The Sun - A Frank chat with Westlife

Way out West ... Nicky, Kian and Shane talk to us

WHEN Brian McFadden left Westlife many thought the successful boy band would follow the Spice Girls and Take That into pop oblivion.

But in an exclusive webchat Nicky Byrne, Shane Filan and Kian Egan guaranteed fans they'll be around for years to come and told us they are happier now than ever before.

And so they should be – Nicky and Shane both married their childhood sweethearts last year in fairytale weddings, while Kian has found love with Hollyoaks stunner Jodi Albert.

The lads' new Rat Pack album, Allow Us To Be Frank, is also set to add more professional success to their haul of 12 No1 singles, four No1 albums and countless music awards.

Below the boys – who were without band mate Mark Feehily – answer your questions on everything from meeting up with Brian to drinking and gambling in Las Vegas.


Why did you decide to have a Rat Pack theme for your new album?

Kian – We always wanted to do a themed album at some stage in our career and felt this was the right time to try something different.

Before Brian left we had the idea of doing a duets album and tossed around a couple of other suggestions.

Then a lot of people told us that as a four piece we looked and acted like a young Rat Pack and that started the ball rolling in our minds.

Our manager Louis Walsh was keen and we really liked the songs, so we did some demos for Simon Cowell who said it was perfect for us.

Shane – The hardest thing for us was picking which songs to do. We all had our favourites and so did Louis and Simon – it took a long time to narrow it down to just 13 tracks!


Hi guys, I heard you spent time in Las Vegas living the Rat Pack lifestyle to prepare for this album – so what did you get up to?
Danielle, Torquay

Shane – We went out drinking a lot.

Kian – And gambling a lot.

Shane – Then we drunk a bit more and gambled a bit more.

Kian – We did everything except for sleep!

Shane – When you're in the casino they keep bringing you more drinks, so you're drinking for a long period of time.

So even though you're losing money on the tables and tipping the waitresses who bring you drinks, because they're free you think you're having a free night out.

But when you add it all up you realise 'actually that was a pretty f***ing expensive night out!'

It's the losers that built Vegas.

Kian – And sadly it was our own money we gambling with – we would have spent a lot more if it was Louis or Simon's!

Nicky – I ended up down £2500, Shane lost £1500 and Mark finished around even.

Kian – I did the best – I won £1500.

Nicky – That was luck son, not being the best.


Which cool places should I visit in Las Vegas, as I am going there soon?
Ciara McGeehan, Co Donegal, Ireland

Shane – Our trip there was one of the best weeks of my life and you've really got to experience Vegas for yourself.

Walk down the strip, go to the casinos, visit the amazing indoor shopping centres and eat in the restaurants.

Nicky – Or do what Britney did and go down to the Little White Wedding Chapel and get married!

Kian – I was really tempted to live the whole Vegas thing and pull someone off the street and get married and divorced within 20 minutes.


Loved up ... the Westlife lads tell us about the women in their lives

I've a question for Nicky - how is married life with Georgina? What are your memories of your wedding day?
Sandra, Holland

Nicky – We celebrated our first anniversary back in August and it's been an absolutely brilliant 15 months.

Before our wedding I couldn't see how our relationship could change, but it's amazing how much closer you become when you're married. We're definitely soul mates.

Because we're lucky enough to be in the position we are, we were able to throw a fairytale wedding. I wouldn't have changed a thing.

We had a massive party in a chateau in France with more than 400 guests. We wanted to make sure everybody had the time of their lives - I flew all my family over and we had free drinks.

France had a heat wave on the day, so it was even more incredible. We were doing photographs, but the rest of the wedding party were down by the lake drinking Guinness.

Kian – It was a real Irish wedding. Me, Shane and Mark were sat together with our mates and we were still dancing on the table with bottles of vodka in our hands at six in the morning!

Nicky – When Georgina and I first walked into the marquee everyone was prim and proper and then I heard a big drunken shout go up from this lot of "go on Nicky!"


Shane – how is married life treating you and what was your wedding like?
Zoe, London

Shane – It's going great and every day I fall in love with my wife Gillian again.

We got married last Christmas, so it was very different to Nicky's wedding when it comes to climate.

We had it in a castle with a marquee out the back. We had a horse and carriage to come to the castle and everything was exactly how we wanted it.

It was beautiful and the best day of my life without question.

I'd love to be able to do it again but it costs a fortune! We might have a wee party for our 10th anniversary though.


Nicky and Shane, you two have been married for a while now. What's the greatest difference between single life and married life? And Kian - do you feel like getting married after seeing how happy your mates are?
Ashlyn, Singapore

Shane – Like Nicky said you really feel like you've found your soul mate - and we're very lucky that we found our loves before Westlife.

Nicky and I married our childhood sweethearts, and Kian has also known Jodi since before we started the band.

Nicky's been with Georgina for more than 10 years, and I've being going out with Gillian for seven.

Nicky – And I saw Gillian for a while as well!

Kian – What they don't know is I've actually dated both of them.

Shane – And the worst thing is – Kian is Gillian's cousin.

Seriously though, the three girls are all really good mates and go out shopping together. We're all so happy.

Kian – It hasn't really put any pressure on me to get married though. We've only been going out a year and a half and it's been amazing but we're not ready for wedding bells yet.

I'm delighted for the boys and it's great to see them so happy. I'm sure it's going to happen for me too someday. Maybe in three or four year's time when me and Jodi are both more settled.

But right now I'm happy as Larry.

Nicky – I'd love to meet Larry – he's always f***ing happy.


This is to Kian - I am a devoted fan of yours and am so pleased for you about Jodi Albert. How did you get together? Also who's your favourite Hollyoaks character?
Nicola Craig

Kian – When I first met Jodi she was only 15, and I was 17, so she was too young and I wanted to wait for her to grow up a bit.

I'd always fancied her, but we definitely got together when the time was right.

I watch Hollyoaks quite a lot and my favourite character is Debbie, of course.

Nicky – Although right now it's Debbie Does Hollyoaks!

Kian – She literally does, I think she's on her fifth boyfriend. But at the end of the day that's just her job and I can't really step in and say, "no, you can't be kissing that guy on screen".


While Mark's away ... Our man Simon takes missing member's place

Question for Mark – are you still looking for Mrs Right?
Krystle Saywell, 19, Birmingham

All – Mark's not here but we can answer this one... absolutely!

Nicky – He's having all the fun.

Shane – But at the same time I think he looks at us and says: "The boys have it all sewn up, they've got someone to go home to at night."

It's just a matter of time before he finds the right woman, and that's all that matters.

Nicky – We're not trying to set him up with our wives' friends though – I think he's been through most of them already!


I heard a rumour that you guys might break up. You will probably deny this but so did Take That and the Spice Girls. Please let us know what's going on.
Jackie Gunn, Barry, South Wales

Shane – Believe me – there's not a hope of us splitting up. We've planned ahead for the next three years.

At the moment we can definitely see Westlife going for another three or four years and then, who knows, maybe three or four more after that.


How did Brian leaving the band affect you guys?

Shane – It felt really weird and came as a massive shock to us. We knew he was unhappy but had no idea he wanted to leave.

We tried to change his mind, and were locked in meetings for a week, but he said it was what he wanted to do and we didn't want to stand in his way.

We had 19 days after he left the band until the start of a four-month sell-out tour - and we literally went from the press conference where Brian announced he was going to rehearsals.

But it was actually the best time he could have picked, because it made us group together and work hard for the next four months.

We are now more focussed as a band than we've ever been, individually on our families and we've got more respect for each other.

It's a completely different Westlife since Brian left, and that's no disrespect to him but it's made us realise just how lucky we are.

It's unbelievable what we've done in six years, for our age, and we knew we didn't want to throw it all away.

Kian – The new album is our first as a four piece, but we didn't miss Brian in the studio as by that point he'd been gone for six months and this wasn't a normal Westlife album.

But every now again we do sit back and go: "Jesus, there used to be five of us in this band!"


Back in the day ... Westlife before Brian (far left) quit the band

Are you still in touch with Brian and how is he feeling after his split with Kerry?
Tina, Tasha and Danielle

Kian – We speak to Brian a lot and went out with him after the Nordic Music Awards last week.

We had a good chat and went through a lot of stuff. We all agreed that no matter what happens you can't take away what we had as a five piece – and what we have now as a four piece and Brian has as a solo artist.

No one can else ever truly understand what it's like being in Westlife. It's only the five of us that recorded the records, sold the records, earned the money, spent the money and travelled the world.

It's also great that we're all still good friends. If you look at the other bands that have split – Take That, Boyzone, The Spice Girls – they've all fallen out.

But we just laugh about it. I was even taking the p*** out of Brian last week and said: "You told us you wanted to go and look after your family and all of a sudden you had an album out."

But he said now if he wants to take a week off to go home and see his kids he can, without having to worry about four other people. And in the music business you have to strike while the iron is hot.

Shane – Brian and Kerry are obviously going through a very tough time at the moment and we hope they can sort it out.

It's not easy for anyone in their situation, but it must be especially hard for them as they have young children.

We're very close to both of them, and I'm godfather to one of their kids, and we just hope they're both happy.


Band Aid is being re-released. Would you consider taking part?
Holly O'Donnell, Invergordon, Scotland

Kian – Yes, if they ask us, we'd love to be involved.

Shane – That would be something special and if there's a pop band to be on it, we'd love it to be us.

Nicky – I remember sitting and watching Live Aid from Wembley Stadium and if they did another concert we'd love to play that too.

It would be an amazing achievement for us - right up there with meeting the Pope, winning a World Music Award and playing at Lansdowne Road.


Westlife's new album Allow Us To Be Frank is released on November 8.