Could you tell us about the show?
The show itself is a twist on a show I used to watch as a kid called Scrapheap Challenge. It is basically two teams who are set a challenge to build a machine to compete against each other. It's a show I used to watch and love and Supercar Scrapyard is exactly that. I bring a supercar, a leading manufacturing car from all sorts of four-wheel-drive stuff to street-car stuff and the two teams of builders have to go ahead and build machines that can beat my supercar, out of scrap.
You have a real passion for cars. How did that start?
Cars are my life - I've been passionate about cars since I can remember. My dad used to race cars, so forever and a day, there was always a hot rodder or stock car sat on my driveway. Rather than seesaws and swings in the back garden, my playground was a race car. The hot rod was something a bit more banged up that you could stand on, jump in, climb all around. I guess my love for all of that came from there. I started out as a petrol-pump attendant and tyre repairman probably from the age of 12/13. I used to come home from school, get on my dirty clothes and go to work, from a young, young boy. Next on from that was the car mechanic, so when I was on a break, I used to go and watch the lads, watch them fixing, doing what they were doing and then when I left school, at about 15 years old, I went to work for my dad full-time. Then Boyzone came along. It took a couple of years before Boyzone were full time on the road. It wasn't until the end of 1994 into the end of 95 that Boyzone actually became a real, travelling, working, global act. I was doing Boyzone on weekends or photo shoots or making records and I'd still go to work during the day.
It must be nice to have singing and racing as not only passions but your job as well?
To be fair, I'm very blessed as a person to grow up with dream jobs, to be a pop star or race-car driver, I do both. I have quite a few cars which I buy, buy, buy because I love, love, love and then I look at them and go sell, sell, sell because it gets too much, then I start the process all over again. I'm probably sitting on around 10 cars at the moment. They all spend time in different workshops, getting different things done, so I don't see them on the drive at the same time, so it doesn't drive me mad. I don't have one specific type of car I love, but they range from jeeps to American muscle cars to pick-up trucks to old-school race cars. They differ quite a lot.
Did you learn anything from Ralph and the mechanics?
I think that being involved in the motor sport and development of certain race cars and machines to make them go faster, better, stronger, I can't say there's anything I didn't know in any of the teams builds. Every avenue that anyone ever took, I knew and understood the reasons why. There might have been a couple of technical-wording issues, I wouldn't have quite have called them, but it's more plain and simple - you made it stronger, you made it lighter, you made it weaker. One reason I enjoyed the show so much was because I didn't just turn up in a supercar, set a challenge and go away. I actually understood why they were building the different machines they were building, what the capabilities of those machines were and be able to critique who I thought were a strong or weak team, the parts or components that would or wouldn't come in, that would fail or work for them, and I was usually spot on, to be honest. Whatever I said about those machines, was generally what happened.
Were you surprised at the quality of the scrapyard cars and were there any you'd like to drive?
No, I don't think there were any machine any of those boys built that I would be happy to jump into. I was glad to leave it to them and their drivers. The main thing about the show is of course, there's a lot of health and safety involved, of course there's a lot of over-seers. You have the teams, you have your builders, but you also have over-seers and mechanics and they're the ones who say 'right, this is your machine, you build it, are you happy to drive that?' If they say yes, you let them crack on, but they are also steered in the right direction. If you can see that something is not right and it's dangerous, the over-seers are there to say 'look, guys, you've got to change that.'
Were there any scrapyard cars that stood out to you?
The guys who were the most creative is what I loved the most. You had two ways to build the machines. One, which I always gave Ralph, the scrapyard guru, a hard time, was for a team who could have made something lighter. To go faster is to take weight out, so power-to-weight ratio, something's got to go faster if it's lighter. Those kind of machines, anybody can do that, anybody can chop a car up to make it lighter. What I loved was the boys who really got involved in changing, chopping, cutting, welding, putting two different machines together, marrying one body of a car to the chassis of another, putting motorbikes to the front end of a buggy. All sorts of really Mad Max creative machines. Those are the ones I absolutely loved.
What was it like to drive the supercars?
It definitely differed from four by fours to race cars. Some of the four by fours I drove, without a doubt the Bentley Bentayga was the most expensive. I think you're knocking on the door of £200,000. I got to take that on a motocross track, which was pretty flipping insane, to be honest. It shouldn't be allowed, but obviously the street race-car style stuff,the Lamborghini Hurricane Performante was just an incredible machine.
Did you come up with the challenges?
There were a team of production crew, creators, and we all come up with ideas and throw the ideas in a pot and think what cars we can use to create these ideas. There's a lot more in the bag, to say the least. The ones we have for this series differ quite a bit and they're quite exciting. They're very enjoyable challenges. Nothing too ridiculous, but don't forget, they're still building scrap machines, so I can't set some ridiculous challenge in a supercar you know is unbeatable. It has to be within reason and within the capabilities of thinking yeah, these things can actually do it. Every time I won a challenge, I liked it. When I lost, I hated it.
Did you expect the Scrapyard cars to do so well in the first challenge?
To be honest, I didn't think they'd be able to bear that Bentley. I pushed that thing to its edge. If I had pushed that Bentley any further, I would have broken it. I think we smashed the front bumper anyway. Ordinarily speaking, I don't want to write a car off with a challenge. At the same time, I gave that Bentley a good beating and I was pretty sure they weren't going to beat me, but they did. The winning team cut my time, almost considerably, by quite a few seconds. I was very, very surprised at that.
Finally, a quick fire round...Scrapyard or supercar?
I'm torn because I love scrapyard stuff. I've always wanted to own a scrapyard. I know I never will now, I'm a bit old for that. Supercars are beautiful, but I think I prefer scrapyard cars. I've never owned a scrapyard. My wife will tell you something different, she'll say the front garden looks like a scrapyard because of all the stuff I have in it. I'd love a real working scrapyard, but I don't have one.
Classic or new cars?
I'm going to have to say new. Classics on the whole are a pain really.
Mechanics or driving?
At this stage of my life, driving. I'm done with the mechanics. Someone else can get their hands dirty.
Singing or driving?