A cold and gloomy Tuesday morning was undoubtedly cheered up by the opportunity to talk to Shane Filan, whose Irish charm sparkled despite the slightly questionable phone connection and miles between us. Chatting about going solo, his current tour and life after Westlife, Filan’s excitement was tangible.
Shane Filan is best known as one of the five heartthrobs that made up the biggest boyband of the noughties, Westlife. He has been a solo artist for the past three years after the release of his debut album You and Me in 2013. So, how has he found life after Westlife? Filan acknowledges that it took some adjusting to, but that he has finally found the certain kind of confidence that solo artists possess. “The first of everything is always different. My first TV performance was weird, the first time I did a concert on my own felt weird, but the second time I did both it wasn’t that weird anymore because I had done it. It was like anything – once you’ve broken the ice and realised it’s your job, and it’s what you want and love to do, and that it’s something I’m lucky enough to be able to do it, it’s OK. I love to put on a great show for my fans, they support me so much and I love being able to put on a good show for them, that’s my job.”
“About a third of the setlist is probably Westlife songs, as they create memories for people and make it a powerful show.”
The importance that Filan places on his fans here is a common theme throughout the interview; their support is clearly his driving force, and played a big part in the production of his Right Here tour, taking place this month. His first tour, You and Me, was taken “as a challenge” in 2014, and its positive response has steered his thought, time and effort, informing the Right Here tour to ensure the anticipation and hype surrounding it is fulfilled. When asked what the fans can expect, Filan stressed the importance of a good set list, which will include Westlife classics, as “the Westlife songs are very important to me and to the fans. About a third of the setlist is probably Westlife songs, as they create memories for people and make it a powerful show.”
This led me to ponder how Filan feels about still being so closely associated with Westlife, after all these years. Does he mind that he is still so wrapped up with the boyband? “I am very proud to be part of Westlife, and to have been a member of Westlife. That will always be a huge part of my life, but it is nice to hear my name – and hear people say it right, which didn’t happen for another year. So that’s a good sign I guess, that people are starting to really know who I am.”
“gonna be a great show, and I really hope everyone comes along and enjoys it”
Filan himself is the first to admit that his sound may not be a million miles away from that of Westlife, as he is still fond of a soaring ballad and sweet melody, but he loves “hearing my songs on the radio. Even now, ‘I Could Be’ came on in the car the other day and I just felt so excited and so proud, I had this huge grin on my face. It’s mad but that’s what the music industry is about – if you don’t have that buzz, there’s no point being there”, and again, for Filan, all this comes back to his fans and giving something back to them for all of the support that they have given him over the years.
Overall, it sounds like Filan is loving where his new ventures are taking him, and while he is there for his fans, he is very much taking it on his own terms. “I’m proud and glad to be at the point where I have these options, because I love to tour and put on a good show”, says Filan, but his young family and being there for them remain fundamental for him, meaning he enjoys having the “luxury of being able to pick and choose what I want, to make sure that I am here for my family as much as possible.” Finding his “happy medium” means that Filan does not like looking much further than four to six months in advance; so, one project at a time it is for Filan, which at the moment means putting on a tour which he believes is “gonna be a great show, and I really hope everyone comes along and enjoys it”.