Westlife star Mark Feehily looks to solo future as band call it quits02/01/2012 19:04
2012 may or may not bring about the end of civilisation, as predicted by the ancient Mayan calendar.
However, it’s absolutely certain the summer will see the end of an era for one of Ireland’s most popular musical exports of all time, when Westlife call it a day.
The foursome – since Brian McFadden departed – find themselves contemplating life outside the band that’s taken them around the world for 14 years.
Mark Feehily, Kian Egan, Shane Filan and Nicky Byrne have no idea which of them will go on to be solo superstars, and which – if any – will fade into obscurity, happily or otherwise.
Mark said: “I don’t think anybody could have predicted Cheryl Cole would have the most successful solo career out of Girls Aloud.
“It’s only when we all go off and make music that it will be a bit more apparent who will be successful or not.”
Mark is the guy most would put their money on. With one of the strongest voices in the band, striking looks, a likeable nature and having already written some of the material on previous albums, he appears to have a head start.
He admitted he’s keen to carve out a name for himself once the band finally stops performing, following a greatest hits tour in the summer.
He said: “I’ve been creative since I was 13 and recently I’ve been applying it a bit more. I’ve written thousands of songs but they are hidden away on a hard drive.
“In the last few years I opened up a bit more about them and presented a demo to Westlife.
“They were immediately recorded and the boys put some tracks on the Where We Are album.
“Our last album has four new tracks on it and I have written the last song we will release, Beautiful World.”
Mark, 31, is determined to continue with a musical career once he and his bandmates part ways.
He explained: “I’m a singer and will always want to make music. I didn’t want Westlife to end so I could make a solo record, but it is something I will do now.
“I’ve got a million ideas, a very creative brain. In order to be happy in life I’m going to have to create.”
Of course, Westlife are not the first boyband to split up, and the road ahead can be tough for members flying solo.
Having witnessed the hardships endured by members of East 17 and 5ive, after failing to relight the fires of success, Mark is determined that he and each of his bandmates are not headed for oblivion.
He asserted: “We’re all very driven people. If anything, we are more now that we have to push ourselves individually.
“Some people run off to the distance and you never see them again.
“They have a big stint at the top and then you see some random picture of them with a two-foot beard living in obscurity.
“We are more driven than ever. We are all just over the age of 30 now. A lot of people speak to us as though we are already dead but we are just moving on from Westlife.
“Each of us, hopefully, will have beautiful, flowery careers ahead.”
Most of his bandmates are champing at the bit to try their hand at new adventures but Mark admits Kian may take more time than others to readjust.
He explained: “The only person who wants to go off and completely get away and relax is Kian.
“He’s already a coach on The Voice in Ireland and he has just had a kid. Part of him wants to completely get away, step away from the business and enjoy his child.
“We took a year off three years ago and it was horrible for Kian because he suffered a terrible misfortune during that time.
“His dad passed away, which put a dark cloud over the year for him.
“He wasn’t able to relax and do a bit of soul searching like the rest of us.
“I think he’ll definitely relax and go away for a while, but Kian is also very driven.”
Making the final decision to split was not easy for anyone but it came after months of rumours about the band.
Mark is keen to reassure Westlife fans that there was never any animosity among them.
He said: “That is something we are stressing a lot.
“There was no incident or episode where someone said: ‘That’s it. I’m f***ing out of here’.
“There was no sensational moment. It’s something that manifested over years. It was more an idea of calling it a day and moving on to new adventures for all of us.
“Everyone’s mind was eventually on the same page.
“We’ve had an amazing 14 years but it’s time for something new. We didn’t want it to dwindle away and for the magic to have gone from it.
“The tour we are about to do, our farewell tour, is the biggest tour we’ll have ever done in our career.
“We are going out on top, not staying around like an unwanted guest at the end of the party.”
As Mark insisted that the boys’ plans to split are not a publicity stunt, quashing hopes that they have secret plans for a big reunion three years down the line, he revealed a new string to his bow.
Though his secret new project is still in its infancy, the excitement in his voice was clear.
He enthused: “I’ve been asked to write a musical by an amazing person in London.
“It’s somebody I really admire and it’s to do something like Boy George’s Taboo musical, which he wrote about 20 years ago. It’s an updated newer version and it’s not completely commercial mainstream – a jazz hands musical like Grease – but a bit more off the centre with a mixture of indie, pop music and Broadway.
“That’s always been something I’ve been interested in and I’m flattered that I’ve been asked to be involved with some people I really admire. But nothing exists yet.
“It’s all just talk but it’s very exciting to even be talking about it.”
Before anything can be done, however, the boys will lay to rest their collective status, their career together culminating in a farewell tour that will see them play 90 dates in the UK and Ireland.
Mark’s eyes twinkled, partly in sadness, part in excitement, as he added: “It’s going to be a sad day, but it’s also a celebration of 14 years together and 14 years of touring.
“It’s not all doom and gloom.
“We want to have fun and Scotland has an absolutely electric crowd who always scream very well.”