Ronan Keating, singer songwriter and member of Boyzone chats with Kevin Cooper about the 25th anniversary of Boyzone, working with Burt Bacharach, his latest album The Time Of My Life and his forthcoming tour
Ronan Keating is an Irish singer songwriter, and musician. He debuted in 1994, alongside Keith Duffy, Michael Graham, Shane Lynch, and Stephen Gately, as the lead singer of Irish boy band Boyzone. His solo career started in 1999 and has spawned nine albums. He gained worldwide attention when his single When You Say Nothing At All was featured in the film Notting Hill and peaked at number one in several countries. As a solo artist, he has sold over twenty million records worldwide alongside the twenty five million records with Boyzone, and in Australia he is best known as a judge on The X Factor and now a coach on The Voice.
Keating is active in charity work and has been a charity campaigner for the Marie Keating Foundation, which raises awareness for breast cancer and is named after his mother, who died from the disease in 1998.
Recently back from Australia he took the time to have a chat with Kevin Cooper and this is what he had to say.
Hi Ronan how are you?
I’m good Kevin are you well?
I’m very well thank you and let me thank you for taking the time to speak to me.
Not at all Kevin it’s a pleasure.
How is life treating you?
Life is good and we have just got back from Australia a couple of days ago. I was down there doing The Voice and I have hit the ground running now that I am back in the UK. I am getting myself ready for the tour; it’s going to be a frantic six months (laughter).
So you are going to be very busy?
Yes big time man, really busy. But that’s good though as I don’t mind working.
Let’s talk about your latest studio album The Time Of My Life. I absolutely love it.
Thanks man that’s really good of you to say that. It took me a year to make the album and I am really proud of it.
My favourite track is She Knows Me.
That’s great. I have to say that I am really proud of the album and I love that track too.
Are you pleased with just how well the album has been received?
Yes I am. It is a very personal record for me and putting it out there whilst wearing my heart on my sleeve was for me a very big commitment. It has been such a personal journey for me. It was a big risk but hopefully the fans have accepted the album.
I would go so far as to say that it is your best solo work to date. Would you agree with that?
I would actually yes. It is the first time that I have cleared the decks like that, taking a whole year out to make a record. It just poured out of me and I was very much inspired to create something that was new and fresh and this album came from that. I have to say that it was a very rewarding process. I have learnt a lot about myself over the last two years as a writer, a performer and as a singer and I think that because of that I was able to come up with that piece of work.
What is it like having your better half working with you?
(Laughter) oh man, what a treat that was. I have to be totally honest with you and say that it happened by accident. It was very organic really and it certainly wasn’t planned. I was writing the album in the house and Storm was there in the kitchen humming harmonies and singing backing vocals so we just started putting down some demos. Before I knew it she was on the album (laughter). It was great and it was wonderful how it happened.
Now that the album has been well received and you are about to embark upon the forthcoming tour, when do you start thinking about the follow-up album. How far ahead are you looking?
To be honest I am writing all of the time. Next year I want to clear the decks and I want to travel. After this crazy year I feel that the whole family should take some time out and do some travelling. I would love to travel with the family; take my guitar with me and do some writing while we are travelling. That sounds like heaven to me (laughter). It will be a perfect environment for me to write the new album.
Do you still get that buzz out of touring?
Yes, very much so it’s my favourite thing to do. I can’t wait to get out there on the tour bus and spend six exciting months out there on the road performing. I am honestly very much looking forward to it.
After touring with Boyzone for many years what was it like the first time that you stepped onto a stage on your own?
It was quite a daunting thing because I was used to having that security of a band around me and then all of a sudden that was gone. I really did feel exposed. It was to be honest pretty frightening. With Boyzone I had created a band around me but now being out there on my own I feel that I have got stronger and stronger as a solo artist and I really do love it now.
Which do you prefer, solo or with the band?
To be honest they are totally different things; totally different animals and so I would have to say that I enjoy them equally. I now enjoy being out there as a solo artist just as much as I enjoy being out there with the band.
On the subject of Boyzone is there anything on the horizon?
Next year will be the 25th anniversary of Boyzone and we are looking at celebrating that somehow whether it will be a tour or a new album, we are not sure just yet but we will definitely be doing something.
Staying on the subject of Boyzone, when Stephen Gately sadly passed away was there ever a time when you felt that Boyzone were no more?
Yes there was, and to be honest with you we all thought that would be the end of the band. However, we realised that we had to do something in his memory so that is why we recorded the album Brother for him and on the back of the album did some shows. It will never be the same again; Boyzone will never be what it was, with Stephen not being there it is a very different dynamic.
Taking you back to 2011 you worked with the legendary Burt Bacharach on your When Ronan Met Burt album. How was that experience?
Oh yes, I have to be totally honest with you and say that it was the most unbelievable experience. What a moment for me as an artist who has been around for twenty odd years to be given the opportunity to work with possibly one of the greatest songwriters of all time was an honour. Not only that but to have Burt Bacharach and Greg Wells produce the album was for me a dream come true. The whole experience of recording the album at The Capital Studios over in Los Angeles was totally unbelievable. Having said all of that, Burt was a real taskmaster, and he didn’t think twice about cracking the whip big time (laughter).
What would you say has been the highlight of your career so far?
Looking back over my career it is very hard for me to pick one thing as there have been many amazing moments. I have been fortunate enough to have been able to sing with the likes of Elton John, Luciano Pavarotti and as we have just been speaking about, record with Burt Bacharach. There have been so many wonderful moments that I simply couldn’t pick one, it wouldn’t be fair.
What was the last song that made you cry?
When we were recording the music video for the latest single In Your Arm’s we used some of our wedding footage in the video and when I sat and watched it back it was a very emotional moment for me and I found myself crying whilst watching the video. So that was probably the last song that made me cry.
What was the first record that you bought?
That would have been Last Christmas by Wham (laughter). I thought that would make you laugh (laughter).
Who did you first see performing live in concert?
One of the first live concerts that I went to was to see the band Extreme. Do you remember them?
Yes I do, it was Nuno Bettencourt and Gary Cherone. As I recall they had two hit singles here in the UK, Hole Hearted and More Than Words both back in 1991.
(Laughter) well that has well and truly put me in my place Kevin, you certainly know your stuff.
Was it always going to be a career in music for you?
This might surprise you but when I was younger I was a fairly good sprinter and that was something that I was pursuing as a younger lad. My older brother had got himself a scholarship and a place over in America and I honestly thought that was the next step for me. And then music came along. Music has always been a very important part of my life.
Who has inspired you?
My mother, my kids, and my wife Storm.
Are there any ambitions left to achieve?
I have lots of ambitions left to achieve; I think that we should all have ambition’s to strive to achieve in life. Anything from climbing Mount Everest to recording another album; my ambitions change constantly.
I once heard an artist say that they wanted to record the perfect album. Does it exist?
(Laughter) I honestly don’t know. I suppose that everyone’s version of the perfect album is different. Everyone’s version will be totally different. To one person it will be a Beatles album while to another it will be a Radiohead album. The world is such a diverse place that it would be almost impossible to say what the perfect album is (laughter).
Is there anyone coming out of Ireland who we should be looking out for?
Yes, there is a band called Wild Youth and they are very cool, five young lads from Dublin, a very talented bunch. They are the ones to look out for as I think that they are going to be big. They have an electronic rock alternative kind of sound. Let’s just say it The Killers meet Coldplay.
Is Ronan Keating’s glass half full or half empty?
It is most definitely half full.
On that note let me once again thank you for taking the time to speak to me and I am looking forward to seeing you here in Nottingham.
Oh good on you Kevin, thank you very much for your time. It’s been a pleasure. See you in Nottingham.