One Direction for Fabulous Magazine - INTERVIEW

8:47 PMVera

Normal rules don’t apply in the crazy world of One Direction. Breakfast is at noon, lunch is at 6pm and cars are despatched to Greggs to buy up stacks of steak bakes and sausage rolls as the hunger bites. Heads won’t hit pillows for another 10 hours.

There are crowds of fans outside the north London studio where we meet, scores of security, and journalists from as far as New Zealand and Asia who have come to listen to the unveiling of the band’s new album Made In The A.M.

And right in the heart of the craziness are the boys themselves - reassuringly, despite the emotional twists and turns of recent months, the same as they ever were Harry, Louis, Niall and Liam might look more jaded thanks to the punishing touring and recording schedule, but all of them remain good-natured, down to earth and hugely likable.

Niall Horan, 22, is talking about Game of Thrones and checking on the sports scores. Harry Styles, 21, with his long hair and charming, laid-back manner, chats about trying to stay healthy, as he can’t box or run with his foot in a cast after snapping a bone on stage last month during an over-exuberant dance move. He is the only one not partaking in the Greggs feast.

Louis Tomlinson, 23, laughs about his personal passing for Greggs. “We’re quite disappointing, really,” he says. “None of us are very high maintenance - we’re not into flash care and expensive jewelry. We’re still these boys who can’t believe this happened.”

But in the past 10 months, life at the top has got a whole lot tougher for the band, who were first put together on The X Factor in 2010 by then-guest-judge Nicole Scherzinger. 

Not even their boss Simon Cowell could have predicted their success. They went from third place on the dries to becoming the biggest boy band in the world, with four world tours, five albums, the fourth-most-succesfful concert movie ever made with This Is Us, a collective Twitter folioing of over 90 million and around £30million each in the bank.

Then, after five frenzied years of non-stop good times, the brakes slammed on the 1D juggernaut when there things happened in quick succession. In March, Zayn Malik, now 22 quit the band, saying he wanted a “normal life”. Four months later, it was revealed the Louis was going to be a dad with American stylist and former fling Briana Jungwirth, 23. Then in August, the band announced they would be “taking a break” next year. Cue a gazillion teenage hearts breaking around the world.

With speculation swirling in the press that it was finally all over and a recent date in Belfast cancelled at the last minute because Liam Payne, 22, was ill (the announcement was met by booing fans and a furious reaction on Twitter from the like of Eamonn Holmes who berated them for not going out to apologise in person, it’s been a fairly rocky ride of late.

But falling apart? Liam is absolutely not having it. 

“I like that quote about teabags and hot water,” he says. “You can only test how strong you are when you get put in hot water. We’ve been tested, but it’s actually made us stronger. We’ve actually taken a lot of strength from our fans who have never given up on us, never believe it was over.”
“It’s not over. And yes, we’re taking a break, but we need one. We have done four tours, five albums, but we will be coming back. We don’t want this to end.”

Sitting all bunched up together on a leather settee as they talk, they look extremely tired. In all honesty, they look like they need a break.

Sitting here today, you almost forget there was ever any room for Zayn. They talk over each other constantly, the Zen-like Harry and Niall bookending the more talkative Liam and Louis. There is a sense of a new bond caused by the battle scars of negative publicity. If there are any rifts or tensions, then we see no sign of them.

Having said that, they are a little more serious than in previous years - there is less fooling around and they are ultra-professional and on-message when it comes to discussing both the new album and sticking together.

Frustratingly, various questions are off-limits - Louis’ baby and the details behind their decision to pull out of the Belfast gig are big no-nos, and we are warned that our time with the foursome will be cut short if we dare to go there.

It’s a clear sign that these are very different, bruising times in which the boys need handling with care.

And our chat takes place before news emerges of Liam’s split with girlfriend Sophia Smith, 21, which means we’re unable to ask him about it - although it’s likely that line of questioning would have been banned as well. According to reports, Liam’s heartbreak was the real reason behind the Belfast debacle.

But they do talk freely about how they’ve coped with the pressure when things started to implode.
“The really tough moment for me was when Zayn left,” says Doncaster-born Louis. “That was really, really hard. We knew it was coming, we saw a lot of signs in a lot of the gigs abroad. It was sad.”

“One thing that was good is that it made us really bond,” says Harry. “It made us look at what we had and really know we wanted to keep it. It also made us really focus on making the best album we could. You go through so much together as a band that no one really understands, but ultimately it just makes you closer.”

Liam adds, “We can’t ever really sit here and moan, can we? I mean look at our lives. What we’ve done in the past five years is amazing.”

That is very true. Whatever happens in the future, whether or not the indefinite break turns out to be a permanent one (and, disputer their insistence that this isn’t The End, it certainly fells like each of them knows that the crazy of of 1D mania are over), all of them will take away the extraordinary memories.

“I got to play on stage with Ronnie Wood,” says Niall, shaking his head in disbelief.

“And we got to play Wembley and Madison Square Garden,” chips in Louis. “We also got to meet Pele, which is incredible, as we’re all massive sports fans. Even better, he actually knew who we were.”

Their schedule amy be grueling, but each band member has worked out various coping strategies.
Harry stays fits and meditates, and Liam has chosen to live in the Surrey countryside outside the noise and chaos of London. Niall has been befriended by Jose Mourinho and several key Chelsea players, and enjoyed training alongside them while recovering from a knee injury.

“It’s been a big deal for me getting to know Jose because he’s got so much wisdom,” he says. “I never thought he’d take much interest in an Irish lad in a band, but he’s been a good friend to me.

“Him and Simon Cowell have been great mentors. I’ve got to them as real people beyond this image they put across to the world, and that’s really been a privilege. I spent a good four months down at Chelsea training, and made a lot of goof friends. People I never thought I would actually meet have been there for me and looked after me.”

Louis worries what he’s going to do without every second of his day being accounted for. 
“I’m actually naturally very lazy,” he says. “So I’m going to get a big fat belly. I’m going to be 24 soon and all these pies are going to catch up on me. You’re going to see photos of me with a big belly.”

The boys are, however, all desperate to take time out of the spotlight at some point early in 2016 - the exact date has yet to be fixed.

Wolverhampton-born Liam says, “For me, I just want to have a space where I can let everything sink in. I haven’t even see all the films we made (This Is Us and Where We Are). I’ve literally going to be sitting down watching the moves, watching the concerts, saying ‘Hey, we did that.’ I know I also need to make up a lot of time with my mum. I’m not the best communicator, so I need to sort it out.”

Harry, who takes everything in his stride and wears his natural-born charism lightly, shrugs off rumours that he is going to run off to Hollywood to make movies.

“I’m not sure about that,” he laughs. “I like to keep busy and I like to see my mates. I’m really happy. I’ve always had great people around me. I keep wondering whether I should actually watch those great shows that everyone else talks about and I’ve missed, like Mad Men and Breaking Bad.Or should I just move on?”

Harry has become a regular fixture on the celebrity scenes in both London and Los Angeles, thanks to easy social skills, and friendships with the key movers and shakers from Nick Grimshaw and Kate Moss to the Kardashians - he briefly dated Kendall Jenner and Taylor Swift.

He will continue to split his time between the UK and States once the band bow out next year. “I enjoy traveling,” he says. “I love doing stuff. I don’t get easily bored.”

Niall form County Westmeath, already has plans to go backpacking with his friends. He might even dye his hair in the vague hope of going incognito. “I’ve spent the past few years of my life in planes and on tour buses, and I’ve been through countries I’ve really loved but haven’t had a chance to really see,” he says. 

“I want to go back to Australia and definitely Thailand. With the band we stayed at luxury hotels, but I want to see these countries like any lad my age just staying in hostels and that sort of thing. I don’t want to stay at a Four Seasons. I’ve done that, I want something else.

“I did think about dying my hair brown so I won’t get recognised, but I genuinely believe that if I’m on my own with my mates from home, no one will give me a second look.”

Niall is the only member of 1D to get through five years without succumbing to the band’s tattoo obsession. As things stand, he is ink-free, but this is something he also plans to changes.

“I’m definitely doing something about that because when we’re apart I know I’m going to miss them. All of the lads have got this weird tattoo of a Phillips screwdriver on their ankles. I’d like to say it means something deep, but it’s just a tattoo everyone likes. I’m going to brand myself with that one, and it will remind me of the lads, so they’ll be with me where I go.”

But of course, it is Louis whose life will change the most in the future, as he’ll become a father in a few months’ time. he is apparently paling on basing himself in both the States, where Briana lives, and the UK after the baby is born- although, if reports are accurate, he’ll have to be rooted in London for the latter half of next year as on of The X Factor judges.

“I’ve got no plans to do any other telly than X Factor,” he says. “I love Simon and I love being part of [the show]. It’s quite emotional for me. I sit there thinking ‘This show gave this boy from Donny a chance to have the most incredible life.’ No other show in the would would have done that.”

So could it be Louis who find the next band to replace 1D? He laughs: “I’m not going to be looking for any competition. We’re coming back. No one is going to get in the way of 1D.”

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