Interview: Shayne Ward
The Evening Post caught up with Shayne Ward – winner of The X Factor in 2005 – in Dublin, on the fourth day of his first major headline tour. Although an affable, courteous chap, he showed all the signs of intensive “media training”, and never let his guard down for a moment.
So, how was the tour going so far?
“It’s going absolutely fantastic. A great response. I’m really excited about doing this. It’s just really great fun.”
Gee, thanks for the insight. This could be a tough one, folks…
Last summer, following some nasty problems with his vocal cords, Shayne was flown to Los Angeles for an operation.
“It was a great success – and it was the best decision I could have made, because the voice has come back 100 percent.”
The throat problems certainly haven’t been holding Shayne back, even though his British fans haven’t seen much of him for a while.
“I’ve been travelling the world, and doing big gigs abroad. It’s been non-stop – Japan, Hong Kong, Taiwan, South Korea, South Africa – and I’ve been in and out doing some recording. So it’s great to actually come back to the UK and still have that kind of support over here.”
As to what we can expect from the new tour, Shayne wasn’t giving too much away.
“It’s going to be exciting, because there’s a lot of different things in there, and a lot of things which people haven’t actually seen me do. I want to give them a taste of what could be coming from the new album. Not necessarily any of the new songs, but basically something new that I could be doing.”
A new style, a new approach – but the same old songs? Colour me baffled.
“It just depends on how I feel. Do I want to give something new on the tour, or do I want to wait until the time is right? So I think I’m going to wait until the time is right, and let everybody hear something after the tour.”
As for that mysterious forthcoming album, you might need to prepare for some surprises.
“The first album was mainly ballads, so it’s a completely different style. It’s young, it’s fresher – it’s me, basically. I’m 23 years old; I can’t be serious like the first album was. I want to show people that I can enjoy myself as well.”
Remembering Shayne’s stand-out performance of Justin Timberlake’s Cry Me A River on The X Factor, could we expect a touch of the Justins along the way?
“I don’t want to imitate Justin. I don’t want people to say: Oh, he’s trying to be like him. People know my voice, and they know I’m not going to try and sound like Justin. I’m trying to develop a new sound.”
So that would be a no, then. Did we hit a raw nerve?
The new material has been put together with the likes of Max Martin, who provided massive hits for Britney Spears, The Backstreet Boys and Kelly Clarkson. But how much creative input did Shayne have?
“So much, because I was there while the songs were being written. I have been writing myself, but not for this album.”
Hmm. So were there any battles to be fought, in order to put his own point of view across?
“No, that’s the great thing about it. They know what page I’m on, they understood me, and I understood them. We got on so well. It came really easily, working with each other.”
Pop can, of course, be a fickle business. Most TV talent show winners quickly fade away, and there has been no new music from Shayne for several months. With a massive headline tour underway, and a new musical direction waiting to be unveiled, this feels like a huge statement of intent.
“I want longevity. I’m here for the right reasons – because I want to be singing for the rest of my life. I want to be performing to people for as long as possible – that’s why I’m here, to show people that I am going to stay around.”
How did he cope with the immediate aftermath of winning the show? That kind of blanket media coverage can’t be sustained for very long, Was it difficult to adjust after that first period of madness?
“No, because you know that’s going to happen. You’re coming from the biggest talent show in the country. To maintain it, you just have to wait and see. It doesn’t bother me if things die down a little over here, because I’m known around the world. I’ve got the record company believing in me over there, so I know I’m OK.”
So far, so predictable. So come on, Shayne: loosen up a little, and tell us what’s on your iPod right now.
“You know what? Everything. So many different styles, it’s untrue.”
Long pause. Oh dear, he wasn’t expecting this one…
“Keane, I love Keane. Coldplay. Just… everything.”
OK, let’s try a different angle. Take That or Robbie Williams: whose album would Shayne pick?
“I haven’t actually heard them, to be honest.”
Ah well, never mind. At least Shayne has kept up with the recent series of the show which made his name; he has met Ray and Leona, and wishes them every success.
If the new album is sufficiently fresh and different, then perhaps we’ll all stop thinking of Shayne Ward as the winner of a talent show, and start taking him seriously as a major league artist. However, a few more flashes of genuine, unspun personality wouldn’t do him any harm, either.