(NB: The day after I filed my piece was the day Example decided to reveal he and his wife were expecting. I didn’t know at the time of writing. THANKS FOR THAT, ELLIOT.)
“People who say ‘you’re shit now, go back to doing your first album’, disregard my ability to bring thousands of people together at festivals”
Fan or not, nobody can deny that Example is one of the busiest men in pop right now. Currently in the middle of an intense European tour, he’s also promoting his fifth studio album, Live Life Living, celebrating his first wedding anniversary to a former Miss Australia and is confirmed as one of the headline acts at this year’s V Festival. It certainly makes our summer plans seem a bit lazy in comparison (but then again, we’re not international pop stars, so some slack can be cut!)
“I like to constantly be busy and keep going,” Example stated when we pointed out his hectic schedule. “I do take little breaks here and there. Most artists like to do an album, tour for a year then go away for a while but I don’t like to do that. There’s too much demand for me at festivals and in Europe, Australia and Asia. The industry is fickle these days so I like to stay in people’s consciousness.”
The industry may be fickle but Example needn’t worry about that for the time being – his latest offering Live Life Living comfortably made the Top 10 (despite having a title that sounds like it could adorn one of those ‘inspirational’ wall hangings that fill Home & Bargain stores). If we can look past the title, it’s a well constructed, feel-good album that will certainly appeal to his current fan base, and perhaps new listeners too.
It’s pretty obvious that each album, so far, has been reflective of his life at the time. His last album, The Evolution of Man was a dark, pensive album – the comedown album to accompany his previous, hedonistic releases. “It really did show the dark side of drugs and partying,” he commented. “It was almost self therapy – it was me apologising to my ex and my family for my behaviour.”
So we’ve had the ‘partying’ albums, the therapeutic, apologetic record and now we’re onto ‘Live Life Living; just a happy, energetic album, with more than just one nod to the nineties. It certainly seems Elliot (that’s his real name, fact fans) is in a good place and it doesn’t take a genius to figure out this may be due to his marriage to Erin McNaught last year.
“I think everyone, sooner or later, realises that they can’t just party and mess around forever,” he reveals when discussing falling in love with the Australian model & TV presenter. “I thought, after the breakdown of my last relationship, that I needed to be single for a while but then a couple of months later I met Erin and a few years later we’re married. The thing with Erin is that I met her and she became my best mate. I thought, ‘I’ve met my best friend here’ and it kinda made sense.”
So are kids on the agenda any time soon? “Yeah but more a case of when we can fit them in,” he told us, logically. “It’s not fair for me to be on such a mad touring schedule and my wife be stuck at home. So it’s more for next year and when there’s free time for me to at least be around for the birth because I don’t want to miss that.”
Kids may be on the agenda now but way back in 2007 Example was a very different artist and person. His debut album, What We Made was a rap-focussed effort featuring samples of old songs. Tracks such as Me & Mandy, I Don’t Want To and You Can’t Rap saw him build up a cult following before his breakthrough album, Playing in the Shadows saw him propelled into the mainstream. As with any artist that suddenly begins to sell a lot of records, there are always claims that they’ve ‘sold out’ and a nostalgic longing for their old material from a selection of fans. “What annoys me is when people say ‘your early stuff was the best music you’ve ever done’,” he explains. “It shows a complete disregard for the more recent stuff. Also, only 8000 people bought my first album, in an era where albums were expected to sell a million copies. Whereas now we’re in an era where 100,000 is pretty good. People who say ‘you’re shit now, go back to doing your first album’, disregard my song-writing skills, my ability to write melodies and bring thousands of people together at festivals in fields and to write songs that actually mean something to people.”
“The old stuff never really worked on stage,” he explained. “When you come to my gigs now it’s everyone bouncing up and down, going crazy, hands in the air – my music now is euphoric. The music back then was quite awkward to move to and sing along with.” So anyone who’s hoping for a rendition of Me & Mandy or I Don’t Want To at his next performance shouldn’t hold their breath. Speaking of Me & Mandy, the song that’s basically a love letter to MDMA, leads us to get chatting about drugs – always a fun topic. Where does Example stand regarding the substances he used to rap about? Does he want to cover up his past experiences?
“The thing is with drugs, it’s not about glamorising them,” he tells us. “When I made rap music it was about who I was and what I was doing at the time. I think rap music lends itself a lot more to story- telling and speaking the truth. The Streets, Wu -Tang Clan, Dizzee Rascal or whoever, in rap, have always historically told you about who they are. My first album had a lot of references to alcohol and drugs because, at 23/24, that’s what I was doing. I think once you appear in the public eye you do have a lot more responsibility to not glamorise stuff or, if you do discuss it, let people know about the downside to it – like I did with Evolution of Man. The whole thing with One Direction smoking weed or whatever – I believe the media almost has a duty not to report these things because we’re all human beings who get caught up in these things, especially young kids in the music industry. I think in that job, or any job in fact, you’re going to come across drugs or be offered them at some point of your life. It’s human nature for us to have vices or experiment with things for ourselves. I think artists should be allowed to do that in private if they want to. The media, if they get wind of these things, have an obligation and have to make a decision whether or not to report these things because it’s going to be read by their 10-year-old fans. I read an interview with Sting in which he said marijuana really helps him with creativity and ideas. Miles Davies wrote one of his best albums ever on heroin. There are people out there who think it’s ok to glamorise it, I wouldn’t go as far to do that. I always write music sober but I do think music is one thing that people always like to enjoy intoxicated. No one likes to get drunk or high and watch a movie, no one goes sky diving or goes running. So as far as pop music goes, then it is one of those things whether, you’re at festivals, a club or at home, it lends itself to drugs, and alcohol too.”
It’s hard not to agree with Example there, with a pretty sound, sensible view on drugs in the music industry. There’s only one last topic to discuss really – Twitter Trolls. Does any of the mainly illiterate abuse that gets sent ever get to him? “No, not really,” he tells us, thus disappointing trolls everywhere. “I think most people my age, who have been around as long as me, are pretty thick-skinned. I dealt with bullies at school so now when people say stuff on Twitter to me about my hair, or my voice or whatever – it doesn’t get me. Sometimes, if I’m in a fun mood, I reply to them but I mainly just block them – I must have blocked over 5000 people. I’ve had people threatening to meet me and stab me, or throw acid at me – all that shit. A lot of the time these people are just looking to get a rise. I’ve had Top 10 albums and singles, travelled to over 100 countries and married a beautiful woman – I’m doing alright. As far as I’m concerned, I’m living the dream.”
And on that note, Example has wrapped things up nicely for us, there.