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Monday 18 November 2019

Kian: 'I prayed to my Dad every night in the jungle'

The former boyband star tells Eamon Sweeney about his solo debut, surviving 'I'm a Celebrity' and how he'd love his own TV show

Run to You: Westlife's Kian Egan. Photo: Ray Burmison.
Run to You: Westlife's Kian Egan. Photo: Ray Burmison.
Kian Egan (front) with Westlife colleagues launching a new phone in 1999. Photo: Nicholas Mac Innes.
Eamon Sweeney

Eamon Sweeney

To say Westlife were a successful Irish pop act is the understatement of the 21st Century. Whatever you might make of their music, the statistics alone are staggering.

Between July 1998 and June 2012, Westlife sold 50 million records, notching up no fewer than 26 UK top 10 hits, including 14 number ones. They even beat The Beatles' long-standing record for the most consecutive number one singles.

"We were so young starting off," Kian Egan reflects over a pot of tea in Dublin's Clarence Hotel. "I don't think any of us had any realisation about what was going on in our lives at the time.

"As it went on and on and on, you just stay in that bubble. The bubble continued for 14 years. Then the bubble burst."

Given the notoriously short lifespan of most pop careers, it is a considerable achievement that Kian is still making music, Today sees the release of his debut solo album entitled Home.

"The first time I was in this hotel was to meet Louis Walsh when I was 17 years of age." he says. "We got the train up from Sligo and walked to here from Connolly Station. We picked up a copy of a newspaper, which had a picture of us on the front page because we were supporting the Backstreet Boys that same night. This completely blew our minds.

"We bounced in here jumping around like little kids. Now, I'm back here again 15 or 16 years later and that's incredible in itself."

Kian became a coach on The Voice of Ireland shortly after Westlife split up. He then went on to win the thirteenth series of I'm a Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here! before Christmas.

"I thought I'd be kicked out third or fourth, which would be grand, as long as I don't get kicked out first," he laughs.

Kian's new album features a duet with his wife Jodi Albert entitled 'I Run To You'.

"Well, we just got a big block of cheese out and grated it over some toast," he jokes. "Obviously, as soon as it was suggested, I thought it might be a bit cheesy. It was the last thing we recorded for the album. What takes the cheese away is that it is quite good. Who knows? It might even be a single."

The singer is father to two-year-old Koa, who is already showing musical abilities. "Koa is mental about the drums," Kian says. "We have a drum kit in Ireland and England, because I love smashing them around myself. We've been watching the video at home and he has been glued to it.

"Now, he's obsessed with lions and tigers and all the usual two-year-old stuff, but he can hold a tune alright."

The doting dad still misses his own dad, who passed away in 2009, shortly after Kian married Jodi. "I kind of feel like he's making all this shit happen," Kian says. "I don't know if that's silly or not, I just do.

"I wonder why things are going so well. Someone somewhere is going, 'Don't worry dude, you can have that.'

'When I was in the jungle, I prayed every night. I wasn't necessarily praying to God, I was praying to my da. Especially when I thought about how I was leaving my family behind, so I'd say: 'Look Dad, do what you can to make sure that little Koa, my wife and my mum are all okay.'

"I still find it hard. You question the meaning of life, why we are all here and what is it all supposed to be about. Is it to watch our loved ones die?

"The only thing that I try to wrap my brain around is that I'm one of seven children. There are 16 grandkids, so that's his legacy and we're all here because of him.

"He got robbed of a few years. He was only 64 years of age when he died, but there are so many people out there who are robbed of a hell of a lot more."

Life is short and then you die – a truism Kian is painfully aware of. As we all try to get the most out of it, where does Kian see himself in five years?

"Personally, I'd like to have another child, maybe two in the next five years," he answers. "So that's number one.

"It's quite weird, because what I'd love to see happen and what I think might happen are two completely different things.

"I'd love to be on my third solo album and doing gigs and making a living out of it. I'd love to be presenting Saturday night TV shows.

"Will it happen? I don't know. It's impossible to say.

"If it doesn't happen, I see myself back in Sligo with a surf shop on the beach front running a little coffee shop and watching my kids going to school."

If Kian received a massive offer to be involved in a Westlife reunion, would he do it?

"Well, right now? No. In a few years' time? Who knows? "

"Also, what people must realise is that since we were 16 we have been in each other's company. We all need to experience life without Westlife."

"But that's not to say that I wouldn't be up for it happening again, because I loved being in Westlife. I would like nothing more than to play Croke Park again...

"That would be incredible, but it's not for right now... and that's not to say everyone else would feel the same as me.

"Shane might not want to do it. Mark might not want to do it. Brian might want to come back. There are so many other questions to consider, but they are not for now."

KIAN EGAN'S DEBUT ALBUM HOME IS OUT TODAY

Irish Independent

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