Few have experienced life's highs and lows like Irish singer Shane Filan. As the frontman of Westlife, one of the biggest bands of recent decades, he sold more than 50 million records and played stadiums around the world.
But just one year after Westlife broke up in 2012, he lost all his money when Ireland's property market crashed. All that only made Filan realise that his family and music are what matter in his life, and he's never sounded more assured than on his sophomore solo album Right Here.
Young Post caught up with Filan when he stopped in Hong Kong.
You look like you haven't aged in almost two decades! What's your secret?
A lot of people say that to me, but I don't have any secrets. I like to sleep a lot - at least eight hours a day. … I try to eat healthy, and I drink a lot of water. I also like running by the beach near my home. Not stressing too much is also important. My dad always says there's no point worrying about anything because it's still going to be the same outcome whether you worry or not.
Last time Shane Filan talked to YP, he surprised web reporter Young with a hug (see the video evidence!)
What's the best thing that's happened to you recently?
Being at home. I live back in Ireland now, in my hometown, Sligo. In the last year that's made a massive difference, because I see what it means to my children to be back there. Patrick is seven, and Shane is about to turn six. Nicole is 10. So they're at that age now where they're starting to have memories. All their memories now will be growing up in Sligo. It's a beautiful seaside town.
Were you able to be with your family while working on Right Here?
Yes! You can fly anywhere from Dublin. So I'd know my family is safe at home, and I'd just go over to London or Denmark to write and record songs. Coming home definitely inspired some of the songs that I've written on this album. I'm definitely in a happier place in every part of my life.
The first album was a really good start, and I kind of got that nervousness, of having to do it without the band, out of the way. So this album is like, right, how can I get better vocally and lyrically? And I feel that I have, in every sense.
You went to a writing camp to do this album …
It was in a studio with different producers and writers in each room. I'd go in and I'd spend, like, two hours in each room. We'd write a song, and then I'd go to another room to write a song with other people.
I did the sessions in Denmark and in London. [The songs] I Could Be, Right Here, and All My Love came from the sessions in the first two weeks. And then I went back and did I Can't Get Over You. I love that song. And it's nothing to do with my life, because luckily I have a good relationship with my wife and everything's great, but it could be about somebody dying in your life.
Who did you like working with most?
I got on well with Sharon Vaughn, a country music writer from America. I wrote three songs with her, and lyrically hit it off with her probably better than anybody I've ever written with before.
There are four songs we wrote that would have been on the album if it could have had 14 songs. Lyrically, I was better because I was able to relate to [writing with women] a lot more. My fan base is mainly female, so if a girl approves a lyric, you know it's a good lyric. It's not complicated.
Were there any low points for you when writing the album?
Songwriting can be frustrating. At one point, I was probably going three or four weeks with nothing. We were doing some songs, but they weren't as good as the ones we already had. I kept going, thankfully, and got a couple of songs near the end, like I Can't Get Over You.
Are you sick of people asking you if Westlife is getting back together?
It's funny because I get asked all the time. It's not that I'm sick of being asked. The answer is I honestly don't know. There are no plans to. It might never happen, or it might happen. People will keep asking, because you never know what the future holds.
What do you miss most about Westlife?
Being on the road together. We had lots of fun playing massive stadium shows and arena shows. Stuff like that was incredible. But we did it, and we did it at the highest level, in Asia and Europe, everywhere.
You do something once, the second time it's not as fun. I think we felt at the time we'd achieved everything we could, and that's why we didn't want to do it anymore. It's like a famous TV show: you can only do so many series before people start saying it's not as good as it used to be. For us, it wasn't as good as it used to be. It could happen someday again. But if it doesn't, we were great.