Liam Payne Reveals One Direction Was ‘Toxic’ and Drove Him to Drink

Fans of One Direction knew it was a wild ride for the guys as they quickly burst on the scene and rose to super-famous boy band status. It wasn’t all fun for the boys, however, as Liam Payne revealed in a new interview, calling the experience “toxic” at times.

Liam Payne One Direction Toxic
Liam Payne | David M. Benett/Dave Benett/Getty Images

One Direction’s rise to fame

One Direction got their start on The X Factor — Payne, who was just 14 at the time, Zayn Malik , Niall Horan,  Harry Styles, and Louis Tomlinson were put together by Simon Cowell. They never could have anticipated the meteoric rise they’d have, going on to sell 50 million records and becoming the first band in Billboard Hot 100 history to have their first four albums debut at number 1.

In an interview with Men’s Health Australia, Payne chalks it up to “dumb luck,” noting: “It literally was the perfect storm. There were so many scenarios that had to fall into line for that to happen. It’s not something that can easily be recreated or probably ever will be because of the way the Internet was kicking off, the way The X Factor kicked off. I just think it was just dumb luck.”

They were selling out stadiums and had a loyal fanbase, but despite the fame and fortune, it wasn’t always the most enjoyable experience.

One Direction became ‘toxic’

Payne shared how, even though they were adored by so many, it was at times a lonely experience. He called being in One Direction “toxic” and the whole of it drove him to drink to cope with his feelings.

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 added: “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. 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.”

He struggled with feeling ‘in control’

Payne also shared the trappings of fame, noting, “It’s difficult when you have the level of fame that we had in the band. 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 s–t that happens to everyone, that’s been happening since the ‘70s. 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 admits that he didn’t feel “in control” while he was in One Direction, sharing, “I still struggle with it now. I really struggle to say no because I don’t like to let people down. It’s in my nature.”

One Direction took a break in 2016, following Zayn Malik leaving the band in 2015. Each of the band’s members has gone on to do their own thing and fans continue to hold out hope of a reunion soon.