Esther Talks to Brian McFadden about Music, Life and his Upcoming Performances at Boisdale this Week

Click Here for Brian McFadden Review Performance at Boisdale, 9th November 2018




 “In November, Brian McFadden will be embarking on a full live tour ‘Brian McFadden - Soul Jam’ which will see him backed by a full nine-piece band.  He will be performing tributes to great soul artists such as Otis Redding, Ray Charles and  Eddie Floyd and will, of course, include Westlife hits in the set.

Brian is a singer/songwriter and TV Presenter from Ireland who began  his singing career with boy band Westlife in 1998  during which they achieved 12 number one hits  including 'Flying Without Wings' and 'World of our Own."

I had the pleasure of interviewing Brian McFadden one of the original members of Westlife yesterday and what a light, easy, happy, giggly, inspiring interview it was.   A little younger than the usual old skool artists I usually interview, Brian still had an essence of being well-lived.  A maturity that bellied his 38 years of age.  Did I  feel a bit out of touch talking to a  younger? hmmm no, as  his energy was quite uplifting , so no hang ups for me there.  As I sat hunched over my PC with my hoodie up (it's getting cold peeps) trying not to look too dodgy in a Travel Lodge Reception area in Walthamstow, hoping it would remain empty for the duration of the interview, I reflected on how far Brian had come in his career, and I was really looking forward to having a chat with him.  I had listened to his latest single Angel and loved its soulful and soul-filled vibes.  Brian had certainly learned how to embrace his crazy, eclectic, deep, rich life experiences and empty them into a potpourri of musical offerings for his audiences.

What I loved about talking to Brian is that he is open, a tell-it-as-it-is type of guy (and he’s Irish) and so heartfelt.  A man who wears his heart on his sleeve (hmm…I must be somewhere in the very distant future – A man who wears his heart on his sleeve).   Anyway, without further ado, I asked him the Esther Austin Global mandatory question which included shells……

Esther: The first question I’m going to ask is who is Brian McFadden in a nutshell?

Brian:  I’m not really sure to be honest with you (laughter) my life has been so crazy.  To join a band like Westlife, touring the world, to then living in Australia and America, to being married many a time you couldn’t sum me up in a nutshell, but it’s not a big enough shell.  Maybe a coconut shell might work - laughter

Esther: Westlife was a huge part of your life what did your experience with the group help you to understand about yourself?  How do you feel you grew as a person?

Brian: Not much really.  I think the whole experience with Westlife happened so fast it was a whirlwind 6 years for me.  When I think about it now, I didn’t really understand what was going on until after I’d actually left the band and went home and settled in and thought about what I’d just done.  Remember I was in school when Westlife started.  I literally left school, went on the road with the band and it was absolutely manic.  It was 24 7 of this life changing experience and I never really realised how amazing it was until it stopped until I was finished with the band.  So much happened in those 6 years and when I think of every other 6 years after that for the rest of my life I think of it with gaps in it and it was slow but when I think about those 6 years I think of living most of my life in those six years.

Esther: Where do you get the inspiration from around the various/different types of genres you sing, as you cover so many different genres and ranges which is a powerful gift.

Brian:  I think my music career has gone with my life.  I feel that with life experiences you change your sound and I guess your soul.   It took me 20 years of living and life experiences to do a solo.  If you listen to my musical path it started with very ‘poppy’ music, the type when you’re wet behind the ears and inexperienced then I went through a phase when I left Westlife where I did a rock pop sound that obviously comes from your party days when you’re a bit of a rock star, then you get to my age 38 and the kids are grown up and one is about to turn 18, and you start to come out to express those experiences through your music.

Esther: When you performed with Westlife, how did it make you feel? what was going through you when you were out there performing in front of huge audiences?

Brian:  The difference between then and now and that now we perform to people who sit and listen to music.  I don’t think anyone really listened to us sing.  There was always thousands and thousands of girls screaming at us (laughter).  But it’s kind of interesting now when I walk on stage and perform, I can actually hear myself singing, I can hear my own voice.

Esther: In 2016 you formed a group “Boyzlife’ with former Boyzone member Keith Duffy, and together you’ve toured around the world, performing some of your greatest hits.  What’s the difference this time performing in another band and what has your experiences as a solo artist, former band member, TV presenter and all the other wonderful things you do, how have these experiences influenced the make-up of your music and your approach to the creative process of your material?

Brian: This is a soul album.  The singing on this album is obviously very soulful and coming from the heart.  I had to take on a-lot of the experiences in my life to make this album.  I wouldn’t exactly call it a band it was more like a project that Keith and I took on.  It was not just about singing but talking and telling life stories about what had happened to us behind the music.  It was very nostalgic for us and bought back a lot of memories almost therapeutic.  Then I went onto doing my solo stuff, totally delving into my own experience and when you sing from the heart, from your own music, you kind of get lost a little bit.

Esther:  You sing very poignantly about life experiences and you have a certain essence that resonates with a depth of those experiences.  I get a sense you like to keep things real.   When you sing that deep, do you deal with your pain in the same way in your life or do you just face it then let it go?

Brian:  For me I’ve always been a kind of sweep it under the carpet person.  I never really hang onto things much, whether it’s relationships or the break up of friendships with people or leaving a band.  I never get too attached to things.  I just kind of get over it and move on.  I guess I leave it to my music to express myself.

Esther:  You’re in the process of recording and producing a new album collection of soul classics featuring special guests. The first in the series will be released when?

Brian:  I’ve just done an album of soul songs which is coming out in January.  I’ve recorded a single where we’ve done Angel, Aretha Franklin and Otis Reading’s Angel and I’ve recorded that with Mica Paris but the album comes out in January.

Esther:  What made you choose Otis Reading as one of the artist to sing a tribute to?

Brian:  I was originally going to do different soul legends and as I was doing research and listening to all the soul classics I couldn’t get past Otis.  As soon as I started listening to him, I didn’t listen to anyone else.  There was something magical about him.  When I was listening to his back catalogue and thinking about all the major songs he wrote before he died at such a young age, I would’ve loved to have seen what he would have done if he had lived on for another 30 or 40 years.

Esther:  And where do you feel that soul head is coming from within you Brian, as there are so many other different genres that you have covered.  What is it about soul that really touches, (excuse the pun) your soul

Brian:  If you’re going to get your life experiences out through music, there’s no better music than soul music.  I couldn’t have done this album 10 or 15 years ago, because you have to have had life experiences.  If I had sang this when I was 20 it wouldn’t have made any sense because I wouldn’t have sang it from the heart, it would’ve just been words.  A lot of the lyrics in Otis’ songs I can relate to because they mean a lot to me.

Esther:  What’s really nice is that as a man, you’re able to express yourself and then sing about it, because a lot of men don’t know how to express themselves fully and there is so much healing in being able to express your pain out of yourself.

You will be performing at Boisdale in Canary Wharf, London this week – November 6th – 9th November, what can audiences expect?

Brian:  Well I guess exactly as you said most men can’t really express themselves through words so when you’re a musician and you can express yourself through music, it’s very therapeutic, it’s a way to express yourself through song and not get embarrassed about it.  So I guess you will hear me spill my heart and soul with my band at Boisdale.  It’s going to be a long week of soul searching.

Esther:  You will be performing with a 9 piece band, how does this change dynamics for you because you were initially with Westlife, then you went solo, and now you’re being back by this incredible 9 piece band, what’s the feeling around that?

Brian:  I supposed it’s the difference between watching a movie and watching a movie in 3D.  When you perform with a band that big and all the instruments are live around you, you can feel it in your body.  If you play to a track, you’re singing but you’re not getting that feeling.  It’s a completely different experience.

Esther: You’ve been through quite a lot and been open about it.  What piece of advice would you give someone about how to keep picking yourself up time and time again, especially since you’ve been in the public eye?

Brian:  I guess you have to realise that life is so very short, no point dwelling on the past and no point in worrying about what is happening now.  You’ve just got to enjoy it.  You see this in the lives of so many people across the world.  Their lives end just like that.  For me if I die pissed off, I’d be pissed off for a long time (Laughter) I’d spend all my death time pissed off.  If I die I want to die with a smile on my face

Brian McFadden will be at Boisdale 6th to 9th November.  See you there.

Brian McFadden's tour is also taking place in April 2019