Nicky Byrne has revealed the emotional experiences he and his Westlife bandmates have drawn on to write their new album Wild Dreams.
The group announced the release of their first disc in two years this week, with Nicky, 42, penning a tune about the world returning to post-pandemic life, while Shane Filan, also 42, wrote about the recent heartache of losing both his parents in the space of 10 months.
On the new collection, Nicky exclusively told MailOnline: ‘I think the whole album encapsulates the two years of lockdown, for us anyway. The title of one of the songs I wrote is Alive which is about the world coming alive again.
‘Shane wrote a song on there with Steve from Kodaline which is called Always With Me, which is about Shane’s loss of his mum and dad.
‘His mum was just pre-lockdown, about Christmas, just before the pandemic hit, and then his dad during the lockdown, so that’s a ballad called Always With Me, which is quite emotional.’
Shane described the day he lost his beloved mother Mae as ‘the saddest day of my life’ when she died in December 2019.
And Shane’s father, who he described as the ‘most important man in my entire life’ died 10 months later in October last year.
However, there is some upbeat material on the album, with Nicky adding: ‘The single Starlight, which is out now, that’s a real happy song which is about getting through it.
‘It’s just a really, really nice album and the most writing we’ve ever done on any album, and there’s a song on there by Ed Sheeran.
‘It kept us busy and it gave us a bit of a focus to get through lockdown, which I think for anybody, no matter what your business is, is important.’
The band – Nicky, Shane, Markus Feehily, 41, Kian Egan, also 41 – recorded Wild Dreams during the pandemic and had a special rig travel to each of their homes so they could lay down their vocals in accordance with Covid guidelines.
And, while Nicky praised the wonders of technology for enabling the world to continue working, he said making the album wasn’t straight forward.
He explained: ‘When we decided to record the album we invested in a mobile studio that would travel around, which involved the microphone, the stand, the box that goes around your head so you get the right acoustics.
‘You had all the wires and leads and the laptop with the right software and that would link into a producer wherever he was in the world, and with another laptop you would link in on Zoom to be able to get direction from them.
‘So it was a big operation and, for some of us who aren’t the most tech-minded in the world, it took a little bit of getting used to but there was people doing far tougher jobs than assembling microphones and software.
‘We got around it and we enjoyed it and it worked well.’
He added: ‘I guess the challenge were WiFi, people ringing the doorbell, the dog barking, the kids coming down to ask for help with their homework while you’re in the middle of a verse or something.
‘But that’s real life and that was fun. That was the same for radio presenters, or TV presenters, or people in high powered jobs on Zoom meetings. It was just a different world, everybody was working from home, including pop bands, which is incredible.’
The band were forced to cancel their Wembley Stadium concert this year in the midst of lockdown but they now are set to perform at the iconic venue in August 2022.
And Nicky is looking forward to appearing on stage where ‘legends’ have previously performed.
‘We’ve seen big bands do it,’ he said. ‘We’ve witnessed Coldplay, we’ve seen the Take That boys do it, we’ve seen U2, we’ve seen all those legends do it and it really is a huge honour to be standing on the same stage that bands like that have done.
‘I was five when Live Aid was happening, I watched it and I remember Queen, I remember Freddie, I remember all those moments.
‘Equally for the fans as well, to see these songs like Flying Without Wings, You Raise Me Up, World of Our Own, Swear It Again, Hello My Love. All those hits that have gone right back to ’99.
‘It will be nerve-racking but we can’t wait to do it. We’ll take those nights to the grave.’
Source: Daily Mail