TOTP - MARK BEHIND BARS
Saying you're the quiet one wash with us anymore! Forget Westlife, MARK FEEHILY - you're looking at life!
Can you explain on your experience of a Page 3 girl kiss-and-tell?
It's definitely something that I didn't like happening but to be honest with you, I didn't really care. And neither did my family or friends, who are the only people whose opinion rewally matters to me.
And what did Granny Feehily think abut it?
I don't know. But to be honest, my family know not to take something the papers print at face value. They don't pick up a paper and say, "Oh gosh, I can't believe he's been doing that!" They call me and ask. They're a very cool and protective family.
Does it make you wary of meeting girls?
I always knew that there were people like that out there, but fortunately I put my trust in someone I thought wasn't like that. To be honest with you, there was some truth in the story but a lot of it was made up, like the age - even the picture wasn't of the person I remember meeting.
The headline said, 'Mark Feehily Has Little Wheeley.' Any comments?
Not reaaly. Once again, I don't really care about it.
You've been linked to members of Louis Walsh's other bands - Kathy Bellefire for one. Are you gulity of conducting public relationships as publicity stunts?
I don't go around bragging about what I've done and I certainly don't go around making up stones. I know all the Bellefire girls pretty well cos they wre from Ireland and everything, and they were very nice girls. But the only member I've ever really spoken to one-to-one was Kelly on the phone.
And, would you like to explain the Nicola Girls Aloud incident?
Oh, someone said one of Girls Aloud fancied me. I reckon they're an alright bunch of girls, although not really my type. Erm...I like quieter girls, they're all a bit teisty and bossy, ha-ha! but our band isn't about that kind of thing - making up stones. I'm not one of those who like to play the whole press game.
According to documents in our possession you're scared of birds?
It's true that I have a phobia.
All kinds of birds?
Well, bird as in the animals, not girls! In general, I don't like being around them but I think they're really gorgeous creatures. If one were close, I'd be really wary cos I've seen Alfred Hitchcock's film, The Birds and I've seen what they can do to humans. I definitely have a phobia but I can explain it.
So they get you in a real flap?
If I were locked in a room with a load of birds I'd probably have a panic attack and blavk out. I see people in Trafalgar Square with their arms outstretched and birds on them, and I simply couldn't do that. I'd die on the spot. If there were a bird in the room I would freak. I don't mind pet birds, but it's just the wild ones - you don't know what they're going to do, they would fly straight at you!
The court of TOTP hears you've been guilty of waxing your chest.
No, never! I've cut hairs off hte top cos I don't like to a big hand of hair, creepy crawly style coming out my top.
We've seen evidence of dabbling with blonde looks. Why?
Well, the blonde thing was only for a video shoot but ended up keeping it for a few weeks, I suppose. I got more attention from the girls when I was blonde but I don't think they actually liked it. I didn't have time to got rocks or anything cosI've got big eyebrows and the blonde thing just looked ally!
You've been accused of churning out ballads. What's wrong with techno dance tracks?
Well, even though I have nothing against techno dance tracks, it's probably something we'll never do in the whole of our career. What people have to understand is that we're not responsible for a lot of our music. We work with a lot of producers and write some of our material, we're not responsible for 90 per cent of our music. At the end of the day our A&R guy (artist and relations) is more responsible for our music than we are.
Now tell us about your manager, Louis Walsh. Apparently he's said Bryan and Shane are turning out amazing stuff and they're the only ones with long-term futures. Are you gutted?
To be honest, that wasn't I really said against anybody. I remember when that came out and we were the last people who asked him, "What's the story with that quote?" I do believe that Bryan and Shane will turn out really great stuff - and even if Louis turned round to me and said, "Oh, you're crap." I would say, "Thanks but that's just your opinion."
We put it to you, Mark Feehily that you will go to any lengths to crack America.
Definitely not. We've been offered a lot of things but we've turned them down cos we just felt like we weren't willing to sacrifice certain things. If we don't do it this time, then we'll probably say, "OK, we'll leave it for the time being." It's not like we're stopping everything and trying to break America cos even though it is important territory, it's not the only territory. We'll have lots to do.
OK then, is there anything else you'd like to add in your defence?
We're willing to work very hard and take all the opportunities that come to us. We're vocalists and that's what we like to concentrate on, but people need to stop taking things in the paper as the truth. Sometimes they are true and sometimes they're not. If I want to live my life as a normal person, I've got to ignore things. I'm not going to stop going out and having a good time.
You've got one last chance, Feehily. Have you lied at all during this interview?
Yes, quite a lot, ha-ha!
HotPress - West Behaviour
Originally HotPress came to London with the intention not just of interviewing Westlife, but of partying on down with them. The plan was to stay in their hotel (the luxurious Conrad Chelsea Harbour), accompany the band to Wembley Arena (where they're totally sold out six nights in a row), check out the gig, and then see what kind of aftershow decadence the world's biggest boy band stars indulge in when their hard day 'n' night's work is over.
Unfortunately, but perhaps not surprisingly, it wasn't to be. HotPress arrives at the hotel just in time to see two gleaming Volvo jeeps, with giveaway tinted windows, pulling away, chased by hordes of screaming girls bearing autograph books and sundry articles of underclothing. By the time photographer Peter Matthews and I had made it to Wembley Arena, and talked our way past the hugely suspicious security guards, Kian Egan, Shane Filan, Mark Feehily, Nicky Byrne and Bryan McFadden were already hard at work.
First, there was the soundcheck. Casually dressed in baseball caps, shades and baggies, the band spent about 30 minutes getting their voices in order, running through an alarmingly familiar medley that took in most of their record ten UK number ones. Although a little croaky at the start, by the time they got to Flying Without Wings, they were, well, flying. Without wings!
Even before the soundcheck was finished, their record company people had ushered in a nervous and giggly crowd of competition winners and fans for a pre-show meet-and-greet session. About 100 pre-teens and their mothers lined up at the barrier and gazed on admiringly as the objects of their pre-pubescent desires finished their business. When the soundcheck was finally over, the band members split up and, starting at opposite ends of the line, worked their way through 20 minutes of autograph signing, hugging, kissing and posing for photographs.
Afterwards, backstage in their dressing room, highly stressed tour manager Jake Duncan explained that the band had decided that, as with their last major HotPress interview, they're prefer to be interviewed individually, in 15-minute sessions. And so this was how the interviews were conducted. Each member took his place on the couch, while the others chilled out and practised their golf-putting in the hallway.
Much later, back at the Conrad after the show. 90-plus minutes of sweetly professional sounds, encompassing about ten costume changes and a truly bizarre section that saw the five of them floating over the audience on a giant disc. Bryan was the only member of the band still propping up the hotel bar at 1am (though, in fairness, he left soon afterwards to go into studio).
"We're half-way through a ten-week tour so nobody really gets up to much after the gigs anyway," he explained. "Usually we just chill out at this stage, so you're not really missing anything. Anyway, a couple of the lads live in London so we're not even all staying here tonight."
When HotPress protested that we've been hoping for underage girls, copious boozing, ingestion of illegal powders and perhaps a little bit of a band scrap just for colour, the affable Dubliner burst out laughing.
Well now, if there was anything like that going on, you'll be the very last people we'll do it in front of! We're not fucking stupid, you know!
Oh well, that's (West)life!
I noticed lots of girls hanging around outside your hotel earlier. Does that happen everywhere you go?
Nicky: Yeah. Mostly, anyway. Obviously numbers vary but every city around the world we go to, there’s usually some there. If we fly to Munich you can be guaranteed there’ll probably be 50 or 60 at the airport. And then they jump in a cab and follow us to the hotel and stuff.
Does that ever get scary?
Not that scary for our safety, no. well, it has done in the past, in Asia, where you're talking hundreds, maybe thousands, of people at the airport. That can get a little bit, Woah!? But just for their safety, sometimes it gets a bit mad. You get people hanging out of cab windows trying to touch the bus and stuff like that. Spain is notorious for that kinda thing. They actually sit on the doors of cars, with their whole body hanging out, holding onto the roof. Crazy!!
Do you enjoy it all or has the buzz worn off?
I love it! I think we all still love it. We wouldn't be doing it if we didn't. And the good thing about us is, like a football team, we don't wanna let it slip. We're the first people to put our foot down on the accelerator if there's somebody up and coming behind us. And there has been. It's only natural that music changes. But we don't want anybody to take over our crown, if you like.
The band met the Pope last year. Did you manage to have a conversation with him?
No, it's very brief. You sit in this big room and he comes in with all these bishops and cardinals around him. So he takes about five minutes to walk in the door to his seat, and in that five minutes there's just pure silence. Because, as you can imagine, he's very old and he's quite leaned over and stuff. So we were in the front row, just looking at him, he was literally where that couch is, walking across. And he got up and said a few prayers in Latin or whatever. And then individually we formed a line and walked up. You can either shake his hand or you can kiss the little ring that everybody kisses. And then you bow to him and he blesses you and touches your forehead. It's very brief. Like, it's over in 60 seconds.
Are you nervous about your forthcoming marriage?
No, not at all. People keep asking me about that, but no. Unless it's gonna hit me some day. But we're going out for eight-and-a-half years, nine in October, so it's not like I don't know her. I think both of us are fairly relaxed about it.
Do you vote Fianna Fail?
Of course (laughs). Absolutely! But my family are all big Fianna Fial people anyway. When I say big Fianna Fail people, I mean they would've voted Fianna Fail before I ever met Georgina. So I think that was probably just lucky. It wouldn't have been so good if they've been Fine Gael!!
Have you read her sisters' book?
I've read a couple of chapters of it. It hadn't been bound or anything. It was all in foolscap or whatever but, yeah, it was very, very good. She got quite a lot of stick in the press over getting a million euro publishing deal.
Did you give her any advice on handling Irish begrudgery?
Not at all. They were kind of launched into that whole scene because of their dad anyway. Even in school, they had all of that grief. You know what it's like when you're growing up. But I don't think Irish begrudgery is as bad as people say it is. You'll always get someone who wants to slag you off, no matter where you're from. And I'm a firm believer in you're gotta take the good with the bad. And although I cringe at some of the things written about me or Georgina, or even the other band members, you just kind of shrug it off.
Still, I'm sure you realise where it's coming from. People don't tend to take boy bands all that seriously?
Well, some people think we won the lottery and that we don't deserve what we have. I’m sure there are better singers in Ireland, I'm sure there are better looking people in Ireland, or anywhere else in the world, for that matter. We were the five boys in the right place at the right time, but I do believe that we've made it at last because of the bond we share. I mean, we could easily have split up loads of time, especially if we believed what the papers said.
Does it bother you that Westlife haven't cracked the American market?
Not hugely. The problem with America is that it's all radio and you're gotta break into radio first, before they'll play your records and people will hear it. And currently radio doesn't wanna play boy bands or pop music. I think that Britney, Christina and N-Sync were the last pop acts to break the States. And now Justin has managed to hold onto something there. And so has Christina and so has Britney but, you know, for a band like us?(pauses). I mean, we could give them World Of Our Own tomorrow. We could give them some of our new stuff from our new album, which will be out at the end of this year, and radio won't play it. We've actually proved it.
How do you mean?
We sent over a CD of World Of Our Own with no name on it. They didn't know it was Westlife. We sent a blank CD to all the radio stations. Every single radio station in the States, whether it be LA, New York or any of the smaller ones in the Mid-West or wherever, all came back and said that this is an absolutely huge hit, great for radio, people are gonna love it, especially because there's a slight bit of rock guitar to it. But as soon as Westlife came on board, the radio pluggers all went, whoah, not Westlife! No way, it's a boy band!? And unfortunately, we cannot break that down, no matter what song we came out with. If Bono wrote a song with us tomorrow, and it was the biggest hit in the world, if Westlife's name is put to it, it won't be a hit in America. Because radio will not play us. That's what we're up against.
Ronan Keating recently got paid more than half a million to sing at somebody's wedding. Will he charge you to sing at yours?
Really? I didn't hear about that. fair play to him, but I'm sure he wouldn't charge me anything like that!!
After almost five years in Westlife, are you still enjoying it?
Massively! The whole Westlife buzz for me is on a major high at the minute. The tour is going great, every show is sold out, every show has gotten great reviews, we're getting on brilliantly well. We're not even bickering, we've past that stage. The new album we're making is sounding fantastic so far. Personally I feel that it's the best album that we've ever gonna make.
Are you doing any songs from the new album on this tour?
We're only doing one song. It's actually a cover version "To Be With You". We do that because there's an acoustic set in the show. It's like a 20-minute set where me and Bryan sit down and play guitar. We just sing five vocals and that's kind of like, it. We do it in that because it fits really well. It's gone down really well on the tour so we're gonna put it on the next album.
I saw you all doing the meet & greet outside with the fans earlier. Do you do that often?
Every venue. It's usually a mix of competition winners, friends of people from the record company, and friends of personal friends of ours. We usually meet an average of 150 people a week in that way.
Do you visit hospitals regularly?
We do that every Christmas. Without fail, we do Great Ormond Street Hospital every Christmas. The joy we bring to people's faces when we visit hospitals is quite an emotional thing. We get as much out of it as they do, to be honest. Kids are often ecstatically delighted.
There was one girl out there today in a wheelchair and her mother came up to me and said, "You saved my daughter's life." I was like, "What?" She told me that her daughter was in a coma for a year-and-a-half and they played her Westlife songs every day and eventually she came out of it. Personally, I don't think she came out of it because of Westlife songs, but you know, the fact that there was that bit of hope, whatever reason the mother had to be playing her Westlife songs, the mother thought that was doing her good and that gave the mother hope that she was gonna pull through. I think that's a very unique position to be in, to be giving that hope.
Any truth to the rumours that the band are going to break up soon?
Bullshit! We feel like we're really strong at the minute and no matter what anybody says in the press or anything like that, it won't break us. We're used to dealing with it anyway, stories that we're about to break up and all this kinda stuff, and the personal shit as well. We don't really care what the press write about us to be honest with you, we just care about what we're doing.
Does it bother you that everyone thinks you're gay?
Me? Gay? No, not at all (laughs uproariously). I think there're too much stories about us with women in the press for anyone to think that we're gay. I think everyone knows that we're big into our women. I mean apart from the three boys who have wives and girlfriends and stuff, you know, just me and Mark especially. There have been umpteen stories about us. But I have to say we're probably only doing half of what the average 23-year-old is doing, if even half. But just because of the position we're in, we get caught out all the time. Just because we're famous, or whatever you want to call it.
Do you find it hard to trust people?
Em, I know who I can trust and who I can't. I don't trust an awful lot of people in the UK. I think most of the people I trust are Irish people. Not being against the UK people but the only people in the UK that I know are all work-related. I don't have any personal really good friends in the UK. I've probably one personal good friend but he's not a really good friend. And I trust him, I know I can go out with him and have a laugh. But usually I would only confide in the boys, and Louis and my mates back home. I wouldn't confide in anyone else.
As one of the single members of the band, do you find personal relationships difficult?
I've had a lot of relationships throughout the years. Since I've been in the band, I've had two very serious relationships that lasted over a year-and-a-half each. And neither of them worked out. I think the first one didn't work out because I was probably just a little too young. You know, I was 19 and she was older than me, she was 27. By the time we started going on tour and all that, I was like, "Hold on, this whole world is out there for me yet. What am I doing in a serious relationship when I'm in a big boy band?" So I really wasn't up for it then.
And then I met another girl who was really, really good-looking. She blew me off my feet. I went out with her for a year-and-a-half. That didn't work out either. She just couldn't really understand what I did. She couldn't really get to grasp that this is who I am and she was never gonna change me. She was always gonna be second to what I do, and I don't think she could really accept that.
Do you see what you do as being a long-term thing?
As a singer, no. in the music industry, yes. I already do a lot of the day to day stuff. I'll be on the phone to Louis all the time. I'll be on the phone to the record company all the time, you know, getting everybody's opinion, making sure that we get what we need. I mean, the show, I was very, very involved in the show. With the MD, with the stage, with some of the tricks and effects and all that kinda stuff. Even the set list. I've been very personally involved in it all that.
But I love being in Westlife and I can see Westlife lasting for another two or three years anyway. Personally, I don't feel like I need to think about three years time. I'm just gonna take it day by day. My next ambition is to make sure the next album is the best one we've ever made.
Would you ever be tempted to use your public profile to push any personal agendas, political views or whatever?
Not really. Ultimately, we're a boy band, and that's it.
Is there a rule book for the band?
Not at all. There's no rule book, but if somebody goes out and makes an absolute show of themselves or does something really stupid that affects the rest of the band, we'll let that person know the big time! That person will get a really hard time about it. Not in a bad sense. It's be just like, "How could you be so stupid to let that happen?"
Has it happened to you?
It hasn't happened to me, it'd happened to other members of the band. I suppose the closest it'd ever happened to me was when I got photographed coming out of a nightclub at 7 o'clock in the morning. I looked pretty messed-up, UGH!! But what human male at 22 years of age is not gonna do that? I'm sorry!
In your last HotPress interview you were very anti-drugs. Has that changed?
There's no drugs in Westlife. There never will be! If one person in Westlife touches drugs then they'll be out the door on their ass. There'll be no excuses. We won't hear why they did it, we won't hear the reasons behind it. They can have nervous breakdowns before they start taking drugs. Even if I find that anyone in our crew is taking drugs, they'll be fired immediately.
What drives you at this stage?
I don't know exactly what drives me. I think I love the hustle and bustle of the whole thing. I love people telling me, "You're not going to continue, you're not gonna have any success with the new album." I'll just be like, "Oh really?" I love shoving it back in their faces! But mostly I just love getting on the stage and singing with the four guys.
Wasn't it you who had the scrap in Sligo a couple of years ago?
Yeah. That was just being in the wrong place at the wrong time, walking out of a nightclub at three o'clock in the morning. I couldn't get a cab so I decided to walk home. It's like a 15-minute walk home which I used to do every night when I was 17/18 years of age. I walked past Abrakebabra and two guys I used to go to school with came up with cans of beer in a bag and smacked me in the back of the head and just started to hit me. I got up and started to hit them back as hard as I could. I broke one guy’s arm, smashed the other guy's nose. Em, you know what I mean, I defended myself as best I could. But Sligo people I have to say in general are very, very, very good to us and they're a very proud place. Our gig there will be a very, very big thing in Sligo. But it will be really special for us.
Do you drink much when you're on tour?
I actually haven't been drinking as much on this tour because last year and the year before I found myself in the position, a lot of times, of being on stage and finding that my voice was basically crapped from being out drinking the night before. Nowadays I much prefer not to go out and be able to do the show properly. So I've been a bit more clean-living recently. Obviously, we only have one chance at it, so I'm not gonna ruin my voice and be singing crap in front of thousands of people. I suppose I’m getting a bit more professional about it these days.
Does the fact that you're single mean that you and Kian socialise separately from the rest of the band?
No, not really. We're four and a half years into this now so things are different to how they used to be. At the start it's obviously a big novelty and you're surrounded by lots of different things, clubs and scenes and whatever. At the start, the single lads might go out and the other guys with girlfriends might stay in the hotel bar. Now it's kinda just come to a point where we all go out as mates and whatever happens, it happens. It's not like the single ones go out to try and pull or whatever. It's just everybody goes out as a group.
Do you find that being a member of Westlife makes it harder to pull women?
It's not hard for us to pull at all! (laughs)
I mean women, not teenagers!
Ha! No. I suppose it's hard in the way of(pauses). There's a lot of opportunity out there just because of the fame, you know, Westlife being on TV and all of that. There's a lot of people that that makes a big difference to, as regards whether or not they're interested in you. It makes it hard to find somebody genuine. On the shallow level, it's not hard at all. But if you wanna find something that's not shallow, it's much more difficult. There's a lot of good fucking actresses out there.
Do you get to see much of the cities you visit?
It depends really. A lot of the time you're cocooned just by sheer schedule. For instance, one week we might arrive in some really cool place like New York, and we’d spend every day from morning 'til night just doing interviews or sitting in the hotel room. Another time you might have a video shoot to do there, with two days off on either side of it, so you'll get to see it. So it just depends on what you're doing. But we're not seen a lot more places that we've been to than we have.
Do you keep up with what's happening in Ireland politically when you're touring?
I keep an eye on stuff and like to know the general vibe of what's going on, but I don't have a great personal love of politics, if you know what I mean. I totally recognise how important politics are but I'm not really a political person. I obey the law and do my own thing. That's about it.
What did you think of Keith Duffy's stint in Coronation Street?
I've only seen one episode but I thought he was very good. I saw a clip of him on Bo Selecta as well and he was very funny. I think fair play to him! People knock people like him all the time and I'm sure he gets a hard time. Now he've got a gig. I wish him well.
Does it ever worry you that Westlife will go the same way as Boyzone?
Well, things like that go through your mind, of course, but at the end of the day, I really don't believe that that will ever happen with Westlife because, we obviously are in the same network as Boyzone were, with Louis and everything, and we know to a certain degree what the vibe was within Boyzone, and I know that our vibe is definitely different. For instance, I was friends with Shane and Kian long before there was a mention of a band. So we have a real actual friendship as opposed to the friendship coming after. Obviously friendship on its own isn't strong enough to hold the band together, we still need hit songs and we still need the success, or whatever. But the friendship thing makes us more powerful than a band that hate each other.
Did you ever crap up live or during an interview?
Once or twice. There was one time we were on a Saturday morning TV show. Obviously the viewers were all kids and there's loads of rules and regulations about bad language and all that sort of stuff. And we are, as I said before, genuinely very good friends and sometimes when we all get together, and we're all in a bit of a giggly mood or a mad mood, we sort of go off, if you know what I mean. So we're on this kids, TV show and everyone's kinda going daft. We were in one of those moods and I ended up letting a curse slip out of my mouth or whatever, and I got in very big trouble with the producer of the show. And there was lots and lots of guilt thrown at my face and I took it or whatever. I'm definitely just human and I'm definitely just as capable of making mistakes as anyone else. It's their loss if they hold it against me forever.
Have you been back on the show since?
Ah yeah, loads of times.
What's the biggest lie Louis has ever told the press about you?
I dunno, he'd said loads of mad things. He said one time, that Shane was in a wheelchair after an accident and em...It's quite funny to hear the things he comes up with. I think the public know well that it's all tongue in cheek. He comes up with things like "WESTLIFE ALMOST DIE IN PLANE CRASH" or something. It's funny the way he works.
Is there a closer bond with you and Louis because you're from Sligo and he's from Kiltimagh?
I'd say definitely there's a little bit of common ground there. But he's lived in Dublin for a long time now so he's not a buff or anything. But he still has a bit of the country lad in him. You should see him eating his desserts. He still eats it like an absolute buff with the way he holds his spoon in his hand. It's hard to explain but he does look like a buff when he eats his dessert (laughs).
Are you looking forward to playing Sligo?
Yeah, definitely. The local people are always asking us, "When are you going to play here?", and all that, and there's always been so many different factors making us not be able to do it, whether it was the council saying there's no insurance or whatever. But it's all falling into place now. I cannot wait for it. I know from growing up in Sligo that not a lot of things like that happen there. So, with three local guys in the band, it's gonna be more than just a concert. It's gonna be an event.
You're always had the reputation of being one of the wildest members of Westlife.
I'vee the reputation but it's not just a reputation. I think it's more created by the press, because I drink the least, and I'm out the least, in the band. All week this week, when everybody else has been going out, I've been in the studio until four or five in the morning. But if the press see me out they say, "Oh look, he's out again!" I'm still tagged as the wildest boy of Westlife who's always drinking. It's not a bad rep particularly, and if it was like that, I wouldn't give a bloke but the fact that I'm not this kind of annoying. Still, I suppose it's all part of the job.
Do you still enjoy the job?
Yeah, it's great! Wouldn't change it for the world. I mean, here I am sitting in a dressing room about to go on stage in Wembley. It doesn't get much better than this really.
Do you find it difficult being away from your kids?
Yeah, of course. Well, they do come on tour. They haven't been here for a while because we're moving to a new house at the moment, and Kerry hasn't been able to come backwards and forwards. Normally Kerry would come over with the kids and if she’s working, they'll stay with me and she'll go off.
Have you encountered much begrudgery?
I think of all the people in the band, I don't know what it is, but I get the least begrudgery. Maybe it's because I still live in Donaghmede, Dublin, and I haven't changed. Like they don't know the Sligo guys so they're gonna begrudge them. But I haven't changed since I've been in Westlife and I think people know that. Like I still drive around in a big dirty ?8 Land Cruiser jeep, and I don't kinda go to nightclubs dressed up with my hair spiked trying to show off, so there's a little bit of mutual respect there. I haven't changed and I don't treat anyone any different.
I thought you drove a Ferrari! Em, yeah. Well, I mostly drive the jeep in Dublin (laughs).
Has anybody been able to give you any good advice about handling life in a boy band?
No, never. That's because there's never been anybody who's gone through what Westlife have gone through.
What about Boyzone?
Not even Boyzone. Like, Boyzone were obviously big at the time, but even that can't compare to us. When Boyzone started off they were a real boy band. They were dancing and had the roses and the white clothes and all of that kinda stuff. We had a little bit of that at the start but it wasn't very much. We were always that little bit slicker. Like, it's not really dodgy for a fella to say he likes a Westlife song, whereas if a fella liked a Boyzone song, it would have been like, "You're gay!" We got rid of that tag straight away.
Is there anything Westlife have done that you look back on now and cringe?
The first time we went to America, we didn't have a choreographer. We had just released our first album in the UK and Nicky made up the dance routines for two album tracks. They were terrible. We wouldn't even have them on an album now. And we were going in front of 50-60,000 people stadiums in America, and we were doing dance routines that Nicky made up. And Nicky danced for the first time in his life six months before that!
What's the worst story that've ever appeared about you in the press?
The last year and a half, every other day there's a story in the papers that I wish wasn't there. You just get so many stories that are untrue.
Would you ever sue over anything?
No, that's the problem with the way we are. We can't sue people. If you start suing people, it just opens the door for more bloke. I remember one time, we had a problem with one of the papers. I got a phone call from Louis, and it was going on the front page of the paper the following morning, that I was seen doing coke in the Met Bar. I absolutely lost the head because I've never done coke in my life. I rang the paper and basically told them that I was going to go on national television the next morning and do a drug test, and I was going to sue them for every penny they had. But it got sorted out. If you sue a newspaper, they're just going to be out to get you for the rest of your life. Like there's never going to be a nice word said about Naomi Campbell every again in the press. We need them as much as they need us. But stuff like that can really piss you off.
Another time, there was a story about Kian and Mark pissing in a champagne bucket in some pub, which is the most ridiculous thing I'vee ever heard in my life. And, same again, they both wanted to sue, but it ends up not being worth it. So they had to take that on the chin.
You said that you've never done coke, but surely it's been around?
Oh, everywhere. I know it's in Dublin, but it's far less prevalent there than it is here.
You've never been tempted?
Nah, no interest in drugs at all.
Ever even smoked a spliff?
I smoke cigarettes and I drink, that's it. But if I had done anything else I wouldn't tell you! (laughs)
I see that you're all into playing golf now.
Yeah. We're all sort of gotten into it over the last while. It's great crack.
Do you bet with each other?
Ehhh, the odd time. Never anything major though. It might be a tenner a hole. It’s more fun than anything else. We just have a laugh and slag each other.
Does Louis play?
No, he just drives the buggy!
Do you get many celebrity guests at your shows?
I dunno. I never really pay too much attention to it. We get footballers, actors, singers and other bands and stuff. It's usually in Wembley that it happens. I suppose the London gigs are easier for everyone to come down to. But we don't generally hear much about it. Whoever is there is there, kind of thing. I'm not that impressed by celebrities anyway.
Was it a big deal for you to meet the Pope?
That was probably one of the biggest things that've ever happened in my life. I was sweating! My mum and dad are very religious and they got to meet the Pope as well. I think it was the best thing I could have ever done for them. No present could ever out-do it. It's a brilliant photo for the front room as well!
What was the story about you in the Sligo car registration office last year? Didn't they keep asking you to come back with different IDs?
I can't remember how many times they asked me to come back. It was a bit of a nightmare, to be honest. Ah, it was just a bit silly. I needed to show loads of proof of who I was and where I was from and they still wouldn't give me the thing. Obviously they knew who I was, that was the annoying thing. It was just a parking permit for parking outside my house and they just dragged it through for the whole day, and it was in the papers the next day. I don't know what it was about. It was just an annoyance, really. And of all places to get that, in Sligo, you know?
Would that put you off playing in Sligo?
Not at all. That was just daft and nothing like that has happened since. Sligo is where I'm from and I love the place. It's definite now that we'll be playing Markievich Park. Obviously, three of the band are from there so it will be a nice place to finish the tour up.
You're buying a house in London at the moment. Would you consider doing MTV Cribs?
I'm not really into all that, to be honest. It's not my style. I've seen the show though. It's quite cool, some lovely houses. But I'd say some of the houses are just rented out for the day. But in America in general, it's much more about the cribs and the cars and the millions dollars and the chains and whatever else.
You've got a fair few cars yourself, by all accounts?
Yeah, I've got a few different cars. I've got a Ferrari 550. three of us got them. I love cars but not in a show-off way. you know, I was buying car magazines all my life and checking out the new models. I never dreamed I'd have my own Ferrari though. But that's not why I'm in this game. You hear loads of stuff about how bands live ?smashing up hotel rooms, wasting money on private jets or whatever. Most of the time it's a load of bloke. It's usually probably the managers of the bands that are creating hype about them.
What are you in it for?
I just love singing. I've always wanted to sing. Obviously, we're very successful now, so we're making a very good living at it. But at the start, we wanted to be famous more than rich. But now fame is the thing I like least about it.
What do you think about bands like Ash who say you're no credibility?
To be honest with you now, I couldn't give a bloke about Ash. I'm not going to slate them because I don't really know their music that well. I've heard one of their songs and I actually thought it was quite good. But bands like that are always going to slag us because we're a pop band.
But didn't they turn back on that again and say you were actually good lads?
Ach, they always turn around but then they slag us again. Like if Ash have a problem with us, then fair enough, but it's their problem. We're not going to worry about it. We're here playing Wembley tonight, so I don't care. The bands that slate us are usually the bands that aren't doing as well as us. Like U2 are a serious credible rock band and they've never slagged us. And they're a band that could easily slag us and laugh at us, but they never do. They actually compliment us.
How much longer do you think Westlife will last?
It's hard to say. Probably when everybody stops enjoying it. But that's not going to happen just yet. The way we look at it is, we're gonna make the next album and if that does well, we'll probably make another album. It depends on how we feel and what age we are at the time. At the moment, though, we're more together as a band than we've ever been. We've all made a few quid, we have our houses and all that sort of stuff. It's not like we're dreaming for things any more, but I'd like to be able to enjoy it for a few years more. After that, it's hard to know.