“You don’t want to squeeze the life out of it…” - Boyzone open up about their final album Thank You and Goodnight
After 25 years, Boyzone are splitting up. But they’re going out with a bang.
Formed in their native Ireland in 1993 by pop impresario Louis Walsh, who had dreams of finding the “Irish Take That”, the group eventually consisted of Keith Duffy, Stephen Gately, Mikey Graham, Ronan Keating, and Shane Lynch. They spent the following years in pubs and clubs all over Northern Ireland before they were snapped up by Universal Records imprint Polygram.
The years that followed were stellar. The fivesome scored six UK Number Ones and sold over 25 million records, producing hits like ‘Love Me For A Reason’ and ‘No Matter What’. They toured the globe and became household names all over it.
They split in 1999 after tensions in the band escalated and all pursued solo ventures. Keating, Graham and Gateley had solo singing careers, while Duffy and Lynch were into acting.
The band re-formed in 2007 and spent the next two years on tour, re-establishing themselves. Tragically, before they could produce a comeback album, Gately died as a result of a congenital heart defect at the end of 2009. The following year the band released new album Brother in tribute to him.
In the years since, the band have continued to tour and produce new material, including 2014’s Motown tribute collection From Dublin To Detroit, but now they’re calling it a day.
For their final bow, they’re releasing new album Thank You and Goodnight, which will be accompanied by a huge UK tour before they split for good.
As the album hits shelves, we spoke to Keith Duffy about deciding it was time to part ways, working with Ed Sheeran and Gary Barlow and their plans for the band’s farewell tour...
When did you decide that this album would be the last one of Boyzone’s career?
“We’ve been working on this album for the last three years and over that time we have become aware that we’ve been doing this for 25 years. Back in the 1990s, we were never given a platform by supporting other artists. We had to start from scratch, especially back home in Ireland, the idea of the boyband was such a new concept.”
You had to work hard for it…
“We did, it was hard graft, we played nightclubs, discos, hotels, function rooms, anywhere they’d have us. Eventually, that became city halls and arenas and we’ve done well. So, 25 years on, we’ve got another tour on sale and it’s going well. But we want to walk away with a bit of dignity and some pride. You don’t want to squeeze the life out of it.”
That must have been a tough decision…
“We talked about it and we wanted to be remembered a successful band, rather than a band on the way down. We’ve been a bit lost since we lost Stephen Gately back in 2009 and we’ve been trying to find a direction. Somehow, we’ve ended up with a fantastic album, it’s the best work we’ve ever done, but we want to go out on a high.”
When you made the decision, did everybody feel the same straight away? Or did some of you need convincing it was time to call it a day?
“No. Everybody has their own views and their own plans. Everybody got to have their say, but Boyzone has always been a democracy and we decided together what to do. We’ve all carved out other careers and Boyzone has been something we come back to every couple of years to do an album and a tour. But, the age we’re at now, we feel it’s time to go out on a high and that’s the way we’ve powering forward.”
Over the last few years you’ve tried quite a few different sounds, did you have a sense of the sound you wanted to take for your last album?
“We’ve experimented with lots of different sounds within this album. In the 90s, Boyzone had a clear sound, it was very recognisable, you knew what a Boyzone song was the second you heard it on the radio. It was Ronan and Stephen on lead vocals and once you heard them you knew where you were going."
"The individual members of Boyzone all have very different taste in music and it was Shane who said that we should all be represented on the album. It’s not a very structured record, instead, we all choose three songs for the album. There’s really something for everybody here.”
There are some big name writers on there, Ed Sheeran, Gary Barlow, it must be gratifying to attract people like that for your last album…
“These are people we know and they’re as happy to be a part of Boyzone’s final album as we are to have them on there. We’ve got a pretty good track record when it comes to hit songs, so it’s a solid bet for them. We’re just looking forward to playing the songs live.”
There’s a song called ‘Dream’, which has Stephen’s vocals on it, can you talk us through how you found those and how it came to be a song?
“That really landed in our laps. There was a producer that Stephen had worked on his solo career with and he was moving house. He was clearing out and he found some old tapes that he’d worked on with Stephen. It was a romantic love song initially and we listened to Stephen’s vocals on it and they were quite beautiful. Mikey then went in, got the stems and broke it down. We’ve turned it into a song reminiscing about us back in the 1990s. We love it, having his voice on there means an awful lot to us.”
It must have been a strange experience, hearing his voice again like that…
“It was. I remember the four of us sitting and listening to the final version of the song. We were blown away and very emotional. Stephen had such a powerful and unique voice. Hearing this new song was shocking, it was amazing and it was sad.”
When did you decide that you wanted to call the album Thank You And Goodnight? Was it always the plan to do so?
“No. We knew it was the last thing, but we spent a lot of time writing down names and talking about it. It was the title we all agreed on in the end.”
You’ve got a big tour to go out with next year, how’s the set coming together? Will you be playing much new stuff?
“We’re all music fans and we know the feeling of seeing one of your favourite bands of old and they just hit you with a load of new ones. It’s disappointing. We won’t do that. The big hits of the 1990s will be front and centre and we’ll drop in a few new ones. We want everybody going away happy with all the hits.”
And you’re booked to finish up at Wembley Arena...
“That might not be the last show. We’ve already added quite a few shows and we don’t actually know when the last show will be. At the moment, it’s a tour without an end.”
That must be odd, it’s the last tour, without the last show...
“Elton John has been doing his last show for years! It’s a farewell tour, but we want to go everywhere. Australia, Asia, all over Europe. There’s no definite end date yet. We want to take this album as far as we can.”