The Irish Mail on Sunday
Louis: Dreams do come t the 1D boys have earned
THEY’RE the billion dollar boy band masterminded by Simon Cowell with hits penned by Ed Sheeran. Their concerts sell out within minutes – next weekend they will play to three full houses in Dublin. But one man was there right back when it all began, X Factor judge Louis Walsh.
Louis recalls the audition where Niall wowed the 500-strong audience and the judges: ‘I remember Niall auditioning in Dublin. Katy Perry was there, and he was really shy and innocent,’ he says.
‘I remember he had this funny haircut, a bit like Justin Bieber. And he was a real culchie – and I liked that because I am one too. I was pushing for him and he got through. People in Ireland never realise how big our artists are abroad. He is part of the biggest boy band in the world at the moment because he went for the audition. I’m sure everybody was laughing at him that day in Mullingar. But look who’s laughing now. He took the risk and now he is a superstar. He won the lottery.’
According to Louis, the five members were average as solo acts and would not have made it individually on the X Factor. And had it not been for Simon Cowell’s keen eye, they would never have featured outside of the auditions.
‘Simon saw them as a band and he saw the potential. The have Simon Cowell to thank for everything because without him they would all be at home working in Tesco or wherever. It was only when they got through to the live finals that I realised what Simon saw in them. He was desperate for them to make it to the final and then when they didn’t win he was upset. And he did everything for them and worked harder than he had ever worked on any other group to get the right songs.’ It was reported this week that each member of the quintet is worth an estimated €17m. And while the trappings of celebrity appear bountiful, Louis is quick to point out the cost that comes with megastardom.
‘They are proof that dreams do come true and that if you work hard and believe in yourself, things will happen. What you don’t see is the hours they put in. They can be on the road working for 360 days of the year. They grab sleep whenever they can and everything they do is going to be analysed. They are kids but they can’t do what normal teenagers do because if a picture is taken of them in a compromising position, drunk or talking to the wrong girl it can really backfire for them. There is a lot of pressure in it. There are a lot of people waiting for them to mess up and that can take its toll.’
One Direction has been described as sparking a resurgence of boy bands. And everywhere they go they are followed by hoards of screaming teenagers, with a level of devotion not seen since Beatlemania. And while Louis believes there is a different vibe about their following, he believes they have a publicity machine that can take them further than John, Paul, Ringo and George.
‘It’s not the Beatles because they are not that kind of act. But the hysteria is bigger than Bieber. And don’t