Once hailed as the UK’s answer to Justin Timberlake, Salford boy Shayne Ward has been a busy chappie since his debut single That’s My Goal hit the ‘back of the net’ shooting straight to the top of the charts in 2005.
As the winner of the X Factor, his success continued, paving the way for three further albums including Breathless, which scooped sales of over three million globally. Not bad for a lad who began singing in local working mens’ clubs.
This lad’s talents know no bounds. He’s just joined the cast of Jeff Wayne‘s musical version of The War of the Worlds, playing the role of The Artilleryman alongside Westlife‘s Brian
McFadden as The Sung Thoughts of the Journalist and Joseph Whelan as The Voice of Humanity.
I caught up with Shayne at his home in Derbyshire, and was immediately bowled over by his enthusiasm for the new project.
“I was given the DVD by Jeff Wayne to watch because I’ve never actually seen it before. But wow! Have you seen it yourself?”
It’s at this point I hang my head and manage to squeeze out a rather week ‘no’, and try and recover my ignorance with “I’ve never actually seen it before but I’ve been told it’s absolutely spectacular. A friend of mine went last year and it’s supposed to be phenomenal.”
Shayne’s character in the show, it turns out, is bonkers. After his squadron was wiped out by the Martians on Horsell Common, he goes slightly mad and thinks London can be rebuilt in the drains below. Sounds like he’s going to be busy!
“He actually believes in what he says but unfortunately he’s just full of alcohol. Like all of us when we’ve had a bit to drink we get over confident,” Shayne laughs.
“He’s a soldier that has survived being killed by the Martians and their machines. He crosses paths twice with Liam Neeson who plays The Journalist and tries to convince him that they can get an army together and capture a fighting machine and defeat the Martians, after which he plans to build a whole new world.
He believes that he can do it. But to be honest it’s a bit far-fetched.”
Over the years the role of The Artilleryman has been played by many famous folk including Jason Donovan.
“Jason’s been part of the show for a long time, but the last person to play the character was Ricky Wilson from the Kaiser Chiefs. I’ve seen what he did and what he brought to it so obviously I’ve got to bring my own style to it.”
Shayne readily admits that the show has a geeky following.
“They’re real die-hard fans,” he says. I’m curious to discover if Shayne believes if there is another life form out there.
“Oh, without a doubt. I think we all do. There’s no way at all that there’s just us!”
No stranger to the stage, Shayne was nominated for London Newcomer of the Year from the 2012 What’s On Stage awards for his role as Stacee Jaxx, a fading rock god in the stage hit
Rock of Ages.
“It was rock singing, which took me a while to get to grips with. My first audition was singing Bon Jovi’s Dead or Alive. There was a room full of people and I really went for it. I crawled over all the tables and gave it everything I had. If you’re going to go for an audition you can’t shy away from it. If you go in there and are hesitant you’re not going to get picked.”
Sporting a blond wig and makeup that would put Bet Lynch to shame, Shayne owned the
stage, but now the slap is off and the hair short once again.
As a blond for a while did he have more fun?
“Without a doubt!” he grins. “I’m well known for my shaved head and my management like me to keep it that way. They feel it’s more in keeping for the ‘brand of Shayne Ward’, but as I get older it’d be nice to try something different for a little bit, but then again, my hair’s like
Tom Jones’s. It really goes frizzy.”
Born to Irish traveller parents, Shayne has six siblings. One of them is his twin sister Emma, who can also sing. “She sounds like Eva Cassidy. She’s got a lovely voice. Growing up in our house was chaos,” he laughs.
It’s evident that Shayne is a firm family man. His long-term relationship with actress Faye McKeever ended recently, but he has every intention of having a family in the future.
“My sister Lisa has had a beautiful girl called Madison. I’d love nothing more than to have kids, so I’ll have to wait and see. I’m 30 this year.”
I’m sure he’ll have no problem finding a partner but for now his focus lies firmly on his career.
“From an early age I always wanted to earn a living from singing. I was lucky enough to join a three piece band called ‘Destiny’. So at the age of 15 I was doing the working men’s clubs, earning money and learning my craft.”
His Irish heritage led him to fulfil a lifetime ambition when he recorded with Foster and Allen. “They’d heard on the grapevine that I was a massive fan. They got in contact and asked if we could all do a song together. It was a personal thing for me and a massive thing for my family. My family have now become firm friends with them both.”
When I ask Shayne if he would like to perform with the other famous Irish duo, Jedward I receive a resounding ‘No’. Fair play.
Shayne’s army of Twitter and Facebook followers is two million.
“It’s vital that I can interact as much as possible with the fans because that’s the most important thing. I do have quite a lot of guys that follow me but half of them are taking the p***, but I let them because it’s their way of dealing with their partners following me. But with some of them I have great banter and a laugh with.”
When I enquire if he’s able to nip out to the shops without getting harassed his reply makes me smile. “Erm. Yeah. I thought you were asking me to go to the shops for you!”
Well, come to mention it Shayne, I wouldn’t mind you turning up with a loaf and Northern Life in hand, but if you really want to go that extra mile a bar of chocolate wouldn’t go amiss! I know, I’m pushing my luck, but you can’t blame a girl (middle-aged one at that!) for trying.
Back to the interview: “If I’ve released a single I’m ‘hot property’ again. So it tends to be that when I walk into a shop I can get hounded a bit. I’ve been in the studio for over a year now. I’ve just finished my last recording session. I’m hoping that I’ll get something out this summer, not the whole album but one or two tracks to test the waters with the fans.”
Now he’s into a stage hit, does he consider himself an actor or still foremost a singer?
“With both genres you’re telling a story and you have to make the fans believe it. You have to engage with your fans.
“But of course singing is the most natural thing for me. Everybody sang in our family. It was like a competition. You’d hear one singing one thing then another singing something else. It was a challenge to see who could keep singing the longest.”
Well, it’s plain to see that Shayne won. ‘Breathless’, he isn’t. But I am.