Pop star Olly Murs talks handsy fans, gay-baiting and sharing a sweater with Sam Smith
A veteran of nakedness, Olly Murs was fueling our straight-boy fantasies long before Nick Jonas. Stripping at London’s prestigious G-A-Y club, frequent underwear-only selfies, a leather jacket-clad cover photo in December’s Attitude magazine — we’re as addicted to Murs’ sex appeal as we are to his pop confections.
Following the release of the British “X Factor” alum’s fourth studio album, Never Been Better, Murs spoke candidly about how he and other artists use sex to market their music, his biggest regret in life and how he considers fans grabbing his junk a “compliment.”
Dallas Voice: You were one of the original Nick Jonases – you got naked for the gay community years before he did. Olly Murs: Yeah! I’ve done a few naked shots for the gay magazines. My body is in demand by the gay folks — I can’t complain! I don’t think I’ve got the best body in the world, but no, it’s very flattering. It’s always great to do those magazines and also to show people that – even though I’m a straight guy — I’m very comfortable with my sexuality, so I think that’s a great thing to do in those magazines, and it’s great fun.
I did a gig once at G-A-Y in the U.K. — a very renowned club, and a lot of artists go there to perform — and obviously when you do a performance there are girls screaming and going crazy for you, and obviously at a gay club it was a lot of men and it was quite strange, a different sort of noise, you know? It’s very, RAWR!
Are we gay men more touchy-feely than the girls? I think you are actually. You’re a bit more forward. You have a lot more confidence. And that’s a good thing!
What’s the grabbiest a fan has gotten at a show? When we did the 2012 tour and I walked into the audience, one of my fans went to grab my bits, which was quite interesting and quite funny.
How do you react to grabby fans? Oh, it’s fine. It’s cheeky and playful. And a compliment!
When Nick Jonas started showing more skin, people claimed he was gay-baiting. As someone who’s straight but open to getting naked for the gay community, I’m curious: What are your thoughts on “gay-baiting?” I don’t know why people would say that. You’re just giving people what they want, and sure, there are a lot of gay men out there that love Nick Jonas and wanna see him, but women wanna see him naked as well. At the end of the day, it’s up to the artists. I don’t have to take my top off, but when I was asked by a magazine like Attitude to do it, I was like, “Why not?” I’m not against it, and you hope you get a good reaction out of people. But as artists we’re always trying to promote and win new fans over. It’s playful, and also, what’s wrong with an artist taking his top off?
What’s the trick to shooting a nude photo? Make sure you have a good diet before you do it. Make sure you feel good with your body and you’re comfortable with it. Obviously I wasn’t massively comfortable the last time I did it because it was the first time I got naked in about two years, so my body changed a little bit. I wasn’t quite as fit as I was before, but it was good though. Tuck that stomach in at all times!
You’ve been hitting the gym. Where have you seen the most progress? Well… day one started yesterday. I’m on day two today. [Laughs] And it’s going well! I’m getting there, you know?
In an age where the stigma of male body hair is in flux, you seem to embrace yours. Always. I think we always talk about hair on bodies, and sometimes when you take it off you just look a bit too young. I’m quite proud of a bit of masculine hair.
When you measure the success you’ve had globally, where does America fall? How do you feel about your success here versus worldwide? Everywhere is different — for example, in Europe I’ve got a much bigger fan base, and obviously Australia, too — but I don’t try to compare places. I just know certain markets are a little bit harder, and America is one of them. Every time I’ve come back, though, it’s been amazing. Just gotta keep working hard. And I think the fans in America are amazing — a really great bunch of people.
Will you be touring America? Yeah, we hope so. At the moment we haven’t announced it, but we’re hoping to come back to the U.S. at some point later on in the year.
Around Christmas of last year you were in a sweater foursome with not only Demi Lovato and One Direction’s Niall Horan, but also Sam Smith — all of you shared an oversized ugly sweater, and it was amazing. Yeah, I got to share a sweater with him, and it was a beautiful thing! I don’t think people realize how tall Sam is. He’s a very tall man! But he’s also very charming and really honest. Sam’s great.
How tall are you? I’m about 5-foot-9 on a good day. He’s about 6 foot, maybe.
How did you and Sam initially meet? I met Sam at a gig. I can’t remember [exactly where], but then during X Factor [in December] we had a good chat again and he’s a lovely guy. Really great singer, and obviously had an amazing week at the Grammys. He deserves it.
During the song “Stick with Me,” you refer to regrets and how we all have a few. What’s your greatest regret? I don’t live life by regrets, but I went to college in the U.K. and didn’t go to university, and I’d love to have done that and experienced that. I really didn’t work hard enough in school to do it, and I regret a bit that I didn’t. But, obviously, I’m really happy where my life got me to now, so I can’t complain. I’m in a really great place as a person now, and I’ve never really had many tough times in my career where it’s been terrible; it’s always been quite positive with me. This album really is a true reflection of me realizing what I’ve got.
Would you say this is your most serious and personal album? Yeah, definitely the most serious, and it definitely has a lot of balls behind it. It’s exciting to do an album and put your life and soul into it, and it’s bigger and better than the last three albums. It’s the best one I’ve done. I’m excited to hear what all the American fans think of it.
Describe the album as if it were a candy. It’s a Gobstopper — long-lasting. You’re chewing it and enjoying every piece of it until the end.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition March 27, 2015.