Shane Lynch, singer song writer with Boyzone, chats with Kevin Cooper about Boyzone’s 25th anniversary, being a petrol head, wanting to record a Boyzone hip-hop album and playing Derby’s 3aaa County Ground.

Shane Lynch is an Irish singer-songwriter, actor and professional drift driver, but is best known as a member of Boyzone. In recent years he has taken up auto racing, participated in reality shows, and appeared as a judge on The All Ireland Talent Show.

In 1993, music manager Louis Walsh, held auditions in Dublin to find a new boyband to rival British group Take That. Lynch was eventually selected, and before even recording any material, he and five other successful hopefuls made their infamous appearance on RTÉ’s The Late Late Show with Gay Byrne. Although their performance was criticised by the Irish press, the band became one of the most successful pop bands in Ireland. Lynch quickly became the most distinctive member due to his body piercings and tattoos

Whilst Boyzone never officially disbanded, they failed to release a single after until 1999, when they completed a 29 date reunion tour in 2007 and released their comeback single in 2008, Love You Anyway, which was followed by a Greatest Hits album entitled Back Again… No Matter What released on 13 October 2008.

Lynch has become an actor in recent years. In 2004, he played Eli Knox the chairman of Harchester United in the Sky One football drama, Dream Team. He has also appeared several times in pantomime.

A keen motor racing enthusiast, Lynch raced a Marcos, TVR and then Mosler from 2002 to 2006 for the Eclipse Motorsport team in the British GT Championship, and is now involved in drifting, competing in the British Drift Championship.

Whilst busy preparing for some autumn gigs with Boyzone, he took time out to have a chat with Kevin Cooper and this is what he had to say.

Shane good morning, how are you?

A top of the morning to you Kevin. I’m very well thank you, how are you this fine morning?

I’m very well thank you and let me just thank you for taking the time to speak to me today.

My pleasure indeed, thank you sir.

And just how is life treating you today?

I have got to say that life is pretty wonderful right now. I am feeling fresh from the sunshine having just spent the last couple of months over in Portugal on holiday. I am now back in the UK; me and the boys are back in rehearsals getting ourselves ready for the upcoming gigs so I have to say that it is good times right now.

You have mentioned the forthcoming gigs; you will be playing The 3aaa County Ground in Derby on Saturday 16th September, are you looking forward to that? Is it always fun when you and the boys get back together?

Yes it is. We have been hanging out together over the past couple of days working through songs in an attempt to put together a set list and I have to say that it just keeps getting easier (laughter). We jumped into the rehearsal studios yesterday and before we knew it we had got a ninety minute show all sorted out. We only had to play it twice and we all knew exactly what we were doing. It was so easy, it’s brilliant (laughter).

What can the crowd expect?

I have to say that from my point of view the performance at The 3aaa County Ground in Derby will be nothing short of spectacular. We will be performing all of our hits including No Matter What, Love Me For A Reason, Words, Father And Son, All That I Need, Isn’t It A Wonder, Baby Can I Hold You, Picture Of You and many more. We want the crowd to come along, singalong, feel good and go home with a smile on their faces. If they do that then we will have done a good job.

I have to tell you that I have photographed you three times now and I enjoy the show every time that I see you.

Thanks for that; it’s always good to hear that we are doing something right. However, I have to own up with you and say that we often get very silly and very giddy especially on photo shoots so let me apologise for any nonsense that used to go on because once we are together for more than three hours it all starts to get very silly and from that point we don’t get any constructive work done actually (laughter).

When I was reading your biog I was shocked to see that next year 2018 will be the bands twenty-fifth anniversary. Can you believe it?

(Hysterical laughter) I have to say that I don’t particularly feel as though I have been in the music business for twenty-five years (laughter). I really don’t feel that at all. Boyzone was a blink of an eye back in the 90s for sure, and then rummaging through the noughties into what we are now, the teens and now before you know it next year we are coming out with this twenty five years of Boyzone. It has been a crazy kind of journey for sure and it really doesn’t seem that long at all.

Have you enjoyed the ride?

I think that like any life there should be lots of highs and lows along the way both within the musical side of things and in life in general. But I guess that you can’t really appreciate and understand the highs if you don’t know what the lows feel like if you know what I mean. You have to appreciate both sides of your living and certainly when we lost Stevo back in 2009 there were lots of questions that the rest of us had to face; should we continue or was that the end of Boyzone.

Looking back to 2009, Boyzone continuing without Stephen (Gately) was that the right decision?

It was a very hard time for us when Stevo passed away. It was definitely hard for the rest of us to make that decision. If we decided to carry on then just what was the right way for us to do that. However, I personally am delighted that we went forward as a four piece and continued Boyzone and in our eyes Stevo will always be there; he will always be with us. Regardless of whether you see him physically standing with us on stage or not, he is still very much in our music.

I recently asked Ronan (Keating) about Stephen’s passing and he said that in his opinion it came very close to calling time on Boyzone.

Yes it did, it really did. We were all just so unsure what life without Stevo would be like. It was a very difficult decision for us all to make.

Would I be correct in saying that it was Stephen himself who finally helped you make the decision to carry on?

Yes you would, that is perfectly correct. We were at that time in the process of making a new studio album and in fact we were mid-flow and had already recorded Stevo’s vocals. So we decided to finish the album in honour of him, completing the album which was eventually called Brother. Completing that album gave us all strength and we realised that we were in fact all better together and reminded us of all the great times that we have whenever we come together and all of the fantastic stories and memories being together bring. Nowadays we all get together for Stevo more than anything else. So in answer to your question I have to say that if we had not been working on a new studio album when Stevo passed away, that would have most definitely been the end of Boyzone.

And as you have quite rightly said, Stephen is always there with you.

Yes he is, he is always in our music and he always will be. Whenever I am in the studio I will always say “wouldn’t it be great to have Stevo on that part of the record” so yes, he is forever there.

Ronan assured me that 2018 is going to be a very special year for Boyzone, would you agree?

(Laughter) yes it is, it really is but I can’t tell you what (laughter). We are currently working everything out at the moment, exactly what we will be doing and let me assure you that the negotiations are in really good hands. There is a lot of really positive stuff being discussed at this moment in time. It was only the other day we did a photo shoot for the new album which we are currently making, so it is all going really well. We are pushing forward with a whole new Boyzone sound, Boyzone album, Boyzone tour and a Boyzone 2018 (laughter).

Will you be coming to see us here in Nottingham next year?

Listen, we will take in everywhere that we can possibly get. It’s easy for an artist not to come to a place but that’s not the case with Boyzone. The problem is that if the venue is not available then we can’t kick someone out. We love to play live and we most certainly love to play there in Nottingham. Our tours will continue as long as we can possibly make them but at the end of the day it all has to be logistically possible as well. In many ways the record industry has at this moment in time gone very silly and that is one of the reasons why it is difficult nowadays to tour. We love playing the arenas and if the arenas are available then we have to try to tour that year. However, if they are not available at that given time then unfortunately we cannot play those particular towns. That is why planning a tour can be difficult.

I know that you like cars but just how did you get involved in drifting?

Back in the late nineties I started to get back into my heritage. You have to remember that I was a car mechanic long before I got involved in music. I had received an offer from Ford Motor Sport to drive one of their rally cars and that kind of sparked my interest into getting into motor sport. However, I wasn’t particularly interested in rally cars, the car could certainly go faster but I personally didn’t really want to go faster. I was quite happy being at the level where I was, driving as fast as I felt comfortable and enjoying the experience. However, I knew that I was never going to win any championships so I left the rally cars behind, moved over to circuit racing and really enjoyed it.

However, when it came to the fun of motor sport, drifting came into my life around about 2005 or 2006. I have to say that it just blew my mind, the capability of a car and a driver, so that is what I have been doing now for the past ten years. It gave me great enjoyment together with great pleasure in the world of motor sport. There was no chequered flag business, it is the extreme of motor sports. It is a big show, a big party and it is crowd participation to the point where you are there to entertain, not just win but to entertain and I think that’s what I like about it.

So you really don’t mind being called a petrol head?

No, not at all, I was most definitely born to be a petrol head without a shadow of a doubt (laughter). I am a petrol head before I am a musician.

You have more recently been seen on National Geographic’s Supercar Megabuild and being a self-confessed petrol head that must suit you down to the ground?

(Laughter) yes it does, it really does and what a great opportunity for me. I appeared on Series One as a guest and the channel themselves really enjoyed my episode so much that they asked me to go along and appear in Series Two. And without a shadow of a doubt I grasped that opportunity with both hands. The experience of building cars for clients together with me having a boss was something that I loved doing and it was a totally enjoyable experience for me. I was totally impressed that the National Geographic Channel were prepared to take a chance on me. Here I am stood covered from head to toe in tattoos and I imagine that I am not their normal type of presenter for their clientele but it worked globally and the show has been a huge success.

It’s perhaps your ideal job when faced with life after Boyzone?

Yes most definitely. I think that cars are something that I will forever be involved with. I currently own a few workshops not just here in the UK but dotted around the world. I also build race cars and custom build cars for other people so that is what I kind of do.

On the subject of outside interests you have recently opened The Elk & Clipper, a 1920’s themed Barber Shop. How is that going?

(Laughter) that is going really well at the moment, so well in fact that we now have five branches of The Elk & Clipper. I also have an online shoe store called Amen Shoes and I am just about to open my own tattoo shop so as you can see at this moment in time business is good for me. I am forever getting myself involved in new ventures.

But I have to say that at this moment in time you are not a very good advertisement for your own product are you?

(Hysterical laughter) for me I think that in terms of barbers shop’s I am forever changing my looks with my beard, my hair, going from a skinhead to long hair (laughter). With the greatest of respect in terms of my tattoo shop there is not much skin left on me to tattoo any more (laughter).

You are well known for your tattoos so I have to ask you, are there any that you wish you hadn’t had?

No, I really don’t think that there are any that I wish I hadn’t got. However, I am certainly tattooing over tattoos at the moment but that is generally to do with faded art work. I have been getting myself tattooed since I was fifteen years old so as you can imagine some of my tattoos are a bit old and out of date so I am just getting tattoos on tattoos now (laughter).

Will you be appearing in panto this year?

Yes I am doing panto this year which is up in York at the Barbican Theatre where I will be playing The Sherriff of Nottingham. This year is just a short run, I will be there from 20th December until the 31st and it is going to be so good.

Being based here in Nottingham I have to tell you that The Sherriff wasn’t all bad (laughter).

Well thanks for that advice (laughter). I have to tell you that I’m not all bad either (laughter). I played The Prince in panto for many years now; it must be fourteen years now so playing The Sherriff is not my first big job (laughter). I have been in them all, Snow White, Cinderella, Aladdin, Hook, all that kind of stuff but this is the first time that I have played The Sherriff of Nottingham so I am really looking forward to it.

What was the first record that you bought?

The very first album that I ever bought was Straight Outta Compton by the American hip-hop group N.W.A. back in 1988.

Who did you first see playing live in concert?

That was UB40 at The Point in Dublin around 1990.

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

Wow I didn’t see that coming. I have to say that I honestly don’t know. A lot of hip-hop doesn’t make you cry (laughter). I will let you into a secret, I’m personally not into that kind of love song kind of ballads even though I have been in Boyzone all my life (laughter). I don’t really get that stuff (laughter).

So now you have let the cat out of the bag Shane, will there be a change in musical direction for Boyzone, and will we be seeing a reggae or hip-hop album being released next year (laughter).

Listen, if I could get my way the boys would be coming straight out of the American hood (laughter). They would be deep into rock central (laughter). However, it’s never going to happen is it (laughter).

On that point Shane let me once again thank you for taking the time to speak to me today, it’s been fantastic.

Thank you so much Kevin, you have a good day. Take care and bye for now.