Shane Filan: a man with nothing and everything
The success of Westlife was fast and vast and band member Shane Filan sought to bank for the future by investing in property. He lost everything spectacularly, including his reputation. Here, he puts the record straight
Gillian, his wife, believes in him too. When Filan realised he was in love with Gillian, in a club in Sligo drinking sex-on-the-beach cocktails and chatting at the bar, he went home and couldn’t sleep for hours. Staring at the ceiling, he realised she was the one; his bandmate Kian Egan’s cousin, who Filan had gone out with when he was 13. The next day, on the way to McDonald’s, he bumped into her on the street and was so nervous he couldn’t form a sentence. A year and a half later, he won her over. More recently, after putting the kids to bed, husband and wife would have a cup of tea and chat for hours. Every night. Initially he was afraid to talk to her about the money problems. He was afraid to talk to his family. The guys in the band had no clue how bad things were. He was scared, anxious. “But she just kept telling me we’ll be alright, whatever’s meant to be for us will be. She kept telling me, ‘look at our kids, look at our marriage, everything is great’. She was like my shrink nearly, she talked me through stuff and was amazing.”
She encouraged him to write the songs that will make up his album: another form of therapy. “She’s the reason I’m still positive. She’s the reason these songs are out there. I can’t say enough about her. She was my rock, mountain, boulder, you put it altogether, she was that person.”
He jokes to her now about it, about her support and her inspiration for his new-found skill of songwriting: “Ah, see, that’s why I married you. I knew you’d come in handy when I needed to write a song or two!”
Filan walks around the pitch at Croke Park, pointing out where the Westlife stage was, where he sang to thousands and didn’t care that the money he was being paid would never make it to his wallet, because the feeling of performing was worth far more.
The day before this interview, he found himself talking to the man in the mirror while shaving. “Don’t think like that, don’t think like that,” he repeated when he started to imagine worst-case scenarios. “I kind of had a freak attack. Imagine if the album doesn’t do well? If the song doesn’t do well? Goes in at number 40 and the album flops. What am I going to do then?”
But what’s the point in worrying? He spent three years worrying about property, “and then it ended up the worst f***ing s*** happened”.
He has a different perspective now. “Whatever will be in my life now, genuinely I feel it’s meant to be. I was meant to lose everything financially. I was meant to write these songs. I just feel like everything is happening for a reason and I’m starting to see a positive side out of it. Even though I lost my money, I got to realise I could write songs, which is more important in my opinion.”
Croke Park is empty, and the rain falls heavier now. People on a tour of the stadium are gagging for photos, and he bounds over enthusiastically without complaint.
Filan has nothing and everything. He lives to sing. He trusts Louis. He adores his kids. He loves the way Gillian laughs. So, tell me what makes a man?
Shane Filan’s debut solo single,
Everything To Me is out August 23rd
on Capitol Records