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Now I want to be king of the charts

HE MAY have been crowned king of the jungle in the recent series of ITV's I'm A Celebrity . . . Get Me Out Of Here, but Kian Egan insists that any rumours of trouble in the camp closer to home are nonsense.

"There was this silly story a while ago that I got paid more than Nicky, which is all absolute rubbish," he insists, referring to an allegation that he was paid £40,000 (€48,200) more for his stint in the jungle than former Westlife bandmate Nicky Byrne earned on the BBC's Strictly Come Dancing.

STIR

While it was claimed that this alleged disparity caused a rift between the two, Egan says that this is definitely not the case, no matter what has been reported.

"Things like that can stir things up, but I think the four of us are strong enough and know each other well enough to know how it works," he says.

"I would be quite surprised if one of the Westlife boys were to pick up a paper and go, 'I can't believe he said that about me' or rang me over something they'd read.

"If they did, I'd say, 'Were you not in the same band as me for 14 years? Did you not see how the media world works? You know I didn't say that, ya feckin' eejit, you know it was twisted, or else I said it, but not in that context'."

Since Westlife last performed together in June 2012, the four bandmates have gone on to do different things.

Byrne started a new radio show on 2fm last week, Shane Filan has released a solo album and Mark Feehily is currently recording his own album.

Egan says there is no rivalry between them, even though the media may like to perceive it that way. They can exist beside each other, he insists, and are not in competition.

"It's beautiful to see everyone doing so well," he says. "It would be horrible to see us all coming out and trying things that didn't work."

Nevertheless, it would appear that Egan's star has risen further than those of his bandmates so far, with his TV presenting gig on ITV's This Morning, being a coach on RTE's The Voice of Ireland and winning I'm A Celebrity.

And now the 33-year-old is poised to release a solo album, though he says that was never in the plan.

"I came out of the jungle and landed in Dubai airport, halfway home, when I got a phone call going, do I want to make an album," he says. "I thought it was a bit surreal and that the idea would probably go away, but it didn't. At first I was thinking, 'I can't do that, it's not for me'.

"I was really nervous and worried initially, because I had a lot of insecurities about the vocal side of things.

"I was afraid that I'd bring the album out and people would slate it and say, 'Why is he doing that? That guy can't sing. He wasn't even one of the lead singers in Westlife!'"

It was his wife, Jodi Albert, former star of Hollyoaks and member of the now-defunct band Wonderland, who persuaded the Sligo man to go for it.

"You're off your rocker, man, of course you can sing," she said.

The other thing that encouraged him was the idea that he would have a solo album to hand to his two-year-old son Koa, along with the 14 others from Westlife.

He says: "When I heard the first vocal back, I was like, 'Boom, I can do this. So why am I being so hard on myself?' Jodi and I are both very strong individuals, and are great at telling the other one what they're good at, and very bad at telling ourselves.

"I wouldn't have gone into the jungle and wouldn't have made an album if it wasn't for her, and she wouldn't have gone into Wonderland or done The Big Reunion if it hadn't been for me. We're super-lucky as a couple in terms of how good our relationship is, even apart from the work scenarios."

The couple have worked together quite a bit, particularly when he co-managed Wonderland, and he explains that working together means that the usual niggles that most couples experience have to be put aside in the workplace.

"If you have a little row, it has to be dropped when you get to work, so as a man you're thinking, 'I got away with that'!" he says, laughing.

While he hadn't planned to duet with his wife on the album track, I Run To You, the idea arose during recording. Egan admits he had major reservations about the idea of the husband-wife duet.

"I was like, 'Slow down, don't you think that's a bit much? We're already in the mags together and now you want us to sing together? Is this not a big block of cheese that we're chucking at everybody'?"

Once he was persuaded, Jodi laid down her vocals, and when Egan heard the finished result he thought his wife sounded amazing.

The finished album sounds great and, as he says himself, it isn't a million miles away from what he was doing in Westlife, but with a rockier feel to it. He has no idea how it will be received, but says that if it does well he'll be blown away. If it doesn't, it doesn't matter.

REFLECTING

"When I was in the jungle, I spent a lot of time reflecting on the past," he says. "I lost my dad a few years ago, and I thought about him quite a bit. I was also thinking about how well we had done in Westlife, and how lucky I am to have had the experiences I've had and made the money that I've made.

"When Westlife ended, I had reached a stage in my life where even if I had never done anything else, I've been so lucky to have had such an amazing career. So even now, I'm still not out for more."

KIAN EGAN'S ALBUM, HOME, IS RELEASED BY RHINO UK, PART OF WARNER MUSIC


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