birmingham’s Barclaycard Arena on April 26, 27 and 28.

“We were originally going to do two dates, but they sold so quickly we added a third,” he says. “I can’t wait, you know, I was surprised we put a third date on. Birmingham is one of my go-to towns. Secretly at heart, it’s one of the best places to go to on tour. We’ve got a few local lads from Birmingham in our band. They have all their family there, which makes it special. We all look forward to coming there. It’s a really, really good night.”

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Olly’s career is continuing on its upward arc. Since finishing as runner-up on the sixth series of X Factor in 2009, he’s been climbing ever higher. It may seem cliché, but albums and tours have been getting bigger and better.

So what’s the nation’s favourite showman got in store this time round?

It takes two – with Simon Cowell
It takes two – with Simon Cowell

“For this show, we’ve got plenty to keep the fans happy. Sometimes you’re very limited on what you can do in an arena, it’s what is it. But I want people to have a great time so we’ve got great screens and amazing lighting. It was important to make sure the set was right.”

Olly learned about entertaining the biggest crowds from the king himself, Mr Robbie Williams. The two are good mates and Olly supported Robbie during a tour of UK football stadiums.

“The Robbie Williams tour that I did was great. You can’t help but learn from someone like Robbie. So on our tour, I want a good set list for the fans. You have got to get the right blend and the right mix. I think the vibe will be great. We’re here for a party and to thank the fans for their support.

“We’ve doubled the budget from the last tour. It’ll be a much bigger show. We want to blow the fans away.

“The Robbie tour was amazing for me. It taught me so much. Just watching Robbie is amazing. When you are taking in something with your own eyes and watching one of your idols perform, it’s a real inspiration. I’d find myself watching him, just watching his arm movements.

Double trouble – with American pop star Demi Lovato
Double trouble – with American pop star Demi Lovato

“I’d learn a lot from him both on stage and off stage. Robbie’s a great guy, when you’re back stage with him, he’s great. He hangs out with the crew and support and makes people feel massively part of it. And then he goes out there and aces the show. He was brilliant. He’s 10 years older so he’s like a big brother. Being on tour with Robbie gave me a lot of experience.”

For full gig listings, check out our what's on calendar for the West Midlands and Shropshire

Though Never Been Better was released four months ago, Olly is still thrilled by the response to it.

“The album reaction was amazing. To go to number one was a great sign that I’m still popular and people like my music. The singles went well. It’s great to have big hits. It’s onwards and upwards,” says Olly, who’s rumoured to be engaged to model Francesca Thomas.

Never Been Better was Olly’s most adult record and featured the co-written Paul Weller track Let Me In.

“It’s great to work with someone like Paul Weller. It’s exciting. You know, this is my fourth album. It’s hard to write four albums. But I’m trying to evolve as an artist. I’d like to speak to a lot of artists who didn’t got to their fourth albums.

Match – at Wimbledon with  girlfriend Francesca
Match – at Wimbledon with girlfriend Francesca

“I think you start thinking ‘where am I going to go now? What am I going to do?’ I didn’t want to change too much. But working with someone like Paul Weller was an amazing achievement as an artist. “Normally, coming from a reality show you wouldn’t get that opportunity. It was so organic. It wasn’t like we forced it to happen. It happened naturally. It was a really fun time.”

Olly is that rarest of creatures. He appeals to the masses, to the people who get their fix by watching reality shows or tuning into the radio, But he also crosses over and is accepted by those who care a little more deeply about their music. In an industry of male talents, of Ed Sheerans and Sam Smiths, or Robbies and Gary Barlows, he’s right up there with the best of them.

“There are so many big names out there right now. Ed and Sam have had the most amazing time. So to be among guys like that and still be getting number ones is amazing.”

Ed and Sam are, of course, big on both sides of the Atlantic. Olly is hopeful that he too will replicate that success on the other side of the pond. 

“Troublemaker, with Flo Rida, was a big hit over there and Wrapped Up has been doing well too. But America is a bonus for me. Whatever is happening over there is a bonus to what’s going on back home. The radio support is there and I’ve done a tour there. You know, when I worked in sales before I was on the X Factor, I’d get a bonus if I did well. America is a bit like that for me. If America gets into it and likes it, that’s like my bonus.”

While Olly loves making music, he’s just as happy appearing on radio or TV. He doesn’t rule out a return to the small screen in the long term.

“I’m like an old-fashioned entertainer. I was very lucky when I came off X Factor that there was a niche for an entertainer like me, and I don’t think there was anyone out there that was doing what I was doing, but I try not to analyse it too much.

“I’ve done a bit of everything, TV and radio presenting, and I think that’s helped me. People seem to like what I do, and feel like they know me and what sort of person I am. It starts with my music, though. The rest stems from there.”

Birmingham can’t wait.


NAME: Oliver ‘Olly’ Stanley Murs

AGE: 30

FROM: Witham, Essex

FAMOUS FOR: X Factor finalist; singer/songwriter behind hits such as Troublemaker, Dear Darlin’, Heart Skips a Beat and Wrapped Up; Xtra Factor presenter and now hotly-tipped as the new host of X Factor, taking over from Dermot O’Leary; a penchant for rather tight trousers.

RANDOM FACT: In 2007, Olly appeared on Deal or No Deal, where he took a banker’s spanking and left with only £10. He has since returned for a celebrity edition, where he won just 50p for his chosen charity Brainwave.

By Andy Richardson

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