One Direction’s most flop alum Liam Payne appeared on Logan Paul’s podcast “Impaulsive” to talk shit about his former bandmates in an attempt to distract from headlines about his cheating and subsequent split from fiancée Maya Henry. Paul and Payne are a perfect match, spending over an hour one-upping each other with empty platitudes and machismo posturing. “It’s really cool getting to watch your career,” Paul lies to Payne, a few seconds after commenting on the fact that Payne is always running around with his shirt off.
Payne has fashioned himself the One Direction oral historian, partly because his solo work hasn’t sold as well as the other 80% of the band and partly because it keeps him just busy enough to avoid parenting. In his historiography, One Direction only happened because of him, and because of a promise Simon Cowell made to him two years prior to the boy band’s X Factor season when Payne was eliminated as a 14-year-old. He was dismayed to learn in the 2010 season that he would only be allowed to go through if he did so as a part of a group. He also maintains he was always the first to sing because of his comfort with the camera, having been a prior contestant, and that he had the most singing experience, making him a de facto “leader” within the band.
Payne is both riveting and boring, kind of like that Peter Jackson Beatles documentary, constantly pumping himself up and then insisting he is a normal guy. He wants to get into boxing. Paul tells him: “I’ve heard how tough you are.” I’m sure. Payne drinks a big glass of whiskey and says he tells every “young person in music” to call him if they need help, but not in a paternalistic way, just in a way where he knows almost everything about the industry and can step in if there are any issues, which sounds pretty paternalistic.
Prior to One Direction, Payne says he didn’t have a lot of friends. Perhaps this is because he’s inclined to talk shit. Regardless, he bravely chose to be a member of one of the world’s most successful bands, even though a few other members were, as he puts it after recounting his own experience nearly fighting Quavo at a nightclub, “rowdy.” He’s quick to drag Louis Tomlinson (whom he “hated” in the band, but they’re best mates now) and Zayn Malik, who left the band. He tells a story about an unnamed member of One Direction who pushed him up against a wall. “You went from Liam Payne to Liam Neeson,” Paul laughs. “There’s many reasons why I dislike Zayn, but many reasons while I’ll always take his side,” Payne says, before launching into an explanation about how Malik’s poor behavior is due to his “different upbringing.”
Payne is certainly not without his own struggles, and he’s quick to admit he’s not perfect in between the near-constant gossiping about the personal lives of his former bandmates. He mentions, for instance, that he only just figured out how to write music for himself “a few weeks ago” (great work) after struggling to compose for himself following the dissolution of the band. Writing One Direction songs was easy, or got easier, he tells Paul, in part because they knew what fans wanted and how to deliver that. If only Payne understood that the main thing fans want him to do now is shut the fuck up.