1D: ‘It’s not good-bye, just see you later’

‘IT’S NOT GOOD­BYE, JUST SEE YOU LATER’

USA Today Weekend Extra - - FRONT PAGE - Pa­trick Ryan

With a high-pro­file hia­tus af­ter ‘Made in the A.M.,’ the des­ti­na­tion’s un­known

Break­ing up is hard to do — but tak­ing a break may be even harder.

Four tours, five al­bums and al­most 133 mil­lion Twit­ter fol­low­ers later, One Di­rec­tion is go­ing on an in­def­i­nite hia­tus start­ing next year. The de­ci­sion has been the sub­ject of end­less spec­u­la­tion by en­ter­tain­ment me­dia and fans ever since Au­gust, when the Bri­tish-Ir­ish boy band an­nounced that “we are not split­ting up, but we will be tak­ing a well-earned break” af­ter re­leas­ing new al­bum Made in the

A.M., out Fri­day. But in the wake of mem­ber Zayn Ma­lik’s highly pub­li­cized de­par­ture this spring, what will be­come of 1D’s last men stand­ing (Harry Styles, Louis Tomlinson, Liam Payne and Niall Ho­ran)? Af­ter all, ev­ery­one knows what hap­pened when *NSYNC an­nounced a “tem­po­rary hia­tus” in 2002, only to see it ce­mented when Justin Tim­ber­lake’s solo ca­reer ex­ploded. And even if they do re­unite like the Back­street Boys and New Kids on the Block be­fore them, the pop-rock heart­throbs may never re­claim their former glory.

“I don’t think any­one re­ally knows the like­li­hood of One Di­rec­tion get­ting back to­gether, not even them,” Bill­board se­nior editor Alex Gale says. “If one or two or three de­cide to go solo and are suc­cess­ful, then there’s less and less in­cen­tive for them to bring back One Di­rec­tion. At the same time, they have promised they will be back, and peo­ple usu­ally

don’t do that” with­out some in­cen­tive to re­turn.

“There's just so much money — it'd be hard for them to walk away from mil­lions of dol­lars,” Gale says. A.M. is pro­jected to have strong first-week sales, de­spite the fact that Justin Bieber’s Pur­pose also hits shelves Fri­day. “Their fan bases ob­vi­ously over­lap, but it’s ex­pected to be re­ally, re­ally close,” Gale says. (For com­par­i­son, 1D’s Four landed at No. 1 with 387,000 copies last year, ac­cord­ing to Nielsen Mu­sic, and Bieber’s last al­bum, Be­lieve, started with 374,000 sold in 2012.)

Al­though they un­der­stand such skep­ti­cism about their fu­ture, the band is stick­ing to its come­back nar­ra­tive.

“What­ever you say at any point, peo­ple are go­ing to read it in dif­fer­ent ways,” says Styles, 21. “All we said is we’ve been tour­ing and mak­ing an al­bum ev­ery year for five years, and that we’re just not go­ing to do that next year. It’d be naive to ex­pect peo­ple to not read into it, but we’re re­ally fo­cused on the al­bum com­ing out. We haven’t re­ally thought too much past that right now.”

MAK­ING THE AL­BUM

Made in the A.M. is named, quite sim­ply, for the early-morn­ing ses­sions the band spent writ­ing the al­bum, which in­cludes a cheeky bonus track called A.M. on the deluxe edi­tion. “It’s ba­si­cally about all the late-night con­ver­sa­tions and laughs you have sit­ting around at 5 a.m. talk­ing crap,” says Ho­ran, 22. “They’re your fa­vorite times. It’s quite re­lat­able.”

Start­ing with 2013’s Mid­night Mem­o­ries, the guys have taken more ac­tive roles in co-writ­ing their songs (pri­mar­ily with pro­duc­ers Ju­lian Bunetta, Jamie Scott and John Ryan), which al­lows for steady growth be­tween al­bums with­out do­ing “some­thing crazily out­side the box,” Styles says. But un­like pre­vi­ous ef­forts, A.M. was writ­ten pri­mar­ily in a cou­ple-month break be­tween tour­ing, which made it less stress­ful when they got back on the road, “be­cause you weren’t stress­ing about try­ing to find time to write. It was more about ex­per­i­ment­ing and fin­ish­ing things off.” Ma­lik hadn’t started work­ing on A.M. be­fore he quit, Styles adds, al­though the other mem­bers had to al­ter vo­cal ar­range­ments in his ab­sence.

The band’s first sin­gle of the post-Ma­lik era was Drag Me Down, a pop-rock an­them whose staunch cho­rus pro­claims: “All th­ese lights / They can’t blind me / With your love, no­body can drag me down.” The song, which made its de­but at No. 3 on the Bill­board Hot 100 sin­gles chart in Au­gust, was writ­ten as “a pledge to the fans, re­ally,” says Tomlinson, 23. “We’re in a very lucky po­si­tion where we have a very loyal fan base.”

AM’s lat­est sin­gle, Per­fect, was writ­ten by Styles and Tomlinson, who ex­plains its mean­ing as “not tak­ing (re­la­tion­ships) too se­ri­ous and just en­joy­ing what you have on that night.” Of course, sharpeyed fans and writ­ers were quick to dis­sect sim­i­lar­i­ties be­tween the song and an­other top 10 hit, Style, by Styles’ ex-girl­friend, Tay­lor Swift, who many be­lieve wrote Style and Out of the Woods about their re­la­tion­ship. Viewed as a re­sponse of sorts, Per­fect’s cho­rus sneers, “If you’re look­ing for some­one to write your breakup songs about / baby I’m per­fect,” while lyrics about mid­night drives and “good girls” gone bad ap­pear to hat-tip Style di­rectly.

Asked what he makes of the spec­u­la­tion, Styles says, “I don’t re­ally read it.” In gen­eral, “I’m never go­ing to tell some­one what it means to them, be­cause there’s a lot of songs where I feel some­thing com­pletely dif­fer­ent from what the writer in­tended me to feel. It’s ob­vi­ously funny to see, but it’s up to ev­ery­body’s in­di­vid­ual in­ter­pre­ta­tion.”

While such blunt lyri­cal hints may seem to sug­gest he is call­ing out an ex, Styles in­sists he writes only “from per­sonal ex­pe­ri­ence. It doesn’t al­ways have to be so lit­eral, in that you say, ‘This is a love song about a girl I used to see.’ ... Not ev­ery love song is nec­es­sar­ily about a per­son. It could be about a place or time or some­thing where it touched you and you feel you can per­son­ify that in a song.”

Of A.M.’ s still-un­heard songs, His­tory is sure to be the one that gets fans talk­ing. Be­moan­ing ru­mors, fights and the trap­pings of fame, “we al­ways find a way to make it out alive,” the stomp­ing singalong cheers, then de­clares in the cho­rus, “This is not the end.”

“It’s about how we’ve all been through so much to­gether,” Styles says. “It’s kind of say­ing, ‘No mat­ter what hap­pens, we’re al­ways go­ing to have this.’ We felt like it was the right way to end the al­bum.”

THE ‘SHOCK’ OF MA­LIK’S EXIT

At the very least, His­tory should be a re­as­sur­ing an­ti­dote for 1D fans, who have been put through the wringer this year start­ing with the de­par­ture of Ma­lik, Seem­ingly out of nowhere, Ma­lik an­nounced on the band’s Face­book page in late March that “it is the right time for me to leave,” cit­ing his de­sire to be a “nor­mal 22-year-old who is able to re­lax and have some pri­vate time out of the spot­light.” Many of the band’s Twit­ter fol­low­ers posted pic­tures and videos of them in tears, some even threat­en­ing sui­cide.

For the band, “it was ob­vi­ously a shock,” Ho­ran says. At the time, there were “no dis­agree­ments, he wasn’t mak­ing any mu­sic. We had a few con­ver­sa­tions, and then he made his de­ci­sion.”

“It was kind of a de­ci­sion made there and then,” Tomlinson adds. “I’m sure he had been think­ing about it for a while, but in re­al­ity, he wasn’t happy, and that’s fine. It was ac­tu­ally a re­ally strong time for all of us, as crazy as that sounds. Of course, it’s a very trau­matic time, in any field of work, when some­one loses a mem­ber of the team. But it was im­por­tant that we banded to­gether, and ac­tu­ally, we came out bet­ter for that. Our re­la­tion­ship as a four has been so strong since.”

As for a new al­bum, “that’s some­thing you can never re­ally wish for or hope for at that stage,” says Payne, 22. “You kind of think it’s go­ing to end there when some­body leaves. But we’ve def­i­nitely grown closer.”

In the days and weeks to fol­low, much was made in the me­dia about Twit­ter in­ter­ac­tions be­tween the re­main­ing mem­bers and Ma­lik, who signed a new deal with RCA Records this sum­mer. One of the most no­table spats hap­pened in May, af­ter U.K. pro­ducer Naughty Boy leaked a solo track he made with Ma­lik, and Tomlinson ac­cused him of “rid­ing on the back of some­one else’s ca­reer.” Ma­lik hit back at Tomlinson, tweet­ing, “Re­mem­ber when you had a life and stopped mak­ing (ex­ple­tive) com­ments about mine?”

Months later, the guys in­sist there are no hard feel­ings. “We know what hap­pened,” Ho­ran says. “I don’t think it should be read into too much. Ev­ery­one’s moved on.”

As for whether any of the re­main­ing mem­bers ever con­sid­ered leav­ing, Tomlinson shrugs. “No, not re­ally. In re­al­ity, there’s dark days for ev­ery­one, where ev­ery­one kind of con­tem­plates every­thing. There’s a lot of times where you’ll feel a lit­tle down, and you’re not see­ing your friends and fam­ily for so long. Then you go on­stage at night, and that’s

what mo­ti­vates you.”

REST WILL BE WEL­COME

Al­though fans were shocked and sad­dened when 1D an­nounced its hia­tus this sum­mer, the time off re­ally should come as no sur­prise. Af­ter all, since com­ing to­gether on the U.K.’s The X Fac­tor in 2010, the band has re­leased five al­bums, in­clud­ing A.M. —a pro­lific, al­most un­heard-of tally for most pop stars.

“Ob­vi­ously, we’re not dig­ging trenches or any­thing, but ... it’s been a lot,” Styles says. For his part, Styles says he just wants to spend time with fam­ily and friends and catch up on some sleep. It’s a sen­ti­ment echoed by his band­mates, in­clud­ing Tomlinson, who is ex­pect­ing a baby with Amer­i­can stylist Bri­ana Jung­wirth.

Dur­ing the break, he and Payne “will def­i­nitely put some time aside to write to­gether,” Tomlinson says. The guys have also “said we’re go­ing to go on a lit­tle hol­i­day. Any time we even take a lit­tle break, even if it’s just two weeks, by the end of that two weeks, you’re look­ing for­ward to see­ing ev­ery­one again. ... So of course we’ll meet up.”

Now that they have played the last show of their world tour on Hal­loween at England’s Sh­effield Arena, the hia­tus is “start­ing to hit home,” Payne says. “It is def­i­nitely re­ally sad for us. But ob­vi­ously, we’re go­ing back into it. So it’s not good­bye, it’s just ‘See you later.’ It’s like what Tig­ger used to say: ‘Ta-ta for now.’ ”

SVEN JA­COB­SEN

2012 PHOTO BY NEIL­SON BARNARD, GETTY IMAGES

Niall Ho­ran, Louis Tomlinson, Harry Styles and Liam Payne, top, have come a long way since the early days.

SVEN JA­COB­SEN

Ho­ran, Payne, Styles and Tomlinson have said they are not walk­ing away en­tirely.

KEVIN WIN­TER, GETTY IMAGES

Zayn Ma­lik an­nounced his de­par­ture in late March.

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