In his most personal interview ever, Kian gives the Sunday Worlda glimpse inside his family life, which is split between their homes in Strandhill, Co Sligo and in Barbados.
The multi-millionaire entertainer, who is dad to three sons Koa (10), Zeke (7) and Cobi (4) said he and his wife, Jodi, strive to keep their children grounded amid their privileged lifestyle.
Although they are aware that he is in Westlife, Kian says his young sons have no understanding of the group’s drawing power as they get set to play two shows at Dublin’s Aviva Stadium next Friday and Saturday on The Wild Dreams Tour.
“Koa started listening to music and playing and singing and following artists, and all of a sudden he became a massive Billie Eilish fan and a Harry Styles fan,” he tells me during a break from rehearsals for what is set to be Westlife’s biggest ever live production.
“The other week he was looking at a Harry Styles concert online and he said, ‘Daddy, is this the type of concerts you do?’ I said, ‘Yeah, buddy, that’s pretty much it.’ He said, ‘Really, that big?’ I said, ‘Yeah, that concert you’re looking at there, that’s where we’re playing in two weeks.’ He was like, ‘What!’
“His brain is slowly processing it and I think next weekend is going to be quite a mind boggle for him in a weird way. It’ll be like, ‘Hold on a second, this is much more than I thought it was!
“Up to this point he’s not paid attention to the whole Westlife thing, although he’s always fascinated when somebody asks me for a photograph. They all are, my youngest fella, Cobi, is very funny, he gets into the photo.
“Then they’d be full of questions and you’re trying to explain Westlife to them. They don’t comprehend it, so it will be an interesting summer for them.”
As parents, Kian and his British-born wife Jodi are acutely aware of the pitfalls when bringing up children in a lifestyle that is not the norm.
He says: “We’re the type of parents that are constantly saying, ‘Look, you are very privileged. The reason why is because Daddy’s job is quite a unique scenario and you need to understand that not all children live a life like you.
“They go to the local school and it’s hugely important that they have a normal upbringing. Our home life is pretty full on, there’s basketball, skateboarding, piano, guitar, singing and surfing.”
School holidays are spent at their house in Barbados. “Barbados gives us an opportunity to live a very different way and live a very different life,” Kian says. “It’s great for surfing for us as well.”
One of the world’s most successful boybands, Westlife are now bigger than at any other stage of their career, with new markets such as China and South America opening up.
Westlife recently played an online concert for China that attracted 44 million fans and will tour there in person next year.
“We have a run next year in China in 10 stadiums around the size of Aviva Stadium in cities we’ve never heard of,” Kian reveals. “When you sit there and think 44 million people — that’s the population of England and more than 10 times the population of Ireland watching on a mobile phone.
“As a human being it’s a very difficult thing to get your brain around it. Personally, I just ignore it. Even in the first run of Westlife, before we broke up, I always ignored the size of it all and how successful it was and just got on with it.”
Why is Westlife so popular in China? “We were told that all the Chinese kids in school learnt English through our music and that’s why it’s so successful. It was songs like My Love, You Raise Me Up, World Of Our Own…all the hits.
“They weren’t even radio songs there, they were what the kids learned English through. So as the years went on the audience were putting two and two together that these were Westlife songs and Westlife were a band. All the time we knew nothing about it.”
The current Westlife tour, which includes London’s Wembley Stadium in August and an October concert for 80,000 fans at the Singapore Grand Prix, is set to run indefinitely.
Reflecting on their astonishing 24-year run, Kian points out that the years also brought personal heartache through the loss of parents. “There are only four parents left out of eight,” says Kian, whose own father died from cancer in 2009.
“But I have memories of getting the audience in Croke Park to sing happy birthday to my dad on his 60th birthday,” he adds.
“Now that my dad is gone I can look back at that in fond memory and be like, ‘That was such a touching time.’
“They are things that money can never buy. They are experiences that only come from, thankfully, doing the job that we do. It’s a very privileged position to be in.”
WESTLIFE play Dublin’s Aviva Stadium next Friday and Saturday.