It’s easy to explain why the boys from British-irish boyband One Direction are so successful. They’re a bunch of five good looking lads, as they say, who can actually sing. They have nice, snap-happy and annoyingly hummable songs. And they are backed by that well-oiled, hit-churning machinery lorded over by music mogul Simon Cowell.
It’s also safe to say it helps that Justin Bieber’s trying to be all adult now, cavorting in pools with the likes of Nicki Minaj, and has left the playground wide open for the lucrative and increasingly influential tween market.
But it’s interesting that One Direction – recognised early this year by the Guinness World Records as the first British band to debut at number one in America with a debut album – almost never came to be.
In 2010, Niall Horan, Zayn Malik, Liam Payne, Harry Styles and Louis Tomlinson auditioned individually for a chance at stardom on the UK version of singing reality show X Factor. After making it through the first round, they were each told they didn’t qualify for the second round. Then, as fate (or Cowell’s ingenious ability to make good TV) would have it, the boys were told they’d been made into a group.
One Direction didn’t win the X Factor UK, they came third. But the popularity of a “leaked” video of their would-be winning song on the internet ensured they were signed by X Factor producer Cowell’s recording company Syco.
Fast forward to 2012 and the boys have not only knocked the winner Matt Cardle into obscurity, they’ve broken into America, subsequently sold tree million units of their debut album, Up All Night, globally and become certified heartthrobs.
Now, the impeccably coiffed lads are back with a second album, Take Me Home, a year after their debut album.
“I think it’s important while everything is going pretty well to try and keep going,” Tomlinson, tells tabloid! in an exclusive interview. “It was really important for us to try and make a better second album than the first. I think we’ve done that so it’s really exciting.”
The sophomore album, adds the 20-year-old, will not deviate too far from the bouncy, pop style of Up All Night.
“It worked pretty well the first time so we didn’t want to change it too much. There are just a few tweaks here and there, and a lot of differentiation between the tracks – there are some high-tempo fun stuff and a lot of emotional ballads — but as far as the sound is concerned, it sounds a bit more live. There are some heavy drums and heavy guitar but the changes are only minor, there’s nothing too big.”
The theme of the new album, encapsulated in the first single Live While We’re Young, is all about enjoying the moment, he adds.
“You only get one life, especially while you’re young so you’ve got to live it while you can. Me personally, I’ve always lived like that. Sometimes it’s got me into trouble like at school,” he says laughing.
The eldest of the group, Tomlinson, a Robbie Williams fan and once an aspiring actor, says he and the boys remind themselves of just how lucky they are to be where they got.
“It’s obviously been a massively, incredible journey for us,” he says. “We got put together in a team and we’re just incredibly blessed that we have such amazing fans who’ve created this success. We can only hope to continue to make them happy.”
But of course, international fame comes at a price. Their breakthrough in the US means the boys spend a lot of time overseas recording, promoting and touring. But Tomlinson, who hails from South Yorkshire, prefers to keep it positive.
“The only difference is that we don’t get to see a lot of our friends and families much. I speak to my mum on the phone like every other day. I just text every one… I‘ll see my best friend Stan [Lucas] as often as I can, I’ll see my girlfriend Eleanor [Calder] as much as I can when I’m in the UK and she’ll come out on tour. It’s difficult, but we make it work.
“Also I don’t get to play football as much. But if you look at the positives, they far outweigh the negatives.”
The football fan, who recently played a charity match with his League, says he does as much as he can for children’s charity, and that, amongst other things, keeps him grounded.
“It is also to do with our upbringing. Also, we’re in a band and we keep each other grounded, it’s not all about one person. We make sure we get home when we can, keep in touch with our friends and that keeps us grounded.”
Although he is not sure if he will ever go to university, Tomlinson says he’s always wanted to learn a second language.
“I’d thought about French because I was OK at that at school. I was going to chase that up. But who knows…
“I don’t know about [getting back] to hard core education though because I’ll find it difficult to get back into it now. We work really hard but as academic wise, I’m not sure. I was always terrible at revises and never had the work ethic to do that.”
Although an announced World Tour next year includes dates in the UK, Ireland, much of Europe, North and South America, Australia and New Zealand, Tomlinson is quick to add fans in the UAE need not lose hope just yet.
“We’ve had quite a few meetings about that recently. We haven’t got any thing confirmed yet but it’s definitely is in the talks,” he says of a stop in the Emirates and the Middle East.
“If the demand’s there then we’re always willing to come. It’s just something we’re waiting to work out with the different locations.”
He says he loves performing in the UK the most.
“I love performing at home, especially up north where I’m from. Outside of the UK, I really, really enjoyed playing Australia. But I enjoy every performance. We’re look at playing Madison Square Garden in New York on December 3. That will be a massive, massive gig.”
One Direction’s second video off the new album, Little Things, was released last week – and has already powered through top viewed videos lists on YouTube.
In case you didn’t know, a new pop phenomenon has been crowned.
“When I auditioned for the X factor, my goal was to get through the first round and boot camp,” says Tomlinson. “I didn’t think in a million years we’d be where we are now. I just feel incredibly lucky to be given this chance.”
*One Direction’s second album ’Take Me Home’ will be released globally on November 12.
I’m pretty active on Twitter. It’s a great way of talking directly to our fans. I try and tweet once a day, sometimes I can’t if I m really busy but I always aim to tweet at least once a day. All tweets are 100 per cent our own. I know there are some celebrities who don’t run their own tweets but its very important for us to have that direct contact.