THE last time the YEP spoke to Elliot Gleave, the singer and rapper otherwise known as Example was about to release his fourth album, The Evolution of Man.
Its sound was defiantly dark and grungy, a far cry from the shiny dance-pop of Kickstarts, Changed the Way You Kissed Me and Stay Awake – and fans of his more commercial material steered clear.
This week the 32-year-old Londoner returns with a follow-up that’s altogether more radio and dancefloor-friendly. It’s cheerfully called Live Life Living.
“When I made The Evolution of Man I wanted to make a rock grunge album – or at least an electronic album with guitars. I kind of felt it was not going to [sell] the numbers that the dance numbers did. There wasn’t anything on the last album that sounded like Changed the Way You Kissed Me [his Number One from 2011],” he reflects today.
“It was my last album for Ministry of Sound and last opportunity to do that. To have the freedom to make an album that was not going to sell as many copies pleased me. Some people bought it and loved the stories, especially rock fans. They said to me, ‘You’ve nailed this genre’. But I knew when I was going back to do festivals I’d have to go back to making big dance hits.”
Live Life Living was inspired by “all the different flavours from the 90s – Robin S, Baby D, the Chemical Brothers, Underworld”.
Several of its songs were written in Los Angeles with Stuart Price, who famously produced Confessions on a Dance Floor for Madonna. “I lived with him for a week and we did a song a day – three ended up on the album,” Gleave says.
The upbeat sessions set the tone for the rest of the record, which was completed in England with contributions from Fraser T Smith, Critikal and Gleave’s bass player Andy Sheldrake.
“The whole album is about hedonism and love – though not necessarily relationship love,” Gleave says. “Love of a festival or a certain type of music, love of the moment.
“I knew the whole album I was going to make; it had influences of house and breakbeat. It’s like a dance compilation from the 90s – albeit with my vocals.”
In the years between The Evolution of Man and Live Life Living Gleave married the Australian model and actress Erin McNaught. His happier state of mind, he says, is reflected in song titles such as Can’t Face the World Alone, Seen You and Live Life Living. “They’ve lost the sadness and desperation,” he says.
There are four tracks about his wife but “they’re not too specific to her”, Gleave says. “It’s important songs can mean anything to anyone. People can interpret them in their own way.” Others, such as At Night, were written with the hedonism of festivals in mind. “When I perform them everyone comes together for a common purpose – celebrating,” he says. He pictures crowds of people at Glastonbury “with their hands in the air or their hands around their mates in a field”.
“I like songs that bring people together, not pull them apart,” he says.
This summer Gleave will be performing outdoors a great deal. “There are five festivals in the UK then 25 in Europe, eight in Majorca and seven in Ibiza – there’s plenty going on,” he says.
“I believe I was put on this Earth to entertain people and bring people together. In the first place I wanted to be an actor or a director, music was almost a hobby that went right – or wrong, depending on how you look at it. [Regarding] my legacy in music, some people might say I was an amazing songwriter or made great albums, but I just want to be remembered as a great entertainer.
“When people see us they’re converted by the live show. People tweet me and say, ‘I’m not such a fan of your records but I’m a fan of your live show’. No one sells records any more. I’d rather do 100 festivals or gigs a year than sell a million albums.”
He scotches a recent suggestion that he might soon give up music to direct horror films.
“When you’ve been around for a while the inevitable thing happens – record labels start questioning if you’re relevant, will radio still like you? Maybe your last gig sold 80 per cent of the tickets. People don’t have much faith in this industry. The media can be fickle. If the fans want to buy my music and see me live I will continue.”
He’s heartened by the fact that his new single One More Day (Stay With Me) roared into the charts at Number 4 when its two predecessors peaked at Number 13. “It’s nice to be back,” he says, “to prove people wrong, to show that I’ve still got something, I still mean something.”
Example headlines Bingley Music Live on Saturday, August 30. Also on the bill that day are The Strypes, Jess Glynne and Bipolar Sunshine.
On Friday August 29 acts include Shed Seven, Gaz Coombes and The Selecter while Sunday August 31’s line-up is topped by the Pet Shop Boys and includes Naughty Boy and Chloe Howl.
For tickets and further details visit ww.bingleymusiclive.com