Liam Payne on life after One Direction: ‘It was touch and go. I was slowly losing the plot’

about five years ago, I saw One Direction live. Twice, on back-to-back nights – on the first gear two dates of their On the Road Again world go. Once was for function, to review the picture. The early was for the absolute, judicious, sugar-rush pleasure. I was, I ’ ll accept, a little on the old side for a Directioner, even then. Most of the 45,000-odd crowd was much younger – not that that you would necessarily be able to tell from the impertinent suggestions on their homemade signs. “ I don ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate want to draw attention to them, ” Liam Payne had said fussily on stagecoach. It was an on-brand comment for the then-21-year-old Payne, who, had the harried, slightly anxious energy of a father-of-four at Disneyland. And no wonder : it was clear, even to me, that Zayn Malik had checked out, barely bothering to conceal his rolling eyes. He would be gone within the month, marking the begin of the end ( or “ indefinite foramen ” ) for the biggest boy set in the earth.

“ It was a point where every day, you didn ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate know whether it was going to be the end, ” says Payne, sitting in the offices of his PR company in cardinal London. “ It was indeed affect and go, at every single show. I was lento losing the plat. ” now 26 and about wholly tattoo, Payne has a new album on which he raps about getting bully on Bacardi and being “ free ” from 1D. At the same time his very-nearly-naked class is plastered on buses and train stations in a provocative ad campaign for Hugo Boss. however Payne is as polite and agreeable as if he were talking to his best friend ’ mho mother. He is tired he says after an energetic early dawn music video shoot. “ There was a trampoline involved, ” he says, sucking on his argent Juul. “ It was hell – but it will look bang-up. ” Gym beast and sex symbol are relatively new tags. His character as the diplomat of the group was established from the time they were first base assembled from five alone applicants on The X Factor in 2010. Payne auditioned when he was equitable 14, but was told by Simon Cowell to “ come back in two years ”. He did – and, eye unplayful beneath his enormous fringe, blew the judges away with a audacious rendition of Cry Me a River. Growing up in Wolverhampton, he had been a talented cross-country smuggler. But a fan of Usher, Justin Timberlake and Chris Brown, he was drawn to singing as “ the thing that made my parents proudest ”. His stand-in plan, had he not got through on X Factor, was to follow his father into an aircraft equip factory. once grouped in One guidance it took the five boys, then between 16 and 19, to pull together. “ At the begin we couldn ’ metric ton beget past our own egos, ” says Payne. There would be fights over who got to sing what part, and even personal style. “ Everybody had their own little thing – it was like having four older brothers. ” Payne went on to write songs for the group, contributing to two-thirds of their 2014 album Four ( arguably their best ) and even earning a production credit on 2015 ’ s Made in the AM. But in the early days he would be the one to sing the unfold separate because, he was told at the time, he “ used to settle everybody ” .Louis Tomlinson, Harry Styles, Niall Horan, Liam Payne and Zayn Malik in 2012. Louis Tomlinson, Harry Styles, Niall Horan, Liam Payne and Zayn Malik in 2012. Photograph: Fox/Getty Images Payne says he was a more experienced performer than the early boys, and a “ bit more mature ” – which he puts depressed to spending more time with his dad than his peers, and being indeed focused on a career in showbusiness. “ I ’ d lived a different life style from 14 to 16. Most kids try alcohol and experiment – I never did any of that because I thought there ’ randomness a find that I might make it. ” management took advantage of this, he says, telling him his “ identical specific function ” in the group was to keep the rest in pipeline. “ I was like, that ’ s great, innit – because then everyone in the band thinks I ’ m a dick. ” He remembers one of the band ’ s first hotel stays. “ We ’ ve got plates being thrown out the window, mattresses being ridden down the step, and I ’ thousand getting calls from the coach saying : ‘ You need to sort it out ’. ” It wasn ’ thyroxine lost on the fans. Where Malik and Styles were the heartthrob, Payne says he was classed as Mr Boring. “ When you ’ re at the stadium, and if you get the least screams, it ’ s like : ‘ For sleep together ’ mho sake. ’ ” After a year playing 1D-Dad he gave up and learned to have fun. “ If you can ’ thymine beat them, join them ” – at which item, he notes wryly, the band ’ s public effigy became more brash and carefree. “ And the more fun we had, the more successful it got. ” He recalls performing to sold-out stadiums night after night, seeing “ hundreds ” of iPhones being throw onstage in the bootless hopes of their being returned with a selfie. “ It ’ s like the kids just lost their minds. ” “ There were parts of it that were a act bullshit, like there is with anything, ” he says, “ and there were parts of it that was just euphoria. ” He recalls seeing 15,000 fans camped outside his hotel board in Lima, Peru. Security had advised them to stay inside all day, and because “ they were the adults, we thought they were in charge. then over time we started to figure out that they weren ’ thymine, and that ’ s when we used to run off. ” Yet the epinephrine peaks of perform, followed by long troughs of boredom, were akin to a drug addiction, says Payne. He turned to alcohol. “ Doing a read to however many thousands of people, then being stuck by yourself in a state where you can ’ t go out anywhere – what else are you going to do ? The minibar is always there. ”

One Direction. One focus. Photograph: PictureGroup/REX For a fourth dimension, he was besides taking an epilepsy drug as a temper stabilizer that he says affected his cognitive operation under certain lights. Payne says he had been well advised to take it, to counter the “ erratic highs and lows ” he was experiencing – “ I good needed a little bite of aid to keep me static ” – “ but under certain lights on stage or during interviews, I wouldn ’ metric ton be able to tell them my name ”. The day we meet, Payne has made headlines for telling Ant Middleton on the match ’ s Sky One prove that the forlornness of fame had “ about closely killed ” him. When Middleton asked Payne if he had ever wanted to act on those feelings, Payne said that he had : “ 100 % ”. He is not inclined to discuss this today, “ because it ’ s a bit black, ” he says, a touch bluffly – “ but yeah, it was very touch and go at times ”. This was both in 1D and afterwards, he clarifies. As One Direction got bigger and bigger, he says, “ I was like : ‘ I don ’ t very know how to deal with this ’. once you start, you can ’ t in truth press the stop clitoris. ” The “ indefinite suspension ” push button, though, was easier – in mid-2015, four months after Malik ’ randomness deviation, the band made the decision together. “ It was a little sting dark and twist towards the end of it, ” says Payne, “ but the concluding few shows were truly beautiful moments because the pressure cooker had been let off. “ It was about like counting down to holiday – we were going to wake up that Monday dawn with no schedule. ” Afterwards Payne was in therapy for two years, and took six months off. “ It was unmanageable at the start, because I didn ’ metric ton actually know anything about myself. It was a bit of a dead palpate. ” In early on 2016, he started dating Cheryl Cole, 10 years his elder, and one of the X Factor judges to be wowed by his hearing. He is undefined about whether he thought coverage of the long time col in their relationship was sexist ( “ For me it ’ s like, you love who you love ” ), though he notes that the on-line rumor mill is now trying to claim his new girlfriend – 19-year-old model Maya Henry, whose face in close-up is his iPhone wallpaper – is younger than she is. His son with Cole, Bear, will turn three in March. Payne had constantly wanted to be a young dad, but says he struggled at first. “ I built it up sol much in my read/write head. Finding your feet in that relationship between child and father – it ’ sulfur unmanageable. ” He contributed by cooking. “ Cheryl was always very glued to Bear, indeed for me, I was like : ‘ What ’ s my function in this ? If I cook and look after her, then in become I ’ m looking after him ’ – that made smell to me. ” The pair publicly confirmed their split in July 2018, but continue to co-parent. recently Payne ’ s schedule has taken him aside for weeks at a time, which is “ always difficult ”, specially now Bear is erstwhile adequate to notice. “ But he ’ mho good at using the earphone and FaceTime. ” That schedule is about to get busier, with Payne ’ randomness debut album as a solo artist finally out this Friday. Laden with chart-friendly trop house, trap and Latin dad influences, LP 1 plays like a water carom aimed at commercial radio receiver – there is even a Christmas song. It has been a long lead-up : the beginning one, Strip That Down, was released closely two years ago and established Payne as the 1D penis most influenced by contemporary rap – possibly excessively much so. A picture he posted to Instagram of himself in February 2018 wearing a chain necklace, flipping the dame and bragging about travelling by private jet was restfully deleted following ridicule. Amid the achiever of Strip That Down, which was streamed over 1bn times, Payne was besides still “ struggling ” with alcohol : “ I fair hid it very well. ” He went on to spend an entire year sober – a necessary if drilling gradation. “ My social life completely plummeted. I constantly feel like you never get past the awkward beginning 10 minutes at a party, when everyone ’ s like : ‘ Do we get up and dance, or do we precisely sit here ? ’ I don ’ thyroxine know whether it made me happier, but it was decidedly needed. ” His more recent stint of self-discipline was to prepare for his nude photograph fritter with mannequin Stella Maxwell for Hugo Boss. In the lead-up, he was in the gymnasium between “ five and eight times a week, sometimes doubly a day ” and eating by and large chicken and vegetables – with no carbohydrates after 2pm and nothing at all after 8pm. For the last “ stripping ” phase, he ate nothing but porridge and flannel fish for a calendar month. “ It was atrocious – but it decidedly works. ” The shoot had been his theme, inspired by campaigns featuring David Beckham and Mark Wahlberg – Payne ’ s function models, whose cross-disciplinary celebrity shapes his own career goals. survive class he auditioned in front of Steven Spielberg for a separate in adjacent year ’ s West Side Story remake, and has been submitting audition tapes irregularly since. “ It ’ s precisely trying to manage the time in between being a dad, a boyfriend, singer, model and whatever. ” Between the trap beats, tighty-whities and tattoo is he attempting to put across a new, more grown-up double ? “ Oh yea, decidedly. ” In One focus, he was “ Mr Vanilla – no matchless wanted to know a thing ”. then, with the “ chain and rapper phase … I didn ’ thymine in truth know what I was aiming for, but it was actually precisely where we are right now. I precisely needed to find the right key to make me feel like the man I wanted to be. ”

Which is, he jokes, is “ like a actually english Magic Mike ”. Do you like being objectified, I ask ? “ I think it ’ second quite funny, ” says Payne, distinctly delighted. The other day, he says, person sent him a picture of an old dame walking past an enormous blown-up post horse of him in his pants. not bad for Mr Vanilla, I say. “ precisely. ” Liam Payne ’ sulfur debut album LP1 is out on Friday 6 December . This article was amended on 7 January 2020 to remove a reference to Liam Payne “ making the reserve list for the british Olympics team ” .

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