It's hard to believe judging by Mark Owen's fresh-faced appearance that he's been a pop culture mainstay for almost a quarter of a century. Having surfed a second wave of success with the recently re-united Take That, Owen was left looking for pastures new when the hugely popular group began to wind down again. Owen began to grow antsy and decided to channel his energies into a creative project and the result is The Art of Doing Nothing, the Lancashire man's most personal solo record to date - and his first in over eight years.

John Balfe caught up with Mark Owen for a chat about the new album.

How are you doing today?

I'm sat at the bottom of the garden. Its not a bad day in London...

It's often said that creativity is borne out of some event or a particular incident. Why did you choose now to pick up a guitar or pen and start writing again?

Because when we finished with the Take That record and tour there was a space. It's been awhile since I can sit and have a bit of space. I really enjoyed it and being at home around the family, not having anything planned for the foreseeable future. I got to a point where I was like 'oh what am I going to do now, for the next year, for the rest of my life?' It just naturally happened. That's where The Art of Doing Nothing came from because I realised I don't know how to do anything else. I'm so lucky that songwriting is my day to day job. You naturally go there. In some ways in your head you hear melodies. You can't turn them off. They keep coming and you have to get them out or you'll go a bit insane.

Is that where the title The Art of Doing Nothing came from?

Yes. As far as I was concerned I wasn't making a solo album, I was just making a few songs. I can't not do it. It takes more effort not to do it than do it. I'm so fortunate because I love when you get a
moment where a song gets you really excited. Believe me, not every song gets you excited though. Sometimes I used to leave the studio at the bottom of my garden at around six o'clock thinking I was the worst songwriter ever and I'd never do it again but other days you'd walk out thinking 'that was such a great day, I loved that'.

Speaking of your studio, is it creatively liberating to have that space to yourself so when you get a spark you can walk the twenty or thirty yards out there and record it?

Well, after the school run! It's not quite as random and sudden as that. First it's 'put the dishes away, clean up and then go down'.

When you sat back and listened to the fully mastered version of the album for the first time, was it representative of the sounds that you had in your head when you initially conceived it?

I go through little moments of worry but when you finally listen to it, you calm down and think 'oh its alright, it's good'. As far as the sound that's in my head, I can't take all the credit for that as I
brought in Charlie and Brad who has been working on the record. The whole album is a bit of a project. It wasn't me saying 'it has to be like this or sound like this'. I wanted it to be more open. Some of the demos I did in the studio I took a bit further than others. Actually the really nice surprise was when I didn't take it all the way to the finish line and left it open for people to come and do what they want to do and take it on their journey. They had some really lovely moments when they came back to me and said 'wow we had a really amazing time and experience on this one'.

So it's not as much a solo record as a collaborative record?

Yeah, for me The Art of Doing Nothing would be at the top, underneath that it would be the family tree and underneath that would be every one of the eight people sat around the table working on it together. That's how I see it. There was a group of people involved that helped me.

I tweeted that I was going to interview you last night and got a huge response from all corners of the globe, asking me to pass on some questions to you. Louise Muirhead wanted to know what you enjoyed most about recording The Art of Doing Nothing?

For me, the most enjoyable part was being able to do it from my own garden and having my family come in and out during it.

Allison Brown wanted to know if you miss the companionship of the Take That guys when touring solo?

Yes, it's a different feeling. When you are out with the band there are loads of other people around that have been working with you for many years so going back to Take That is always like going back to your family. When you do your own solo work it can be a little...scary.

So is it more nerve-wracking going solo, whereas Take That was more of a shared responsibility?

You definitely do feel it a bit more. You want to do well for people whereas even when you are with family and something goes wrong with whatever you are doing, you can blame someone else when there's more in the wrong. With this the finger keeps going back to me.

The Art of Doing Nothing is released on June 10th. Mark Owen will play Dublin's Olympia Theatre on Wednesday 19th June and you can win tickets to the show here.