Shane Filan: The former Westlife star chats to us about his plans as a solo artist

Former boyband member turned solo artists Shane FIlan chats exclusively to MarkMeets about his new single ‘Everything To Me’, plus he tells all about his album & tour plans, songwriting, Louis Walsh, Ireland, Backstreet Boys, Westlife and his wife; in one of his longest and most honest interviews to date.

Shane Filan
Shane Filan

Hi Shane
Great Mark, How are you?
Very well thanks Shane. I first you when you were in ‘Westside’ in the 90’s and later at MTV so it’s good to catch up!

Your new track ‘Everything to me’ was written by yourself and Nick Atkinson, how did the writing partnership about?.
It was the first writing session for the album, It was abit of a nerve racking process for me as I haven’t really done much writing before but the label said ‘would you love to write’? and I said I would love to so it ended up being the first session in January. After Christmas I came back and went to Nick’s house in London with another guy Tom Wiley- he’s a guitarist. We went in and just started talking about life and stuff and we had a jam really and a sing-song. After an hour we had a bit of a vibe for the structure of the song and that was it. Within 3 or 4 hours we had the song though; we didn’t know it would be my first single at the time, obviously when you’re writing a song you don’t know what it’s gonna be like or how good it is. Then I sent the demo to the label and they came back to me saying ‘You know this is really really good’. I was like yeah this is really good stuff.

So the label has given you quite a bit of freedom, did you write or co-write many tracks for the album?
Yeah, all the tracks for the album. We did about 45 sessions or something like that over 6 or 7 months. We got off to a good start when the label said ‘You can write really good song ‘and so they started booking aload more sessions and wanted me to keep going. A week later, after the ‘Everything to me’ (recording session) I was with two other guys, Barry and Patrick and we did two more really good songs in 2 days! One of them is possibly my next single,  so it was a really good start in the first 2/3 weeks. Then (my label) booked me to go to Nashville, so it showed me that people who I was working with were ringing back the label. I think they (the label) got alot of confidence from the people I was working with. I found it all quite relaxing…not easy, but the sessions were very easy to do. I found it just like talking. I didn’t want to write a song unless I could relate to it. Sometimes you go to a session and they say ‘let’s write about this’, you know a relationship has broken down or whatever you know it was mad love stories and i’m like ‘Well that’s completely opposite to my life so I need to write something that is relevant to me, it has to be universal to other people as well obviously and that is what I tried to do, I learnt that when I was with all these people, you have to keep songs universal. Every song had something to do with my life or my wife Gillian, obviously alot of songs are about her and how amazing she was for me, or my kids, stuff like that. People can relate to that a everyone has somebody they are in love with, they have children or they have something that is important to them.

What was the best and the worst part of filming the ‘Everything to me’ music video?
The worst things was probably the heat as it was 46 degrees, it was pretty heavy as I had a jacket and scarf on me (Laughs). The best thing was probably the whole set-up, the amount of people that was working on the shoot was crazy! There was like 81 people working on my video and it was just really weird. I’m obviously used to doing load of videos with Westlife though it was my first day at work and all these people were making sure that I was okay. The location was incredible and with all the extras and stuff, it was so professionally done I had to take a breath to take it all in. This is my first video, this is my life, I realised that day I was on my own. I had a break from the video shoot half way though, you know we’d take breaks every hour or two and I would be in my trailer van or whatever waiting for the next take and before I’d walk in and it would be pretty manic with all the lads in there, the four of us (Westlife) where we would talk, shout, gossip with one another and there would be people in the make-up area but I was in there on my own with the door closed so I was on my own in this massive trailer and for half an hour it was just silence and I was liked ‘This is my life now, I’m on my own’. It just sunk in that day.

Was there anything on your rider?
Ah, was there anything on my rider? (Thinking), Probably…not really no. I had a rider but I don’t know what was on it to be honest. Probably just water…and coffee. I wanted cold Starbucks like frappuccino things in the fridge. I wanted some of them cos I wanted to be fully awake and alert and I didn’t want hot coffee cos it was so hot!

What is the most surprising thing you have learnt about yourself having gone solo?
It’s alot more hard work, you’re alot more full on because your doing every interview, photo shoot, question, so you are doing everything yourself. I sleep an awful lot heavier, I go into an absolute flat-out coma for like 10-12 hours. I’ve been flat out the last 3 weeks with the single coming out. Once I get going I’m alert and ready for it but then when I get home I put my kids asleep and literally fall asleep with them so I need more caffeine I think!

Which album track are you most looking forward to hearing people’s reaction too?
Probably a song that nobody has heard year ‘All You Need To Know’, it not been decided yet but it could be my next single. It’s a very important song to me, it’s a mid-tempo ballad, like there is only afew ballads on the album but it’s very personal to me lyrically. The whole song is basically about me and my wife and how amazing she was last year and with all the financial stuff, she as just incredible. She was incredible to get me through that and keep me focused and positive. It’s for me re-paying. It’s like a thank-you without saying it. It’s me saying to her ‘I’ll look after you, I’ll fix this. You will never be on your own and that’s all you need to know. I will look after you and the kids and that’s it.” It’s like me and her having conversations and stuff. She is my number 1 supporter for sure. The second verse is her talking to me about the things she said to me and in a universal kind of way. It’s one of those songs that just means an awful lot to me. I’m dying to see what people think of it.

Has Mark, Nicky or Kian heard any of your unreleased material.
No they haven’t, they have only heard ‘Everything to me’ obviously once and ‘everytime’, so they haven’t heard anything else yet. No-one really has heard it and it’s one of those things, it’s not in a secret way or anything. I think the record label wants to let them out as they let them out, it’s just one of those things; The boys have text me and rung me and said they love ‘Everything to me’ and it’s a great song, for me it’s nice to get their thumbs up because I spent half my life with them so it’s interesting to see what they thought of the music, so far they think it’s great and it’s nice to hear that. Obviously when the albums come out I will give them albums and stuff like that, I don’t even have one myself,…so I’l have to wait alittle but longer.

You mentioned that there are only a couple of ballads on the album, did you want to want to take it in a different purpose from what you’ve recorded in the past?
I think it’s more the real me as I purposely had it in the back of my mind that I wanted to make the album a bit more mid-tempo. I think the style of music is definitely different to Westlife, it is more folky, poppy and probably more country. I think when you are doing that kind of music it’s needs to be energetic and up-tempo. There is alot of foot stamping, hand clapping music and it’s different. Alot of people I was going into the recording with would start writing an up-tempo record and the ‘All you need to know’ song came afew weeks in, I had actually done 6/7 up-tempo style songs and I said listen I would still really like to write a ballad and have it on my album and then ‘All you need to know’ happened. There are 3, maybe 4 ballads on the album out of a possible 14 or 15 songs. For me to do it live I think it needs to be more upbeat, it’s what I love doing you know, I love singing ballads but doing it live and getting the crowd up on their feet and that is what I want to do now that I am on my own. I want to enjoy every single minute of it so it has to be stuff that I love and I think they (the fans) will definitely love it too, hopefully!.

Did you do any collaborations?
I didn’t actually do a duet at all. It was something we never intended to try and do. For me personally I definitely want to do duets in the future but for me now I need to find my own musical style and get my sound out there and get maybe 3 or 4 singles out there over the next 6-8 months and then maybe look at duets. I would like to do a duet when I know exactly the type of music…where i’m going to, what territories i’m in and finding the best person to do it with. There are alot of singers in the world who are great, it’s just waiting to find that person and not just for the sake of doing a duet. I would rather wait and wait to do it with someone amazing, we did that with Westlife as well when we did a duet on the first album and one the second album where we were obviously lucky enough to get someone like Mariah Carey (Against All Odds). I think you have to build up your own persona first and get people used to your voice.

As you’ve been to Nashville, would you work with someone like Taylor Swift in the future?
If I were to do a duet it would definitely be with a female, obviously Taylor Swift would be amazing. Everybody in the world would probably want to do a duet with Taylor Swift as well! There are plans to go to America next year so if I’m over there are start to become successful I would love to work with a country artist. Carrie Underwood is another beautiful singer. it’s probably something that I won’t know for another 6-8 months to see where i’m at cos you gotta be in the territories so we’ll have to wait and see.

Your living in the UK so what do you miss most about Ireland?
Probably the pints of Guiness. There is a difference you know, I was in Dublin recently and I went back Sligo actually in my home town for a friend’s birthday party and the different in the Guiness is ridiculous like! Honestly, you can get a good pint of Guiness in London but it’s just not as good as a pint you would get in Dublin or Sligo and I noticed that the past few times I’ve gone home. Cos your over here alot and your drinking, every few weekends I’ll go out for afew pints with my mates and the guys says ‘Oh that’s a good pint and then they’ll say ‘No that’s a good pint’, I do genuinely miss that but other that we’ve had a house here for 7 years and obviously my kids school here and my job is here, Heathrow is close by so it makes sense to live here. It’s great, the wife loves it here as well, and the weather is alot better at the moment.

What are you favourite Westlife tracks?
I have afew, I love ‘You Raise Me Up’ I just love singing that song, it’s one of those songs that is amazing to sing. I love ‘Flying Without Wings’, ‘World Of Our Own’ and ‘What About Now’ too.

If you weren’t in Westlife, knowing what you know now, which other boyband would you liked to have been in?
Before Westlife, I was always a big ‘Backsreet Boys’ fan, so either ‘Backsreet Boys’ or ‘Take That’. They were my two favourite bands growing up. If I had to choose only one, probably the ‘Backsreet Boys’ when they were doing their 2nd/3rd album back in the ‘Everybody’ and their ‘As Long As You Love Me’ days.

The ‘Backsreet Boys’ have made a comeback so is there a chance that Westlife would ever reunite?
You know what Mark, you never know. It’s something that we have absolutly no plans for at all. We’ve zero plans to do it but you can’t say what might happen ten years down the line as you never know what’s around the corner. I don’t even know what’s happening in a years time…Ten years down the line, you never know. We all ended on a great note, we’re all still friends and obviously we have a 14 year legacy behind us which we are very proud of so there is no reason why it might happen but there is absolutely zero plans to do it but it might also not happen and that is the honest answer.

Does the support that you get still surprise you as you’ve been away?
It does, the last couple of weeks have really surprised me! When I did my radio tour at various stations across the UK and Ireland there were 100-200 people, it was crazy. People just wanted to come and say hello, 80% of them I hadn’t met before. They were all new people who had waited up to 14 years to meet me. I was genuinely surprised by it and I thought it might be only 20/30 people. It was a great confidence booster for sure, maybe the song is good and they like it. They all came out to support me and I won’t forget that as I met everyone of them individually for a photograph and signed stuff for them, when they come out like that they deserve my time. Obviously alot of them were Westlife fans though but alot of them I had not met before and I was surprised by that. I can’t thank them enough as I don’t know what is going to happen though my single is getting good reviews, it’s getting played on radio and added to big radio stations playlists and stuff but it doesn’t mean anything til you see where it charts and that is pretty nerve racking thing to look forward too.

What are the other Westlifers doing?
Mark is writing at the moment, he’s doing alot of song writing sessions and stuff and recording. He is the type of person who will take his time and then when he’s ready to do something he will do it. He will really go for it when everything is in place.
Nicky and Kian are doing TV shows, Nicky is doing one in Dublin at the moment and Kian obviously is a coach on The Voice in Ireland. They are both focused on TV and presenting at the moment.
We’re all individually getting our lives on our solo tracks and it’s hard when you’ve come out of a band for 14 years and everything is set out in front of you for a year and you know exactly what is happening. It’s new for all of us and you just have to work it out on your own and see where you end up.

How is Louis Walsh.
Very well, as my manager I see him everyday. We’ve a great relationship, a very honest relationship, he tells me exactly how is it and when i’m right and wrong, I have massive respect for him. He believes in me more than anybody and he is more excited about this than anybody and that is the kind of person you need behind you, you know. He is very excited about the next few months.

Will you be performing on the X Factor this series?
Obviously I would love too. Offcourse I would love a slot on the X Factor, Westlife did it several times but it’s one of those things Mark I don’t know yet. It’s going to be tough I think to get it; It’s my first album, maybe we’ll have to wait til my second single at the time but I would love to get on there, 100% I would love to be performing on there but it’s one of those things as well you don’t usually find out til like a week or two before, so fingers crossed if I get on it great but if I don’t you know I’ll do some other show but I would love to be performing on there definitely.

Great speaking to you Shane and good luck, i’m sure we’ll catch up soon enough.
No problem at all Mark, thanks for having me man and I hope to get to meet you again soon.

Mark Boardman (Site Founder and Editor)

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