Brian McFadden, Irish singer songwriter, TV presenter and former member of boy band Westlife, chats with Kevin Cooper about a Boyzone and Westlife double header tour, playing golf, leaving Westlife and touring the UK as Boyzlife with Keith Duffy.
Whose idea was it to do Boyzlife?
It was actually Keith’s. He was going to do the show by himself. He had this idea of doing a one-man autobiographical show where he talks about his career, his life and everything that he has gone through in the last 40 years or so. Then he came along to see me performing my solo show and as he watched me singing he realised that the one thing that was missing was the performance side of the show.
So we sat down together and thought how we could perform the songs from Westlife and Boyzone with us telling the stories about our careers.
We have been friends for a very long time. We both grew up in Dublin and only lived five minutes from each other. These days we are golfing buddies and manage to play a lot. I thought ‘wouldn’t it be great if we toured together so we could play the gig in the evening, golf in the morning and a few drinks after?’
Were you and Keith friends when you were in your respective bands? Wasn’t there a Westlife vs Boyzone rivalry?
There was never any rivalry between Westlife and Boyzone. We started our career as a support act to Boyzone; they gave us our big break. Then obviously when Westlife took off Boyzone then took their break, Ronan (Keating) went solo, Keith went onto act in Coronation Street and the rest of the boys went off to do their own thing. We were never in the market at the same time.
You are bringing the show to The Glee Club in Nottingham – do you enjoy your time spent here in Nottingham?
Yes I do I really do and I am so looking forward to playing The Glee Club up there. I think that I have only played Nottingham once in the last few years. I was in the show, Jeff Wayne’s War Of The Worlds and I can remember playing at the Arena a few years ago now. I think that was the last time that I was in Nottingham.
You are forgetting 2013 when you opened for Ronan on his Fires tour here in Nottingham at the Royal Concert Hall.
Of course, Ronan did play Nottingham, I had forgotten about that. Don’t tell him will you? (laughs). When we play The Glee Club I am hoping that Nottingham’s favourite son will come down to the show; Carl (Froch) loves the Boyzone and Westlife gigs (laughs).
Without giving too much away, what can we expect?
Well there will obviously be quite a lot of hit songs being sung. We had 21 No. 1s between the two of us. We will also be telling you a lot of things that happened backstage, on the road and stuff that you probably wouldn’t see in the music videos or in the magazines, such as the mischief that we got up to.
Is there any new material on the horizon?
I have literally just started writing once again and I am currently writing new material for a new solo album.
I was thinking that you and Keith could perhaps record an album of your interpretations of Boyzone and Westlife hits.
We could most definitely do that. Perhaps we could do a live version of that because I think that it would be funnier.
You left Westlife in March 2004. With hindsight was it the right time to leave the band?
Looking back now it is hard to tell what was right and what was wrong. I know that at the time it felt completely right. I was ready to step back. I had been in the band for six solid years, working 360 days a year, only getting a couple of days off at Christmas to see your family, working 6am to 1am and getting very little sleep. Those six years felt like twelve years.
I interviewed Shane Filan recently and mentioned that 2018 was Westlife’s twentieth anniversary – he told me in no uncertain terms he will be doing nothing whatsoever to celebrate it.
I know that I won’t be doing anything to celebrate it. There have been no discussions but I haven’t heard if they will be doing anything to celebrate it.
You have to remember that there are two Westlifes – the one that I was in and then the Westlife after me. They are two different bands. After I left the boys reinvented themselves.
I would say that the most likely thing is that if they do get around to doing something then it will most probably just be the four of them.
Because 2018 is also Boyzone’s 25th anniversary I suggested a Westlife and Boyzone double header tour – I got the feeling he wasn’t very impressed with that idea
I think that nine people on the one stage is most probably too many (laughs). It’s hard enough keeping mine and Keith’s egos in check without having seven more.
What would you say has been the highlight of your career so far?
That would have to be Westlife, absolutely. The beginning of Westlife and me getting into the band was such a massive thing. It was really strange because most people start off in the music business and they don’t know just how it is going to go but there was such a buzz around Westlife when we first started, even before the first single came out, you could see that something big was going to happen.