UK popstar Olly Murs is on his way back to Chicago and is ready to make it big in the United States.
His rise to fame began with Britain's X Factor, where judge Simon Cowell said, "It's the easiest 'yes' I've ever given." He then debuted two double-platinum albums along with three number-one singles in Europe, eventually selling 4 million records internationally. His new albumRight Place, Right Timedrops April 9.
Murs went on to open for One Direction's sold-out tour last year in the United States and now returns with a solo show in Chicago. We talked to him right before his upcoming House of Blues performance in the Windy City.
Windy City Times: Hey, Olly. Where in the world are you calling from?
Olly Murs: I'm in the UK, in London. It's going to be coldminus seven tonight!
WCT: It's cold in Chicago also. Are you excited about coming back to the United States?
Olly Murs: Yeah, I can't wait. I am looking forward to the new single "Troublemaker" being out and doing my shows. It's gonna be great.
WCT: You are headlining this time out?
Olly Murs: Yes, I'm going to be doing my own gig. It's going to be brilliant in Chicago. I have a great fan base over there as well.
WCT: Last time you were here was opening for One Direction.
Olly Murs: One Direction was such a great tour to be on last year.
WCT: You must have seen some crazy things from fans on that tour.
Olly Murs: The fans went wild for them. They are likeable boys and we had loads of fun.
WCT: How is it breaking into the United States on your own?
Olly Murs: It is daunting but it's a start. When you come from the UK you have to start from scratch. That is what I am doing, literally. I'm going to try my best to do well. I want the success I had in the UK to stretch across the world. It would be great if it works out.
Girls go crazy for boy bands right now like One Direction, and it worked. Now being a solo male artist it is hard to break through. I'm keeping my fingers crossed. If it doesn't work out then it doesn't work out. We will see what happens. I'm excited about it.
WCT: The Wanted played at a gay bar in Chicago before they hit it big so that could work for you, too.
Olly Murs: Obviously I'm a straight guy, but I've always had lots of fans who are gay. It shouldn't make any difference to anyone. To speak to the gay community is great and if they like me then brilliant. I have a big fan base in the UK of men that like me and I would like to be embraced in America as well. I hope they all come to my show.
WCT: You have a twin brother. Does he sing also?
Olly Murs: I don't know actually if he's tried to sing. [Laughs] I'm the only one in the family that can sing even though they might get on the mic after being a little drunk somewhere in a bar!
WCT: Did you always want to sing?
Olly Murs: Yes, that is something I really wanted to do. I always wanted to be a soccer player, too. I wanted to be the next David Beckham. That was my aim. I was lucky enough to do music as well. Music is something I found I could do and was talented at it. I really just went from there.
WCT: I read Robbie Williams took you under his wing since he combines music and soccer the same way.
Olly Murs: Robbie is great. He's been amazing to me and one of my biggest fans. He has really supported my career and my music. He's a great man.
WCT: Did you hear the new Justin Timberlake song? I heard you are a big fan of his.
Olly Murs: "Suit & Tie" is brilliant. It is vintage Timberlake. It has a cool vibe on it. His vocals are so strong. He will have a huge year coming back.
WCT: Tell our readers about your new music.
Olly Murs: Right Place, Right Time comes out in April in America. It is my second number one album in the UK. We have reached double platinum figures already and it has been out eight weeks now here. It is already strong. I look forward to releasing more singles and promoting it across the world. It has a fresh and new vibe about it. "Troublemaker" has a funky element to it, kind of Maroon 5 and Jamiroquai feel to it. I think it is the right album to release across the world.
WCT: Flo Rida is on it?
Olly Murs: Yes, Flo is on a song but I never actually met Flo Rida, which is weird. He obviously liked the song and got a contract; he rapped on it and that was it. I would like to work with him again and hopefully do a performance with him in America or something. That would be cool.
WCT: You rap a little bit, too, on this record.
Olly Murs: I've rapped on every album. I like being involved in the processes and the songwriting. I have worked with people that have really helped me. Collectively I have made three albums so I am really happy.
WCT: What is this Olly wiggle dance I've hear about?
Olly Murs: [Laughs] It is this weird wiggle thing I do. I did at my audition for the X Factor so they saw it there. It is quite funny. It's my little trademark.
WCT: You went on to host the spin-off The Xtra Factor with Caroline Flack.
Olly Murs: X Factor changed my life; then doing The Xtra Factor was a presenting gig after that. It is a different genre and work for me. Singing and presenting have both been great jobs.
WCT: Will you be watching American Idol?
Olly Murs: I'm not sure if its available in the UK at the same time but possibly a few days after you get to see it over there. When it does air I will a hundred percent watch it. I want to see Mariah Carey and Nicki Minaj!
More on Murs can be found www.ollymurs.com, along with information about the Jan. 26 appearance at House of Blues Chicago, 329 N. Dearborn St.