Say it isn't so, Liam! Ugh. The words "toxic" and "One Direction" are such a bummer in the same sentence. Fans of the iconic boy band will be sad to hear that the now solo-star Liam Payne describes his days with the group as incredibly hectic and stressful, which is the opposite of what die-hard fans would ever want. Liam Payne's comments about the negative effects of One Direction's fame aren't unique per se when you reflect on the music industry and tales of young artists before him, but still. The hope is that 1D was touched by the grace of a young musician god who protected them from the struggles and challenges that come with balancing fame at a young age. Womp, womp.
According to Payne, the pressure to perform the same songs night after night with equal enthusiasm and commitment is a common struggle for any successful music artist. When you pair that with young age and the overnight fame that the five members of One Direction experienced, you have yourself a recipe for a little bit of chaos. Payne opened up about it all in the July Issue of Men's Health Australia. He explained, "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."
Payne explained that for him, he looked to alcohol as a way to cope. "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 said. Payne added, "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."
Payne — who was just 18 years old at the time he and Harry Styles, Louis Tomlinson, Niall Horan, and Zayn Malik first joined forces on the British version of X Factor — says mental health struggles are super common for young artists and anyone in the show biz industry.
"It’s difficult when you have the level of fame that we had in the band,” he explained. "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 sh*t that happens to everyone, that’s been happening since the ‘70s."
Certainly, millennials can think of other beloved talent and artists who have been vocal about mental health. Justin Bieber, Kanye West, Selena Gomez, and Payne's old bandmate Zayn Malik come to mind — just to name a few. According to Payne, he feels lucky to have found ways to cope, heal, and move forward. "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," he said.
Today, Payne continues to work on his own independent solo career and is the father to a sweet little 2-year-old son named Bear. Sure, the landscape he's operating in now is a little different than how it was during 1D's heyday, but the stakes are just the same. A screaming crowd is a screaming crowd, no matter how you slice it.