The former boy band member, 26, appeared on Tuesday’s podcast episode of Table Manners with Jessie Ware, where he discussed the detrimental effect the group had on himself and many of its members.
Payne — who has opened up in the past about his struggles with global fame — explained that the group’s popularity was “mega stressful” for himself and members Niall Horan, Harry Styles, Zayn Malik and Louis Tomlinson. While he admits that ending the group was “really scary at first,” he says it had to be done.
“I needed to stop, definitely,” Payne said of the band. “It would have killed me. One hundred percent.”
He observed that “there’s no stop button” when you’re part of a worldwide phenomenon, which is why the band “completely lost control” after becoming so popular.
“You’ve got no control over your life,” he added. “We were definitely overworked… I had no personal life. I learned nothing about myself.”
The “Strip That Down” singer says he hoped to gain some control by going to therapy, but he wasn’t able to open up about anything he liked since he didn’t do much outside of the band.
He “learned to become a recluse” to avoid fans and paparazzi, which eventually turned into a pattern Payne couldn’t shake.
“That was life…. I just lived so long as this reclusive pop star who was afraid of people, who just stayed inside all the time.”
In June, Payne admitted that when One Direction was at the height of their fame, he often coped with alcohol.
“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 told Men’s Health Australia. “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.”
The constant demands of the industry, to say nothing of the boring repetition, quickly began to wear on him. “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,” he continued in the interview.
Despite the hardships that came with the band, many of its former members — including Payne — have teased reunions.
In September, Payne spoke candidly about the boy band members on Sirius XM Hits 1’s “The Morning Mash Up”, sharing why it’s hard to predict when a reunion could happen.
“I say different times all the time because whatever I’m thinking might happen, but it’s difficult,” the singer said in response about how long it could take to bring the band back together.
“I mean I haven’t spoken to Harry in a while so I don’t really know where his head’s at with that. I heard he mentioned it in some sort of magazine thing or whatever the other day, which was cool, but I think everybody else has been really outspoken and I think that they’re like ready to go whenever,” he added.
“I know Niall was ready the day that we decided to stop for a second,” Payne added. “He was like, ‘Sure we’re coming back in tomorrow, boys!’ He was just ready to go.”