Xtra Factor host Olly Murs, 28, talks to Metro about One Direction, Susan Boyle, falling down the stairs at Guilfest and his upcoming gig at this year’s iTunes festival.
How was it supporting One Direction in the US?
It was intriguing to be in the mayhem of what was going on and to see the impact they’ve had. It was an easy six weeks work – the guys were great and so were the fans.
What were the fans like?
They were a little bit younger than I’m used to. My fans aren’t as obsessed as theirs, mine are quite chilled. The infatuation and just how much they fancy One Direction was crazy. I caught fans going through bins trying to find stuff the boys had chucked out. It was insane but the fans were brilliant to me. They knew my songs and sang along. It was good to go over there and showcase my music. It was really positive.
You’d previously said you didn’t know how your music would go down in the US – how was it?
Any concerns I had were proven wrong. The market’s changed in America. They want to hear more British music. It’s given British acts a chance and American labels are interested. My single Heart Skips A Beat did well all across Europe and now it’s doing well over there. The demand is there and it’s going well but I never count my chickens.
Rizzle Kicks aren’t on the US version of Heart Skips A Beat. Have you fallen out with them?
No, they’re top lads and the song was a hit with them on it. It wasn’t my decision, it was the label. It said UK rappers don’t go down well in the US. The boys knew that and were fine about it. I called them and told them Chiddy Bang was going to be on it instead and they were fine. I’d like it if they were on it because it’s been a hit with them on it in the UK and Europe but I understand the American market is different. There are no hard feelings.
What’s the first record you bought?
I’d Do Anything For Love by Meatloaf on vinyl and Party People… Friday Night by 911 on tape. It shows how diverse my music is – I’ll listen to anything. I remember sitting and writing down the lyrics and studying what the songs were about. The message was quite cool, it was about going out with your mates and having a good time. People will say that’s not a brilliant song but I was intrigued about how people write music. It still freaks me out how quickly you can write a song and it becomes a hit record.
When did you start writing songs?
Not until I finished X Factor. I’d study the meanings of songs, like when I found out Fix You by Coldplay is about a bereavement. It means much more when you know what it’s about, so I liked listening to lyrics. Then after X Factor, I was writing them myself. I’ve got better at it and really enjoy it. I’m not going to sit here and say I’m an amazing songwriter, I’m a performer – that’s my selling point and in ten years’ time, if I’m still around, people aren’t going to say: ‘Olly’s an amazing songwriter,’ but I enjoy the process and having ideas for lyrics. It’s amazing to see a song start on a bit of paper and build it from scratch.
You fell down the stairs at Guilfest – how was that?
I thought I was going to break my leg. That would have been a bad career moment – breaking my leg during a performance but it was up there with me splitting my trousers on stage in Sheffield. Now the YouTube clip’s on every website going. It’s quite funny.
Have you got any unexpected showbiz fans?
I did a gig in Glasgow and my tour manager said: ‘Susan Boyle’s at the box office.’ We didn’t have any free tickets left for the show and apologised. She said: ‘That’s fine, I’ve come to buy tickets.’ She bought four and sat in the audience with her friends and watched the show. She came backstage afterwards. Subo’s a fan. We got a picture together and she was very complimentary.
What was she like?
She’s such a nice person. There are all these perceptions of what she’s like but she’s lovely. We had a chat and she said she liked what I did and I was like: ‘Susan Boyle is standing here saying she likes my stuff and she’s sold 12million records.’ It was surreal.
Have you ever had a supernatural experience?
Before I did the X Factor, my friend’s mum told her: ‘One of your friends will do really well on a music talent show. He needs to wear these beads on his left wrist and three things will happen – Michael Bublé, a silver suit and a yellow tie.’ She hassled me to make sure I wore the beads she gave me at my audition and I wore them through the whole experience. A week after I signed my record deal, the beads broke while I was watching telly. It freaked me out. I tried to put them back together but it didn’t work. Now I carry one of the beads in my wallet. It all came true: I met Michael Bublé, wore a silver suit the second week, which became a talking point because it showed ‘my bulge’ and I nearly wore a horrible yellow tie for a group performance. It was weird.
Olly Murs plays the iTunes festival on September 3.