Top of the charts and the TV ratings, McFadden is quite simply everywhere. He spoke to Isabel Hayes.
Brian McFadden’s first 30 years on the planet have been eventful. ISABEL HAYES caught up with the Sydney-based Dubliner to find out how he is juggling his roles as popstar, TV judge, famous fiancé, divorcee, absentee dad and emigrant.
It’s been a good week for Brian McFadden. He just celebrated his 30th birthday with a big party in King’s Cross and with fiancée Delta Goodrem by his side.
Australia’s Got Talent, the show he is co-hosting, got 1.5 million viewers in its first week. Best of all, his new single, Just Say So, has hit number one in the Australian charts.
“It’s been pretty good so far,” McFadden agrees, as he sits on a park bench outside Universal Studios, Sydney and smokes a couple of cigarettes.
“I never thought Just Say So was going to be number one and I definitely didn’t think it was going to sell as well as it has done. It’s been one of the biggest selling singles of the year so far, so I’m chuffed to bits.”
There’s just one cloud on the horizon threatening to ruin McFadden’s sunny week and that is his ex-wife Kerry Katona.
In the first installment of an interview with the British press, Katona has revealed how she spent the last three years doing cocaine while her and McFadden’s children, Molly, 8 and Lilly-Sue, 7, were in the house.
When asked about Katona, McFadden declines to comment, but just three days later, the Irish singer responds angrily to fresh claims by Katona that he doesn’t know his kids, in a series of Twitter comments that make international headlines.
Referring to Katona as a ‘pig-faced mole’, the former Westlife star insists he sees his children regularly.
Speaking to the Irish Echo prior to his outburst, McFadden is already visibly irritated that the British press says he doesn’t see his kids, describing how he flies home to Ireland and Britain every six weeks to catch up with his family, friends and the children.
But despite the frequent trips, McFadden says he will probably never live permanently in Ireland again, preferring to make Australia his base.
“I love living here,” he says. “It’s different here, it’s not like Britain, the press don’t slaughter you, they’re not aggressive, they’re not angry at people.
“For some reason when you’re in Ireland and England you can be walking down the street and if someone doesn’t like you, they’ll tell you, they’ll go ‘you’re a d***head’ or they’ll shout abuse at you.
“People are really nice here, they’ll walk up to you in the street and shake your hand and go ‘it’s nice to meet you’. It’s kind of weird that people are really nice. People don’t say smartarse comments. It’s cool, it’s a nice change.”
After nearly five years of living Down Under, there are still things McFadden misses about Ireland – proper sausages (“What are those sausages they give you here with all the herbs in them? I want Denny sausages”), playing golf “in the cold” and meeting his friends in the pub on a Friday night.
Otherwise he says he has converted to the Aussie lifestyle.
“I’m the same as any Irish person who comes here, I just love it,” he says.
“We don’t realise it when we’re living in Ireland. Until you come here you don’t realise what living is. We think that getting up in the morning and going to work, that that’s it, the day is over.
“Here it’s great – you can go to work and finish at 5 or 6 o’clock and there’s still so much to do. Go have a barbecue, go fishing, go in the water. People just seem to do it better over here.
“You kind of want everyone in Ireland to come over here for two weeks and go home and be like right, now we know how to do it. You can actually work and have a life at the same time. I think Irish people don’t get that.
“They just think that you have to work Monday to Friday, work your a*** off and then get p***ed Friday and Saturday night. But you can do it better than that.”
Apart from his kids, the singer doesn’t miss anything about Britain, where he lived when he was married to Katona and a member of Westlife – least of all the negative media attention.
“The English press are always pointing at me, saying you’re a disgrace, you’re a bad father,” he says. “I had two custody battles in English courts to try and get my kids. I didn’t win. What am I supposed to do?
“They say ‘we never see you with your kids’. That’s because I don’t go out and flaunt them in front of paparazzi.
“When I’m with my kids we’re at home, playing together. I’m not standing outside a shop trying to get photographed with my kids. I don’t want my kids in newspapers.
“They’re kids. They should be in school, being educated, having fun and being kids, not being pawns in a newspaper.”
When McFadden first moved to Australia in 2005, he was known only as “Delta’s new man”, as he puts it. “I didn’t mind coming over here being unknown, just being able to blend in and have a life. That was exciting when I came here first.”
Australian recognition followed after he released his album Set In Stone, before co-hosting Fox 8’s Football Superstar and appearing as a guest host on Australian Idol.
Now, as a co-host of Channel Seven’s Australia’s Got Talent with Dannii Minogue and Kyle Sandilands and a number one single in the charts, McFadden is an Australian household name.
And despite retaining his Dublin accent, McFadden says he hasn’t been asked to speak more clearly for the Australian public.
“It’s funny, when I’m having dinner with friends over here, people ask me to slow down because I speak very fast. So I don’t know how the public get it, but I haven’t had any complaints yet.”
Next stop after Australia’s Got Talent is LA, where McFadden will join Goodrem as she records a new album. And no, they haven’t set a date for the wedding.
“It’s not a big secret, there’s no big mystery, there’s no big scam, it’s literally that we just haven’t set a date yet,” he says.
“We’d get married tomorrow if we had the time but we don’t, we don’t even have a free weekend. And it’s not a f***ing gig, it’s not something you just fit in over the weekend.”
With that, McFadden finishes his cigarette and stretches. “Home I go,” he says with a yawn.