Trying to keep control of One Direction is, to all intents and purposes, a lost cause.
Just when we’ve got one where we want him to be (ie dressed, present and ready to shoot the cover), another two go AWOL.
At one point, Louis and Liam give their beleaguered security the slip to commandeer a couple of Boris Bikes for an impromptu cycle along the towpath outside our north London studio. Although, this is apparently small fry. Yesterday when they went missing from the studio, they were eventually found on the roof.
Later, our exasperated photographer has to tell all five in no uncertain terms to concentrate, stop messing about on set and blinking well pose for the picture. Boys, eh? We suggest their management team invests in five large sets of reins and some firecrackers.
Despite their naughtiness, Louis, 20, Liam, 19, Zayn, 19, Niall, 19, and Harry, 18, and are all utterly charming throughout our afternoon together. Harry, especially, lives up to his reputation by kissing any passing female at every opportunity. Entering the room? Kisses from Harry! Leaving the studio? Kisses from Harry! Finished your sandwich? Kisses from Harry! On both cheeks!
Most of all, they really are just the same five boys we first met this time last year, shortly before the release of their debut single, What Makes You Beautiful, when everything kicked off and the whole world went One Direction nuts.
Since then, they’ve sold 12 million records, become the first British band ever to have a No.1 debut album in the States, made an estimated £40million, scooped a Brit plus three MTV Video Music Awards and taken just 10 minutes to sell out the 20,000-capacity Madison Square
Garden in New York for a gig in December. And Harry has overtaken Russell Brand to become the nation’s biggest Lothario.
No one could have predicted all that when they finished third on The X Factor back in 2010 – least of all the lads themselves, who express genuine bewilderment at just how quickly it’s all happened…
So, Harry, a lot has happened in the last year – do you feel like a different person?
Yeah, now I look withered! It’s strange because it feels so long ago, but at the same time it’s gone so quickly. I think we’ve all grown as people and we’ve grown as a group.
Of all the boys, and perhaps for good reason, you’ve had the most press attention…
Hmm. At first it was a little bit overwhelming, but I now view it as something that comes with the job. Obviously, some things I read make me laugh and some don’t. But I’m not gonna sit here and complain about it – it is what it is.
Are you single at the moment?
Yeah. That’s kind of it as well. I’m an 18-year-old boy and I’m having fun. I’m just not having as much fun as people make out.
So you’re saying you haven’t been romantically involved with the girls you’ve been linked to, for example Made In Chelsea’s Caggie Dunlop, 23, and model Cara Delevingne, 20?
Well, sometimes I am. I’m 18, so yeah, of course I see girls and go on dates. But, for example, I met up with a girl from home for a coffee and suddenly I was going out with her. Stuff like that’s funny. But I think if it hurts people, it’s not that funny.
You seem very at ease in the company of women.
I have a lot of friends from school who are girls. And I grew up with my mum, Anne, and my older sister, Gemma, so maybe it comes from that. It’s very natural and I’ve never been awkward around women.
And is an older woman your preference? [Harry dated Caroline Flack, 32, and had a fling with married radio DJ Lucy Horobin, also 32.]
It’s really not! I think it’s just been a coincidence. I don’t necessarily just look at women who are older, I like girls my own age as well. Obviously, my last relationship [with Caroline] was well-documented and I think it kind of made it out to be only older women who I liked. But I don’t base things on age. It completely depends on the person.
So you’d be quite happy to date an 18 year old?
Yeah! I’d never be like: “She’s not old enough for me”. It’s who you get on with. I don’t think you should make too many hoops for people to have to go through. If you get on with someone and you like them, then great.
What did you have in common with the older women you’ve dated?
I get that, for example, your references might be different. If someone’s older than you and you’re talking about TV shows you watched as a child, then your references are gonna be different. But you don’t sit and talk about that all the time.
Are you still friends with Caroline Flack?
Yeah. We have a lot of the same friends and I saw her a couple of weeks ago at someone’s birthday. We’re fine. There seems to be an idea that every time we meet, we argue, but we don’t.
Are you going on dates with anyone?
Not really. I’m seeing people when I’m out, but I’m not going on specific dates.
Keeping your options open?
I guess so! [Laughs] The fans can make life difficult for anyone you’re linked to – they’re very protective. I think some people get a little carried away, but then there are plenty of others who are incredibly supportive. [Right on cue our interview is interrupted by two blushing females asking for a photograph.]
All these women, Harry!
Ha ha! You watch, people will say I’m going out with them by tomorrow morning.
Have you been sensible with your money?
My dad, Joe, is a financial advisor and he basically said that for every £10 you make, spend £6 or £7 of it wisely and have fun with the rest. So yeah, I’ve obviously had fun, but I’m not being stupid. I’ve made sure I’ve done the right things first. I think it’s important to buy property, which is what I’ve done.
What sort of fun have you had with it?
I really don’t want to look back on this time and think I could have had more fun. I think cars are probably a luxury – I’ve got a Range Rover Sport and some other cars. It’s nice to be able to give things to your family, too. I think it’s just really cool to be in a position where you can think in terms of investing, so when I have kids and things are tough, I can sort them out.
Zayn, of all the boys, you’re the one who has been least comfortable with fame. Is that a fair assessment?
I love the fact that I’m in a band, but it’s very hard because of the type of person I was before. I was very reserved and just did my own thing. So yeah, I guess I’ve probably found it the most difficult out of the boys.
You and girlfriend Perrie [Edwards, 19, of Little Mix fame] seem very happy together!
Yeah, we’re very happy. She’s just cool, man. She just gets it. She’s just very chilled out. She’s like me, she’s very relaxed. And she kind of does what she does and I do what I do and we both understand the job we’re in. And it’s just cool.
You started as friends…
I know, it was literally just texting her as a mate and stuff and she was asking me for advice because obviously they’re doing the same thing that we were doing a year ago. And so it started off like that and obviously she’s a very attractive girl…We’re both northern too, and I think that helps.
How do you make the most of your time together?
Surprisingly, we manage to make time for each other. We do get to see each other quite a bit. It’s going really well.
You recently quit Twitter for a couple of days. What happened?
You can say whatever you want about me, I’m not really that bothered. But when it starts to upset people I care about, or when I hear about it from my mum, then that’s a problem.
What sort of things were being said?
Nasty things like I’m a terrorist, and this and that. How can you justify that? How can you call me that and get away with it? My little cousin put up a family picture at Eid [a Muslim festival] because she got a photo with Perrie and she was so happy about it. But then everybody just gave it to me double barrel. We live in 2012 and I thought we’d moved forward. If that was said to me on the street or if someone said it to my face or whatever then something could be done about it.
You’ve got a few more tattoos since the last time we saw you!
Yeah, just a few!
What does your mum, Tricia, think about them?
Obviously mums don’t really like tattoos. And she’s a bit like: “When you’re older what are you gonna do?” But I think when I’m an older bloke they’ll still look cool.
Your image has changed the most out of all the guys. Is this “you” now?
I think it’s just a part of growing up and getting that identity as an individual.
No more red jeans and stripy tops?
[Laughs] Exactly, yeah! It was more colourful and very preppy back then and we’re kind of toning it down.
Define each band member’s role…
You can chill out with Louis and have a laugh. You wanna go on a crazy night out, you go out with Harry. If you want a quiet beer, you go round to Niall’s place. If you wanna go and play on the Wii or do something really normal then you go chill with Liam. There’s a nice blend. Mainly what we do is just childish things. So like, if Louis was here and there was a deodorant can he’d probably draw a penis on the window and I’d find it hilarious. Although it’s probably not to other people.
Are you off the ciggies yet?
I’m not, no. It’s proving difficult. I was watching The Jonathan Ross Show the other night and Colin Farrell was on there and he wrote a letter to tobacco about a year and a half ago saying it’s been great, thank you for being there through the good times and the bad but someone else needs you. And then he burnt this letter on the cooker and got rid of it. Hopefully I’ll stop too.
How long have you smoked?
Since I was about 15. At the moment I’m probably on about eight or nine cigs a day, which I tell myself isn’t too many. I just don’t want it to affect my health. When I get older I don’t want to be one of those dads that can’t jog through the park without running out of breath after 10 minutes.
*Liam’s interview took place before he and Danielle split up
You’ve cracked America! Liam, what on earth happened over there?
I’ve got no idea. You think of all the other people who have tried to go over to America, such as Westlife, and it hasn’t happened. But for us it just seemed to work. I think the internet was a massive player in what we did. America is full of British music – Tinie Tempah, Jessie J…
… The Wanted?
I don’t think there’s any real competition between us. They sing dance music. They’re real lads’ lads, whereas we’re just mischievous, which I think is different. For me, you just look at Twitter followers [no member of The Wanted has hit the 1 million mark – 1D each have around 6 million], which I think is a big player. The only thing that’s bad for me about them is actually they were really nice to our faces, but when it came to talking to the media they were really trashy about us. We’d never done anything wrong, we were just running around doing our thing. We’d never purposely talk trash about anyone and we still haven’t said anything about them now.
You’re much more open about your relationship with Danielle [Peazer, 24, a dancer] these days.
At the start we kept it low-key, not for the band or my image or anything, but for her. For a while she couldn’t see that. She was like: “Why won’t you tell anybody about me?” But there’s a lot of hassle that comes with it, and if we hadn’t had time to get our heads together and we weren’t as in love as we are now, it would have been really s**t for her.
She’s had problems from some of the fans hasn’t she?
She gets a lot of stick sometimes and that kind of p****s me off. I think that sometimes Twitter becomes a place for people to put unwanted opinions. There’s no need to come on and just rip the p**s out of someone. What’s the point?
What sort of abuse has she had?
She’s not the most confident person, so to have a lot of people saying something about her makes her very self-conscious. I’ll know when something’s got to her because she’ll try and change things, like she won’t have her hair curly or whatever else. Girls know that when you’re insecure those sorts of things get to you. There’s actually a real person sat behind that computer, who you’re not just p*****g off but you’re also really affecting. That’s why I get so passionate about it.
What is it about your relationship that works?
Me! No, I’m joking, she’s great. She understands, and she knows that when I’m working, I’m working. If I don’t get in touch it’s not a problem, I’ll just get in touch when I can. She gets upset about it but she just gets on with it. I get on really well with her family, and if anything ever goes wrong or she’s mad at me about something, her mum will tell her off. Which is really good for me!
Who’s the band troublemaker?
Louis. I’m kind of like Louis’ sounding board now. If he’s ever gonna do anything random, he’ll ask me if he should do it. And I’m like: “Yeah, go on”. So it’s often my choice or I’ll tell him to do things. So sometimes it’s me and people don’t even know.
Does it ever go too far?
When we were at the Olympics Closing Ceremony we sneaked out before our performance and because we had passes on we could get everywhere and we blagged our way into so many things. Like, we went to the top of that big tower [The Orbit], we went in the Aquatics Centre when it was closed off and we went and watched a game of water polo for free. Our security were looking for us so we were sending them pictures of ourselves as we went.
Did you get to meet the Spice Girls?
Yeah, and Victoria Beckham was the only one I didn’t kiss. I kissed Geri on the cheek, we’ve met Baby before so I kissed her on the cheek and Mel B and Sporty. But when I got to Victoria I was just like: “I don’t think I should try and kiss her on the cheek because she’s, like, Victoria Beckham!” It was just out of politeness. I thought: “Maybe I shouldn’t go for that one”.
‘I’m not the type of guy to sleep around’
The last year must have been a very steep learning curve for you boys!
It has, but I think we’re still quite naive and stupid about it all. We’re definitely still learning.
You’ve been with Eleanor [Calder, 20, a part-time model] for nearly a year now. Does she mind sharing you with millions of other girls?
Well it’s all she’s known. I got together with her while I was in the band so she understood what it was. If we go out she’s cool, she often takes photos, bless her, of me and fans, and she never whinges about it.
Some fans won’t be satisfied unless you’re single.
I would never let something like that stop me from being in a relationship. Although we want to give everything to the fans, we still need to be able to live our lives how we want to live them. To be honest, the fans are really supportive. Often they come up and ask how Eleanor is.
You’d just come out of a long-term relationship before you met Eleanor. Do you prefer having someone around to being single?
Yeah, I mean I’m not the type of guy to sleep around, you know? That’s just the way I am I suppose. But I don’t feel like I have to have someone. I’m with Eleanor because I want to be, not because I just want to have someone there.
How do you cope with being apart for long periods?
We’ll be away for a lot of next year, but for Eleanor it’s kind of good because she needs to get her head down at uni. It’s good that I’m not distracting her. But when she has time off from uni she can fly out to wherever we are and when I’m back I’ll stay with her in Manchester where she goes to university.
Are you thankful that Harry’s antics take the heat off the rest of you?
I don’t know about thankful. I feel sorry for him sometimes. I mean it can be quite intense but he knows when he’s going out to these places that sometimes these kind of things happen. And yeah, it’s easier for the rest of us.
Can you have a normal life?
Definitely. I’ve never understood people saying that they literally can’t go out anywhere, because it’s just not the case. You might have to stop and do a few photos, but then you carry on with what you’re doing. The only time it gets crazy is when people know we’re going to be in a specific place.
What’s been the high point of the last year?
Getting a No.1 album in America was huge.
And the lowest?
There hasn’t really been one. I’m not bull*******g! I mean, being away from family sometimes is tough. You don’t really get many downs when you’re lucky enough to be in the position we are.
What have you blown your money on?
I moved into a new house in London. I love to spoil other people as well – I’ve looked after my mum, Johannah, and that’s been the nicest thing about having more money than I expected to have. I recently got a new Range Rover, which is lovely.
What can we expect from the new album?
We’ve written a lot more so we’ve definitely had more of an influence. I think it’s important, the fans want to believe what we’re singing.
Do you ever think about life after 1D?
It would be a waste of time to worry about that. We might as well just enjoy it while it lasts. It might last five years. It might last 10 years. Who knows? But at the moment we’re all very happy.
Niall, we’ve heard you’re the favourite in the States…
Am I? I’ve heard that a few times but I don’t know. I think the Irish thing goes down well over there so that helps!
Have you changed?
Yeah, but not for the worse. I’m hoping not, anyway. We’ve just probably got a little bit madder with age. We’re just a bit crazy, so immature. It’s just unbelievable the stuff that goes on.
The other day we were at Ed Sheeran’s house in his studio, and we just had a watermelon fight. We cracked open this massive watermelon and started throwing it at each other. And the lads picked Harry up and dumped him in it. Who does that? But we always have fruit fights in our dressing room.
Do a lot of dressing rooms get trashed then?
The odd one, yeah.
Do you clean up after yourselves like good boys?
We do try. We always get in trouble for it. It depends how much trouble we’re in whether or not we clean it up.
Has the tight bond between you ever been tested?
We’re closer than ever now. We do everything together. We have play fights all the time with our tour manager. Like, full-on scraps. We were fighting one night and I hit my hand off his watch and it split my thumb right down the middle. See, I’ve got a scar there. It split my thumb and you could see my bone but I didn’t care. I just wrapped it up and we started fighting again. Anyway, women love scars. That’s why I did it!
How’s the love life?
I’m still single. Not necessarily looking, but obviously if the right person came along… But I’m so lazy that when we’re off I just want to sleep. I just like to chill, do nothing and sit on the couch for the weekend.
What sort of girl do you go for?
Cute, nice eyes, nice smile and carefree, like me. Someone I can have fun with, and I know this sounds stupid, but someone you can hold a conversation with on a first date. It’s not the easiest thing to do if you’re having dinner just looking at each other across the table, fiddling with your spaghetti.
You’re looking very buff these days…
Am I? Everyone’s saying that to me.
Have you been going at it hammer and tongs down the gym?
I haven’t! The only workout I do involves lifting pints. I swear to God I haven’t been to the gym once. I’ve still got skinny arms and skinny legs. Maybe I’m just filling out.
Do Harry’s escapades allow the rest of you to go about your business quite peacefully?
Well, it’s just Harry goes out in the evenings more. He’s friends with Nick Grimshaw and obviously Nick’s got a lot of friends and they’re all papped. I don’t know if he likes it or not. He gets mobbed more when he’s without the rest of us.
What was your best night out recently?
This year I made it my business to go to V Festival. I had four of my mates over from Ireland and they were loving the free bar! They must have felt so cool because we met so many famous people that I know from the scene. I was actually thinking if I had met a lot of those people two years ago I would have freaked out. We were hanging out with Ed Sheeran and talking to Example and things like that, so it must have been really strange for the lads.
Your friends and cousins have so many Twitter followers purely by association!
Yeah, I think that’s so funny. Even down to our tour manager Paul – we were looking at stats and he’s like the fourth most followed person in Ireland. The Westlife boys are just above him and I’m at the top. He’s just a 42-year-old man working in security, but the fans love him.
Do you still feel like Ireland is home?
Yeah, 100 per cent. When I get off the plane and it smells like cow poo and pints of Guinness, I know I’m home.
● One Direction’s new single Live While We’re Young is released today. Their album Take Me Home is out November 12.
See 1d in concert!
Scream! Here’s your chance to buy tickets to an EXCLUSIVE gig…
We’re putting on an exclusive One Direction gig for The Sun readers. You could be there for just £9.50 per ticket – and there are thousands up for grabs. The concert will take place at the Manchester Arena on Saturday April 20, 2013, and to have a chance of being there, you’ll need to collect FIVE differently numbered tokens. The second was printed in Fabulous yesterday and there will be another each day in The Sun until Thursday, October 11. Send the tokens along with a completed application form, which you’ll find in Wednesday’s paper, to the address supplied. Make sure you get your entry in before Friday, October 19. If you’re selected at random as a recipient of a pair of tickets, you will need to pay £9.50 per ticket by November 30, 2012, in order to secure your seats.
The Official 2013 One Direction calendar is now on sale at all good retailers.