Westlife have hit back at claims that they’ve reunited “just for the money”.
The band delighted fans earlier this month by announcing their comeback, and they’ve since announced dates for their huge reunion tour – which will mark their 20th anniversary.
The news was met by a seriously positive reaction, however, some were quick to question whether the bandmates were getting back together for the sole purpose of making some cash.
But, the bandmates have since dispelled those rumours, and revealed that they’ve got a “five-year plan” to match Take That’s reunion success – with a little help from Ed Sheeran and hit songwriter Steve Mac.
In their first interview since reuniting, Nicky Byrne told The Sun, “We’ve got a five-year plan.”
Shane Filan added, “If it was just for the money, the option to tour and make a load of cash was always going to be there but we all sat down and agreed we just didn’t want to do that.”
“We wanted to go and do new music, and honestly the two people who could make it happen were Steve Mac and Ed Sheeran.
“We thought, ‘If we can get them, we hear they might be interested, then this is the way to take Westlife on, the way Take That came back.
“They were nearly better the second time round than they were the first. And that’s where our ambition is,” he continued.
“It’s a bit like sport — you look at your rivals, and we looked at Take That, who came back with Shine, Greatest Day, Rule The World, Patience. It was unbelievable, and we have to see that as a benchmark — but obviously getting Ed and Steve on board gives us the best chance of that.”
Nicky explained, “We’ve had a lot of calls offering us the chance to do things — even just turn up somewhere and singing Flying Without Wings, but we never entertained it until the timing was right. I think some bands do that.”
“Well, let’s be honest, I think every band does it to make money — it’s not like we’re doing this for nothing — we will do well out of it. But I think with us, we had a legacy and we want to preserve that.”
Nicky also joked that working with Ed Sheeran has earned them credibility with their children.
He joked, “My kids said to me, ‘Dad, if you’re doing this reunion you’re not doing all those crap songs you did the first time!’ And I said, thinking, ‘Jesus, that’s a bit harsh’, I said, ‘Lads, Ed Sheeran’s written it’ and they were blown away — so it’s finally made me cool to them too.”
Shane, Nicky, Kian Egan, and Mark Feehily are once again working with their former manager Louis Walsh, who they’ve dubbed as the “fifth member of the band”, alongside former Syco boss Sonny Takhar.
Kian joked, “Amazingly Louis has managed to keep it secret. He normally can’t help himself when he gets excited but do you know what? It’s a dream team now to be fair. We’ve known Louis since we were 16, 17 years of age.”
When Westlife’s reunion was first reported last month, it was reported that the band had snubbed plans to work with Simon Cowell again, choosing to sign with different label.
Speaking about their relationship with Simon, Nicky said, “We did go and chat to him. We owed it to him and we’re forever indebted to him — there’s no two ways about it, we wouldn’t be sitting here now if it hadn’t been for him.”
“In time we will probably do something together — what that is who knows. Maybe even a documentary. He’s the biggest TV producer in the world now.”
As for ex-member Brian McFadden, the bandmates have insisted that they’re on good terms with Brian, despite previous claims of a rift between them.
The band managed to keep their comeback plans a secret for months, but revealed that they almost gave it away when hosting secret reunion talks at Nicky’s home in Dublin, as his bandmates accidentally arrived at his next-door neighbour’s house.