OLLY MURS says Sir Tom Jones was the driving force behind his new album.
The pair are coaches on talent show The Voice and it was the shining example of the musical legend that led to the recording of You Know I Know.
“Sir Tom really was my inspiration,” admits Olly, 34, as iN10 catches up with him during a rare quiet moment in his ever-manic schedule.
“I’d done a summer tour and went in and started The Voice. To be honest, I wasn’t really bothered about doing an album.
“I knew I’d do one at some stage but I thought I’d just take a bit of time out.
“Then I started chatting to Tom, who I hadn’t met before.
“I started thinking how he’d been doing it for 60 years and had songs all that time and that really gave me the buzz again.
“I decided there and then that I was going to write another album and got back into the studio as soon as I could.”
Olly is the perfect example of how it’s not always the winners that do best.
He may have just been a runner-up on X Factor in 2009, but he is far and away the biggest solo male artist to have come from the show and is about to mark a decade of success.
You Know I Know is his sixth album, with one platinum-selling smash after another.
It’s a double album, featuring new material, including hit single Moves featuring Snoop Dogg, as well as some of his greatest hits.
The new material is classic, feel-good Murs and a little change, in tone anyway, from his last, 24HRS, which came out in the wake of his split from girlfriend Francesca Thomas.
“24HRS was more about what I was going through after the break-up with my ex,” admits Olly.
“It was a more difficult time in the studio and with the writing, going over old issues.
“This is much more about me being happy and feeling great.
“It’s about loving life and trying to move on. There are a couple of personal songs, but mostly it’s about having a good time.”
Having chatted to Olly numerous times since his X Factor breakthrough, what you see is absolutely what you get.
He’s happy-go-lucky, super-confident but not straying into cockiness or arrogance, and just altogether engaging company.
But Talking To Myself tackles the deeply-personal issue of anxiety, something which is surprising to learn hit Olly so hard he sought therapy.
It came in the wake of his now-infamous X Factor gaffe. When hosting the show in 2015, he prematurely revealed the results of the public vote.
“We men tend to bottle things up and keep them to ourselves,” says Olly.
“We think we’re strong and can deal with everything by ourselves.
“But you hear of a lot of men taking their lives as a result of mental health issues and it is important to talk about them.
“At the time I didn’t think that mistake on X Factor bothered me, I thought I’d dealt with it quite well.
“But it wasn’t until I started promoting 24HRS that I realised how much it affected me.
“I was going on live TV to perform and chat and I was suddenly worried about what I was going to say because of that mistake and what the media attention might be.
“I knew I had to address it and I did. Look, there are lots of people that go through much worse stuff than I did and deal with mental health every day of their lives.
“But I definitely had a moment where I needed some help and I learned to deal with that issue.
“The lady was able to identify why I felt that way and gave me the tools to deal with it if it should ever happen again.”
Olly’s last tour saw him play to 600,000 fans across 24 sold-out UK dates and he’s back on the road next spring for a 16-date arena tour.
It’s no coincidence that it kicks off in Scotland – he’s at the BHGE Arena in Aberdeen on May 1 and then, two days later, at the SSE Hydro in Glasgow – as it’s always been one of his favourite places to play.
“My fan base is so strong in Scotland,” says Olly. “They have always been so supportive.
“Any performer will tell you it’s the best place to play. There’s such a great party atmosphere, it’s like a carnival.
“You don’t feel like you’re in an arena, you feel like you’re at a festival as the fans are so loud and want to have a good time.
“It’s a bit mad – in a good way. I remember coming to Glasgow to play and Susan Boyle turned up to watch me.
“She was a couple of rows back and I couldn’t believe she had really come to see me perform.”
Olly will be back soon in the latest series of The Voice, returning to our screens early in the New Year.
But we could have been seeing him search for the neXT big thing on the X Factor instead, with reports that Simon Cowell offered him £3million to join the judging panel.
“I didn’t want to leave The Voice after just one year,” confides Olly.
“I love X Factor and I love Simon and it was very flattering to be offered that opportunity.
“But I’m very loyal and I felt I wanted to give The Voice another year. That’s what it came down to, not money.”
The X Factor has fallen hard from the giddy heights of the days where it could easily pull in more than 10 million viewers.
At times this year, fewer than four million have been tuning in on the night.
Loyal Olly says all the right things about changing viewing habits and younger fans more likely to watch later on catch-up.
It’s an indication of the fondness with which Olly still holds the show that made him famous that he was a guest star just last weekend.
“People can try and slag it off, but ultimately it’s trying to showcase talent and change someone’s life.
“Not many shows do that. The day X Factor isn’t on TV anymore, I’ll be devastated. I hope it stays around as long as possible.”
As well as the album and The Voice, Olly has just released a new clothing range with River Island and says he fancies dipping his toe into the acting world.
But while it might seem like this Essex lad is always “on”, Olly insists there’s another side to him, too.
“When I get home I love nothing more than sitting in peace and quiet, not performing and not even having music on” adds Olly.
“I like to take a deep breath and enjoy my own time. And when I’m out with my friends the last thing I want to do is draw attention to myself – that’s really more for my job.”