Shane Filan has spent the last 14 years fronting one of the most well-known boy bands of our time — Westlife. You would think he would want to continue selling millions of records (in excess of 50 million), number one singles (14 in total) and sold-out world tours. But now he’s going back to basics.
The 34-year-old is stepping out on his own and embarking on a solo career. His debut album, ‘You and Me’ is currently sitting at #1 on the Singtel AMPed download chart and #6 on the UK Charts.
In Singapore to promote the album, he took on a gruelling schedule including performing a five-song showcase to a packed crowd at Zouk and a press conference. He was heartened by the response. “All I could feel was happy faces in the audience and everyone singing my songs. They all knew the words to all the songs, so that’s a good sign,” he said.
Perhaps it’s the Irish charm, but with a twinkle in his eye and Teddy Boy-quif in his hair, he certainly looked the part of a leading solo singer.
PRAGMATIC ABOUT HIS CHANCES
Shane isn’t the first to breakaway boy band to attempt a solo career. Ronan Keating of Boyzone, and Robbie Williams and Gary Barlow of Take That, have also had varied success with solo careers.
Even with all his previous success, Shane is, however, surprisingly pragmatic about his chances. Two words that seem to come up a lot are “hard work”.
Being the new kid on the block, Filan is pragmatic about his chances. “I think I have good songs, but I also think it’s down to a bit of luck, a bit of hard work,” he said.
While he acknowledges his past success, he has different expectations for this new journey. He added, “I’ve had an amazing career already, to a certain degree. Now it’s just about having a career in music. It doesn’t have to be the biggest in the world.”
His goals are decidedly more long term. This is “hopefully the first of many” trips to Singapore for Filan. “Hopefully in two to three years, people will know my name and will know my songs. But it takes time,” he said.
LOVED HIS TIME WITH WESTLIFE
He was last in Singapore for Westlife’s farewell tour in 2012. Questions about his time with the band inevitably follow him wherever he goes, and he still embraces his past.
“I loved being in Westlife, it was an amazing band. We got to do 12 albums in 14 years, and we enjoyed every bit of it. We’re really good friends and we still are,” he said. But when the band decided to split, he had to take a decision for his future. For him, “singing is the only thing I want to do”.
FINDING THE SHANE FILAN SOUND
His album ‘You and Me’ is a collection of love songs, which are mostly upbeat, summery tunes with a country feel. It’s definitely a step away from the processed pop music and sentimental ballads of Westlife.
In his first turn as singer-songwriter, he describes his songs as “love letters”, with most of them being about his wife or children. While nervous about his first-time attempt at song writing, he was honest, admitting “I didn’t even know if I could do it at the start of the album”.
But unlike with Westlife, where albums had to be delivered by a strict deadline, he could take his time with his solo effort. “You’ve a lot more control over where you want to go, and the complete freedom to find the Shane Filan sound,” he said. Working over six to eight months, he said “I got to take my time. It was more like, when the album is ready, it’s ready”.
While he is going in a new direction, he doesn’t want to leave the Westlife fans in the lurch either. He said, “I want my Westlife fans to enjoy it, so it’s not going to absolutely alienate them either. It’s more country folk pop music. The one thing I didn’t want was for people to call it a solo Westlife album,” he said.
At the end of the day, he just wants people to say, “It’s different and I like it”.
Decide for yourself, with his first single, 'Everything to me'
ALREADY PLANNING A TRIP BACK TO SINGAPORE
He will be touring the UK and Ireland in February and March next year, and Singapore could just be on the cards. “After the album’s out a good while and everybody knows the songs, then (I’ll) come and do a proper ‘You and Me’ tour,” he promised.
When asked if he was looking forward to it, he said “Nobody More Than Me,” with that familiar twinkle in his eye.
Shane played to five-song showcase to a packed crowd at Zouk while he was in Singapore