■ The Boyzone frontman, 41, talks about why the band are finishing, their final album and not calling Louis Walsh
Why are Boyzone splitting up?
It’s time to park it and say goodnight and leave it at that. We’re not splitting up, we’re retiring as a band. It’s been 25 years — it’s been a long time doing what we do. We’ve had a great run and we don’t want it to dissolve in an awkward manner. It’s nice to go out on a high, and going out with a successful album and sold-out tour is something we’re all very happy with.
Was it a difficult decision?
It’s been on and off since Stephen [Gately] passed and rather than saying we’re having a break or for it to fade away we wanted to do it right and celebrate the 25 years with the respect it deserves. We’re all over 40. We’ve got kids who are older than we were when we started in this game and we all have things we want to do. I want to continue with my solo career and the lads have got their own projects. So this is it.
What can people expect from the album?
Shane [Lynch] came up with the concept and he was right about it — people generally don’t buy albums now and listen from track one to track ten. They go on Spotify or download the songs they like. So this is like a playlist and we’ve each picked three songs each. Some have a country feel, some are dance, some are urban and it’s a different album to anything we’ve released before.
How does the decline in album sales affect your solo career?
I’m lucky that after 25 years I can still make music. I’ve had a lot of friends in the industry who aren’t here any more — they’re doing different things because it’s too difficult. I’m happy I’m still writing songs, making albums and going on tour. I got into this to make music and perform it to people, and hopefully I can continue to do that.
What’s Mikey going to do?
He’s got a studio in Dublin and he’s producing other artists. He’s staying in the game but behind the scenes.
You’re pals with Ed Sheeran…
He’s a great guy and a good friend. We met many times on the road. I was in Australia doing The X Factor in 2011, and he performed and we got on very well. We’ve remained friends from then. We’ve co-written a track on the new album.
What have been the highlights of the past 25 years?
The first No.1, Words, doing Top Of The Pops for the first time, getting on the cover of Smash Hits and then working with people such as U2, Pavarotti and Andrew Lloyd Webber.
You’ve had your ups and downs with Louis Walsh. How are things now?
I don’t know Louis now. I don’t speak to the guy. I don’t know anything about Louis. I don’t know what he’s doing.
You could give him a little ring…
I don’t want to give him a little ring.
How did you end up lending Leonardo DiCaprio money to gamble with?
I was playing cards with Leo in Sydney one night. I’ve met him a few times in different scenarios. We both auditioned for the same movie in the 1990s and he’s always been a generous, lovely fella. He’s a great talent.
Would you move to Australia? You’ve done TV work there…
I’ve just done All Together Now there, which was a lot of fun. My 19-year-old son is living there now so any excuse to see him is great. At the moment I’m here with Boyzone and the breakfast show I do, which is Monday to Friday. My older girls are in Ireland so it’s important to be close to them. I’d live in Australia if it wasn’t so far away — I love that country. I tour there, have quite a good profile there, and from that I was asked to do The X Factor and The Voice there.
What lessons has your career in showbiz taught you?
Have more fun. When I was younger, in the 1990s, I took it all very seriously. It went by fast. I was young and at that age you’re supposed to have a good time but I wish I’d enjoyed it more. So don’t sweat the small stuff. Losing Stephen is the most tragic thing that’s happened to us. What we’ve learned more than anything is that life is short. Enjoy yourself — you never know when your time is up.
Why did you take it so seriously?
I didn’t want to cock it up. I wanted to be as good as I could be. I wanted to give it a good shot and not get it wrong but I didn’t have a crystal ball and didn’t know how well Boyzone would do.
Have you got any unfulfilled ambitions?
I want to climb Mount Everest — I’m going to the base camp next year. I’ve done Kilimanjaro for Comic Relief, which was one hell of an adventure and why I want to do Everest next.
Album Thank You And Good Night is out on November 16. Boyzone’s UK tour starts January 20. bookingsdirect.com