With more than 45 million albums sold worldwide, 14 #1 singles in the United Kingdom and 10 studio albums, fans of Irish boy band Westlife are still in shock that, after 14 years together, the members decided last month to go their separate ways.
Yet, Westlife did not go quietly, having one of their most successful years to date. In May, they were crowned champions of MTV News' Battle of the Boy Bands. Following two weeks of intense matchups and more than 12 million votes, Westlife beat out music's most-famous boy bands to take home the coveted trophy, which is now in their possession.
"Thank you very much. We were very proud, what an amazing thing to win," Westlife member Nicky Byrne said to MTV News via Skype. "It was really really special. It's sitting proudly now in my trophy cabinet amongst a few others we were lucky enough to win."
Last month, Westlife concluded their 12th and final concert tour, the Greatest Hits Tour. Traveling through Asia and Europe, the group celebrated their remarkable career with their fans, ending the trek with a homecoming concert in front of 85,000 fans in Dublin.
"It was a long tour: We did the whole U.K. and wrapped it up in Ireland," Byrne said. "It was the best way we could have expected or wanted to finish. It was two nights in a huge stadium, 85,000 and typical Irish crowd. One night, it rained, and one night, it was sunny, but it didn't dampen any spirits. It was emotional, it was real adrenaline, it was a great night all around."
And even though it's been a few weeks since the tour has wrapped, Byrne admits that it has yet to set in that he will no longer be a part of Westlife.
"It's a bit strange still, obviously. We were together for 14 years. We did a lot of long tours and big tours," he shared. "At the moment, it feels a little bit the same — that you have just wrapped up a big, long tour and you're on time out, but I think every night going to bed or when I wake up first thing in the morning, it just hits you that you keep telling yourself that we are not going to do this again, I'm not going to be back recording with the lads. It's just strange. That's the best way to explain it."
Unfortunately for all those Westlife fans, there was no discussion on the road of getting back together, even if it might have crossed their minds.
"Definitely through the tour, different crowds, different cities, there were times mentally in your head you went and said, 'Is this the right thing?' We never really spoke, that was the funny thing: We never really talked to each other and said, 'Have we made the right decision?' I think our egos wouldn't allow that," he said. "So it was strange when we made the decision, which was probably coming for maybe two years on and off, we felt it, and then once the decision was made, that's the decision now, there's no going back."