Byrne-ing Ambitions: Nicky On The End Of Westlife, Family & What Comes Next.
Tears were shed worldwide when popular band Westlife brought the curtain down on their illustrious 14-year career last month. Even band members Nicky Byrne, Shane Filan, Kian Egan and Mark Feehily were visibly moved at times, as they hung up their microphones for the very last time, playing to 160,000 people at Croke Park in a spectacular two-night production that saw them go out in style. As they have been at the top of the music business since 1998, notching up 45 million in album sales, there was a real sense that this was a happy and meaningful celebration of a long and illustrious career. The lads may have hung up their Westlife boots for now, but we’re sure to be seeing a lot of them around the place, individually, in the near future.
On that note, RSVP was delighted to catch up with Nicky Byrne to check out what he plans to do next, and he revealed to us that he has his sights set on television presenting. And judging by the aplomb with which he entertained the crowd during a delay in rounding up family members to come on stage at Croke Park, he’s a natural, being funny, personable and well able to adapt and play to the crowd. He told jokes and anecdotes, and even recalled out some of the more memorable banners held aloft by fans. The ones that stood out for him were, “Nicky, you make me sticky,” and “Nicky, this is Alannah. Show me your banana!”
Family is very important to him, and during Queen of My Heart he was joined on stage by five-year-old twins Jay and Rocco and his mother Yvonne, much to the delight of the audience. He is also happy to attribute part of his success to his lovely wife Georgina, whom he first met at school when they were only 15, admitting that he couldn’t have done it all without her. Here we talk to the personable Baldoyle man about Westlife, being a dad, life with Georgina and what comes next!
Congratulations on all you have achieved with Westlife Nicky. Now that it has ended, what’s next for you?
I’ve had lots of different meetings but there is nothing in stone, if I’m honest. What I want to do is stay within the entertainment industry as it’s all I’ve ever known, but I don’t believe that music is something I want to do from the offset. I look at Westlife, and I’ve always had those moments, even privately in my house, where I think, “Wow, what Westlife has done has been pretty incredible.” For me, I want to stay busy and don’t see this as a retirement, but certainly I’ll be hanging up my microphone for the foreseeable future. That’s not to say that if the right project came along at the right time down the road and I felt it was something interesting, I wouldn’t take a pot shot at it.
Mainstream TV presenting with big shows and shiny floors is where I want to be. It’s all meetings, meetings, meetings at the moment, both here and in the UK, and the clever thing is not to rule anything out really, because if somebody wants to meet you on something they think is interesting, who knows if you might fancy it?
Would you consider moving abroad for work?
I wouldn’t rule anything out but I’d hope not to because I’ve always seen Ireland as my home. Myself and Georgina had a dream about living in America years ago, but I suppose that’s not really on the agenda now, where our heads are at. Our two little boys are starting school here, so I’d like to think that Ireland is where I’ll stay. And if work comes up in the UK, I’d be in and out and back home as much as possible. The dream scenario would be to work in both countries – that would be amazing.
How are your boys Rocco and Jay? It’s hard to believe that they’re starting school now!
Yeah, the lads are great. They’re happy and healthy and looking forward to starting big school in September. They were five last month and they have their own little personalities. I’ve always said that when you have twins, it’s like being a referee. They’re great lads and great friends, but they beat each other up as well and that’s part and parcel of it all.
They’ve had a different upbringing to me as they’ve been all around the world, travelling on planes and tour buses and watching Daddy up on a big stage and big screens. I think that’s all very strange – well it is to me anyway, – but it’s probably the norm to them. Other dads who work 9-5 may get to see their children early in the morning and then in the evening, but l’ve been blessed that I’ve been able to spend a lot of quality time with the lads during the first five years of their lives. Although they were times when we could be away for a month or six weeks and that was tough, but thank God for Skype.
How is Georgina – you’ve been together forever?
Ah yeah, Gina’s great. We’ve been together since 1597 or something like that! We did Celebrity Mr and Mrs on ITV recently and that was great fun – it’ll be on TV in September. Georgina has always been brilliant and very, very supportive and we’re still madly in love. It’s a really good, strong relationship and I’m delighted that we both have that. From a selfish point of view, when you do something like l’ve just done in Westlife, it’s always nice to have that kind of solidarity and that grounding type of family life.
Does she have any plans for her fitness career now, because she has probably had to put some of her ambitions on hold while you were in Westlife?
Inevitably, yes, just because I’ve been travelling so much and I suppose if one of you in a relationship has a job that’s really busy, it helps if the partner’s job isn’t as busy. Georgina has always had a fire in her belly to do something and if she wants to do something in the future, I would be there encouraging her all the way. She set up a fitness blog there recently just for fun, (fitnesswannabe-choclover.tumblr.com) partly because she had done some writing for RSVP magazine and she enjoyed every bit of that. So while she hasn’t had the time to commit to something on a full-time basis, this was something to get her teeth into and she’s quite proud of it.
It’s getting quite a following between the Westlife fans and Twitter – she’s up to 25,000 followers herself on Twitter – so for someone like Georgina who has no interest in being in the public eye, it’s kind of a cool scenario to be in. It suits her because it’s about health and fitness and nutrition, and it has an angle to it as well with the fun and banter she has with the kids.
Georgina makes no secret about her love of chocolate, so even though it’s all very nutritional and educational, she doesn’t live her life like a complete nutritionist. She’d believe that if you do most of the things you do right, you’re allowed a treat now and again. I’m into fitness as well. I train hard as well and have always been into my fitness and boxing, because apart from the health benefits, mentally it’s very good to be in the gym because you feel better. I always say I’m the fattest, skinny person you’ve ever met though, because I love the chipper and all that kind of thing and I’m never going to rule that out of my life.
How do you feel now that Westlife has come to an end?
Well it’s strange of course, but we’ve had an amazing time. We’ve had an absolute whirlwind 14 years. We’ve been around the world umpteen times and have always tried our best to fly the flag for Ireland and try to keep you all proud, and now it’s time to move on to something else. Our friendship is intact which is really important to us and always has been. We didn’t want that to suffer, so it was a big decision to make but I think we made the right one.
We’ve seen it coming for quite some time in Westlife. When we announced it October, I think we all felt a little bit of the pressure was off and we could enjoy the final nine months. It’s going to be strange now because it’s all we’ve done for the past 14 years, and with respect, it’s probably all we know. In all that time, I think there has probably been a burning desire within all of us to try something else at some point in our lives and we never knew when that point would be. And I suppose that’s now come of age and it’s here in front of us – it’s the beginning of the rest of our lives.
It will be weird for you not seeing Shane, Kian and Mark the whole time, won’t it?
Yes, it’ll be different but the world is a smaller place these days with Twitter and Facebook – even if you wanted to stay away from somebody, you’re on their timeline so you know exactly what they’re doing! We’re all on good terms and we have each other’s numbers and emails, and Jodi, Gillian and Georgina are still very good friends. So I don’t believe that it’s a case that it’s the end and we’ll never speak to anyone again. Obviously we won’t be speaking every day like we have been doing, and I think it will be strange to see any of them doing something else. I think it would only be natural to think, “Oh wow, he’s doing that?” But I suppose we’ve all set ourselves up nicely around what we all want to do, whether it’s solo careers in music or TV and presenting and all that kind of stuff.
So are you happy or sad that it’s all come to an end.
It’s bittersweet. We’re going to miss it and there’s no doubt about that. What we’re going to miss is the solidarity we had between us all. We were like a mini army or football team and nobody could ever break that bond. We were a close-knit community and nobody could get inside that circle – although the girls were in there too obviously. We were Westlife and we were very protected really, but that’s all gone now, so we are very much out there on our own now. There are positives and negatives to that. Positives, because you’re making your own decisions and can do whatever you want, whenever you want, but sometimes I think you have to be careful what you wish for too. It’s not always the best answer either when you have nobody to disagree with on a decision, and it’s all down to you.
What a way to go out though, with the two amazing gigs in Croke Park?
Croke Park was a great weekend for us all. We’re actually the only band that I can think of in recent years who finished up with such a public farewell. Every last time in the UK was sad as well. I was a bit choked-up in Manchester because I was very fond of it, as I always went back and forwards to see Manchester United playing and had some great times there with my dad Nikki before he passed away. I remember going to see United playing one day and then going to the MEN area to see a boxing match that night, so when I when I was in that arena for the final time with Westlife, it kind of hit me a bit. It was the first time I got choked, and Belfast was very hard as well.
There was an awful lot of build-up put on top of us all, but when you think of it, Westlife was always about big occasions, even in our personal lives, with the big weddings we all had. So the last song, the last farewell, the last wave was in front of 85,000 people each night in a big stadium like Croke Park with thousands more watching live in cinemas across the country. And it was probably a very fitting way to end it all.
Interview: Andrea Smith
Credit/Source: rsvpmagazine.ie | westlife.gr