One Direction: Niall Horan Said He ‘Felt Like a Prisoner’ During the Height of the Band’s Success

One Direction was at the top of its game in the early-to-mid 2010s for band members Niall Horan, Harry Styles, Louis Tomlinson, Liam Payne, and Zayn Malik. But the band’s success required the performers to constantly make new music and tour the world — nonstop. They produced a head-scratching amount of albums in a short time period. One Direction had five albums in five years, while simultaneously touring the globe. Horan recently spoke out about the toll it took on him to be part of the band.

Niall Horan on the red carpet at the 2020 BRIT Awards
Niall Horan at the BRIT Awards on Feb. 18, 2020 in London, England | Jim Dyson/Redferns

Niall Horan’s band One Direction released 5 albums in 5 years

The band moved at a quick pace with little rest for the singers. After their 2010 appearance on The X Factor, the teen boys at the time soon got to work on their first studio album, Up All Night. They released their debut album in 2011 and then released an album every year after that until 2015.

They put out Take Me Home in 2012, Midnight Memories in 2013, Four in 2014, and Made in the A.M. in 2015. Along with their accelerated album release schedule, they also dealt with adoring fans, huge crowds, and safety concerns.

Horan spoke about this time in his life in a new interview.

Niall Horan noticed early on how much fans loved One Direction

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Horan discussed noticing One Direction fans’ devotion to the band with Dermot O’Leary for the Audible podcast, People, Just People. He explained how his first taste of what was to come was during The X Factor when fans were “banging on car windows.”

He said that he started to notice a difference around the time One Direction released its first single, “What Makes You Beautiful.”

“That was the first time I had seen the madness,” he said.

Horan then described a promotional tour that One Direction did in which the group visited four countries in four days.

“I remember getting to Milan on the first day, and just being like, ‘This is a different level now.'” he said. “There were thousands banging on the car window. The first time I really had seen proper hysteria.”

The One Direction member said he ‘felt like a prisoner’ multiple times

O’Leary asked Horan if the singer had ever “felt like a prisoner” during his One Direction days, to which Horan answered that he had “a couple of times.”

“We were 17, 18, 19 for the first few years. I struggled with it,” he said. “I have to be doing something all the time. The thought of closing my curtains in my hotel room was madness to me.”

He explained wanting to go on a simple walk but not being able to.

“I struggled with the idea, ‘Why won’t you just let us out? We just want to go for a walk,'” Horan recalled. “But you can’t get inside the brain of a fan. Now, I completely get it. But at the time, you’re like ‘You’re our age, just let us out. We just wanna walk down the street. You must understand.'”

He then remembered visiting South America for the first time with the group. Horan was excited about the cities the group was performing in. But there was a caveat.

“All these amazing cities, but not being able to see any of them,” he said, because the band members couldn’t go out exploring.

Horan described one time in Lima, Peru, when he was playing video games with Tomlinson. Payne walked into their room and told the boys he wanted to go to the shopping mall with them nearby. Tomlinson advised him to look outside the hotel room — and 10,000 fans were waiting below.

“He was like, ‘Well that’s not happening,'” Horan concluded.