Keith Duffy is a founding member of Boyzone, one of the UK’s most successful bands (his words, not ours) and this week he talks to Fuse FM about Boyzone’s farewell tour, his continued success with offshoot Boyzlife (with Westlife’s Brian Macfadden) and their upcoming collaboration with student favourite Bongo’s Bingo. Our interview starts off on a rather awkward note as a misunderstanding on who is calling leads to what we expect to be an extremely short “interview”. However after a few unanswered, and admittedly rather creepy sounding ‘Hello Keith, how are you?’ the Boyzone star realises we aren’t cold callers from The Daily Mail and everyone begins to relax. Throughout the interview Keith excitedly rattles off the places he’s performed in during his illustrious career but for someone who has toured the world several times, the singer is surprisingly more down to earth than you would expect.
Keith puts this to his upbringing, citing the bands “strict Irish mothers” and “God-fearing working class backgrounds” in helping him to stay grounded throughout the continued success of Boyzone. He also praises the atmosphere of the band as well, revealing that if anyone ever fell into the traps of success “there were always three or four of the other guys to help pull you back up.” Even when we tell Keith that a lot of our female friends were extremely jealous that we were interviewing him he seems surprised and says he never understood the attention he received after Boyzone blew up. “We never saw ourselves as any different from the lads we grew up with” claims Keith, “when it all happens so suddenly you can’t process it too much- you can’t get too confident because if it all came so quickly that also means it can be taken away just as quickly.” It was only on Boyzone final tour with the album ‘Thank You & Goodnight’ that Keith truly realised how involved the band had been in people’s lives. He tells us that it was during the meet and greets fans had told him how his songs had been used for first dances at weddings, songs that people’s children were conceived to and even at funerals. “It really made me think for a second, whatever the critics or cynics have said over 25 years of Boyzone, we’ve been really involved in our fans’ lives and that’s something truly touching.” On the decision to call it a day on Boyzone, Keith reveals it was important for the band to finish on a high, saying their last album is “the best work we’ve ever done, it took us two years to record the album compared to a time where we could make a record in two weeks.”
Keith also opened up about the loss of bandmate Stephen Gately, who died of a congenital heart defect in October 2009 and who’s death had an overwhelming impact on the mechanics of the band. “We were all so close we didn’t really know what to do” says Keith, “we finished the album out of respect and called the 2009 tour ‘Brothers’ in his memory but we were falling apart at the seams.” Stephen was even featured posthumously on 2018’s ‘Thank You & Goodnight’, with the band remastering unreleased songs that Stephen had written whilst also sampling his vocals on the tracks. This acknowledgement of the past is crucial to keep the fans engaged says Keith, “its about giving the fans what they want. Don’t just be self-deprecating and play your new songs, its when you play the old hits that people feel young again, it takes them back to when they were 17 and didn’t have any responsibilities.”
Since 2015 Keith has partnered up with Westlife’s Brian Macfadden to perform a collection of their bands’ hits under the moniker BOYZLIFE. This March they will be featuring in Bongo Bingo’s Saint Patrick’s Day celebrations and the boys seem to know the hedonistic reputation of the event, calling it “a great night… but crazy! We’re really happy with what we have planned for our St Paddy shows.” Boyzlife have gone from strength and strength and sold out their UK shows in a matter of days when tickets were released earlier this month, but Keith says there’s more in store including “another tour this winter, followed by our debut album which will hopefully come out by the new year, followed by an even bigger tour in 2020; my diary’s pretty full.” It does indeed, Keith, it does indeed.
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