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Tuesday November 5, 2013 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Tuesday November 5, 2013 MYT 9:29:20 AM
by christine cheah
After losing everything in a failed investment, Westlife’s Shane Filan is going back to the basics.
HE’S gone from owning his own helicopter in his heyday, to an all-time low of almost having his wedding ring auctioned off. Now, former Westlife singer Shane Filan is slowly getting back in his groove with the release of his first solo album next month, You And Me.
The Irishman had gone from the lead singer in what was then the biggest boy band in the world with 50 million albums sold, to filing for bankruptcy last June after a disastrous investment into the Irish property market.
While some would dismiss his new album as a desperate attempt to get his finances back in shape (as many did during Westlife’s farewell tour last year), the father of three is calmly focused on doing what he does best – making music.
“I wrote every song, and I took eight months to work with different writers and producers to find my sound,” said Filan in an interview with R.AGE.
“Most of my albums with Westlife were produced in four weeks to two months, but this is different. This (album) is the true story of my life.”
That story now includes performing for almost 80,000 people at a Westlife farewell show, only to be hit by the realisation that he still had just £470 (RM2,400) in his bank account.
The 34-year-old Filan admitted it was tough when he first decided to embark on a career as a solo artiste, but he was determined to make a positive album.
“I focused on what I have, which is what’s positive. And that includes my relationship with my family, and that’s not too hard to think about,” he said.
Despite his 14 years’ experience in the music industry, Filan said going solo has been way different to anything he’s done.
“When I joined Westlife, I didn’t know what to expect. There were no targets, so it was a lot of fun back then. But now, this has to work,” he said.
Filan had started a property development company with his brother around the time Westlife’s popularity finally seemed to be waning, after Brian McFadden left the group in 2004. But the 2008 credit crunch caused the Irish property market to crash, leaving Filan £18mil RM91mil) in debt.
“I wanted to invest in case Westlife didn’t work out,” he said. “It’s one of those things which you would do when you’re doing quite well.
“Property was the best investment at the time. It would have been a great investment had it not been for the property crash. It wasn’t something I could stop.”
The years before he was declared bankrupt were the most awful. The family home – which he designed and had built himself – had to be auctioned, and even his platinum and diamond wedding ring had to be surrendered to the insolvency service; though he has since bought it back.
It was the one thing he just couldn’t allow to be auctioned off, particularly after how his wife Gillian stood by him the entire time.
“After all that happened, my wife was so incredible to keep me positive over what we still had. I have an amazing marriage with three children, and that’s what the first single is about,” said Filan of the song Everything To Me, released three months ago and dedicated to Gillian.
Filan believes he’s now a better person, with the extreme highs and lows of the past decade-and-a-half teaching him that money isn’t everything.
“Though losing my money was something I didn’t enjoy very much, I wouldn’t have this album if it didn’t happen.”
With his vocals such a huge part of Westlife’s hits, the comparisons between Filan’s solo material and that of his old band are inevitable. Filan believes, however, that it’s time for him to step out to make his own mark.
“This is Shane Filan. There has to be a gap (between his solo career and Westlife). It’s a bonus to already have a fan base, but I know that if you don’t make good music, people won’t buy it – and this is the best possible and most natural music I could have made.”
> Shane Filan will be at the 1Utama Shopping Centre in Petaling Jaya, Selangor on Nov 8 for a brief performance and autograph session.
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Youth, Shane Filan, bankruptcy, Westlife
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