‘We want the buzz back!’ Seven years after they split, Westlife are back, here they reveal why they quit, what made them re-form – and the very unlikely superfan who’s their secret weapon.
What happens when boy bands decide they don’t want to be boy bands any more, and quit while at the top?
It sounds as if there’s brief elation, some euphoria at doing ordinary things like mowing the lawn and changing nappies, then a creeping realisation of what it is they’ve lost.
Nicky Byrne, who we can now refer to as Nicky-from-Westlife again, sums it up.
‘For so long I wanted to be out of that bubble, and I needed to be someone who wasn’t Nicky-from-Westlife.
But you can’t help but watch other bands and think, ‘We used to have that. We were on the Brits. We used to work with that songwriter, that producer…’
‘Nothing compares to the buzz of being in a band. I remember going to see Coldplay and thinking, ‘That was us!’
His bandmate Shane Filan points out how fast time moves when you’re not dominating the charts.
It’s seven years since Westlife split, and they’d had a good innings for a boy band (‘Most only last a few years,’ Shane says. ‘We’d had 14.’).
In that time all their children (the Westlife members have nine between them) have arrived or grown up.
Some kids – Shane’s for instance – have no clue their dad was as famous as the bands they idolise.
‘My daughter, who’s 13, was going to see Taylor Swift at Croke Park in Dublin and my wife Gillian said, “Daddy played there.”
‘The kids didn’t believe her, they don’t know what Westlife is.
‘So the comeback is for them too. We want them to experience the buzz of it, the feeling that they’re part of something magical.’
Yes, it’s another pop comeback.