Keith Duffy, (seen here on the left), Irish singer, songwriter, member of boy band Boyzone and one half of duet Boyzlife with Westlife’s Brian McFadden, chats with Kevin Cooper about playing golf, the difficulties in choosing a Boyzlife set list, new Boyzlife material and their current tour of the UK.

Keith Duffy is an Irish singer, songwriter, actor, radio and television presenter who began his professional music career as part of Irish boy band Boyzone alongside Ronan Keating, Mikey Graham, Shane Lynch and the late Stephen Gately in 1993.

The band decided to focus on solo projects in 2000 since which Duffy has achieved critical acclaim for his acting roles, particularly in soap operas such as Coronation Street and Fair City. He has also presented The Box and You’re a Star.

Three years ago he was talking to Brian McFadden, singer with Irish band Westlife , and they decided to tour as a duet called Boyzlife which brought together members of two of the biggest boy bands in history; Boyzone and Westlife, to perform a whole host of their biggest chart hits.

Brian McFadden enjoyed twelve UK and Ireland number ones as a member of Westlife, including a record breaking seven top spots in a row. The band also boasts four number one albums and over thirty million record sales in total. Since Westlife, Brian has enjoyed international solo success, including a UK number one with Real To Me.

With Boyzone, Keith Duffy has enjoyed similar success, including six UK number one singles and sixteen out of seventeen of their first single releases making the top five. With five number one albums also to their credit, Boyzone achieved worldwide sales of over twenty five million. Duffy joins Boyzone for the remainder of their 25th Anniversary tour later this year.

The unmissable Boyzlife show has already been performed for over 20,000 adoring fans since the pair came together back in 2016. With two completely sold out tours already under their belts, as well as their unforgettable 2017 December Christmas Tour, this current tour is one that is certainly not to be missed.

Whilst currently touring the UK, Keith Duffy took some time out to have a chat with Kevin Cooper and this is what he had to say.

Good morning Keith, how are you today?

Very well indeed thank you very much, but more to the point how’s it going with you today Kevin?

I’m very well thank you, and before we move on let me thank you for taking the time to speak to me today.

No; thank you for taking the time to speak to me. I know that I messed you around last year but hey, here we are now.

And just how is life treating you at this moment in time?

Life is treating me very well indeed, thank god. I’m a very lucky man and I do appreciate it. I’m very lucky to be working in a job that I love to do, and to be able to work with people who I have a good friendship with. In fact, I have absolutely nothing at all to be complaining about.

I must tell you that I saw you and Brian (McFadden) at The Glee Club here in Nottingham on Tuesday 19th December 2017, and I couldn’t believe just how much fun the two of you were having on stage that night. It was crazy.

That’s very kind of you to say that, thank you. If I remember correctly, that’s the night that Brian got caught for speeding isn’t it, and he lost his licence because of that.

I spoke to Brian and let’s just say that he wasn’t very complimentary about the Police Force here in Nottingham (laughter).

Listen; don’t take that the wrong way as that is Brian in general (laughter). You will always know where to find Brian; if he is not working with me then he will be playing golf with Willie (Morgan) (laughter).

It’s funny that you should say that because when Brian and I were chatting, he did say that he thought that it would be a great idea if the two of you could play golf in the morning, perform a gig in the evening and have a few drinks after.

(Laughter) it’s funny but we have grown organically into that routine. So now what we do is, we do all our interviews in the morning, we play a bit of golf in the afternoon, and now we are in the studio in the evening. But the good thing is that we are doing it all in Marbella (laughter).

(Laughter) it’s a hard life but someone must do it I suppose.

That’s what Annie said (laughter).

From humble beginnings in Hilton Hotels and Resorts to now playing and performing on the club circuit, are you happy with just how the show has gained momentum?

I must be totally honest with you and say that it is amazing, it really is amazing. We are once again back out on tour later this month which is the tour that was cancelled last year. We cancelled simply because I couldn’t keep up. Boyzone were out on their 25th Anniversary tour, and so many bands were going out on tour, bands like Take That, Backstreet Boys, Westlife, Spice Girls, and Boyzone. There was so much buzz about the 90s that Brian and I decided that to hold off our tour until all of the big arena fillers had gone and then we would come back with our Boyzlife tour later this month.

Are you enjoying being back out on the road with Brian?

Yes, I am, I really am. I am really enjoying it because I have been out on tour with Boyzone all year playing to huge arenas, some of which had a capacity of thirty thousand, so for me to come back and play to an audience of two thousand or even fifteen hundred, it is great because you get to see the eyeballs of everybody in the audience. This tour is much more of an up-close and personal feeling for me and Brian when we are up there on stage. It is a much more personal and intimate gig for the fans that come along.

Because of the vast number of hits that both Boyzone and Westlife have had during their careers, do you go on stage with a set list in mind?

(Laughter) as you have pointed out, me and Brian have great fun whenever we are on stage together; we don’t put any rules or regulations upon ourselves on stage. What can I say, we have a rough structure of a set list, but to be honest, we kind of go with the flow of the audience. The more energy that we get from the audience, the more we have. We have been known to change the set, get down into the audience, and get someone on stage with us to sing the songs, so it really is a good night out. We really do try to make sure that everyone really does have a good night out.

Brian did tell me that this time around he thought that there would be less talking and more singing, is that correct?

Yes, it is, and I feel that it has organically grown from an autobiographical show into more of a concert. It really is more of a gig now. We have really invested in the show this year, so what can I say but watch this space (laughter).

I have heard a whisper that there may be some new recordings on the horizon, is that correct?

(Laughter) just who have you been speaking to? What can I say, without giving too much away, yes, Brian and I are currently in the studio working on a few new songs which means that hopefully there could well be a Boyzlife album out sometime later this year or more realistically, early next year. Let’s just say that these really are very exciting times for both of us. Boyzone are finishing in October with their final five shows here in the UK, and then once that is done me and Brian will be really concentrating on Boyzlife. We never realised that Boyzlife would grow into the entity that it is now. That really is very exciting for us because both of us are still very ambitious and motivated and we love to do the job that we do.

As you pointed out earlier, having the catalogue of music that we have from Boyzone and Westlife, the set list is fantastic, it really is, and it works very well. In fact, it was our fans who aided that, they wanted to hear more music and less talking, which Brian and I took to heart. We were very upset about that because we thought that we were really interesting, but we got over it and we put more music into the show (laughter).

I don’t think that you will be able to totally give up the banter between songs, can you?

That’s right, I’m sure that there will still be a little banter between songs, we can’t help it (laughter). Especially if we get heckled from the audience, so it will all depend upon just what mood Brian and I are in (laughter). Honest to god, we could end up having ten minutes between songs, having the banter and a bit of fun.

Originally the concept of the show was to have you alone on stage singing a few songs and telling a few stories, so how did it morph into you and Brian?

That’s right; originally the autobiographical show was going to be mine. I had just come off doing a show back in 2016 in the West End called A Handful Of Stars which was a Billy Roach play that was written back in the 80s. It really was a beautiful play and I really love live theatre, I love straight theatre. After I had been in the West End for three months, having played for three months in the fringe theatre before that, I thought that the next challenge for me would be to do a one-man show. I felt that I wanted to do what I had been doing in the West End, but this time, do it on my own with no backup; it would literally be monologue after monologue.

At this point, I had no idea as to where I was going to find a show in order to make it work. However, a very good friend of mine and an excellent Irish-American stand-up comedian Des Bishop said to me “look, you don’t have to write a play, just write an autobiographical show where you can talk about your experiences in the music business. You will get experience doing that, you will get confidence doing that, and that might grow into you writing something else. Start with what you know, tell a few yarns, never let the truth ruin a good story, and remember, in the days of Boyzone you must have performed with some really, phenomenal people” and I thought ‘Des is right, I really did’.

Des said to me, “just name a few people who you have performed with, people like (Luciano) Pavarotti, B.B. King, Joe Cocker, Lionel Richie” and suddenly, I found myself reeling out all these names. Des then said, “there must be some stories from backstage, at those gigs with those phenomenal people”. I laughed and said “yes, there are a few that I can think about” and Des said “just remember what I said, never let the truth ruin a good story, there was only you and that person there. The people who went out and bought a ticket for the show weren’t there. They don’t know if you are telling stories or yarns; just entertain the people, keep it real, but make sure that it is entertaining” (laughter).

So that is what I started off doing. However, when it was getting close to the time for me to put the tickets for the shows out on sale and I was launching the project, I started to get cold feet. I kept thinking ‘I don’t want to tour on my own, I don’t want to be on stage on my own, what was I thinking’ (laughter). Then just by chance, as life goes on, I went to see Brian doing a show in a fantastic live venue in Dublin called Whelan’s and I have to say that I was blown away by his performance. He is a great songwriter, and some of the songs that Brian wrote I can really relate to, and we have known each other for a long time.

So, we had a few pints of Guinness after the show, as you do, and he asked me what I was up to at that moment and I told him about my idea of performing a one-man show to which he replied “that sounds great, I would love to do something like that” (laughter). At that point I said to Brian “tell me some stories, I will write them down, and I will cut you in” and so, at that moment in time, Boyzlife was born (laughter). Three weeks later we put the tickets on sale and the whole tour sold-out in around four and a half hours. Having said that, I have to be totally honest with you and say that I personally think that people at that time thought that it was a super group getting back together comprising all the members of Boyzone together with all the members of Westlife, and not just Brian McFadden and Keith Duffy (laughter).

I honestly do believe that people thought that when they were buying the tickets. However, that was never our intention, but it did sell the tickets, and no one ever asked us for a refund (laughter). So, all is good and we have now been out on the road for three years now. We have played festivals, we have toured Australia, we have toured South East Asia, we played in Sweden and Denmark every weekend throughout the summer, and we are currently on tour here in the UK. Next year we have some really big news coming so it really is going from strength to strength thank god.

Can you enlarge on the big news that you will be announcing next year?

(Laughter) well I could but then I would have to kill you.

Okay, swiftly moving on (laughter).

Let’s just say that when it is about to be announced, I will give you another interview, how does that sound?

That would be fantastic, thank you.

Not a problem Kevin, not a problem.

What was the first record that you bought?

That was Every Rose Has It’s Thorn by Poison.

Who did you first see performing live in concert?

That was an amazing concert performance by Seal.

What was the last song or piece of music that made you cry?

That was Tomorrow by Annie (laughter).

On that note Keith, let me once again thank you for taking the time to speak to me today, it’s been great to finally catch up with you. You take care and I will see you at The Venue in Derby on Thursday 5th September with Boyzlife and The Motorpoint Arena here in Nottingham on Thursday 17th October with Boyzone on your Final Five Farewell Tour.

Not at all Kevin, it’s been a pleasure. You take care and god bless. You certainly get around; in fact you are like my own personal fucking stalker (laughter). I look forward to seeing you up there in Derby.