60 Seconds With Shane07/04/2003 23:16
07 April 2003: 60 SECONDS EXTRA!: For some reason, Westlife's Shane Filan had the nickname Shorty at school but he's since blossomed into a recording giant following more No.1s with the Irish ballad bashers than you can shake a stick at. The band's main singer was also voted best-looking man in pop by Smash Hits readers not too long ago.
'Best looking man in pop' - who's your biggest rival?
That was a couple of years ago now. It's a bit embarrassing, a bit weird but quite exciting and flattering at the same time. It's not something I worry about keeping as a title. I think it's a bit 'who's flavour of the month' with the kids, to be honest. Last year, Gareth [Gates] won it - I imagine it'll be Justin Timberlake this year.
Eight No.1s. You must have been gutted when Tell Me What Makes A Man lost out to Bob The Builder.
It's actually 11 now. I was well annoyed with that - What Makes A Man is one of my top three Westlife tracks. But you had to laugh at it being Bob The Builder who beat us. How can you compare with a novelty record? So, thanks to all the kids who bought that one.
Who did the best version of Evergreen - you guys, Will Young or Gareth Gates?
You would say that.
No I wouldn't. It's not one of my favourite songs - it was never going to be a single for us. I was surprised Will did it - that was down to Simon Cowell. I don't think it suits Will - and I don't think he liked it either.
How much of a git is Simon?
He's just like he is on TV. He puts on a bit of a show now he's got the Mr Nasty tag - he has to for TV. He's been very straight up with us. If you're crap, he tells you. He's very honest and there's no bullshit at all. I was in America the other week doing a documentary and watching telly and he was all over it. Then the other night, I was watching MTV Cribs [where stars let cameras in there home] and they had Simon as one of the subjects. I was like: 'My God. What's happening?'
You spend all this time trying to break America, then your A&R man does it before you.
Gutting, isn't it? But TV shows are much easier to be accepted in the US. The record industry is without a doubt the hardest market to break. Personally, I don't think we'll ever do it as we won't try to do it again. It takes too much time. We're happy with Europe, so why bother?
Do you get fed up with love songs?
It's something we do. Westlife are a band who are known for ballads and we've become very successful at it. If you like the lyrics and the melody of a tune, you don't get fed up or say: 'I'm not doing another ballad.' As the band have gone on, we've written more stuff ourselves. On the last album, there were six or seven of ours. Some about love, some about life. Obviously, if you write it, you feel more passion towards it. Our market place is ballads - both the kids and the older women like them, so why change it?
On stage, can you hear yourself think for the screaming girls?
You wear ear monitors so you can hear the singing and that tones down most of the screams - it's like wearing two ear plugs. With all the ballads, you get to sit down a lot to sing and, as they're slow, you get plenty of time to chill out and think.
What's the maddest thing you've been given by a fan?
I've had nothing that bad - just the usual. Underwear thrown on stage with letters pinned to them. Mark got a turnip sent in a bag once and one of us got a set of weighing scales, bizarrely.
Do you pass the underwear on to the girlfriend?
No. I leave it at the venue.
Do you get embarrassed if you walk in somewhere and they're playing a Westlife track?
I was in the pub last week having a few quiet beers with some mates. One of our videos came on the telly and I was literally standing under it. I was singing on the TV and standing with a pint under it. I could feel everyone looking over and was thinking: 'Oh, my God.' You want the floor to open up and swallow you.
EXTRA QUESTION: Your biggest idol was Michael Jackson - what do you think of him now?
He got a fair old kicking and I think the documentaries were a little unfair. What people don't understand is that he's in a different world. His life is so different from the rest of us. Take the stuff with the masks on his kids' faces. He obviously doesn't want them growing up as Michael Jackson's son and daughter and to have their heads wrecked by a tabloid lens in their face at every move. I can kind of understand that. As for the abuse charges, I think if they were really true, he'd be in jail by now.
EXTRA QUESTION: Can you equate your fame and his?
No way. He's stratospheric on a different level to us. He's probably bigger than Elvis. Possibly the biggest star the planet has ever seen.
EXTRA QUESTION: Did you try to copy the moonwalk?
Totally - I wasn't too bad, actually. I used to practise it all the time. I used to copy the song Man In The Mirror and that's what got me into music. My mum and dad would listen and say: 'You've got a half decent voice there.'
EXTRA QUESTION: What do you listen to?
At the moment, Eminem and Coldplay. You end up listening to very different music from that you play. When you sing Westlife all day, you don't put them on your CD player. You want to get away from what you do for a living - like any job.