Westlife tell Denise Van Outen who's getting their X Factor vote and how Louis fired them - twice!
When Now's celeb interviewer, newly pregnant Denise Van Outen, catches up with Westlife at the Wyndham Grand London Chelsea Harbour hotel, they're so excited about their new album Where We Are that it's hard for her to get a word in. Still best mates after 11 years in the business, the boys - Nicky Byrne, 31, Kian Egan, 29, Mark Feehily, 29 and Shane Filan, 30 - reveal that the hotel was a home away from home when they started out.
'Michael Caine's got the penthouse over there and Robbie Williams bought a flat there, but I don't think he moved in,' says Mark, pointing to a posh block of flats. The boys spend the interview pinching each other's food, with Kian barely blinking as Nicky dips pesto chicken into his pasta sauce while they open up about the secret of their success...
Denise: Hello boys! I'm a big fan and I took my mum to your concert at the O2. There were four women sat behind us wearing feather boas, but they were in their fifties...
Shane: You don't want to just have screaming kids. Women like to let their hair down when they come to see Westlife!
Do you feel you've been around so long that you're respected now?
S: Yes, I think we are - purely because of success, though, not musically.
Kian: The NME are never going to give us five stars, are they?
Well, Now readers love you - and so do I! Tell me, have you ever had cross words with Simon Cowell since he signed you at the start?
K: Yeah, we've had our moments over the years. With anything creative, like videos and styling, there are always going to be disputes. It's a real relationship - it's not like we bow down and do everything he says.
When you watch the X Factor, do you ever worry about other bands stealing your crown?
K: No, it's great to see the success of JLS. There'll always be boy bands out there.
Who has the biggest ego in the band?
S: I don't think any of us has any major ego.
Who causes trouble, then?
Nicky: We all do. No, actually I'd say Kian. ha!
K: There have been periods over the years where one of us has maybe stood out a little bit more than everyone else, but I think, over time, everyone causes a bit of trouble. Everyone's professional one day and then maybe a bit unprofessional the next day...
S: I think we can all be little bitches when we really want to be!
Yeah, sometimes guys can be a lot worse than girls! Nicky and Shane, you're both dads now (Nicky has twins Rocco and Jay, two, and Shane has daughter Nicole, four, and 14-month-old son Patrick). Is it hard finding time to see your kids?
S: It is, but you make time. You still work and do your stuff, but your child's your priority.
Kian, you got married (to actress Jodi Albert) six months ago. Are you planning on having children together any time soon?
K: Of course I want children. I just don't feel like I'm ready at all. I'm still too selfish.
N: It's like you're shell-shocked when it happens. Then they get to a certain age and it's just like a new thing every day. My little lad came home today and went: 'Hello, Daddy - buenos dias!' and in my head I was like 'F*** me, that's mad!' It's silly little things.
K: Yeah, but I think Jodi wants to be a little bit older when she has kids.
How old is she now?
K: She's 26. But everyone's different. I'm far too selfish to have kids now - all I'm concerned about is what I'm going to do with my time off.
How about you, Mark?
Mark: I think in the future, definitely. I mean, I really love kids.
You are all in solid relationships, aren't you?
S: Yeah, we're all grounded. Louis Walsh (their manager) has always kept us grounded, too.
What's the worst phone call he's ever had to make you?
S: Well, he's fired us twice!
S: He thought we were being arrogant little rock stars and said: 'Look, I can't deal with you.' Two years later same sort of thing happened again - he just got a vibe that we were getting a little bit big for our boots. We were all genuinely devastated. I was crying.
K: That's because you'd just taken out a mortgage. Ha!
S: Yeah, I'd just started building a house. Awful.
Would you ever do a musical based on Westlife, like the Take That one?
S: I haven't seen it, is it any good?
You could tell your own story...
S: Yeah, we could do it like that movie with Tom Hanks called That Thing You Do - have it start off with some actors in Ireland, then have some people play Louis and Simon.
Who'd play Louis, then?
K: Actually, you know that guy out of The Office? The one who was in that film Love Actually as well?
Martin Freeman? Do you think he could play Louis?
M: Oh, I thought you meant David Brent [Ricky Gervais] from The Office!
Are you following the X Factor?
K: Yeah, we watch it every week. We're no different to anyone else.
I can't take it seriously with Jedward!
S: Their Vanilla Ice was really good! Theyre entertaining and people are definitely warming to them a lot more now.
N: If you look at who's left in the contest, who would actually sell the most albums? They would.
Why don't you get Jedward to support you on tour?
S: They'll be playing arenas!
When Louis first put them through, I was screaming at the TV screen, saying: 'Are you mad? Did any of you guys call him up about it?
K: Yeah. I said 'You've been critisised for your judgments int he past, Louis - you're only going to make it harder for yourself now!' He just has this peculiar way of picking weird acts.
S: Best of luck to them!
So you like Jedward to win? I'd like to get this on record...
K: I'd like them to win. There's no Leona Lewis, so you might as well have someone like them win. Sure, they don't have the best voices...
S: They need a Saturday Morning TV show.
N: I like Jedward as a package.
M: I like Joe McElderry and Stacey Solomon. Lucie Jones was a very strong singer, but some people don't connect as well with the audience.
S: I think Jedward could be like an Irish version of the Olsen twins, Marie-Kate and Ashley! They could have their own TV show...
N: They don't really realise how famous they've become. They come out with such random stuff - like when we met them at the X Factor studios they said to me: 'Nicky, I met you outside the hotel in Dublin in the summer. I was in my school uniform.' They're so random!
Will you vote for them if they make it to the final?
S: Yeah, definitely!
Do you think that they could sell 40 million albums worldwide?
K: Maybe not at first, but people said that about High School Musical. You never know...
Now that I'm four months pregnant, what tips would you give my husband Lee on looking after me?
S: He should be pampering you, buying you presents and massaging everything!
N: He should learn to say yes to everything, no matter what you say.
I'm 35 and I've done pretty much all I wanted to, but when I found out I was expecting, I panicked...
S: Of course you do. It's amazing, but it's a big challenge. You only really start working hard once you've had children.
You knew Boyzone's Stephen Gately through Louis and Ronan Keating...
S: We looked up to Stephen - it's such a tragedy. It's been a very hard few months. Kian's dad died three months ago and Nicky's dad died two weeks ago.
Is Louis ok? He was very affected by it.
K: In the same way that me and Nicky won't really understand how our mums feel now our dads are gone. It makes you question everything. It's a very strange feeling when someone close to you dies.
Westlife's new album Where We Are is out on 30 November.
Source: Now magazine