SINGAPORE — “It’s been a crazy day,” blurted Shane Filan, the frontman of Westlife as the band made their first visit to Asia since reuniting late last year.
It was a humid Wednesday afternoon in Singapore. Filan, Kian Egan, Nicky Byrne and Mark Feehily were seated across the other side of the interview area, all looking excited that they were getting interviewed once again as a group.
“The fans are probably the main reason why we kinda started thinking about Westlife again. We get asked in interviews about when is Westlife getting back together. The more you hear of that in interviews, the more we all got asked that question, it made us think about Westlife. And then we all eventually got together and had a chat only about eight months ago actually,” Filan said.
They discussed and liked the idea of a reunion that they wasted no time in organizing everything until they finally announced their comeback.
“It really boiled down to the right time for us individually and collectively as a band,” explained Byrne. “We spent 14 years of our life dedicating it to each other and to the band and it was exciting. The thought of having the opportunity to do it again is too much to turn down.”
Aside from making new songs, Feehily said one of the things they miss the most is hearing the “really, really, really crazy loud screaming” of their supporters once they step into an arena.
“Whether it’s 15,000, 20,000 or 90,000, it’s like a wall of sound. It’s so crazy. I think that’s the one thing that until we are on stage and the fans are screaming really loud, it won’t feel like we’re fully, fully home or fully back just until that moment,” he said.
And when they finally do, Feehily confessed they just might shed some tears themselves because the overwhelming feeling actually never stops.
“I think it’s going to be really emotional because that’s when it will really hit us. When that wall of sound comes from the fans screaming and then we’ll be truly back home,” he said.
Westlife recently released the single “Hello My Love,” which doesn’t sound much like any of their classic hits.
“I think coming back to Westlife, it was very important for us to have new music first of all because we didn’t want our fans to think that we are just coming back to do concerts and go away again. We want to have new music,” Egan said.
A number of brainstorming sessions with their manager led them to learn that British singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran actually co-wrote some songs for them along with Steve Mac, who composed some of their biggest hits like “Flying Without Wings,” “Swear It Again” and “World of Our Own.”
“We went to see Steve and he played us three songs from him and Ed Sheeran. ‘Hello My Love’ was one of them. We got really excited about ‘Hello My Love’ because although it wasn’t a typical Westlife song, it was fresh, it was interesting, we knew that had we released maybe a ballad, people would be like, ‘Oh yeah Westlife, this is nice.’ But to release something up tempo and fresh, people will be like, ‘Oh hold on. This is cool.’ Even though we have the big ballads as well, our next single is really special too, but for ‘Hello My Love,’ I think we were just so excited to release it because it had good energy,” Egan explained.
Teasing their fans about a probable collaboration in the future, Filan said they are very much willing to share the stage with Sheeran one day.
“As Kian was saying, Ed Sheeran was a fan of Westlife when he was younger which is great to hear. We hear all the stories. He’s been talking about the songs and the stuff he was telling Steve when they were writing the songs together. It’s really cool to hear that because we are all fans of Ed Sheeran too. It will be cool to meet up eventually and have a chat, have a beer and sing a song together on stage. At some stage, we will,” Shane said.
For now, Westlife will be busy recording more songs for their upcoming album which would likely come out in September or October. As for the other tracks, Byrne promised that they will make sure “all the boxes are ticked.”
“We have ballads, we have high energy songs. The music industry is changed. We’re coming back seven years later where Spotify, Apple Music, streaming are all taking over. That wasn’t the realm when we were finishing up. It’s a different market. It’s a different world,” he said. “We really want to make that pop album that we’re so proud of that people will look at it and go, yeah I like every song. That’s really the aim.”
As for the news their Filipino fans are dying to hear, Westlife confirmed that the band will definitely come back to Manila this year.
“The live shows are once again the best part of the band. The studio recording and live shows are the two parts that we live for and we are 100% gonna come back to Manila ASAP. This year definitely. Hopefully we will have the dates ASAP. We are really looking forward to seeing our fans face to face again. We are really excited about planning that. All the information will be with the fans very soon,” said Feehily.
“We have so many great memories coming to Manila. We have so many fans there. I think we have a special relationship with our fans as well all over Asia but the Philippines is definitely one of our fondest places that we’ve come to. We went there a lot in our career, probably one of the most we’ve come to. Singing all those old songs, we look forward to coming back there and doing that and share those memories again with the fans and also introduce our new album,” added Filan.
Until then, Westlife has this to say to their Filipino fans: “Babalik na kami!”
Check out Westlife’s comeback single “Hello My Love” here.
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