Noam Galai/Getty, GEOFF ROBINS/AFP via Getty Louis Tomlinson, Harry Styles
"I'd be lying if I said it didn't bother me at first," the 30-year-old singer-songwriter told The Telegraph in a recent interview to promote his new album Faith in the Future, out Friday.
One Direction announced an indefinite hiatus in January 2016, and Tomlinson debuted his first solo single, "Just Hold On" with Steve Aoki, in December of the same year. The song found success, charting at No. 2 in his native U.K. and a more modest No. 52 in the U.S. — but the musician wouldn't release his first album, Walls, until January 2020.
Styles, 28, on the other hand, debuted with "Sign of the Times" in April 2017 and achieved major success, reaching No. 1 in the U.K. and No. 4 in the U.S. before going on to become certified multi-platinum in both territories. His debut self-titled album was released the following month and became the ninth best-selling album of the year worldwide.
Christopher Polk/Getty Images One Direction
Speaking to The Telegraph, Tomlinson explained that he felt bothered by Styles' success "only 'cause I didn't know where to place myself, and really my only point of reference was other members of the band."
He added, "But it's not surprising to me that Harry's the most commercially successful because he really fits the mold of a modern star."
Since his debut, Tomlinson has continuously released music and toured around the globe, albeit in smaller venues than Styles. However, he hasn't branched out into other sectors of entertainment like his former bandmate, who's starred in the films Don't Worry Darling and My Policeman this year.
"He's not just doing music, he's got film as well, and the tour he's done is unbelievable," said Tomlinson of Styles. "It took me a while to work out where I stand."
Elsewhere in the candid interview, Tomlinson assured fans there's no lingering hard feelings about their career differences. After all, the musicians spent six years in a band together.
"I look on Harry like a brother, man," said the "Bigger Than Me" performer. "I have a lot of pride for what he's doing."