Thursday, August 31, 2006

Happy Birthday!

To little Molly McFadden, who's 5 today! I hope her mummy and daddy give her a wonderful day.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

The End Of An Era

I regret to inform everyone that it's finally happened...

Westlife have dropped out of the Australian top 40.

After 37 consecutive weeks in the top 40, You Raise Me Up has, this week, dropped to number 41.

The song features the third biggest leap in Aria Chart history, after jumping from 40-8 in March this year after Westlife's Down Under promotional tour, and reached it's peak of #3 two weeks later. In June this year, a second version of the single was released, featuring two extra remixes of the song by Australian DJs.

In related news, Amazing is not in top 50 this week.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Chart Positions For This Week

You Raise Me Up has climbed up five spots and is sitting at #32 this week. Still hanging in there!

Amazing has dropped to #50. Please SonyBMG, get of your arses and promote them! I don't even know anyone that's heard it, and that's NOT GOOD PUBLICITY!

And please do not make them duet with Delta Goodrem, or I will scream.

Friday, August 25, 2006


Kenny Smyth (Shane Jacobson) spends his time buried up to the elbows in human excrement.

But don’t let that dictate your opinion of him. Kenny is one of the most genuine, kind, believable people in existence, on-screen or off. He endures his irritating codger of a father (Ronald Jacobson), adores his son, helps out complete strangers, and smiles, laughs, and jokes his way through a job that is… quite literally… full of shit.

Written by brothers Jacob and Derek Jacobson, Kenny is an extraordinarily engrossing mockumentary following the journey of it’s titular character (a 40-something Aussie bloke that just happens to work for portaloo company Splashdown) and his attempts to hold his life together and make something of himself. Where this film finds its strength is in its refusal to be calculatedly clever, simply allowing its wonderful characters to allow us into their lives, however simple they may be. Kenny is dignified and sweet, the kind of bloke you’d chat to for hours at the pub, and it’s impossible not to cheer him on as he navigates through his life; experiencing love, air-travel, hoon-attacks, mistreatment, and a hell of a lot of shit.

Christopher Guest, eat your heart out.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Westlife Tour Postponed - Dates Unconfirmed

It is with regret that Sony BMG announces that the Westlife Australian tour scheduled for September 17 to 23 has been postponed. Due to delays in the recording of their new album, due for international release in October of this year, the band have reluctantly had to reschedule their Australian tour and will now tour here early in 2007.

Westlife apologise for any inconvenience that this may cause their fans, but hope to return to Australia for further promotion later this year and look forward to bringing their Australian fans an even more spectacular and hit-filled show next year.

Further details regarding the new tour dates will be announced as soon as they come to hand.

All ticket holders should be aware that their tickets will be valid for the new tour dates in 2007 - more details will be available from Michael Coppel Presents - please check for updates.

Monday, August 21, 2006


MirrorMask is a sepia nightmare-scape of fantastical beauty, Dave McKean’s stunningly realised world coming to life in a cartoonish dream of Jim Henson creatures and masked demons.

Circus child Helena (Stephanie Leonidas) finds herself dropped into the magical world in this coming-of-age fable, reminiscent of Labyrinth and Return to Oz, after her mother is hospitalised after a collapse. Now, trapped in a land with only her own drawings and a hodgepodge of giants, sphinxes, mysterious books, and masked strangers to guide her, she must find the charm that awakens the queen of the light and holds back the encroaching dark.

While the symbolism is thicker than the stylised shadows, the morals never feel heavy-handed or blatant, and Helena’s quest to apologise to her ill mother is heartfelt and genuine without resorting to sugary sweetness. It’s a fairytale of the nastiest kind, and a complete travesty that this low-budget gem didn’t find a broader cinema release. Even though the puppets are traded for CGI, the creatures and landscape are no less vivid and palpable, the claustrophobia and tension handled so skilfully it’s impossible not to be swept along by the rush, led into a world where everything is extraordinary and nothing is to be taken for granted.

MFW Photo of the Day!

Okay, so I didn't get a chance to get online til really late last night, so there was no entry for yesterday. So to make up for it, here are TWO photos of the day! The first one because it's really fucking hot, and the second because Kevvy's wearing Marky's sunglasses! Cute!

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Take That were a huge influence on all of us

(Cambridge Evening News)

WESTLIFE round off another stellar summer of open-air music at Newmarket Racecourse tomorrow (Friday, 18 August) night.

The Irish heart-throbs are the last in the Newmarket Nights series which has seen some of the biggest names in the music business packing out the racecourse, from Status Quo and Ronan Keating to Texas and McFly.

For Westlife, the concert is one of their last before they launch their new album.

"We've had an album out October or November time literally every year since we started," says the group's Mark Feehily. "When I think about that it's crazy really because so much work goes into making one album and then we're also touring.

"We've done it seven times, this is the eighth time and next year it will be the ninth time. It seems quite mad when you actually sit down and think about it but normally it doesn't come into your head, you are just focused on what's ahead of you."

The group are rarely out of the spotlight and despite constant rumours that they will be splitting up - fuelled first by a greatest hits album and then by the departure of Bryan McFadden - they have continued their exhausting, almost nonstop live schedule. But for Mark, time in the studio making music away from the cameras and the fans is something he treasures.

"I love being in the studio," he says. "Performing live is one thing but when you are in the studio you can hear every last little syllable of your voice.

"For me that's more enjoyable in a way because when you are on tour there's a lot of people screaming and there's lots of stuff in your ears whereas in the studio you can really focus a lot more on the vocals."

The band formed in 1998 in Sligo, west Ireland and were heavily influenced by their fellow countrymen Boyzone. But the bands the group grew up listening to which set them on the pop path were Backstreet Boys and Take That - the original boy-band standard setters. So when Gary Barlow and chums decided recently to reform Take That and go on tour, the Westlife boys were once again transformed into giddy pop fans.

"We all took a lot of inspiration from Take That," says Mark. "I was as excited as the next person when I heard they were reforming. I think everybody at the time was affected by the phenomenon. I was definitely a Take That fan.

"We used to watch videos of their live gigs so much and it really influenced us as a band.
"I really wanted to see them on their tour but it was a shame because we were on tour at the same time so we didn't get a chance."

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Welcome To Mark Feehily Week!

Today is the first anniversary of the day a certain Mr Mark Feehily finally came out to the public, and announced that he was in a long-term relationship with a certain Mr Kevin McDaid!

In the year that’s passed, Mark has grown from being a shy, reserved, uncomfortable looking boy into a gorgeous, sexy, confident queen of a man-spunk! He’s experimented with eyeliner, used specific pronouns when describing his special someone, and has been snogging all over the place in public!

So, in celebration of the Queer of my Heart, I bring you…

Mark Feehily Week!

Yes, welcome to MFW – each day until next Saturday I will be presenting a ‘Mark is Gay’ special article, discussing the wonderfulness that is Mr Gay Westlife himself, the Feehily-kins, and a photo of the day.

Rock on!

To start off with, today’s entry is a Welcome to Mark Feehily Week (that’s a WTMFW), and a little bit of a fun list.

So here it is…

Ten Ways We Knew Mark Was Gay.

10. His favourite colour is purple.

9. He has drastic (and flamboyant) changes of hair colour and style.

8. He worships his mum and calls her whenever he’s sad. Or happy. Or excited. Or just wants a chat. Or heard a song on the radio. Or found a really nice pair of sunglasses.

7. He danced and snogged with two women in full view of fans for an hour and a half before closing the blinds. As if he didn’t know the fans were there.
6. He worships Mariah Carey… for her music.

5. The only times he seemed to be romantically linked with women was when rumours circulated that he might be gay.

4. He always made it very clear in interviews that he had not seen the other lads naked, nor they him.

3. He had been spotted numerous times in gay clubs, though he was probably just… * cough* …there with mates or something…

2. He made obvious effort to avoid gender specific terms when describing his ‘perfect person’ in interviews, or anything related to his love life.

And finally…

1. He could never stop staring at Nicky’s arse!

And in honour of our very special number one, here is our *drumroll...*

MFW photo of the day!

Friday, August 18, 2006

Australian Tour Postponed

It is with regret that Westlife and Michael Coppel Presents advise the rescehduling of Westlife's September Australian concert tour. Due to a delay in finishing the recording of their next album (scheduled for international release in November), Westlife have had to postpone their first full Australian tour until February 2007, but look forward to bringing their Australian fans an even more spectacular and hit-filled show at that time.

All tickets purchased for the September show dates will be valid for the new February dates without need to exchange or refund. If required, refunds may be obtained from the point of purchase.


Surprisingly, I'm actually not all that upset. Sure, the extra 4 and a half months of waiting is a bit of a pain in the arse and I'll be clawing the walls by the end of it, but there are some good points.

1) A delay in album recording could mean that they've scrapped the idea of a covers album and are allowing themselves the extra time to put together a whole NEW album, and,

2) It could possibly mean that we're getting NEXT year's tour instead of THIS year's tour which, seeing as I've already seen this year's three times, would be fantastic! That's two completely different Westlife concerts in the space of 10 months! Not that I'd mind seeing this year's again... it was fairly brilliant!

The new dates are posted over on the official website.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

You Raise Me Up...

...has dropped to #27 this week. Awww...

Spose it had to happen sooner or later. Almost everyone in Australia must have a copy by now, the amount of time it's spent in the charts.

Amazing's at #37.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Look! New Posters!

Look! I got new posters!

The Kong one's a couple weeks old now, but I got the Brokeback Mountain, Nightmare Before Christmas, and Superman ones today. Aren't they gorgeous?!

Louis = Liar

It looks like some folks at The Mirror have spotted the same tendency in Louis Walsh that I have. The tendency to spin a load of crap.


EXCLUSIVE Are Louis Walsh's pop acts in constant danger, or are these stories just clever publicity stunts?

By Beth Neil

RAMPAGING rhinos, charging lions, freak tidal waves and death-defying stunts... It's all in a day's work for Irish boyband Westlife.

The pop quartet are no strangers to being in peril. Their latest terrifying encounter was with a two-ton rhinocerous while touring Knowsley Safari Park in Merseyside last weekend.

Only their quick-thinking guide saved the four - currently on a UK tour to promote their album Face To Face - from certain disaster...

They said: "We had to beat a hasty retreat. The rhino was sweltering in the heat and we got a bit too close."

That ordeal was the latest in a long line of near-fatal escapades for Shane, Kian, Mark and Nicky. Just last year, Kian escaped being eaten alive by a lion during another safari trip, this time in South Africa.

Bizarrely, Westlife are not the only acts looked after by music biz veteran Louis Walsh who have diced with death.

Boyzone, Girls Aloud, Samantha Mumba and flop girlband Bellefire have also suffered near-misses. And they always seem to happen when the stars in question have something to promote.

So are Louis Walsh's acts really lucky to be alive, or have we all (us included, from time to time) fallen for a series of outrageous publicity stunts? Take a look at the following evidence and decide...

Cheryl Tweedy targeted by jewel gang - July 2005
THE Girls Aloud beauty is forced into hiding after learning that a gang of thugs are hellbent on nicking her £50,000 engagement ring. Discovering that the robbers are tracking her movements she flees London and escapes to a European hideaway.
Cheryl says: "The whole thing has been pretty scary."
Promoting: New single Long Hot Summer.

Girls Aloud caught in crossfire - May 2005
THE band cower inside their rooms as armed police swarm over the exclusive Radisson SAS hotel in Liverpool during a gangland war. Gunshots allegedly ring out.
The Girls say: "It was terrifying."
Promoting: British tour.

Shane Filan swept out to sea - May 2005
THE Westlife star almost drowns on holiday in Miami after being swept out to sea by a freak wave. He is rescued by a lifeguard at South Beach as his pregnant wife Gillian watches in horror. Shane says: "I thought I was going to die. I'm lucky to be alive. It was one of those moments when your life flashes before your eyes."
Promoting: The single You Raise Me Up

Kian Egan chased by lion - April 2005
FELLOW Westlifer Kian is nearly savaged by a lion while on safari in Durban, South Africa, after he leaves his tour guide's vehicle.
Kian says: "It was the most terrifying few seconds of my life and I have never run so fast."
Promoting: Tour of South Africa.

Mark Feehily could lose his sight - October 2004
MORE misery for Westlife when Mark is warned he could go blind due to the band's flashy lifestyle.
Mark is told by docs that he runs the risk of permanently damaging his peepers after excessive exposure to camera bulb-popping.
He says: "Photographers complain and ask why I sometimes wear sunglasses but I have no choice unless I want to ruin my eyesight for ever."
Promoting: Launch of album Allow Us To Be Frank.

Girlband stalked by pervert - August 2002
TWO ex-SAS men are drafted in to protect Bellefire from a sex beast while they perform at a UK holiday camp.
Their spokesperson says: "The girls were taken aback when they heard what had happened. Luckily they had people on stand-by because of their trouble with the stalker back in Dublin."
Promoting: Tour of England.

Kian Egan in death-stunt drama - April 2002
THE hapless Westlife singer is left hanging 50ft in the air and moments from plunging to his death when a stage stunt in Belfast goes wrong.
He says: "It was the most terrifying ordeal of my life. I kept thinking, 'Oh God, this is the end!' I thought I was going to die."
Promoting: World Of Our Own tour.

Samantha Mumba shower stalker hell - June 2001
THE Irish singer flees screaming from her LA hotel room after a crazed fan sneaks into her shower. By the time security arrived the intruder had gone.
She says: "It was a very scary ordeal."
Promoting: Her movie Time Machine.

Brian McFadden will go deaf if he flies again - June 2001
AN ear infection puts the Westlife singer's hearing in jeopardy. Brian is warned he could go deaf if he gets on another plane.
Promoting: Tour of Asia.

Girl band beauty in terror ride - May 2001
BELLEFIRE singer Tara Lee is trapped in a limousine with a crazed driver.
She is driven around New York for 30 minutes by the man, who was swearing to himself and threatening to kill an imaginary dog.
She says: "He suddenly sped off and went crazy. He kept shouting to himself, 'I'm going to kill that dog! Stop barking at me. Everyone hates me.' I was hiding behind the passenger seat."
Promoting: Debut single Perfect Bliss.

Boyzone pair attacked by swarm of flies July 1999
SHANE Lynch and Keith Duffy are attacked by flies during a camping trip in Ireland. They are forced to flee their tent and seek refuge in a nearby hotel.
They say: "It's not quite as dramatic as being ravaged by a lion in a jungle somewhere but it was a pretty hairy incident all the same."
Promoting: Preparing for release of Live By Request DVD.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Louis Sics 2nd Fake Animal On Westlife

Well, it's happened again, folks. Seems we'd only just got over the hysteria of Kian being attacked by a Lion (and when I say hysteria, I mean 'laughing uncontrollably'), when it happens again.

Yes, Westlife have been charged by a rhino.

Or so Heat magazine says, and their info probably came from a certain Louis Walsh, who is the king of making up unbelievable stories for the press. You have to wonder, really, if he didn't realise everyone would think 'hmm... isn't this like that lion attack that didn't actually happen?' Apparently not.

Not to mention an almost identical story broke in July. Involving a rhino. Nice one, Louis.

Now, hands up, who sees a load of old horse bollocks?

Apart from Kian, who's being trampled by a horse right now... Or possibly a peacock... Or maybe even a Stegosaurus...

Exclusive: Westlife Attacked by 2 Ton Rhino
13 August 2006
By Alice Walker

POP idols Westlife fled in terror when they were attacked by a giant two-ton RHINO.

The horned beast charged the four horrified singers at a safari park.

And only the quick-thinking of their guide saved the Irish quartet from disaster.

The ordeal began for Kian Egan, Shane Filan, Mark Feehily and Nicky Byrne as they toured Knowsley Safari Park in Liverpool.

Their car startled a 15ft-long white rhino - and the brute rampaged towards them. Park boss David Ross slammed his foot on the accelerator and sped off with only seconds to spare.

He said: "It certainly caused a bit of excitement in the car and we had to beat a hasty retreat. The rhino was sweltering in the heat and I think we got a bit too close."

He added: "The boys fully enjoyed their trip - even though it was bit frightening."

White rhinos are normally gentle vegetarians who almost never attack humans.

But the rare animals still account for about 100 deaths a year worldwide.

Friday, August 11, 2006

My Tickets Came!

They just arrived today in the mail, and I am happy to announce that I will be seeing Westlife at the Brisbane Entertainment Centre in Section S9B, in row AR, seats 23 to 29!

And from what I can figure from the crazy seating plan on the BEC site, that's the 16TH ROW!

I'm ever so stoked right now.

Chart Positions For This Week

Amazing has moved up 3 spots to number 34.

Face To Face is at number 48 on the album charts.

You Raise Me Up is at number 17, making this its 35th week in the top 40, since it was released in December last year. Rock on, lads!

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Happpy Anniversary

Happy Anniversary to Nicky and Georgina (again) who had their wedding ceremony 3 years ago today in France!

Ah, the memories...

Monday, August 07, 2006

Nothing Too Serious

by Paul Stewart, Melbourne Herald Sun

BOTH bands can be described as musical megastars, but Shane Filan of Westlife says his group and fellow countrymen U2 are really "just typical Irish lads who love music and like a beer".

Filan, whose band has sold 40 million albums worldwide, says Irish musicians do not take themselves too seriously."I think that is why we get on so well with Australians, because you guys are the same,'' he says.

"Anyone being pretentious or big-headed is quickly brought down to earth.''

He says he admires the way U2 was still "so grounded'', despite the band's success.

"I was out at a bar in Dublin recently having a few pints and Bono and his mates arrived and he was quick to come over and say hello,'' Filan says.

"He is so laidback, despite the fact that those guys have been mega successful and now are very, very rich.

"Larry, U2's drummer, contacted us and asked for our autographs because his girlfriend is a big fan of ours. We could not believe that, because we are such great fans of theirs.''

Renowned for big ballads and sweet soul harmonies, Westlife was formed in Dublin in 1998.

Despite little radio support in Australia, the band has a huge following here and its album Face To Face is nearing double platinum status, thanks in part to an appearance on Dancing With the Stars earlier this year on a packed promotional trip.

"I am really happy to have broken through in Australia at last,'' Filan says.

"My brother is a doctor in Melbourne, so I feel like I have a connection with the place.''

The singer, who wants it known the Socceroos were "robbed'' at the World Cup, says he and his bandmates have just started work on a new album.

"We always release an album a year. We just love what we do,'' he says.

"I am proud of what we have achieved along the way.

"Having said that, it could all end tomorrow, so you have to work hard while you can.''
During their career the members of Westlife have met the stars of stage and screen, but one particular meeting still stands out for them.

"We got to meet the late Pope, the one before this new guy, and that was just an amazing experience for a Roman Catholic boy in Ireland,'' he says.

"My mum was so proud of me, more so than for most other things we have achieved.''

Despite conquering markets throughout the world, Filan admits his act still struggles to gain a significant following in the US.

"I think a lot of it has to do with politics in the American music scene,'' he says.

"They love promoting their own acts and artists from out-of-the-way places like Ireland and Australia have to face extra hurdles to crack it there. That makes the success of U2 there even more admirable.

"Look at Robbie Williams, he is a massive performer everywhere except the US -- it does not seem to worry him though and it really doesn't bother us.

"We are proud of our music and what we do and that is all that matters, really.''

Filan regards his bandmates as survivors after coping with the sudden departure of Bryan McFadden, who left Westlife to pursue a solo career and is now dating Australian singer Delta Goodrem.

They also feared that many young female fans might abandon them after member Mark Feehily declared he was gay.

Yet Westlife continues to enjoy huge sales and sold-out concerts.

A feature of any of the band's performances is the number of cover songs. The current tour has included versions of songs by Michael Jackson, Billy Joel, Justin Timberlake, Robert Palmer and The Pussycat Dolls.

"Look, a great song is a great song no matter who wrote it,'' Filan says. "We really just love to sing those kinds of songs.''

While the singer admits he has contemplated a solo album, he says he would hate to leave Westlife.

"I don't think it would be as much fun doing it on your own,'' he says.

"We are now a real gang and have shared some great times together, plus we love each other's company and honestly, I know I keep saying it, but we really just love to sing together.''

Apart from their own recordings, the Westlife lads have developed a reputation for working in tandem with some of the great female vocalists. Past collaborations include sessions with Mariah Carey, Diana Ross, Donna Summer and Lulu.

Filan predicts big things for one particular female vocalist.

"I think Delta Goodrem is set to become one of the world's major recording artists,'' he says.

"We had never met and talked until recently. We all went out and had a few drinks together for Bryan's birthday.

"She is gorgeous and a really nice person as well.

"I have had a chance to listen to some of her new material and she is hot.

"I think she is a much better singer than Mariah Carey, for example, and we have worked with her.''

Westlife plays Rod Laver Arena September 20. Bookings: 132 849.


I love the way they make it sound like it's Shane's band, and not a vocal harmony GROUP.

Though there won't be much of him left once Mark gives him a severe kicking for the Mariah Carey comment.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Happy Anniversary!

It's three years today that Nicky became Mr. Georgina Ahern, so congratulations to the couple! They got legally married in an Ireland registry office before jetting to France for a fancy ceremony five days later.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Chart Positions For This Week

You Raise Me Up is still sitting happily at #17.

Amazing has entered the charts at #34, which isn't too bad considering Rage has been replaced with JTV and Video Hits refuses to play it - for a song that's been on TV maybe ONCE, it's doing okay.

Face To Face has crawled up one place from #39 to #38.

That is all.

The Sentinel

If you've seen the trailer, you'll have most of the movie planned out for you. Michael Douglas (The In-Laws) plays a secret service agent on the run after being accused of plotting against the president. Keifer Sutherland (TV's 24, and The Lost Boys, if you're a purist) is trying to bring him down. There's some bad blood between them, for reasons that are fairly unimportant. Eva Longoria (Desperate Housewives) has nice breasts and looks good in a pants-suit.

While it is nice to see a film that's not a sequel or remake, this one does lack a certain originality regardless. It's a mishmash of The Fugitive, In The Line Of Fire, and every other 'aging-American-bloke-does-a-lot-of-running' film you've ever seen. Though it doesn't bring the film down in this respect, it does jar slightly, leaving you thinking 'now where have I seen that before...?' rather than allowing you to sit back and unravel the quite deftly handled mystery.

The characters are woefully underdeveloped, especially the requisite bad-guys, and all characters are prone to massive switches in attitude for no apparent reason. Kim Basinger's first lady is not much more than wallpaper, and Michael Douglas' face-lift is often more interesting than he is.

The film's shooting is cliche - sweeping helicopter shots, ragged flashes of corpses... director Clark Johnson (S.W.A.T) has been here before. But his work is more suited to Law And Order or NYPD Blue than a film that requires a 108-minute runtime.

But the film does save itself in the fact that it knows what it is, and which audience to target. In that respect, it's a solid political thriller for a Friday night, and is subtle in that it spares us copious shots of things blowing up, and doesn't rely on swearing or graphic sex to create interest (and really, who needs to see Michael Douglas on the job, anyway?). It's fun, it keeps you guessing, and though you may not remember a thing about it the next day, it's a nice respite from real-life.

More Pics From The Parachute Jump

Thanks to Matrix Images and, and Yaara for being lovely and uploading them to The Committed.

By the way, for anyone wondering what that boneless piece of cotton wool is by Kian's foot, it's what I loosely call a dog, and what Kian and Jodi call Prince (or possibly 'our little shnookums'). I'm sorry, but I can't respect a dog like that, and certainly not one called 'Prince'. Different strokes, I suppose. If Kian wants to worship a teacosy, that's his prerogative.

This last shot's from the man auction that was done to raise money for SIRF. Kian took his shirt off, and raised 650 Euro. Thankfully there's no photos of that.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

No-one Tells Us What To Do

(from Cambridge News)

MOST people assume being in a boyband means being told what to do by record company execs while looking pretty for the fans.

And while Westlife's Mark Feehily admits some people tried to take them for a ride during their early days, he says after several years in the business they are firmly in the driving seat.

"I'm 26 now, I've been doing this job for eight years and no-one tells us what to do," he insists.
"Nobody would try to tell us what to do, but it's sensible for us to work with our label and our management and make sure we see eye to eye.

"We don't get told what to do, but we certainly do respect and listen to the record company's opinion. It's in our interests to work with them instead of getting stroppy and constantly challenging what they say."

During the early days the boys were just teenagers. They emerged from their roots in Sligo, northwest Ireland in 1998 and landed a support slot with their heroes Backstreet Boys at a concert in Dublin. They went on to win the best newcomer act at the Smash HitsPoll Winners Party later that same year and were soon on their way towards an unprecedented run of 13 number one singles.

"I've learned so much about the music business, but there's still so much more to learn," says Mark. "I came from secondary school straight into record contracts and lawyers and business deals talking about thousands of pounds; it was a very scary thing for me at the time. So one thing I've learned is to control myself and calmly make decisions about money and other important things.

"We've certainly had people in the past who took advantage of our naiveté and the fact we didn't really have a clue, but on the other hand we were very lucky we had people close to us who were very protective.

"But although we were 18 or 19-year-olds we weren't brought up to be walked all over and we dealt with it, basically by firing anyone near us who was trying to."

The one question Mark always dreaded from journalists was: "So where's your girlfriend then?"
It was inevitable for a singer in a band like Westlife, who are loved by thousands of screaming female fans across Ireland and the UK.

But he dreaded what would happen if his secret relationship with another man got out.

While the rest of the group were courting glamorous girls - Kian is dating former Hollyoaks babe Jodi Albert and Nicky is married to Irish PM Bertie Ahern's daughter Georgina - Mark had found love with Kevin McDaid, a singer in another boy band, V.

In August last year he decided to come out in an article in The Sun. The reaction he got gave him renewed faith in the band's fanbase.

"I got so many letters off fans and also people weren't necessarily Westlife fans, but had been touched in some way by what I did in coming out," he says. "I really haven't had one negative comment and I can say that with my hand on my heart. I think it speaks volumes about the progression in modern society - it really doesn't affect anybody. Our fans aren't like pop fans from the past; they don't want to marry us. It's not like a few years ago, when fans didn't see the reality of a pop act.

"At the moment we are all in long-term relationships and it hasn't affected anything.

It was no big deal. It might have been a bigger deal a few years ago, but people just literally said: 'So what?'" The story did nothing to dent the band's sales and their album Face to Face later that year duly hit the top spot in the charts.

But, as well as the public reaction to his decision to come out, Mark says it has also made a great difference to him personally.

"It's a relief to be able to talk about it. It's just something off my shoulders," he says. "I never spoke too much about my private life and I still don't intend to, but it's definitely a relief I don't have to fend off questions any more about where my girlfriend is. I can just ignore those questions now, I can stand up and be proud and say, 'Actually I'm going out with a fella'.

"It's been nothing but positive in terms of the reaction I've had and the effect it's had on my life."

Mark had become used to seeing his face in the newspapers since the band first broke out of Ireland in 1998 and become Europe's biggest boyband.

Much of the media speculation recently has centred around rumours of the band splitting.
Since they released a Greatest Hitsalbum in 2002 and Bryan McFadden parted company with them in 2004 Westlife have been dogged by reports that they quitting the music industry.

"I think the nation's hearts have been broken twice before by two of the biggest pop acts the UK has ever had, Take That and the Spice Girls," explains Mark. "And I think, understandably, people feel bands are just going to go for a while and then split up. They have maybe lost an element of trust in the fact a band can actually be happy and want to continue together.

"Robbie left, Geri left and it all kind of went down hill for Take That and the Spice Girls, so of course when Bryan left our band they just assumed we were going to go down the exact same route. But personally I think we have got stronger since he left."

At first the rumours were hurtful to the band members, especially since their fanbase showed no signs of abating. But they soon learned to deal with it and now it's a regular joke between the members whenever they get together. In a way, says Mark, it's a compliment because it shows they are defying people's expectations.

"We are always going to get asked the question because once we got past the greatest hits album we are in uncharted territory for a boyband, so everybody is always wondering when we are going to split up. We could tell people we were going to split up in five years and they would still ask us every day of that five- year period if we were splitting up. It's just something we've learned to deal with.

"When people first started saying it, it freaked us out because we were thinking, 'Seriously, why are you saying that? Where are you getting this information from?' We thought the press must know what they're talking about, maybe they're right but we're the ones who decide if we're going to split up so no matter how many people suggest we might be, at the end of the day it's up to us."

Westlife are at Audley End on Sunday. To book tickets visit the website at

Westlife will also be at Newmarket Nights in August 18.

Update On The Jump

Just an update:

Kian did his plane jump yesterday at 1pm (or 9pm last night, seeing as we're Aussies), raising 5000 euro for SIRF! The other Westlife lads have also donated a signed disc, which will be auctioned off for the charity. They weren't at the jump, in order to make it about Kian instead of it becoming a Westlife media circus.

And, after trying desperately to talk him out of it, Jodi decided to do the jump as well, so go her!

Here's a couple of photos: thanks to Jasna who was there and took a bunch of snaps!

Kian and Jodi hug before the jump

Here comes Kian!

And landing!

Here comes Jodi!

Talking to the press a couple of seconds later. Jodi looks like she was packing it.

YAY! We did it!

Also, I've found out that Kian wanted to go AGAIN after the first one. Jodi did not. He didn't end up doing another jump, but it looks like he's got a second hobby to go with his surfing from now on.


Wednesday, August 02, 2006

You Wanna See Something Really Scary?

So, in my travels about the internet today, I stumbled across this little gem of idiocy. And before any of you say 'how the hell did you come across that?', keep in mind that I have a 3 hour break on Wednesdays and tend to find a lot of weird shit on the internet during that time. Mostly because of my good friend wikipedia.

Anyway, this is a comic by gospel cartoonist Jack Chick. Some might call him crazy. I call him completely off his Christian nut. He writes some lovely tracts about how we're all going to hell if we don't love Jesus, and this particular one has to be the funniest thing I've ever seen, in a creepy, sad way. The fact that some nutjobs out there might actually find it enlightening is a terrifying thought.

Anyway, this little tract is called 'The Nervous Witch' and is a lovely, insightful little image of how Harry Potter is sending us all to hell.

Yes, that's right. Millions of children are going to hell for reading about Harry and his friends. Mr Chick has a lot to say about the gay community as well, in the delightful artistic work that is 'Sin City'. God forbid Dean and Seamus do what we know they've been wanting all along and finally bugger each other senseless.

I get the feeling that the only person not going to Hell is Mr Chick himself. Which, realistically, is a good thing. He can sit all by himself in Heaven while the rest of us party down below.

I hear that brimstone's really good for roasting marshmallows.