Westlife: Still here, right now30/09/2011 20:28
By ROWENA JOY A. SANCHEZ
MANILA, Philippines – Irish boy band Westlife revealed what may well be the most important keys to their enduring success: hit songs and unwavering passion for their craft.
“We love what we do, and we’ve always loved to be in a band, and we generally love being on stage,” related Westlife member Shane Filan to Bulletin Entertainment and other members of the media in a press conference on Sept. 29, hours before their “Gravity Tour” concert, their fourth show in the Philippines.
Other boy bands who are not presently as visible as this quartet can apparently take cues from the group, who, in their more-than-a-decade-spanning career ,has sold over 44 million records worldwide and made history by notching 14 number one singles in the UK chart.
Westlife, composed of Shane Filan, Mark Feehily, Kian Egan, and Nicky Byrne (their fifth member Bryan McFadden left the group in 2004), puts a premium on coming up with hit songs consistently, and credits the talented producers and songwriters that they have worked with. The boys themselves have tried their hands in songwriting, with Mark noting it as a “natural progression” for them.
Although Westlife started out with a very pop sound, the members eventually experimented with various genres such as jazz/standard (“Allow Us To Be Frank” in 2003) and covers (e.g. Daughtry’s “What About Now?” and Billy Joel’s “Uptown Girl”). But for their 11th studio album, “Gravity,” the quartet delves into a more guitar-driven, more mature pop sound, as Mark noted.
Each of the members are at least 30 years old now (the conference’s host, MYX VJ Nikki Gil, even teased them, “you don’t look like you’ve aged!”), but apparently, their fans have stayed with them through the years, something that Westlife highly appreciates.
“We come to the Philippines and we get a response like this after many years… maybe we’re doing something right,” Kian enthused.
Their connection to their Filipino fans is a “magical experience” for Westlife that began 11 years ago in their first show in Manila, noted Feehily.
“We’ve come so far away from home and for everyone to knew our names, our family [and] our pet’s names… we’re glad,” said he.
Having been told that a lot of people, particularly in the presscon venue, grew up listening to their music, Nicky kidded, “That makes us feel old.”
Nevertheless, he hopes that their accessible music would transcend generations–that even when their fans become parents, they’d get to share Westlife’s music with their children.
Asked who they’d like to share the stage with in the future, the boys mentioned their fellow boy bands Backstreet Boys and ‘N Sync.They also mentioned internationally-renowned Filipino acts Charice, whom Mark described as “world-class;” as well as boxing champ and Sarangani congressman Manny Pacquiao, whom they’ve invited to do a duet in their concert. However, as Nicky, the self-confessed “big Manny Pacquiao fan,” related, “It’s not gonna happen. He can’t get out of the training. Coach Freddie Roach won’t let him.”