“I think with Zayn’s particular exit and the way he chose to go, we haven’t really heard from him since he left,” the “Stack It Up” singer, 26, claimed in his British GQ Hype cover story published on Monday, November 4. “He didn’t even say goodbye, if I am being honest. It was a really sordid scenario, from our side certainly. A bit strange. It’s difficult.”
Malik, also 26, quit the boy band in March 2015 in the midst of their On the Road Again tour, saying in a statement at the time that he wanted to “be a normal 22-year-old who is able to relax and have some private time out of the spotlight.” Payne, Harry Styles, Niall Horan and Louis Tomlinson completed the tour as a foursome and released their final album, Made in the A.M., later that year. Us Weekly broke the news in 2016 that the group split for good to pursue solo careers.
Payne told British GQ that there are “definitely” grudges between the original five members to this day.
“We had our differences throughout the whole experience with some things,” he said. “I still think about some stuff that was said and done that now I would do differently, but then that’s all part of growing up. Being in One Direction was such a schoolyard mentality somehow — the One Direction University, I call it. Everyone has stuff they’ve said at parties they wished they hadn’t but, for us, the difference was that it was all happening in front of the world. Now we are older, for me certainly there are things that I am just not as bothered about.”
“He loves music and he’s an amazing talent. He genuinely was the best singer in One Direction, hand on heart, out of all of us. But for him to get to a point where, you know, he can’t step on a stage? It’s a lot,” Payne told the magazine. “I mean, he’s doing great. His streaming numbers are ridiculous but I do think he misses out on the performance side a bit, you know. He can’t seem to get past that part. We all have it.”
The Hugo Boss underwear model also revealed that he wanted to reach out to the “Pillowtalk” singer after the latter’s exit from One Direction but never got around to it.
“I didn’t want him to feel like he was going through this all alone in some ways, or that we were all out to get him,” he said. “We’re the only people who know what you’re going through. The only five people who know what you are going through were all in a room together once, and you left — fair enough — but you don’t want anyone going through such evils for no reason. But it got to a point with me where I wouldn’t know where to begin with Zayn. I hope he has good people around him, but I don’t at this stage think it’s anything the rest of us can solve.”
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