Westlife have told HELLO! how they enjoy friendly competition with Take That, who now have ex-bandmate Robbie Williams back in the fold.
“You need competition to keep you on your toes,” Nicky Byrne told HELLO!. “I love Take That and have been a fan since secondary school. Everything those boys do turns to gold and I sometimes look at them and think, ‘I wish we had that song,’ but we’ve done OK.’
They have no intention of becoming a five-piece again like their chart rivals, and wouldn’t be inviting ex-bandmate Brian McFadden to join them again.
“He left because he didn’t like what Westlife were,” Shane Filan told HELLO!. “Robbie got kicked out of Take That, but Brian left of his own accord. He wasn’t happy. If he did come back, we’d be thinking every day, ‘Is he happy with what we’re doing now?’"
Nicky reveals how they had dinner with Brian during a recent trip to LA and got on well. “It was great fun,” he said. “He’s been out of the band for nearly seven years and I couldn’t see him fitting in now.
"We’ve done more tours without him than Robbie ever did with Take That and we didn’t split up after he left. It’d be great to get on stage and do a song with Brian for the fans, but I can’t see him rejoining.”
The band, who release new single Safe on November 8 and new album Gravity on November 15, say they are still looked after by Louis Walsh and Simon Cowell.
“Louis is on the phone to us every day,” said Shane. “Simon is also very involved. When he is passionate about something, he’ll say, ‘Trust me on this, guys,’ but if we’re opposed to something, he listens to our opinions. He doesn’t need us financially, but he has a genuine love for the band.
“Simon and Louis bitch to each other on The X Factor and they do that in real life, too. They fight tooth and nail, even in front of us, and it’s funny to watch.”
And who are they supporting on the reality TV show this year?
“Cher is great because she’s different and has that swagger,” said Shane. “Mary has an amazing voice, as well as a great story, and One Direction is a ready-made boyband. Those boys are five Justin Biebers and I reckon they’ll sell a lot of albums.”
It looks like Westlife may have more than just Take That to contend with….
SEE THE FULL EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW IN HELLO! MAGAZINE, OUT NOW