Kian Egan, an Irish singer songwriter and member of Westlife, chats with Kevin Cooper about working with Mariah Carey, playing Croke Park Stadium, Westlife’s forthcoming album and their current tour of the UK.

Kian Egan is an Irish singer and songwriter who is best known as a member of Westlife, who have released twelve albums and have sold over 40 million studio albums.

Westlife hold the record for performing the most shows at the SSE Arena Belfast and the SSE Arena Wembley. In 2008 they sold out Croke Park Stadium in a record breaking five minutes. They are also the first group to achieve seven consecutive number one singles in the UK.

Having disbanded in 2012, they reunited in 2018 and are now about to tour for the thirteenth time. During a year long hiatus from Westlife back in 2008 Egan launched a new venture with Louis Walsh to put together and co-manage a girl band called Wonderland, whose debut album reached number eight in the UK albums chart.

In 2014 Egan released his debut solo album, Home, which reached number two in the Irish chart and number nine in the UK chart. He is also a coach on The Voice Of Ireland and won the thirteenth series of I’m A Celebrity…Get Me Out Of Here in 2013.

Whilst busy getting ready for Westlife’s forthcoming tour of the UK, Egan took some time to have a chat with Kevin Cooper and this is what he had to say.

Hi Kian how are you?

I’m very well thank you Kevin, how are you mate?

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

No worries, it’s great to be able to talk to you.

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

I have to be honest with you and say that life is great at the minute. However, having said that it is pretty busy and also pretty hectic as I am currently trying to get my head around going back out on the road every night. It’s proving to be a bit difficult for me to be honest, the thought of leaving my wife and babies at home once again; it’s proving to be a whole different world. I am going to be finding myself being moved from one world into another on a regular basis, so it’s all pretty mad to be honest (laughter).

You mention being back out on the road with Westlife. At present the forthcoming Twenty Tour is scheduled to run from 22nd May to the 31st August 2019, taking in thirty-three dates in Europe and thirteen in Asia making a total of forty-six dates in total. Are you all packed and ready to go?

Yes I am, I really am looking forward to the tour. It will be so nice to be out on the road once again with the rest of the boys. It seems pretty crazy to think that here I am some twenty years later after forming Westlife waiting to head out on a forty-six date tour which will allow us all to see a few different places, and also give us the opportunity to play in front of half a million people along the way during the next few weeks. It really is incredible. I really am buzzing to be back out on the road. We all feel that this show is going to be really strong. We have bought everything up to date and we are all really looking forward to being up there on stage once again as Westlife and performing with the band.

I understand that you are currently in production rehearsals, is everything going well?

The majority of the rehearsals are now finished and as you rightly say, we are currently in production rehearsals. We are now concentrating on the show and working with it so that it is just how the audiences who come to see us will actually see the show. We are spending a lot of time on the stage working with the technical side of things; we are programming the lights, the screens, the band, getting the sound right, all of those things are finally coming together. It really is very exciting.

How does it feel for the four of you to be back together and getting ready to perform live once again?

It feels great; I think that we are at this moment in time in the same headspace where we are all thinking that it is incredible for us all to be doing this once again. We have had such an amazing career back in the 90s and also the 00s and so for us to be able to perform as Westlife once again really is a pretty big buzz in all of our minds.

Without giving too much away, will the Twenty Tour be basically a greatest hits tour with a few of the new songs thrown in for good measure?

Yes it will be a greatest hits tour. We have had twenty years of hits and that is what we are saying. We formed the band twenty years ago now and so we will be basically performing not only the songs that bought us here but we will also be performing our latest singles Hello My Love and Better Man which are both off our latest album, Spectrum. There may even be another new track from the album, because it is important for us to be able to show our audiences that yes we were there in 1999 but here we are in 2019 and we want to be as current now as we were back then.

You have mentioned Better Man and Hello My Love; have you been pleased with the fans reaction to them?

Yes I have, I really have. I think that when we released Hello My Love, we were all super-positive about that particular song. It had a lot more tempo, it was very current, and the song itself was a real poppy radio tune, so we were all behind that release. It made some of the people who control the charts here in the UK sit up and ask “hang on, is that Westlife” (laughter). So we really were excited by that. And then I think to come back with Better Man after that proved to everyone that we were not just making poppy, slushy songs that we were making back in the old days. We really did want to bring both our writing and recording right up to date in 2019.

I have heard that you are trying to keep the number of new songs in the set list for the forthcoming tour to three. Is that correct?

Yes it is. That is what we really do want to do. We do not want to perform any songs that anybody hasn’t heard yet. Whenever bands play a new song that no one has heard you never see the audience react so we want to avoid that at the shows on the forthcoming tour. So if we release a song and the audience has had a chance to learn it, then it has a chance of making it onto the set list. We will never perform a song that the audience hasn’t heard yet. So you have most probably have guessed from my response that we will be releasing another new song from the album anytime soon (laughter).

What about the set, will we once again be seeing something spectacular?

Yes the set will be spectacular but in its own way. However, what I have to say is that this time around we have kept it a lot simpler. But, having said that the set will be more dynamic simply because this is a big show. We are trying our best to take the audiences on an emotional journey this time around. We have really got to grips with modern technology; it is incredible just what different things you can create on stage nowadays. We really do hope that we have upped the anti for our audiences and for our fans this time around but in a modern way. We didn’t want to create something that was cheesy in a pop way. We wanted to update the show in a more professional way with a 2019 feel.

I was fortunate to interview one Brian Nicholas McFadden last year and when I asked him about his time in Westlife he really did remember it fondly. Just what was it like having Brian around?

Brian was great when he was part of the band. He was always full of life and full of cheer. We all have very fond memories of Brian and his time in Westlife.

We have mentioned that it is twenty years since Westlife were formed, have you enjoyed the ride?

Oh yes, the ride has been incredible. You tend to look at the time spent with Westlife plus life in general and you really do feel like the luckiest guy in the world doing the job that I do. Whenever I think back to all of the experiences that I have had, together with my family, my wife, my home life, everything; I am sad to leave my home life but so excited to be going back out on the road. Then I will be sad to leave the road and excited to get back into my home life (laughter). Even though they are worlds apart these two incarnations that I live in, I am in fact living the very best life that I can and I really do feel very humbled that I am able to do that.

Do you have any regrets looking back over the past twenty years?

I have always believed that regrets are something that you learn from. If you make a mistake then you make a mistake. If you don’t learn from it then it becomes a regret but to be honest I don’t feel like I have any regrets in that way.

Back in 2014 you recorded you own solo album Home and I have to say that I think that it is a great piece of work.

Thank you very much for saying that, I really do appreciate that.

Were you happy with the album together with the reaction of both yours and Westlife fans alike?

Yes I was, I really was. When Westlife ended, the solo album was me trying to prove to the fans and also to the rest of the world that I could actually sing. Whenever record companies would come knocking, they would never point the finger at me, they would be pointing the finger at both Shane (Filan) and  Markus (Michael Patrick Feehily) who, as you know were and still are the two lead singers in Westlife. However, as the years went along and a few people saw what I did during my stay in the jungle when I actually won I’m a Celebrity…Get Me Out Of Here! and was crowned King Of The Jungle back in 2013.

It was at that point that I came out of the jungle with numerous record labels knocking at my door. They were all asking me “why don’t you want to make an album” and I gave every single one of them the same answer which was “of course I would love to make an album” (laughter). What can I say, the album was a success and it was a very enjoyable time for me. I really enjoyed making the album, despite having reservations about going out there and doing it on my own. It was all an amazing experience and I am really kind of chuffed to be able to say that I actually did manage to do it in my lifetime.

Have you never been tempted to record solo album number two?

No, not really. I think that while ever Westlife are together then that really is my main focus. We may know the formula, we may know how to make albums and sell millions of records as Westlife but as individuals, we simply do not know how to do that (laughter). When the time is right for Westlife to down tools then I am pretty sure that is what I will do too. I know that I will most probably be ready to walk away from the music business. I will without doubt go back to bringing my children up, taking on the school run and being a dad (laughter). Living in the life that we live with Westlife, the music industry or the TV industry, then we really don’t have that much time for a normal life.

If you want that then I feel that you have to live in London and have a nice steady nine to five job. However, that is where the problem lies; one I don’t want to live in London and two I most certainly do not want a nine to five job (laughter).

Over the years you have worked with some of the biggest names in the business, the likes of Diana Ross, Lionel Richie, Donna Summer and Mariah Carey. Who did you have the most fun working with?

The first time that we ever recorded a duet was with Mariah Carey, one of the biggest singers of all times, and I have to say that for us to be in a position to be able to do that was simply out of this world. It was like ‘oh my god, I can’t believe that this is really happening, we are going to record a duet with Mariah Carey’ (laughter). That for me really was quite a special moment. Everything after that was like ‘yes, we are doing it’ but the first one is always the one. It’s like when you have your first number one single, your first number one album, the first award that you receive; it is always the first one that stands out in your memory. All of the others are amazing but it is always the first that remains really special.

What would you say has been the highlight of your career so far?

To be honest with you there have been so many amazing, blow away things that have happen to us during the twenty years but for me it would have to be the first time that we ever played our national stadium in Ireland. That was such a massive blow away moment because to play in front of eighty thousand people in your own country with your family watching is amazing. My late father was there at the gig and it was his birthday, so for me to get eighty thousand people to sing Happy Birthday to him is a memory that I will never forget. They are the things which make you go ‘wow, can you believe that we really do all of that’.

What was the first record that you bought?

That was the Metallica album…And Justice For All.

Who did you first see playing live?

That was Michael Jackson on his HIStory World Tour back in 1997.

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

That would most probably have been The Greatest Showman.

On that note Kian let me once again that you for taking the time to speak to me today, it’s been great. Have a great tour and I hope to see you in Sheffield.

Thank you very much my friend, I look forward to seeing you then. Bye for now.