Olly Murs is currently on the promotion trail for an arena tour that follows in the wake of the success of his fourth album, Never Been Better – a record he intended to be “bigger and stronger” than its predecessor Right Place, Right Time.
I ask if, four albums in, he feels he has entered a new phase in his career. “I would not say a new phase,” he considers. “I think I am getting more confident as a songwriter – that’s what happens when you do these kind of jumps. I’m more excited about everything. I think my music is improving. Nothing has changed too much but I just want people to take it more seriously. I feel that this is the best album I’ve done.”
The success the former call centre worker has enjoyed over the past five years seems to have instilled in him a greater confidence when it comes to making decision about all aspects of his career, he feels.
“Collectively as a team we’ve made great decisions which work for us,” he says. “Not every decision you make is the best decision, but we just try to be positive with every decision we make.” One of those decision that paid off spectacularly was to team up with rapper Flo Rida on the song Troublemaker. In 2013 it became his first substantial hit in the USA, selling 1.2 million copies. Murs now feels like he has made it in America. “Troublemaker was a huge success. I’m able to go on big shows and radio shows. People are willing to give me a chance.”
As a performer, Murs has a strong work ethic. He admits there was a point in the early days of his career when he pushed himself too far. But, he says, “I like to work hard. When I was 13 I did three paper rounds, morning and evening. I’m always doing something. I can’t be still.”
That work ethic, combined with a natural charm, has made Murs some famous friends. To the likes of Robbie Williams, Gary Barlow and Sam Smith, he can now add Paul Weller, who co-wrote Let Me In, the closing song on Never Been Better.
The pair met at a Paolo Nutini gig at the Royal Albert Hall. “I’m a big fan of his and we got talking about music,” Murs recalls. “He said, ‘I’ve got this song I’d like to send you. Would you be interested?’” Though delighted with the track, Murs felt he needed to change it “to make it more me”. It seems Weller was happy to oblige.
“It’s important for every artist to make it sound like you. I needed to sell the song. I felt that was important.”
It seems this album was his favourite to make. “I did the best I could,” he says. “It was a fun album to write and be part of.”
n Olly Murs plays at First Direct Arena on April 20. www.ollymurs.com