Westlife's Markus Feehily on going solo: 'Now it's all about being me'

Westlife’s soul boy Mark Feehily is back - but you’d be hard pressed to recognise him. No longer a squeaky clean Irish lad, the 35-year-old Sligo songster is now going by his full name, Markus, and has grown into a dashing man with a mind full of life experiences and adventures, which he has channelled into his new song Love Is A Drug. And before you turn your nose up and think "Here comes another Westlifer banging out boring ballads," think again. Long gone are the sweeping ballads he and his crooning mates used to crank out for grannies and lovelorn teenagers. In their place are string-laden dance epics courtesy of producer Steve Anderson (he produced Kylie’s Confide In Me!) which the likes of Sam Smith would bite their hands off for. Just check out the William Baker-directed video and see just how good the song is: Catching up with him for a chat prior to his first-ever solo show at London’s Scala, Markus opens up about the heartache behind his first single, the wild times in Westlife (yes, there were some) and why he wants to be chums with the wicked Katie Hopkins. The song is fab and the video amazing. What’s the song all about? Love is A Drug is a about that situation or relationship we all find ourselves in when someone is messing around but you keep going back to them, even though you know too well that that the person isn't good for you. Then over time the situation wears you down until you're in bits and your life is upside down. markus-bts1 But surely life is better now? Are you seeing anyone at the moment? Yes, I’m in a much happier place. I’ve met someone about a year and a half ago and am really happy. He makes me laugh and that’s what always gets me. Oh, he’s not too hard on the eye! Ha! We live together. It all happened pretty soon, but it felt natural: some people get married after a week, some don’t move in for years. I don’t believe in worrying about when you do things. I’m not like the girls in Sex And The City, saying stuff like ‘I don’t do that on the second date, but i’ll do that on the fifth date’. After having not been open for so long in the band, now it’s all about me being me. You’ve got a much edgier sound and look – was life in Westlife as squeaky clean as we thought? We used to go to Europe for promo quite a lot and the aftershow parties in Holland and Germany were so much crazier than back home.  They love their nudity in Germany. I remember one party where one people were serving drinks naked and there were all these people getting up to all sorts in cages. Honestly, I’d never seen the likes of it - it was certainly an eye opener. markus-bts3 Who’s been the rudest person you've met? Brian McFadden and I were at a Tommy Hilfiger party and saw Noel and Liam Gallagher. We were big fans so we went over to them to say hello – but they just gave us the dirtiest ‘eff you’ look and we went back to where we were standing. Who would prefer to be stuck in a lift with - Katie Hopkins or Perez Hilton? Katie Hopkins, actually... I would so love to get to know her. Before Celebrity Big Brother the things she’d say made I would despise her for, but then on the show I started to warm to her. She was actually funny at times and you saw this other side of her when she didn’t come across as so much of a bitch, which makes you think she might be mean for other reasons. We’re still dealing with Madonna’s BRITs Capegate moment – where were you when Madge hit the decks? I was actually out at dinner when my manager sent me a text saying 'Have you seen Madonna? Heads are gonna roll.' When I got home and watched it I was shocked and felt so sorry for her. I can understand why people laughed - it is funny because everyone loves to see models and celebrities fall over. But everyone was talking about her, so it wasn’t all bad. Luckily, I haven’t had as bad a stage disaster, but I do remember I did a lunge on stage once and the bottom area of my trousers ripped open so the front row of the crowd saw more than they needed to. There might have been a stray ball hanging out! info: Love Is A Drug is out April 19. Words: Christian Guiltenane