Global fame is difficult for anyone to handle, but Liam Payne was still a teenager when One Direction first shot to superstardom. In a new interview with Men’s Health Australia, the former British boy-bander opened up about how he handled the searing glare of the spotlight at such a tender age.
“It’s difficult when you have the level of fame that we had in the band,” he admitted. “There have been a lot of people in trouble with mental health that aren’t really getting the help that they need, and I think that’s a bit of a problem in our industry. It’s the same s— that happens to everyone, that’s been happening since the ‘70s. You know what the traps are and if you are lucky enough, like me, to be able to get out of that scenario and back into a sense of normality, then you know it’s a bit different.”
The constant demands of the industry, to say nothing of the boring repetition, quickly began to wear on him. “When you’re doing hundreds and hundreds of [concerts] and it’s the same 22 songs at the same time every single day, even if you’re not happy, you’ve got to go out there,” he continued in the interview.
To help manage the strain, he often coped with alcohol. “It’s almost like putting the Disney costume on before you step up on stage and underneath the Disney costume I was pissed quite a lot of the time because there was no other way to get your head around what was going on,” he says. “I mean, it was fun. We had an absolute blast, but there were certain parts of it where it just got a little bit toxic.”
One Direction’s ongoing hiatus as given Payne, 25, the chance to release music of his own (he dropped the four-song EP First Time last summer) and raise Bear, the 2-year-old son he shares with former girlfriend Cheryl.
Looking back on what the quintet did together — 1-D were the only band to ever have their first four LPs top the Billboard charts — he remains somewhat in awe.
“It literally was the perfect storm,” he recalls. “There were so many scenarios that had to fall into line for that to happen. It’s not something that can easily be recreated or probably ever will be because of the way the Internet was kicking off, the way The X Factor kicked off. I just think it was just dumb luck.”
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