They were one of the biggest boy bands of the ’90s. More than a decade later and they’re still together, minus one, and still aiming to be bigger and better than ever. We met lead singer Shane to talk about the band’s forthcoming gig in Dubai and find out the latest on the band of merry men.
How’s the UK tour?
Good! I’m lying in my bed now. After the shows I don’t get to sleep until 3am because my ears are ringing, so I sleep in until 12.30pm.
It’s great – the weather is perfect. I’ve been to Dubai loads of times, on holidays. I actually got engaged in Dubai, on the beach at night. It was pretty cool. I was staying at the Royal Méridien hotel eight years ago. I love golf, so I’ve spent a lot of time on the courses – Montgomerie, Dubai Creek and Emirates. I’ve been to different malls and the Hard Rock Café, and Tokyo on the Rocks. I’ll have to see that restaurant on the 122nd floor of Burj Khalifa this time.
You’ve had 14 UK number-one hits: that’s three less than The Beatles and the same number as Cliff Richard. Do you think you can beat them?
No one can beat The Beatles, but it is something we think about from time to time. It’s a lot harder to get number ones these days – the way the radio is going, with people releasing songs the same day as radio releases, you know. The whole market has changed in the past year. But yes, to get to 15 would be great, then we could get ahead of Cliff! [Laughs].
After working with Simon Cowell for 13 years, you split from his label, Syco, earlier this year. Why?
It was only a few weeks ago. It was something we had to do and he understood that. His record label is now a small part of his company. His TV company is 90 per cent of everything in his life. We understood that, but we deserved more attention. We’ve moved to RCA, which is the same company but in another department. We couldn’t go on releasing one single per album. It’s not fair to us, the fans, the international markets – they only get to judge us on one song a year. We need to have three or four chances.
Could this lead to a radical change in your music?
We’ve definitely changed – our music has evolved, but not drastically. Westlife is never going to drastically change, but I think we can get more exciting, different and more fun for the fans.
Clearly you have a very clean-cut image. What’s the most rock-and-roll thing you’ve ever done? Trashed a hotel room?
[Laughs] No, we don’t trash too many hotel rooms, but for us, rock and roll is selling out arenas, selling millions of albums, travelling the world in style, travelling in private planes. Luckily we’ve been successful for a long time. And we still want more – to be better, to be bigger. Not that we’re greedy, but we really feel like we have underachieved recently and now it’s time to get bigger and better.
Would you let former member Brian [McFadden] ‘do a Robbie’ and rejoin the band?
I honestly can’t see it happening, but you never know. I’ll never close the door on Bryan – I don’t think any of us would. He left the band because he didn’t like what Westlife was. It was nothing personal. We actually got on quite well with him – very well. It was a complete and utter shock to us – we thought we were being Punk’d at the time, because MTV Punk’d had just started. We like him and still meet up with him. We’ll definitely sing with him again, sometime, somewhere.
Westlife play Jebel Ali Centre of Excellence on April 14, www.timeouttickets.com