The atmosphere when Shane Filan took to the stage recently at a city music venue was straight out of a stereotypical music video from the 1990s. Teenage fans were singing out words of songs learnt by heart, and people in their twenties, too old and cool to admit they loved a boy band once, also slipped into a nostalgic trip. Their frenzy was infectious. The happiest man, of course, was Shane, who chose India to launch his debut EP, titled Everything To Me.
The face of the cult Irish boy band, Westlife, which disbanded last year, Shane is now on his own and in this interview, talks about the challenges of starting a fresh chapter in his life.
Q. The songs in the EP have a lot of positive vibes. Did you consciously make an effort to come out with a happy-sounding record?
A. When I started my album, musically, I was in a very negative space. The band was over and with the financial stuff that went on with me, it was a scary time. But, when I got into the studio, I found myself in a welcoming, protected environment. I never got a chance to write before and I realised that I was delivering some good songs. That got the label excited and it gave me confidence. I wrote 45 songs for the album. The first one I wrote was ‘Everything to me’.
Q. Now that you are starting afresh and need to prove your mettle all over again as a solo artiste, do you think the legacy of your ex-band could be a liability?
A. Yes, everything is challenging because I come from a successful and famous band. But, you’ve got a lot to live up to, then it comes to success. I don’t compare it (success) because it’s completely different. Back then, we were in a boy band; we were 18 years old. I’m 34 now and am starting my solo career. But, everything is possible, if you work hard.
Q. Do you think you are fulfilling wishes that you could not while you were with the band?
A. Maybe; I don’t know. When I was with Westlife, I didn’t think about it (writing songs) too much. But, at this point in my life, I feel I’m meant to do this. I have a lot of things to talk about now — my wife and children.
Q. While you were with Westlife, was the songwriting process more manufactured than organic?
A lot of songs were written by other people. But now I feel that to find my sound, I had to write. It’s important that I’m telling my story.
Q. Was it a conscious decision to come to India to release the EP and do an Asian tour?
A. Yeah, because India is a massive territory and Westlife never came here even once. My international team told me that the band was a big success in India and that my name will do well here. For me it means a lot now; with Westlife, we got big so quickly, it was crazy.
Q. What do your ex-members feel about your going solo? Are you guys in touch?
A. They’re all excited for me; we are all excited for each other’s careers. But we’re all a bit scared too. It’s daunting to be on your own — for all of us. But, they did ring up and congratulate me when the song was up on iTunes, saying that they loved it.
Q. Any Indian artiste you follow?
A. No, but I’d like to get to know more. Someone was telling me about a big Bollywood actress who’s a singer too.