Belfast Telegraph

Friday 30 January 2015

Boyzone: 'When we're together, Stephen Gately is still very much alive'

Losing a beloved member often signals the end for a band, but not Boyzone. As they prepare to play Belfast, Shane Lynch tells Chris Jones why Stephen Gately is still a part of the group five years after his tragic death

Ronan Keating, Keith Duffy, Mikey Graham and Shane Lynch carry out the coffin after the funeral of Boyzone singer Stephen Gately at St Laurence O'Toole Church in Dublin
Ronan Keating, Keith Duffy, Mikey Graham and Shane Lynch carry out the coffin after the funeral of Boyzone singer Stephen Gately at St Laurence O'Toole Church in Dublin
Jason Donovan looks at a tribute as he arrives at St Laurence O'Toole Church in Dublin for the funeral of Stephen Gately
Mourners at the funeral of Stephen Gately at St Laurence O'Toole Church in Dublin
Family and friends pay their respects as the coffin leaves in a hearse outside St Laurence O'Toole Church in Dublin after the funeral of Stephen Gately
Margaret Gately is comforted by Ronan Keating outside St Laurence O'Toole Church in Dublin
A hearse carries the coffin of Stephen Gately after his funeral at St Laurence O'Toole church in Dublin
The coffin of Stephen Gately is carried into a hearse outside St Laurence O'Toole Church in Dublin
Shane Lynch (left) and Keith Duffy (right) help place the coffin of Stephen Gately into a waiting hearse outside St Laurence O'Toole Church in Dublin after the funeral service
Shane Lynch (left) and Keith Duffy (third right) help place the coffin of Stephen Gately into a waiting hearse outside St Laurence O'Toole Church in Dublin after the funeral servic
Keith Duffy (right) at the funeral of Stephen Gately
Fans watch the coffin of Stephen Gately pass by outside St Laurence O'Toole Church in Dublin
A mourner at the funeral of Stephen Gately
Boyzone members Ronan Keating (front left), Mikey Graham (front right) and Shane Lynch (back right) carry the coffin of Stephen Gately outside St Laurence O'Toole Church in Dublin
Vanessa Feltz attends the funeral of Boyzone singer Stephen Gately at St Laurence O'Toole Church in Dublin
The coffin is carried out after the funeral of Stephen Gately by members of Boyzone, including Ronan Keating (front left), Mikey Graham (front right), Shane Lynch (rear right) at St Laurence O'Toole Church in Dublin
Boyzone member Keith Duffy (right) is consoled outside St Laurence O'Toole Church in Dublin after the funeral of Stephen Gately
David Furnish at the funeral of Stephen Gately
The order of service for the funeral of Stephen Gately
A mourner crys at the funeral of Boyzone singer Stephen Gately at St Laurence O'Toole Church in Dublin
Margaret Gately comforts her husband Martin outside St Laurence O'Toole Church in Dublin
A young Boyzone fan listens to the service outside St Laurence O'Toole Church in Dublin during the funeral of Stephen Gately
Martin Gately at St Laurence O'Toole Church in Dublin during the funeral of his son Stephen
Brian McFadden smokes a cigarette outside St Laurence O'Toole Church in Dublin following the funeral of Stephen Gately
Boyzone members carry the coffin of Stephen Gately outside St Laurence O'Toole Church in Dublin
Boyzone members and family gather round the hearse carrying the coffin of Stephen Gately outside St Laurence O'Toole Church in Dublin
Locals watch from a window outside the funeral of Stephen Gatley at St Laurence O'Toole Church in Dublin
Ronan Keating, Keith Duffy Mikey Graham and Shane Lynch carry out the coffin after the funeral of Boyzone singer Stephen Gately at St Laurence O'Toole Church in Dublin
Ronan Keating, Keith Duffy Mikey Graham and Shane Lynch carry out the coffin after the funeral of Boyzone singer Stephen Gately at St Laurence O'Toole Church in Dublin
Ronan Keating, Keith Duffy Mikey Graham and Shane Lynch carry out the coffin after the funeral of Boyzone singer Stephen Gately at St Laurence O'Toole Church in Dublin
Ronan Keating, Keith Duffy Mikey Graham and Shane Lynch carry out the coffin after the funeral of Boyzone singer Stephen Gately at St Laurence O'Toole Church in Dublin
Ronan Keating, Keith Duffy Mikey Graham and Shane Lynch carry out the coffin after the funeral of Boyzone singer Stephen Gately at St Laurence O'Toole Church in Dublin
Ronan Keating, Mikey Graham, Shane Lynch and Keith Duffy look on as the coffin is loaded into the hearse after the funeral of Boyzone singer Stephen Gately at St Laurence O'Toole Church in Dublin
Ronan Keating, Mikey Graham, Shane Lynch and Keith Duffy look on as the coffin is loaded into the hearse after the funeral of Boyzone singer Stephen Gately at St Laurence O'Toole Church in Dublin
Andrew Cowles is comforted by friends as he attends the funeral of Boyzone singer Stephen Gately at St Laurence O'Toole Church in Dublin
Ronan Keating, Mikey Graham and Shane Lynch carry out the coffin after the funeral of Boyzone singer Stephen Gately at St Laurence O'Toole Church in Dublin
Ronan Keating, Mikey Graham and Shane Lynch carry out the coffin after the funeral of Boyzone singer Stephen Gately at St Laurence O'Toole Church in Dublin
Ronan Keating attends the funeral of Boyzone singer Stephen Gately at St Laurence O'Toole Church in Dublin
Ronan Keating attends the funeral of Boyzone singer Stephen Gately at St Laurence O'Toole Church in Dublin
Guests arrive at the funeral of Boyzone singer Stephen Gately at St Laurence O'Toole Church in Dublin
Ronan Keating attends the funeral of Boyzone singer Stephen Gately at St Laurence O'Toole Church in Dublin
Boyzone's Shane Lynch attends the funeral of Stephen Gately at St Laurence O'Toole Church in Dublin
Boyzone's Mikey Graham attends the funeral of Stephen Gately at St Laurence O'Toole Church in Dublin
Kian Egan of Westlife attends the funeral of Boyzone singer Stephen Gately at St Laurence O'Toole Church in Dublin
Men carry flowers given by Elton John to the funeral of Boyzone singer Stephen Gately at St Laurence O'Toole Church in Dublin
Andrew Cowles is comforted by friends as he attends the funeral of Boyzone singer Stephen Gately at St Laurence O'Toole Church in Dublin
Brian McFadden attends the funeral of Boyzone singer Stephen Gately
David Furnish attends the funeral of Boyzone singer Stephen Gately at St Laurence O'Toole Church in Dublin
Louis Walsh attends the funeral of Boyzone singer Stephen Gately at St Laurence O'Toole Church in Dublin
Keith Duffy attends the funeral of Boyzone singer Stephen Gately at St Laurence O'Toole Church in Dublin
Margaret Gately arrives for the funeral of her son Stephen at St Laurence O'Toole church in Dublin
Jason Donovan arrives at the funeral of Stephen Gately
Singer Shane Ward arrives at Stephen Gately's funeral
Fans display tributes outside St Laurence O'Toole Church as Boyzone members, Ronan Keating, Shane Lynch, Keith Duffy and Mikey Graham visit the body of their fellow band member Stephen Gately in Dublin
Stephen's father, Martin Gately arrives at Jenning's Funeral before heading to a private service and overnight vigil at St Laurence O'Toole Church in Dublin
Members of Boyzone Keith Duffy, Ronan Keating, Mikey Graham and Shane Lynch make a statement outside Majorca Airport as Stephen Gately's body is placed in to the hold of a plane which will fly to Dublin
Members of Boyzone (from left) Keith Duffy, Ronan Keating, Mikey Graham and Shane Lynch make a statement outside Majorca Airport as Stephen Gately's body is placed in to the hold of a plane which will fly to Dublin ahead of his funeral on Saturday.
Stephen Gately's body is placed in to the hold of a plane bound for Dublin
Mikey Graham of Boyzone chats with Gardai about the arrangements for the funeral
Georgi Dochev leaves his flat in Pont D'Inca, Majorca. He was a friend of Boyzone star Stephen Gately who found his body
Mikey Graham of Boyzone leaving St Laurence O'Toole Parish church after speaking with the Priest about the arrangements for the funeral of Stephen Gately
Local people begin a clean up operation of St Laurence O'Toole church in Dublin
St Laurence O'Toole church in Dublin where the funeral of Stephen Gately will be held
Keith Duffy and Mikey Graham of Boyzone leaving St Laurence O'Toole Parish church after speaking with the Priest about the arrangements for the funeral
Keith Duffy and Mikey Graham of Boyzone leaving St Laurence O'Toole Parish church after speaking with the Priest about the arrangements for the Funeral of Stephen Gately at the church in Dublin on Saturday. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday October 15, 2009. See PA story DEATH Gately. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire
Keith Duffy of Boyzone leaving St Laurence O'Toole Parish church
Keith Duffy and Shane Lynch of Boyzone leaving St Laurence O'Toole Parish church
Mikey Graham (left) of Boyzone leaving St Laurence O'Toole Parish church with Priest Declan Blake
Ronan Keating of Boyzone chats with St Laurence O'Toole Parish Priest (right) Declan Blake
Mikey Graham of Boyzone chats with Gardai about the arrangements for the funeral
Ronan Keating of Boyzone leaves St Laurence O'Toole Parish after speaking with the Priest about the arrangements for the funeral
Andy Cowles, the partner of the late Stephen Gately, leaves the courthouse following a post mortem hearing on October 13, 2009 in Palma de Mallorca, Spain. Boyzone star, Stephen Gately died on Saturday night aged 33 whilst on holiday in Majorca
The body of Stephen Gately is wheeled into a funeral home in the village of Calvia in Mallorca
Journalists photograph the entrance of the hotel where members of the group Boyzone are staying in Port Andratx in Mallorca
The body of Stephen Gately is wheeled into a funeral home in the village of Calvia in Mallorca
The body of Stephen Gately is wheeled out of a morgue in Palma de Mallorca
Photographers and cameramen surround the car of Andy Cowles, the partner of the late Stephen Gately, leaving the courthouse in Palma de Mallorca, Spain after attending the inquest inquiry
Andy Cowles, the partner of the late Stephen Gately leaves with two unidentified women after viewing the body of Stephen Gately at a funeral home in the village of Calvia in Mallorca
Andy Cowles, the partner of the late Stephen Gately, leaves the courthouse following a post mortem hearing in Palma de Mallorca, Spain
Andrew Cowles, the husband of Boyzone star Stephen Gately, who was found dead at his home in the resort of Port Andratx, Majorca, leaves Calvia Cemetery in Majorca after visiting the body of Stephen Gately
Andrew Cowles, the husband of Boyzone star Stephen Gately, leaves court in Palma Majorca after hearing the results of the autopsy
5/10/2009 Ronan Keating, his wife Yvonne and Stephen Gately arriving at The Pride of Britain Awards 2009, Grosvenor House Hotel, Park Lane, London
Andrew Cowles, the husband of Boyzone star Stephen Gately, who was found dead at his home in the resort of Port Andratx, Majorca, on Saturday afternoon, arrives at the Mon Port Hotel, in Majorca, where fellow Boyzone members Ronan Keating, Keith Duffy, Mikey Graham and Shane Lynch are staying following the death of their fellow band member. Picture date: Monday October 12 2009.
Mikey Graham of Boyzone walks in the grounds of the Mon Port Hotel, in Majorca following the death of fellow band member Stephen Gately
Shane Lynch (centre) of Boyzone leaves the Mon Port Hotel, in Majorca following the death of fellow band member Stephen Gately
Mikey Graham (right) of Boyzone and Andrew Cowles, the husband of Boyzone star Stephen Gately, who was found dead at his home in the resort of Port Andratx, Majorca, on Saturday afternoon, walk in the grounds of the Mon Port hotel, in Majorca, following his death.
Ronan Keating of Boyzone walks in the grounds of the Mon Port Hotel, in Majorca following the death of fellow band member Stephen Gately. Monday October 12 2009.
Ronan Keating (right) of Boyzone walks in the grounds of the Mon Port Hotel, in Majorca following the death of fellow band member Stephen Gately. Picture date: Monday October 12 2009.
Boyzone's Stephen Gately performing on stage at the Big Gig Weekend at the Bath & West Showground, Shepton Mallet, Somerset.
Boyzone (left to right), Shane Lynch, Mikey Graham, Ronan Keating, Stephen Gately and Keith Duffy, perform on stage at the Big Gig Weekend at the Bath & West Showground
10/10/1996 Former Take That star Robbie Williams (bottom left) and pop star Peter Andre (bottom centre) join members of the Irish pop band Boyzone (left to right) Stephen Gately, Ronan Keating, Shane Lynch, Keith Duffy (front) and Mikey Graham, for a photocall prior to the 1996 MTV Europe Music Awards in London
8/5/2008 of Boyzone (left to right) Keith Duffy, Ronan Keating, Stephen Gately, Shane Lynchy and Mikey Graham arrive at The Cauldwell Ball at the Battersea Evolution in Battersea Park, London.
12/9/1999 of Cerys Matthews, singer with Welsh pop band Catatonia, and Stephen Gately, member of boy band Boyzone, at the New London Theatre, Dury Lane, in London
5/2/2003 of Stephen Gately and Sinead O'Connor attend a party at The Old Billingsgate Fish Market, London, following Sir Elton's benefit gig at the Old Vic Theatre
26/5/2008 of Boyzone's Stephen Gately in concert at the Odyssey Arena Belfast.Gately
17/2/2003 of Stephen Gately as Joseph and Kay Murphy as Mrs Potiphar during a photocall for the new production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat at the New London Theatre in Drury Lane
5/7/1998 of The Prince of Wales talking with members of the band Boyzone Party in the Park, in aid of the Prince's Trust.
A cameraman films the house where Irish boy band Boyzone lead singer Stephen Gately died Saturday Oct. 11
Members of the Irish boy band Boyzone, Ronan Keating, left, and Mikey Graham, right, arrive with other members of the group at the Palma de Mallorca airport on Sunday Oct. 11, 2009.
Members of the Irish boy band Boyzone from left to right: Shane Lynch, Ronan Keating and Mikey Graham, arrive at the Palma de Mallorca airport, Spain, on Sunday Oct. 11, 2009.
Andrew Cowles, the husband of Boyzone star Stephen Gately, who was found dead at his home in the resort of Port Andratx, Majorca, on Saturday afternoon, leaves the Mon Port hotel, in Majorca, where fellow Boyzone members Ronan Keating, Keith Duffy, Mikey Graham and Shane Lynch were staying following the death of their fellow band member
Stephen Gately
Stephen Gately of Boyzone
Stephen Gately
File photo dated 8/5/2008 of Boyzone (left to right) Keith Duffy, Ronan Keating, Stephen Gately, Shane Lynchy and Mikey Graham arrive at The Cauldwell Ball at the Battersea Evolution in Battersea Park, London. Gately has died at the age of just 33. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Saturday October 11 2009. The Irish pop star and actor was on holiday with his long-term partner in Majorca when he 'tragically died' yesterday, according to the band's tour website. See PA story DEATH Gately. Photo credit should read: Ian West/PA Wire
Boyzone
Boyzone's Stephen Gately
Boyzone's Stephen Gately
Boyzone's Stephen Gately
The crowd goes wild for Boyzone as they perform in the Odyssey Arena, Belfast.
Boyzone
Jemma Neely and Michele Moffat at the Boyzone concert in the Odyssey
Caoimhe Campbell, Lauren Doherty, Meghann McKeever and Hayley Quinnell at the Boyzone concert in the Odyssey Arena, Belfast
Margret Campbell, Francis Doherty, Maureen McKeever and Clare Campbell at the Boyzone concert in the Odyssey Arena, Belfast
Jemma Neely and Michele Moffat at the Boyzone concert in the Odyssey Arena, Belfast
Christine and Nollen Bannon at the Boyzone concert in the Odyssey Arena, Belfast
Seanan Donnelly, Cara Donnelly and Michelle Corry at the Boyzone concert in the Odyssey Arena, Belfast
Catherine McVeigh, Nadine Quinn and Aislinn Murray at the Boyzone concert in the Odyssey Arena, Belfast

"People come quite early to our shows and have their blankets on the ground with their picnics and their bottles of wine and their cheese boards," says Shane Lynch of the open air shows the band often play now. "As the evening falls and we get on stage everybody gets up and starts bouncing around. It's a great atmosphere."

Whether such genteel scenes will be replicated when the band play the big top at Belfast's Falls Park on August 2 remains to be seen, but the foursome are certainly looking forward to returning to the city.

"We like to always start or finish our tours in Belfast," says Shane (38). "It's one of the best gigs we could do. For whatever reason, the people of the North just like to party. They're always the loudest, always the most enthusiastic and they give you your best show back. And if the crowd are up for it, it gives you an amazing time up there on stage.

"I've always had an amazing reception from people (there). I always said that if I was to move back to Ireland I'd go straight up north. I just love the vibe of the northern people. They have a heart like no other I've seen around the world."

Thankfully for Shane, they also have a sense of humour that chimes with his own, as he discovered after a gig in the early days of the band when he was pulled over in his car by the police just outside Belfast wearing little more than a pair of boxer shorts. "The adrenaline used to be pumping after coming off stage," he laughs. "It was literally: get off stage, strip your clothes off and leave them with the wardrobe girls, jump in the car and drive. We had a laugh and a joke about it, though."

For Shane, his interests in Northern Ireland aren't just limited to his stage career, either. He has also recently indulged his love of sculpted hair, bushy beards and 1920s fashions to join forces with a local businessman to open a barber shop in Portadown, called The Elk & Clipper. Another shop is due to open next month in Banbridge and more are planned.

"It's awesome, man, I'm very, very excited about it," he says. "I'm obviously heavily tattooed and I've got a big beard, and it's a particular look and style. The first one in Portadown is absolutely flying, and I'm just trying to bring business to the towns of Northern Ireland."

It's over two decades since Boyzone's now infamous first appearance on RTE's Late Late Show – in which the floppy-haired youngsters from Dublin carried out a cringeworthy dance routine in front of Gay Byrne.

Under the guidance of manager and music impresario Louis Walsh, Boyzone were soon to find themselves at the centre of a pop hurricane, their lives a constant blizzard of hit singles, TV appearances, press attention and all the temptation that goes along with being in a pin-up boy band.

Following a six-year hiatus, the band reformed in 2007, but even with the spotlight having long shifted to younger bands, Shane says that they are a tighter unit than ever. Now they are husbands and fathers approaching (or, in Mikey Graham's case, past) their 40th birthdays.

"I think now is a better time for all of us," says Shane. "Back in the day, it was a bit of a rollercoaster and a journey of madness. There was no time to breathe back then. Nowadays there aren't as many TV shows, magazines, and you do all your radio in one room at one time. You don't have to travel the world. It's a lot less pressurised. And in that comes a lot more freedom, and me and the boys can hang out and enjoy each other's company.

"Don't get me wrong, it's not always been cushty and everyone playing happy families. There have been times where we've had stupid, silly arguments but they're few and far between now. We're all grown men, we've all got families and we help each other."

That bond was never tested more than following the sudden death of founding member Stephen Gately in 2009, from an undiagnosed heart defect. Shane found out in a phone call from bandmate Ronan Keating. "I didn't really believe it when I first heard," he says. "I can't say I had any emotion. I was numb. I think it took quite a few months for it to settle in that he was gone. (For me) it wasn't a breakdown, mourning approach, it was to stay strong and crack on. A few months later, it really hit me he was gone."

Following Stephen's passing, difficult decisions had to be made. The band had been in the middle of recording the comeback album that would end up being named Brother in tribute to their lost bandmate.

"We were maybe 10 tracks in to making the album when he passed," he says. "There was a bit of a weird time of: 'What do we do? Is it over? Or do we crack on and make it happen?'. We decided that if we say it's over, then it's all gone, the whole thing, and the great memories of him. So we decided to push on and finish the album and bring Steo with us.

"People will see four (members) and that's fine, but we will always be a five-piece. I guess (his death) is one of the reasons why we continue to be together. For us, when we're together, he's very much alive."

With the loss of Stephen still keenly felt, Shane has little time for those who have tried to besmirch his name, such as Daily Mail columnist Jan Moir, whose savage opinion piece, describing the circumstances surrounding Gately's death as "more than a little sleazy", prompted thousands of complaints to the Press Complaints Commission. "We know the truth and for one individual to have their own opinion, that's not the world," he says.

In any case, Shane prefers to enjoy the present and look to the future. Boyzone are set to release a new album of Motown covers later this year, his motorsport career continues apace, and he is enjoying life with wife Sheena and daughters Billie and Marley. "Family life is awesome," he beams. "It settles you down a little bit too and makes you grow up in many ways. Sheena is mother hen. This whole world I live in would fall apart around me if she wasn't there. She's the one that makes it all go. She's quite an amazing wife, actually. Amazing woman, amazing mother and I'm very lucky to have her."

Boyzone play the Belfast Feile on August 2. For details, visit www.feilebelfast.com

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