Pop star, petrolhead, family man, born again Christian, businessman: Shane Lynch is a man of many parts. He tells HELEN MCGURK about his latest venture ...
In a world of money grubbers, Boyzone singer Shane Lynch takes a refreshingly egalitarian approach to business.
In Belfast recently for the opening of his latest Ulster store, Amen Footwear Shoes, at the Abbey Centre in Newtownabbey, his promise it to sell real leather, top quality men’s shoes at prices which won’t break the bank.
‘‘A shoe is a shoe and I know how much it costs to make a shoe, so I don’t want to rinse people for every last cent,’’ says Lynch earnestly.
‘‘I want to give people shoes for the right price. I genuinely believe people deserve that.’’
Stealing a look at Lynch’s own footwear, I note that he is wearing an ordinary-looking pair of black trainers with no perceptible branding.
Does this well-heeled star boast an Imelda Marcos-sized stash of shoes? ‘‘No, believe it or not,’’ he smiles.
‘‘My wife loves shoes, but I’m a more straightforward wear-them-down-to-the-bone kind of guy. I don’t buy them out of desire, I buy them out of need. I’m quicker buying new rims for my cars than shoes for my feet,’’ he laughs.
During our conversation Lynch talks a lot about his passion for cars. Before Boyzone he worked as a car mechanic and his love affair with crankshafts and carburettors was no mere flirtation. A talented racer, he won the Portuguese BMX Championship at 14; and in 2001 he latched onto the world’s fastest-growing motorsport: drift racing.
But commerce has always been in his blood too.
His new store adds to his growing portfolio of businesses here; he has Amen Shoes & Suits in Ballymena, and The Elk & Clipper barber shops in Portadown, Lurgan, Banbridge and Armagh.
‘‘I’ve been thinking recently that I do need to spend more time in Northern Ireland and be able to go to all of my businesses and give them the time that they deserve,’’ he says.
‘‘I’d like to buy a house here, I’m not saying I would move the family over, but I would have somewhere I can call home.’’
Before One Direction had even shuffled off their nappies, Boyzone was the gilt-edged boyband of its day.
Formed by music mogul Louis Walsh in Dublin, in 1993, Ronan Keating, Keith Duffy, Stephen Gately, (who died in 2009 aged 33 from a heart condition) Mikey Graham and Shane Lynch were five fresh-faced teenagers picked to be the Irish Take That.
Worldwide fame and adulation ensued. But unlike many other manufactured bands, who have reached the dizzy heights of fame and then fallen victim to it, Boyzone remains an item after 25 years.
At 42, Shane is the band’s youngest member. Dark-haired, bearded and handsome, he was always perceived as the edgiest member of the group; with his multiple piercings and tattoos in stark contrast with the wholesome, blonde-haired, blue-eyed boy, Ronan Keating.
But the once rebellious, rabble rouser seems a lot more sedate these days.
He stopped drinking and, in 2003, converted to christianity, describing himself as a ‘‘Biblical guy’’.
‘‘My relationship with God is all day, every day - it’s not just on a Sunday.
‘‘I’m a born again Christian, but I think people are weirded out by that ‘born again’ side of things - but the best way to explain that is that as an older man I decided to accept God into my life, so I decided to get baptised.’’
He adds: ‘‘Everywhere I go in the world I do try and find a church.
‘‘I was in the Philippines a couple of weeks back and on Sunday morning I went out for a walk and I came across this huge great big building and initially I thought it was a market, but when I went inside it was actually a church -I stopped for the service and it was in Filipino and English. And I loved it, but I was thinking I’ve been here before - I had a very weird moment and, as it turned out, we had played that building in 1997 as Boyzone, the day that Princess Diana had passed.’’
Is the Amen name of his stores a nod to his faith?
‘‘‘Often when I am agreeing with somebody I say ‘Amen to that’. There is no massive faith behind it, other than I am a man of faith, but you can read it however you want to read it.’’
Since 1998, Lynch has lived happily in Surrey, with his wife Sheena and daughters Marley Mae, 6, and Billie Rea, 10.
Like any parent in the digital age, he admits there’s strife with his children when it comes to screen time.
‘‘There are forever going to be iPad fights in the house and disagreements about what they are watching and how long they’ve been watching it for,’’ he admits.
But he adds: ‘‘I’ve had to have a little word with myself because I have to understand that this is their time too - Billie Rea wants to be a YouTuber, which they all do, and I get that. My wife is very against it and to us as adults it’s bloody nonsense, but then it’s the world they live in so I’m trying the best I can to understand what they are involved in - the same way as when I wanted to pierce my ear at 14 years old, and my dad thought it was the most ridiculous thing ever.’’
He adds: ‘‘I know my oldest is a better person off her iPad, but I would hate to think I would have done them any kind of injustice because the world goes so fast that they are not on top like everybody else.’’
Does he think his children will follow him into the music world? ‘‘If they are going to do it, they’re going to do it.
‘‘It hasn’t been a bad world for me. It could have been a better world and it could have been much, much worse. I’d love to say I’d be able to guide them.’’