Liam Payne: Unveiling His Heartbreaking Past, Love Failures & Business Ventures | E83 | Transcription

Transcription for the video titled "Liam Payne: Unveiling His Heartbreaking Past, Love Failures & Business Ventures | E83".

1970-01-18T08:14:17.000Z

Note: This transcription is split and grouped by topics and subtopics. You can navigate through the Table of Contents on the left. It's interactive. All paragraphs are timed to the original video. Click on the time (e.g., 01:53) to jump to the specific portion of the video.


Introduction

Intro (00:00)

There are very few people, maybe just the five of them, on planet earth, that have gone through what my next guest has gone through over the last decade. Very very few people on planet earth that can tell you the stories he can tell you and talk to you about the lessons he's learnt. Ian Payne is a miraculous, inspiring, complex, very honest, very vulnerable, very open book. Today he's going to tell you about things that he probably shouldn't say, and topics that he probably shouldn't talk about. But just imagine, imagine being catapulted into stardom at 14 years old and becoming what many consider to be the modern day Beatles. He toured the world with One Direction. They had their ups, their downs, their mental health crises, their scandals, their relationships, and everything in between. You know, if I was 16 years old and you asked me what I wanted to be, if I could dream up my life, I'd probably say professional football player, or being in a boy band and travelling the world, seems like a life that we'd all give everything to have. But what you're going to hear today is very different, and it might just change your mind. It certainly changed mine. So without further ado, I'm Stephen Bartlett, and this is the Diaries of CEO. I hope nobody's listening. But if you are, then please keep this to yourself. Liam, crazy, crazy year society, all of us have had with this whole lockdown situation.


Personal Challenges And Career Highlights

Lockdown & the gym (01:38)

If a place I wanted to start, it's just to ask how it's been for you. It has been interesting. I feel like I got the lockdown, the first depressive part of lockdown a lot later than everybody else, because our work went through the roof. And basically, it was interesting because I had to learn styling, makeup, hair, all these things that I wouldn't usually do when I'm with my team. And I lost everyone because you couldn't have anyone close contact. So I just had me and a camera guy that was staying with me. So every job was like, I mean, we even had one day where we set up our own green screen. And we set the green screen up from 1pm until 10 and then recorded till 5 o'clock in the morning. So it was like a whole day. So we were busier than ever. And then we started doing these online shows, which weren't really great, with a company called Veeps, which was good. And then I stopped working, which I thought was going to be really good for me because I was tired and it was actually the worst thing in the world for me. When you say you stopped working, describe your day at that point? I mean, I was just finding myself on the sofa for the whole day, just watching random stuff, seeing everything on Netflix. On your own? No, my partner was there at the time. Okay. Yeah. It was wild and it was dark because you can't really go anywhere. You don't really know what you're doing. And I felt like my career was kind of in a funny place at that point as well and how I was agreeable with it at that time as well. Does that make sense? Are you the type of person that needs to be kept busy? I think so. I think I've had a crash course this last year in learning to have my own time. Because I mean, you imagine from about the age of 16, 17, we were day sheet every day. So when you don't have a day sheet, it's like, what the hell do I do? And then the other part of it's like you don't really learn what you enjoy from that point either. So it was that that was quite difficult in not now because you have so much time to yourself. And then it was like, I saw something the other day about toxic productivity. Did you see this? Yeah, I've seen this. Obviously they've got a new ism for everything. Yeah. But it actually made sense to me. If I'm not doing something that's productive, I feel like I'm going backwards. So then I'm trying to make, I'm trying to force moves. And I suppose that was one of the things I think I learned most about myself. I don't have to be doing something every day to feel good about myself. Where does that come from? Do you think that need to feel like you're moving forward or it feels like backward motion? I have no idea. I think I'm just quite driven in that sense. Have you always been like that since before One Direction? You know, I think we just always worked. I was first on TV at 14, so as younger as 20. An audience back, I think that point was like 20 million people, which was wild. So I was like 14 years old. So from then on, my life's just been like doing the same thing over and over and over again up until this point. So I don't know. At times you fall out of love with it. And I think that trying to find, you know, and also you're not under any impression, this isn't going to stop at some point. Like a life span for an average pop, so I've lived most life spans with that sort of thing, which has been amazing. Really, really cool. And I think part of that's probably from starting so young, but you know, it's going to end at some point. So you always want to find something else that you're good at. So it's kind of safety cushion. This is what investing has been my godsend in that because I started that really young as well and trying to think about how I would do this or how I would do that, asking like, you know, like our old managers and people like that, what they invest in and stuff like that, which kind of makes me feel safer. And does that that comes from a plate like mild paranoia that this might go some day, right? 100% like doomsday profit, like, you know, do you worry a lot generally? Uh, I think I did up until the last few months. I mean, having a lot of time, I think a lot of people had this same sort of thing. Alcohol was just really, it was getting earlier and earlier. Yes. It was a little bit to go to. And for me, I don't know, it's, I think there's a slight little bit of social anxiety as well, isn't it? That, you know, it was already hard sometimes to go out places for the thought that you might like pat or whatever, you know, there's always that extra level of stress. So for me, I've always been quite withdrawn. So talking about lockdown, so you go through that sort of depressive period. I think we all went through that. And I think, for me, what I kept thinking about is like, if you just go with the lockdown, like someone like me would just probably like hang around bed on my laptop. What I had to do was like proactively Steve, get up and do something today. Go put your shoes on, motherfucker. You know what I mean? But then the thing I found about that was sometimes you ain't Superman and you're going to have a bad day. And my thing is, if I don't set out what I aim in to do that day, then I become more depressive. That makes sense. But it's just like, I think the main thing for me, I mean, I've always called it like a small victories thing. And that's why I love the gym. Because if I've at least been to the gym that day, then I've done something. But then I started to like branch that out more that it was called a family member. You know, I spend some time with my son, make sure I get face timing. Because it was hard because the first point of it, we couldn't see each other. It was the longest I haven't seen my son in a long time, which was difficult. But then it was like, as long as I've done one of those things in the day, then it doesn't matter if I didn't do anything else. And it's like what I found more than anything, and this, with the alcohol with all the stuff, it's like boundaries. There were no boundaries. So, you know, if you're on Zoom, you can quite easily hide that you might be a little bit tipsy at the point you shouldn't be. So it was like creating your own boundaries, creating your own routines. And that's where I think everybody struggled the most without routine. And I notice you had a dog here, which at the moment, that's one of my things that I think I'm definitely going to get a dog because I need routine. I need it. So you start drinking more and more during the lockdown. You realize you get your awareness. Oh, I put on so much weight. I was eating badly and kind of describing it as a bulking period. It was a dirty bulk. No worry about it. I'm doing it for a movie role. Post-time to you. Yeah, that's the best new new excuse. If anyone asked you put weight, yes, for a role, you were coming out in 20/20. Yeah, and I put a lot of weight on. And what got me, I did one performance on TV. I was with the BAFTA's actually. And I was disappointed in myself, but like, I was always a petty sporty kid and then kept moving. I didn't look how I wanted to look. You know what I mean? I wasn't wrong with that, but just in your own self, you know how you feel about it. And obviously they say the camera adds 10 pounds. It definitely did. And I saw myself for the first time and I was like, oh my God, like I've completely let myself go in this. And it was fine. I kind of needed it. And actually it's been the best outcome for me because I feel so much more secure in myself now and I feel like I know where I'm at again, which is good. Have you struggled to maintain consistency with the gym? What do I have? If you look at the dance point views. I did. I mean, training partners is the best one for that. You know, and each of you put in a session together and throw it in different moves because then you're doing something that's a bit different. You know, I mean, we recently, my training partner, I got to a point where we're like a stalemate with the stuff that we're doing. So then we started like branching out to different gyms and they have different kit. And then, you know, I'm fairly good with keeping myself on the go with it. I mean, like I say, the only part of me was just alcohol. You can't train and drink and anything. You can't do it all at once. You're going to be a rock star. Are you going to be a star and do you? Yeah, yeah. That's your choice. And do you think you've gotten a bit of a sort of addicted personality in that regard where you're getting to something and just go all the way? I mean, as an addict, I want to say no, but I know I definitely do. Yeah, 100%. I think, well, there's a lot worse things to be addicted to than looking after yourself, so yeah. What's been the upside for you? A lot of people listening to this, well, especially coming out of lockdown now, there's a lot of people that weren't able to go to the gyms because they were closed. And now that some people just need that little bit of a push to understand what the value is of the gym and what's the value of the gym been in your life? I think because you're going twice today. The value of the gym. Yeah, yeah. I mean, I wouldn't call the first one. The first one's more of like a wake up. It's called a vinyasa, like a yoga type. The first day I went to the gym in lockdown, I went and looked at the gym because I was like, if I go in there and start moving around and throwing stuff and whatever else, then I'm not going to want to go the next day. And you have to slowly build it up. You can't go in and think you need to do 45 minutes because they're running the magazine that they said this. There's no quick route. For me, it's three, you need three months for any significant change that you have. And then it's like, start 20 minutes, 15 minutes. Just go and feel it out. And then you'll find after a while the exercises, you're like, oh my God, I only have five more minutes in here and I need another five minutes. And guess what? You can have them. So then it's slowly like we've got, we're up to an hour, an hour and 10 minutes now. So it's like from starting at 15, 20 minutes. But for me, it's just, like I say, it's been able to get into bed at night and have that small victories and know what, at least I did this and it was for me. It wasn't for anybody else. I think that's important. And you're not doing it to try and get a sick, I mean, everyone's doing it, low key, try and get six pack, but you're doing it because it's a lifestyle decision for your... Yeah, I mean, I recently started Jujitsu and it's for me, I want to be able to do what a lot of these guys are doing. Like the funny thing, Jujitsu is super humbling because you just get thrown around like a tiger eating a gazelle or something. I mean, it's wild. So it's like as soon as that happens and I was always quite a small dude. I've never been like a big guy. I mean, even when I did my own new work commercial, I was still like, I think I was 75 kilos, which is super light, right? So when I'm in the gym, people are like, throw me over here and I'm like, I'm going that way today, am I? And then I'm over here and it's like, so I put, I did want to put some weight on, but I put too much weight on at one point. I was like, I went helpful other book. It's more for the fitness side and the Jujitsu side that I'm training as hard as I am. If you want to come in and meet guests like Liam and myself, we've now had two subscribers come in and watch from behind the scenes, we're going to start picking more. So all you've got to do, if you want that to be you, is hit the subscribe button. I wanted to ask you some advice. I've been announced as a dragon on Dragon's Den. How do you feel about that, by the way? It's pretty cool. It's cool because dragons. Like when some kids want to grow up being a dragon. You are a dragon. Yeah, I watched it when I was 12. So it came out when I was 12. I used to watch it and I've never missed an episode. Wow, that doesn't surprise at all. And I said to the team, I used to pretend I was a dragon sit there, pause the TV, give my verdict at 13 years old. I love it. All this stuff. The bit I wanted to ask your advice on is when it was announced, you know, I had my little moment, 15 seconds where like all of the press talk about you, your Twitter blows up, lots of attention.


Dealing with being famous (11:55)

What advice would you give to me about dealing with this kind of noise? Because you, I mean, there's not many people on planet Earth that have dealt with noise and doing that, right? I think it's a really fine line between getting too wrapped up in what's going on and not being wrapped up enough in it. You know what I mean? Really? I think you know the things that hurt you the most because you know they're honest. So when someone says something new, like if they hurt you, then you perch you a lot, and you know there's some truth in it because it hurt you. If it's ridiculous, you just go, that was funny as if they said that. You know what I mean? So I think there's a fine line to tread with it. And I mean, I've gone through here as where I was such like a little clap back attitude driven you. Responding. Where as soon as someone would say something, I'd be like, right, well, then let's go at you. And then I was, I mean, I was a bit me, the nastier point. So it was a bit bad, but when you're a team growing up in it and people are like basically bullying you and they get paid for it. It's like that's a bit outrageous. So I'm going to have my say who's got the biggest mountain, you know what I mean? But then it's like someone said to me over time, it's like, you know, if someone says something about me in the press in this country and then I say something about them, it ends up on E news and then they've made America, I didn't get anywhere. So it's like, don't bring people up to your level if you don't think you, unless you absolutely have to. And one thing I would say, don't lose your phone doing this notes. If someone pisses you off, write a note about it as if you were writing them a letter and then let it go. Just don't send it. And then it gets all your, what you would tweet out, but you don't say it. That was the best thing I ever did. There's the best thing I ever did. Really? Yeah. So pop open your notes then. I just remembered what. Can you imagine? Fucking hell. No, it's crazy because you read stuff and I was saying to you before we started filming like I've got a baby apparently and a wife and then you don't get the other one. No, no. Things that you're doing really well. I thought it's crazy that there's not a high regard for truth. Do you know what? I was actually on the way into this. I wanted to speak about this because obviously there's a lot in the world about freedom of speech and the press freedom of speech, which I agree with, right? We don't need to dictate laws. My only problem is, and my biggest problem around Corona was the fact that the media were allowed to twist our thinking about Corona as much as they wanted to. And they're still doing it now, but the fear mongering isn't helping anyone. You know, and these people aren't sat there. I know I've just written a great article. My boss is going to promote me. Oh, yeah, but you just decrease the value of the pound. So your wages that you think are worth more and are worth less. Well, it's a struggling industry, right? I just don't get it. I'm like, if it's a medical thing and it's the world that is in trouble, maybe there should have to be something in place that says this is true or not that they have to put a disclaimer and say you should take advice from your local government. Bullshit. We all read you for advice and you are offering us a disservice by telling us non truths about stuff. I just don't be regulated. Like, yeah, I get that as a hairdresser's account for me for people going, oh my God, I can't believe what that Liam Payne's done this week. What's he done now? You know, I get that, but for Corona. Yeah, yeah, yeah. We don't need to be going, oh, yeah, if you read the thing about this new variant that's come from over the border. Yeah, I can't believe it. Like someone from America, for me the other night, like, are you going to be able to come here? So then I'm like, no, I ain't. No chance. But we don't, none of us know, we're all confused because we're being spouted fear, which I just think is terrible. So it doesn't help either because there's screenshots knocking around WhatsApp groups saying all sorts of. Yeah, I mean, as much as this technology advancing on us, it's like this slow road. I mean, it's almost like the coins thing at the moment with the, the bitcoins, like there's some coins that are actually seriously there to do a job. And then there's like the fuck Elon Musk coin, which does nothing but disrespect to Elon Musk. It's worth like five billion. Like it's actually nice.


Your relationship status (15:54)

You said earlier, you made a comment, you said that your partner at the time and referring to lockdown. Does that mean you are? I am indeed. You're single. Yep. Me and you both. Where we going? No, I'm saying to myself, I feel like, I feel like more than anything at this point, I'm more disappointed in myself for the keep on hurting people. That annoys me. I've not been very good at relationships. And I know what my pattern of things is with relationships, I feel at this point. I'm just not very good at them. So I just need to like work on myself before I put myself on to somebody else. And I feel that's, you know, that's why I got to my last relationship. I just wasn't given a very good version of me anymore that I didn't appreciate and I didn't like being. And I can honestly say that you, I feel better out of it. I didn't feel good for doing what, what I did, but it had to happen. I mean, I know that's the corniest way of saying it was the best of both of us, like whatever, cool, a story, bro. It just feels like that. Very self aware for you to know that you were. Oh, yeah. No, I know it was a problem. So I need to sort myself out and I already feel good. So it's got me more concentrated, you know, and I hope she's happy. What is it you've discovered about yourself in relationships that you're trying to work on? Do you know what? I mean, one of our old managers went to therapy from being a manager of one direction. So if you can imagine how that feels, like the rest of us definitely need some. And for me, most part, I was really regressing from therapy because everyone was pushing me into it, which is the worst thing you can do. Like it's almost like becoming sober, for instance. You have to want to be sober to start with, not people taking your toys away and you go, oh my God. So it kind of felt like that, whereas this time I kind of threw myself into it, even though I didn't want, didn't really want to inside, I threw myself into it, made my own choices. And I think for me, my life's been so controlled to a point. Day sheets, security guards, anything, and it's all everybody else's dictating, popping masks that crap over the top of your life. Then then you just get to a point where it's like you have to take some control about yourself. And until I started to do that with my life, then I was living for everybody else. And I'm a complete people pleaser anyway. So it was like nothing in my life was about serving myself, which then that just put me in a bad place and finding enjoyment from other stuff that I don't need. What did, because I've always considered therapy for a bunch of reasons. And the thing is, it's still such like a taboo kind of crazy crazy thing. And I get it. I do get it. I was, I mean, I was on the phone to Louis from my band talking about it today. And it's like, there was one moment last week. And I mean, my manager is my best friend. He's been saying to me for a long time, you'll have that one awakening in the middle of it where you'll think about stuff. And I mean, I hate words like awakening. And I hate this like Hollywood perception of like reflective work. What the fuck is that? You know what I mean? But I get it. But at the same point, I'm like, I don't know. You keep it for you. But it's like, I had this one moment that I found that I was like, oh my God, that's just unlocked so many truths about me. And it was so insignificant. Something that happened when I was young there. And it was so, to me, it was like a family joke. But now I'm like, oh my God, I've been living my whole life as that character. And yeah, wild, wild, you'll love it. Scary. Really scary. You don't know what you're going to find. It's like opening up a box. No, that's it. It's wild. But I'm so glad that I, one, went through what I went through this year and two that, you know, I think this year has forced something out of all of us. And for me, it forced me to really look at my life and go, what the F are you doing? Like grow up. And that was the point. And you said you're still trying to work on that, but... Did you regress from therapy? Yeah. I always turned away from it and I was always like, oh, I don't mean therapy. I'll sort myself out, you know, your own worst enemy at that point. I'm really keen to understand what makes you a difficult, you know, specifically what makes you a difficult person to date. I asked this question because I'm difficult to date. Oh my God. Do you want me to follow for your people in it? That's what they're saying on down is best friend. Oh my God. Every ex-girlfriend, we've got to be behind the curtain. Now that would be a weird room. Imagine that drops down in the room. Oh my God. Hi, I dated him for three weeks. Three weeks. I'd be out. What would be the consistent theme as to why you're difficult to date? I think my problem, I struggle to be on my own sometimes. Really? Yeah, I struggle to be on my own. And I think I dive in and out of relationships too quickly. And I've not had to spend enough time on my own to really learn about myself. Is that my sense? I honestly just need a minute out. I need to check myself. But I'm really keen. So you needed to spend some time on your own to kind of understand yourself because in a relationship context, you find that you're in and you're out a little bit too much. Is that what you're saying? Yeah. And I don't know. I think the biggest problem we have, I'm proper perfectionist, terrible, terrible, terrible. So when it comes down to relationships, I'm always trying to start the relationship. As we all do, you put out this complete false character. Yes. Like I might as well go, we need costume at this point. I'm like putting out something that is not there. It's the person that's absent from the room. It's like they tag team on the way in. Oh, it's you for this bit. Yeah. I'll join in later on. And I just need to stop doing that. And then kind of like one encompassing someone else's life with your crap rather than like just doing your thing and laying out your store from day one. That's my biggest problem. I feel for myself, I don't lay out my store. I'm willing to bend to someone else's store and then I'm annoyed at why they don't like what I like. Amen. So then I'm like, okay, but if I just laid out the store early on and like, yeah, I go up at 5am and go for a run. How are we going to deal with that? So it's either in or it's not, you know what I mean? It's not a not to not compromise because some things you'll be like, okay, that annoys you fine. But yeah, for me, I don't do that. I lay out a completely different, it's like a Woolworth when you want it in an artist. So, you know, that's I've really debated that. I'm going to personally, especially recently because the girl I was into is very into everything that I'm not into. Like she's into like horoscopes and like, I don't know. What's wrong with us? I don't know. So I'm there like fucking looking at horoscopes being like, no, yeah, because you're trying to make- Spirit your people scare me. But at the start of a relationship, you become more like them. They become more like you. And then there's a couple of weeks, months past, you just regress to action to you. Well, you almost like, I feel like I hide resentments from people sometimes. And I'm like, something annoys me. And I'm like, no, no, it's fine. But instead of thinking, Jesus Christ, I wish she didn't do that. And then it's like, then over time, I'm like, every little thing starts creeping in. And I did this in my job really badly because I would bend to my job and let my job overtake things that I didn't like doing, it's a stable, actually, my own list, like videos for stuff. And rather than going, no, until one day, I just was like, I hate everything. And now it's almost gone back the other way. Now I've had this little reset that I'm starting to core people in to do what I want to do, rather than bending to everybody else's stuff. And you're probably experiencing this, you're pulled every which way. And it's always about impressing whoever's behind the lens, whoever's in the audience. So I find our feel conversations with crap that I'm saying that doesn't really help me because I'll go home thinking, why the hell did I say that? Like, what now I'm that guy? Oh my God. And then it's like, but I was saying it because I thought it would entertain the other person. It wasn't about me. Mm. Stupid. It's really fascinating that you're so self aware of all these forces at play because it feels like you've spent a long time really analyzing and looking at your behaviour. I think that can have it benefits and it can have its problems as well. I think I'm like over critical points, but you know, you can't win everything. Being a perfectionist.


Being a perfectionist (23:20)

Yeah, it's an issue. Yeah. Talk to me about what that means specifically in your life. In work, in relationships. Steve, in everything. What does that mean? Steve's manager who sat behind me. Yeah. I feel like we should pub chat. I know. I know what I love about this. But Steve, my fans think that like Steve's like doing something to me. So they're always like, "Oh, Liberty for Liam, he always looks for Steve." But it's not even because I like him. Because I think he's like harming me as a person. But then there's like a hashtag Liberty for Liam. Like they think I'm like, sort of like prison child. But it's going to be all these other people who are just listening on the audio and think you're calling my name. Steve. Steve. So my last thing I really got into over lockdown was art and drawing. Ooh, interesting. Something I've done since I was younger. And the point was find something to do that doesn't make you money was the whole point of the exercise. I was like, "Okay, cool. Draw it." And I said to the person who gave me the advice at the time, I was like, "I guarantee these turns into something. Hold for later on in the conversation." So I started drawing. And what I found was I was so bad at starting a task, blank sheet of paper and all that. Because I was so worried about what might come out that I was like, I'd sit there and like, "If something's not quite right, I like it can ruin my day in a drawing. If something goes wrong and it's not quite right, I'm like, "Oh my God." Like I hate it. That's the kind of thing. And how did that go? Drain. Okay. I mean, the thing is once I got started and got on to some stuff, but then it was like sometimes in that respect, then I was drinking to draw pictures because I was so in my own fricking way. And it's the same writing songs as well. You can do the same thing with everything. You can trade out all that crap. And it's like, as well, you know, people might smoke a bit or do whatever they want to make a track. But it's all about getting out your own way. And I feel like now I feel much more like I know who I am and I know what I want to do. So I don't need to be in my own way. I'm going to go, you know, I don't need these additives. They only make me worse anyway. In the long run, right? Yeah. Today it might help, but tomorrow it's going to cause problems.


Alcoholism (25:23)

And are you still drinking? No. No, not soon. No, no. I mean, so, it's over a month now, I think it is. My business partner, he, when we started the business, became an alcoholic about three four years in because it was just too tough. And then he had like severe suicide, like, ideation. He actually didn't tell me at the time. And this is why when I was reading about your story, I could relate to so much of it because he, I didn't say what I was going through to him. He didn't say it to me. And then it was like, after we'd sold the business that he was like, I used to stand on the train platforms and think about jumping in front of the train. And I was like, and he never told me. And, and, but there was, and you didn't, I didn't know what alcoholism or read mental health was at the time, but I'd go downstairs three a.m. in the morning and I'd open up the laundry room and he's in there with a bottle of wine at three a.m. The lights are off and he's just drinking it, sat on the clothes. I'm like, get off my fucking clothes. I'm joking. And I was like, what the hell is going on? But, you know, and I read similar thing, similar sort of story or narratives in your story where, you know, you were having moments of that kind of like ideation. You were having moments of suicidal ideation and. Yeah, I mean, there's some stuff that I've definitely like never, never spoken about to do with it. There was really, really, really severe. And it was a problem. And, and it was only until I saw myself after that I was like, I need to fix myself. There was like a few pictures of me on a boat and I'm all like blooping out and I call it pills and booze face. And I was like this, like my face is just like 10 times more than it is now. And I just didn't like myself very much than I made a change. And the same thing happened this year with, with, with that sort of thing as well. But the problem we had in the band, and I don't blame anybody for this. I don't want to seem like I'm whining or moaning. Oh my God, look at my life, whatever. But it feels to me like when we were in the band, the best way to secure us because of how big it got was just lock us in our rooms. And of course, what's in the room? Mini bar. So at a certain point, I thought, well, I'm going to have a party for one. And that just seemed to carry on throughout many years of my life. And then you look back, how long you've been drinking? And stuff like Jesus Christ, that's a long time, even for someone as, you know, as young as I was, as wild. But it was like the only way you could get frustration out in the day or being like trapped. And you know, I spoke about to somebody about this and in child development, you know, as a team, the one thing you need is, is freedom to make choices and freedom to do stuff. And it was the one thing that although we could do anything we wanted, it seemed from the outside that we were always locked in a room at night. And then it would be car hotel room stage, sing locked. So it was like they pulled the dust cloth off, let us out for a minute. And then it's like back underneath it and I'm like, good. So crazy because you're right.


One Direction & the costs (27:52)

The public will think the absolute opposite. We think one direction, those guys have got total freedom. All the money and what they can do anything. Everyone's, you know, in their nine to five jobs, just thinking I'd love to have that level of freedom that Liam Payne has to do anything, but you can't do anything. That's the opposite. No, I mean, because we were young, I mean, I actually wanted to speak to you about this as well. So obviously you've reached Stratsbury Heights, a young age. It's like, what I found was I didn't know I was the boss until a long, until like a few months ago. I still don't even feel like I am now, like I'm such a child. And everyone I work with is like, don't be raging. All of them, me and why is it the me? And I'm like, what the hell am I doing here with these people? And it's like, you know, when we were 17, I thought the security guard was like in charge of me. Like, I was like, oh, can we leave the room? No. Okay, then not to worry. I'll just stay here. That's what I was like. So I didn't know what the hell I was doing. You know what I mean? It's like, and no one, there's no guidebook. They don't give you a little DVD on the way and saying, here you're a pop star. This is what you got to do. So I'm like in the room, like, where are we allowed to leave? And then eventually that becomes like an angry person. And I was. Yeah. Because there was points where it was toxic and it was difficult. Don't get me wrong. We had the best time ever. We did. But there was moments where through, you know, I mean, there's a big movement on it at the moment and people overworking and like, you don't realize you have a choice at that point. But in those shows, sometimes they don't give you the choice because you want the dream, but you have to realize there is a sacrifice for that. You know, rather than it just, and like I say, I never want to come on these things and whine about stuff. Like I made my own choices in life. You know, being alcoholic, doing whatever else, that would my choice. So you know, it doesn't have to be whiny, but it's just like, there was a sacrifice. And I know what I did sacrifice to be here. You know, everything would have come to learn everything in life. All the goods shit comes with a cost. Oh, and I've learned just from my own experience, like my success, my success is very different from yours. We've got very different paths, but came with a clear cost because you can't go from being 18 year old kid, that's like Nick in Chicago town pizzas to feed himself to being, to building a company by 300 million within six, seven years. What a great sentence that was by the way. I was a fucking lose like loner, but I was in my room for summers upon summers on my own just, you know, because I can hate my parents once talking to me. They said, don't call us until you go back to university years on my, so he wasn't speaking to my family. No friends because I can't even afford to see them. That was the cost for me and what that made is someone who again, isn't very social on the weekends. I spend 99% of my time alone and people are like, oh my God, I'd love to be, I'm like, well, and then, and then I have the same thing you have, which is my brain is always has a thousand tabs open and I can't just go and sit on a sun lounge during tan. Like tan? Tan, it's my brain going to do then. Getting in the bathtub. It's not my worst one as well, but that's it. You're right. And you know what, like, think about someone as simple as someone who like plays guitar. Yeah, I'm out of time. You have to spend alone with that instrument. You're going to be missing a couple of other things that happen in life. Exactly. And that's what it's like. Exactly. And that's for us as, for us as teams growing up, you know, I think people, like I said, I started at 14. That's nuts. Like I was in my school. I remember very clearly the moment that, like the X factor like moment happened when I was, when I was younger and I was playing football on a field and we had an all girls school right next door to us. So I'm just playing football. Like it's a normal day. I've had a few like people like Shatmyan on the street where it was like, cool. You know, 14 years old, the whole school from the other school is on the fence. You're cheating. I'm like banned from that field for life. At first, how does it feel? It was wild, but what their people have done. Good wild? Yeah, it was, it was amazing. I can imagine. I went from like zero to like, I was the, you know, it was the thing. I always say it's be, I wasn't world famous when I was 14, but I was famous within my world. So it's like, well, I didn't leave all the Hampton and everybody in world Hampton knew who the hell I was. So I couldn't go anywhere. So, you know, and at that point, I can't afford a security guard. I'm not especially enough to have any of these like additives. I'm still on the seven nine four eight to, to, you know, my little, my little Christian school. And then what happened over time is, and, you know, people are people, they do what they do, but there was, there was one significant moment for me where I knew that I lost it. And I wasn't going to go back on X-Baptor to be in the band, which would have been wild, by the way. I would not have been here right now. But there was a moment I was in a McDonald's with like a new girlfriend I had at the time, and it had been two years since the show. And I noticed my shows decreased in number, decreased in capacity, and decreased in wages. So I was like down and out at this point. So I've had fame and lost it. And I'm like nearly 16 years old. So that's difficult to deal with anyway at that age. And then I'm in McDonald's. And because everyone still knows who I am, I'm sat there and I literally remember about take a bite this nice juicy burger, someone on the stairs goes, X-Baptor reject and the whole restaurant looks at me. Right, I'm 15 years old. And it was just horrible. What a scumbag thing to say. I know, but it was like, that's the thing. It was almost like a shout out to say, oh, you think you're special, but you're still here in the most Wolverhampton. I guess you've got to understand where that comes from though, from that person. What's going on in there? Well, someone said something to me today. It's not what you do. It's what's happened to you, which I thought was quite, I like that. I'm just going to take a break and suggestion as you know, he will sponsor this podcast. And I've been the biggest evangelist and customer of the brand for many, many years. I drink fuel for a set of very clear reasons. If I don't drink fuel, I skip meals because I'm very, very busy. And the meals that I end up skipping it for don't tend to be the most sort of nutritionally complete. He'll is nutritionally complete. It means that in sometimes in 20 seconds, I can get a meal in a bottle that tastes great. I'm just going to do this podcast for some time. My health is my first foundation. Today, you'll have released a new product. It's the fuel protein powder, 20 grams of protein in 100 calories, roughly, tastiest fuck and it's vegan. Highly, highly recommend trying it. I've tried it. I love it. And I'm going to evangelize it about it from now on. So tell me what happens from there. So I don't want to go too much into this because I know you get asked this stuff all the time. So we don't want to go over old tracks, but that was your first sort of experience with fame. You feel it declining. Ice Cube says some stuff to you in the McDonald's.


Your NFT project (34:15)

Life carries on. And then, yeah, on the point, because I really want to get to this. I know you're working on this NFT project and it's based around this feeling of being it's based around the idea. It was like a I want to call it a syndrome. I don't know what it was. Someone told me something about fame. You enter fame the age. You leave fame the age you entered it. So for me, that was 14, right? So I'm screwed. Like I'm the 14 year old forever child. So that was always a big fear of mine that I have to grow properly. Now from what one direction gave me, I grew massively in some respects to the point that I mean, you all have experiences when you have conversations about business deals and I'm the director of a company. I was a director of a half a billion dollar industry at 22. And I'm like, what the hell does that mean? All it meant was I got to sign 10 times more forms than anybody else. Wild, right? So but then in other things, like if I'm trying to pay car insurance, I'm useless. And then you don't grow in other aspects of your life because you have other people do crap for you like picking up my post and I'm worse personally in the world. I just forget about it. You know, I must lead you open to be to be taken advantage of, right? Because they know that there's some things you don't know. Like you were taking a secret in person. Yeah, that's it. And you're deluded in your growth of whatever. But this is where the NFT idea kind of came from. And it first started as this, this little drawing that I did. And now I wanted to make my own character because I was like, I'm really good at drawing, but we have printers for that. I don't need to be a printer. So then I was like, I need to make something. So I made this like, ethereal creature that was, I wanted to 3D print and stick in a like crystal glass box. And the idea is that he's depressed. He's like a wasp in a beer glass type thing. Okay. Magical creature. If I don't get out sort of thing. So then we kind of came up with this prayer, a turnist idea around fame and what does that lead to? And for me, the way it speaks to me and the way the art speaks to me is that I was afraid of the idea of losing, you know, have a keeping the child with me. I was trying to like, it was like a monkey on my back trying to get rid of him. Whereas for now, the idea for me is more based around, you know, how do I enjoy that? Because what I love when I see my son is that he can be what every once in that moment. You know, I'll be over the house. And he's like, you're a bad guy. I'm a good guy. And I'm like, that's great. And then the next day he's one of them girls from Frozen. No, no, I'm doing this. It's magic powers today. And I'm like, wow, like we lose that. And that's a lot of my problem when I'm sitting doing a task or whatever, the belief system in me has been trodden on through life that much that now I've forgotten about that. They have the ability to do whatever the hell they want. So why would you ever want to lose the child within you in that sense? Wow. And that's coming out as an NFT soon. Coming out as an NFT in like two weeks, I think. It's quite scary. It's wild. I just made it one day in lockdown and then sent it to my manager. I'm going to enjoy the pieces it was. But then it just kind of grew into this thing at the same time that NFTs were growing. Right. As a thing. I mean, how many people ask you what NFTs are, by the way? So many of them, a lot of people. Like I'll get DMs all the time and I'll try and describe what it is. But I think if you say something with enough conviction, people will just believe it anyway. So I'm like, you know, broccoli, I'm like, no, I'll just say anything. Yeah. I know what it is. I'm working on a few projects at the moment with NFTs. But I'm just, you know, with all these emerging technologies and whenever something's new, I'm kind of like probably a little bit like you and Christian. I know you're very, very entrepreneurial in investing a lot now. I just want to be in there like a sponge. So I want like a flag in there just so I can learn. So, yeah. Well, I mean, I think that's a common misconception about this sort of thing as well, is that you always come up with the idea that's coming to you rather than like you say, being that sponge in the middle of the room. If you're not part of the million dollar conversation, you will never part the fucking conversation. Yeah, I know. And that's literally it. It's like be in the moment, like rather than trying to make decisions on, you just have to learn about that stuff and you don't have to know everything. You just have to know someone that does know something. You know what I mean? It's the thing is you get older. I think the vilest thing is that people, those phrases that they used to say to you as a kid, like when I had my child, my mom saying to me, oh, like you're growing up so quickly, like blinking, you'll miss it. And like you're a kid, you're like, yeah, I'm six. I chill out. As you get older, you're like watching it and I watch my song, I'm like, oh my God. Yeah. He's telling me off now. They go up so fast. My niece, I've got a child of mine, according to the Daily Mail, but you know, just like this, where did you get those legs from? I've been teaching mine to swim. I mean, we had a really good conversation today and it's like, it's a whole new loan experience. Once again, there's no handbook and you're just like out there on your own. I still feel like a child in so many ways as you've learned from my NFT. Yeah, yeah, yeah. I'm watching him and like I played him a trailer, a movie trailer. It was this simple. I played him a trailer for a thing and we watched it. We both liked that. Let's stick that on. It was just Disney's hoorayer and a dragon thing. It was about you. You and you knew about a friend's day. I was trying to see one. And so we sat there and then I turned the film on and the first shot of the film was from the trailer. He's going, why are you playing this again? I'm going, no, no, no, we watched a trailer. No, but why is it on the TV again? And it kept like bits get flashing and I'm like, oh my God, this is not helping me. So then I'm like, okay, let me how do I explain this? I was like, you know, like if we like have a plate of food and like I feed you a little bit and then you go, oh, and you don't want it. And then I take it away or if I feed someone, you go, oh yeah, and I give you the whole thing. I was like, that's like this. And then he's going, yeah, but why are we watching it again? You must, did you get scared as a dad about doing the wrong thing or the right thing? Because you say there's no handbook. So you're like, if you feed him this or if you say this, he's going to start saying the C word or at school. I do. Oh, when he did swear once, I was happy I wasn't around for it because I couldn't be blamed. And there's a way to root out, find out who swear word is because he wasn't a combination. I would use. Oh, really? So I knew it wasn't me. Mummy. Who was it? Who was it? We weren't going to that. You said, I don't normally loop back, but there was something you said, which again, my mind, oh, that's really intriguing is you said that you weren't going to reapply for the X factor.


Where would you be if you hadn't gone on X-Factor (40:13)

Yeah, where do you think you'd be? And I'm asking various iterations of this question. Where do you think you'd be in your life now if you haven't have applied for the X factor? So you want the business plan? That's what you want. Yeah. I think you really want to hear the business plan. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. I'll lay out for you. This is actually my plan B system. I don't know if I'm going to invest range child. Okay. So I got a job. The same time, this is really wild work experience when you get school. My dad worked at a factory and I was always obsessed. I was like, this is adult Lego and he built aeroplanes. I was like, this is amazing. I'm going to do that. So I went and I built aeroplanes and they had like a little collection for me. And I did like 400 quid and everyone was like, what did you get paid for your work experience? And I was like, nothing. I was like, I got like 500 quid. But in the middle of my work experience, I went on X factor. So it was almost like I was trialing my two lives almost like I was that sliding doors film or whatever it's called a butterfly effect. Oh, yeah. Yeah. So my thing was I got a job and secured one therefore an apprenticeship, which was like 22,000 a year or something. And then I was like, right. I know my sister paid 60 pound board at the house. So if I just like bored at my parents house, it's 60 pound in fees, then I can save up the other money enough to buy my first house and then rent out. All right. So I'm going to collect the rent by another one and then move into that one. And then it was almost like a convey about system. Nice. You had it all planned out. I had it ready to go. And then X factor room. I mean, you say your favorite TV program was strange, then mine was I watched help my houses falling down and location, location, location, stuff like that. When I was a kid, I was like obsessed. Yeah. So my manager does prop loads of properties. Are you in the odds? You into property? I love property. Really? I wasn't very good at the start, but I'm getting better. You need to teach me some stuff because I have zero properties. I'm renting this place. I was going to say to you, when you do a show like X factor, what are a lot of the sort of people that come out the other end of these shows often say, especially, I mean, very few have had the success that you've had, right? But I can imagine. And I think I might have read this somewhere before, maybe from Little Mix is you feel somewhere in you that you still have something to prove. 100%. Really? 100%. Talk to me about that. I mean, because your success is just stratospheric. It's like in a league of its own. It's wild. So it's a fear that you feel like you still have something to prove is surprising. Well, I mean, I think there's a problem that versus people, we all want something that we feel like we made. But the older I get, the more things I'm like, privy to, you don't really make anything on your own ever. Like, I think there's just about Ed Sheer in the right zone. And even he doesn't write music on his own. So it's like, for one, that feels a little bit like that because you were in the band, and I suppose for each of us as members, we wanted to see what we could do. And I'm really happy with my success as well. What I don't know is how much of this idea was mine to go with as being the music career. You know, you worry about like the life that you might have missed over. I was going to do this, whatever. I always quite like the idea of the army as a kid. That's something I definitely wanted to do. I say yes. Yeah, I love the idea of the army. And boxing's another one. I mean, I've been fortunate to have a bunch of fun stuff. But yeah, I think you always feel like you have something to prove. And I think the end of the day, you're already really proving it to yourself because no one else really cares. Everyone else just looks at you as what it is. And it's not that you want to beat your brand because no one will beat our One Direction, not one of us in our lifetimes. In another lifetime, somebody might crack something. I mean, BTS have had a really good go at it. They've done really, really well. But we were like the new wave of the Beatles. And even still, people didn't say we beat the Beatles. You know what I mean? It's a different era. Exactly. And that's what happened with our fame as well. We were just that of this era. It's the same with Justin Bieber, right? Who the hell is beating that run? Come on. They won't. Someone will be different. Exactly. Exactly. And you like fighting against yourself. I saw that Rocky Balboa now. I'm really intrigued by all of that because you also have these five, so you have five band members that you'll go off and do their own solo careers. And are you, do you compete against each other? Do you try and stay out of each other's lanes? Are you thinking about, oh my God, I don't want to be seen as doing, you know, what this person's doing? I think we did compete with each other at a point. But I think it's all fairly like it's laid out as it is now. And we've all had our success in completely different areas. And also musically, we didn't really go down the same route. I think Harry, Harry's an amazing, you know, I mean, first album, he had the one song off, which is really, really well. And then his second album, he found himself. And that's, that is your awakening as artists. That's when it really clicks. I don't feel like I've had that moment within me yet. I've written some songs recently that I'm really proud of and happy with, but I don't feel like I've had that moment yet. Strip that down, came out and it was, we did a billion streams and I could have never have asked that. I could have never asked that in the many years. But when I was making Strip that down, I was a box of frogs. I was nuts. Well, wild. I didn't know what the hell was going on. And also, I didn't know what the, what the, you know, the hot potato I just landed on me. Oh, he just didn't billion streams. It's like, it literally is like a hot potato. One minute's here, the next minute's gone. So, you know, I'm excited to see what the next, the next six months of this brings, you know, I'm excited to see, to see, we have some really cool song in the pipeline, which is really exciting. Wow. And then the song, one of the first ones I've actually written myself with some of the people I didn't write by myself. But it's, yeah, the first one I've really liked. And I think I got so used to carting around other people's songs and not embedded myself creatively in what I do because I was scared to find out who I was. So it's almost like, that's the thing, when you're selling yourself, you have to know what the hell you're selling. And I'm, you know, I'm sure most people wake up every day going, I don't know what the fuck is going on. And you have to fail to find it out, right? Yeah, 100%. Because you're going to have to try some shit and experiment. Oh my God. And it's like, so say like, you're like geeky kind of growing phase between say 16 to 21, if you're lucky, you might last a bit longer if you're shit. You I did that in front of everyone and there's some terrible outfits. There's some terrible haircuts, you know, and that's a great. That's there forever. I've gotten away with a few hair. Yeah, you've had, you've had some great ones, the short hair, I think not a lot of people can pull out. Like a melon head thing at the back. So I can't, I can't think that people think I'm an alien, but you've had some good haircuts. I've got to be honest. When I read something about strip that down, you said that you were almost scared of the success just as much as scared of the failure. Oh, man. I mean, no one trains you for the moment. It goes right, right? So you leave one direction, you've got your big sort of debut single coming and you're scared of the success. If it does really worry because I know what that can bring to you. What can it bring? Well. I've known, I've finished a day, one of the one days that's took out for me in the last few years where I did a whole days promo in New York. And on the night time, I was on, I think it's an Andy Cohen show or something, and they had a drinking game. And someone asked me a question about one of my ex-girlfriends and I did not want to divulge what the hell went down. And it was a drinking game. So I was like, they were like, we can fill it with water, but me, me, me was like, no, if I'm playing, I'm playing for real. So I'm like, I'm taking tequila. Oh gosh. I'm boom. I'm wasted. I get home at half past one. Bear in mind, I started at like, I want to say eight o'clock in the morning. I was then asleep and I woke up at half past three for vocal training to be in Central Park at seven, for Grumman at five and in Central Park for seven o'clock. Bear in mind, I went to bed at half past one. So I know what it can bring in that that crap will send you insane. I don't remember some days I was here. That will send you round the bend, but it's the, if you want it, if you want it, it's out there for you. You can go ahead and take it. It's like you have to be a workhorse to want to do this. And I think a lot of artists would say that coming out of it. But I don't think it's, you know, it's unfortunate the demand in our industry and also the demand of how quickly people receive information now, you know, our 32nd time, like goldfish timespan that we've got now. I mean, I definitely have that. On the worse. And it went really, really fucking well. It went really well. And then he was like, you know, the part of the problem we had was it was like having a baby. The thing was nine months to get the number one in America. So it took nine months to work the record just to get the number one. So if you can imagine singing the same song every day for nine months and having like one or two songs to back it up with, it was like pretty like, I'm sure somewhere that must be like put down as a method of torture. Yeah. I can imagine. You must. But it's, it's the job man. And it's like it's, listen, the first few shows of anything are amazing. And then after a while, it's like, you'll find bits that will like great on you and whatever else. But you know, I've been so lucky to have the career that I've had and, and you know, let's hope for more of that. That's, that's what I think at this point. But it's learning how to deal and channel that. And that was your relationship like with the rest of the boys.


Your relationship with the rest of boys & touring (49:14)

I'm sure you get asked this all the time. But I agree. Great. Most of them. I think everyone's settling into themselves at this point. I know I am for sure. I had a lovely phone call from Harry the other day. He was checking in on me. And I mean, it's almost like some people have got six cents for you, right? That you're going through something. So they're checking in and he was, he's very much like that. He's a lovely, lovely boy. I love him to pieces. And then, I'm Louis. I speak to a lot. And we've always had a really, really close connection. And the funny thing for us, and I've said this a lot, but we were, we hated each other at the start. But it's almost the people that you grow closest to, you know, and I'll, I'll say it because he bought it quite recently. But, you know, the whole thing is to talk about the reunion. Like for me, I'd rather be talking about it sooner rather than later. Because I don't want to, it's tough touring that, that sort of record. And I enjoyed touring for what I enjoyed it for. But there's parts of it that really, really fucked me up, man. In a sense, I'll be honest with you. But none of us talk about it. It's taboo subjects like, oh, we can't get back together. What do you mean? Oh my God. We're like us in the same room. What the fuck is that about? What the fuck is your about touring? My dad said it from day one, lonely hotel rooms, man. Getting locked in that room is not fun when you've been exposed. I mean, I've come off gigs before I did a gig in Dubai. I was really worried no one was going to show up. It was one of my first solo gigs by myself. And I suppose I'm uber self critical. I'm always like, I don't know what the hell's going on. So I get to this park. And the capacity for the park is like, you've never seen, I'm looking at like a park. I'm like, how the hell? And I'm thinking, if we're getting paid a lot of money to be here, this is going to be really embarrassing if nobody shows up. And I don't know anybody in Dubai. I can't even call 10 friends to be here. So I'm like, at dinner, I'm not eating my food and whatever else. And I get back to the gig and there's people chatting in and, and Liam, and I'm like, okay, there's people here. Oh my God, I can chill. I get out there and I'm like, awash with these sea of people. And I notice the sound systems hella quiet behind me. It's making sense. I know I get through the gig and you auto-pilot the hell out of it. When I got off stage, they like, oh, you broke a record. You're on a list with Michael Jackson. It was 110,000 people. I'm like. And I was like, I, I, I, I shoot you not. I got back to my hotel room when I was sat in my room on a chair like this. And I was about to go to the Maldives with, with Cheryl and Bear. And I'm like, I don't think I can go to the Maldives right now. I can't move off this chair. How did, how did you feel on that chair? Shocked. What like, to go from like, I don't know who's going to be here to then. I looked on the thing and it's like, Oasis, Robbie Williams, or he's amazing. You know, AC DC, all these outdoor gigs and mains and outdoor gigs. And then just me and Michael Jackson. And he's in there like three or four times. He's, you know, he is the list. But I was on the same list. I'm like, what the? Can't be easy. Like go back to hotel room. Like, that's it. It's just muted. It's almost like, you know, like in that, in a movie where they throw a grenade and he goes. And then everyone's like, and you're like, Oh my God. Yeah, because I've done nine thousand, fifteen thousand in Sao Paulo. I mean, I did a talk with Obama. That's me name dropping. Oh, wow. But, but it, they're not chanting. They're all very quiet. I mean, they clap at the end, but they make you feel you just feel like a different. I can completely relate because I was thinking last year, I lived in New York City, but I was, I was speaking around the world 50 weeks of the year. So I was home four weeks. And yeah, I go back to the hotel room. Sometimes, you know, I haven't eaten because of the adrenaline. And it's very lonely and you're like, well, you tube and what do I do now? Yeah, but 110,000 people screaming your name and you're performing. I had the Prince or the King or something to Dubai dancing to strip that down. Oh, wow. Need to get out and take a country where you can be. And he can't strip it down, which I thought he was dancing. You know, we were talking about the touring here. The touring park really messes up to the hotel rooms. Yeah. A return of one day. I saw like a thing of people being like angry at ex-factors this last few weeks. And I wanted to say something about it, but I don't really know what to say on my terms. Because I feel like there's obviously going to be some people in there who are bitter. And you sign up for this show. You don't really know what the hell you're getting yourself into. But I would agree and I we've actually gone out of our way as a team to make this possible for me. And I think a record label just bought into the idea of what we've made. And I was the guinea pig. Right. So pick the craziest person in the room. Start with that. Good place to start. And we made this thing to like care for people in the industry because we don't have unions. We don't have people to look after us. And I was a kid. You know, I was a child when this happened to me. And I'm very fortunate to still be here today to be able to tell this story. But for most people, they feel abused or something in some sense. So I just think that there needs to be a self care system within these shows. Because if they're going to move people through these shows and use them to make television, they can't just like let them off afterwards. And I could never watch Ex Factor because I was always heartbroken because I'd been the guy who made it really far and then got let go. And it ruined me when I was 14. I was crap at school, depressed, like it ruined me at one point. But I've also then been the guy who I think my dad actually came out and said it in a thing we were filming once. He was like, you've been told no more than any winning Ex Factor contestant or like any successful Ex Factor. I was like, thanks, dad. What an unusual experience. Wild. If you were to tour again, would you do it differently? Would you have? I don't actually even know how I would tour again. I really want to and like I want to put I always said throughout this solo career, I'd let my song book speak to me. And I don't think my song book has necessarily spoke to me enough to get me off my ass to go somewhere yet. I only became a solo artist because I had stripped that down. I wasn't going to do it. I was going to leave it alone. Music. Yeah, I was going to leave it hell alone. I was like, I survived once. Thank you very much. But now I'm back in. Why? Because the song I knew it was right. It felt right with the song. Whereas I haven't had that. And this year, the song that we have, I feel really right about. So I would rather let the music do the talking than me come out and, you know, I mean, it's such a fast moving industry these days. It's one of the biggest races in the world. Right. If we had a start line for how many musicians there are trying to make it right now, and who's going to outwork the other one, we'd need a very big track. So it's just kind of got to that place. We don't need any more useless music in the world in my eyes. It needs to mean something. Said something, you know, in the previous answer that you've said online, which is that you're lucky to be here.


I am lucky to be here, have I hit my rock bottom (55:37)

One of the most moving things I've ever seen, which honestly disturbed me in a state with me my entire life was that Vichy documentary. And the way that his management were pushing him and he had social anxiety and God, it just haunts me. You know what with those things? I mean, I've spoken to managers who've lost people and different. And I've definitely put strain on a lot of people in my life in the back. You see it best be back. It's a bit different person. I don't like talking about it. You know, I think it's hard. It's just as hard for the team around you at points as it is for you. Because we didn't all know how the hell we got here. Everyone's kind of looking around like, we don't really know how the hell we got here. So where's the next move? And there's always someone who will pull you through. I've been very, very fortunate now with the people that I had to pull me through my my bits. And it's, you know, and that's why I say this care system is so important, right? We, in music is the lifeblood of a lot of our things. It's the background to our movie scenes, when we're sat in the back of the car looking long, fully out the window. But when we don't want to look after the thing that's kind of feeding us that much, you know what I mean? For artists in the sense they do need that. I feel that it doesn't need to get lost in translation in other things. It genuinely needs to be a care system. But then everyone's over therapy these days in that sense anyway, but it's like, if you want it, it should be available. You know, is there, was there a moment where you look back and say that was the lowest moment for me and that was the pivotal moment? I feel them. I was worried how far my rock button was going to be. Where's rock button for me? And you would never have seen it. I'm very good at hiding it. No one would have ever seen it. But rock button. I mean, I don't even know if I hit it yet. You know what I mean? I feel like it's like one of those graphs you see when it's like, oh, we hit the, the, you know, support the market support. You'll be there at least support level. Oh my God. You know, it's the same thing. So it feels like I can even make that choice now and pick my last moment as my rock at the bottom or I can make a new one and make a whole new low as my choice. You said online that you, you had previously been masking your emotions and feelings. And this was something that you were trying to try to get over. Said you, you tried to learn to deal with your emotions instead of masking them. How important has that been? This is something I really struggle with. I tell you why, because I was CEO of a company, you know, 27 years up, 26, 27 years old, 700 employees and wild. All around the world, these adults that are double my age and I have to be, right? My business partner, he'll tell you. Yeah. It's been on the public. It's a fellow way, right? Alcoholic, ponal this way, depressive anxiety, fellow way. So I'm carrying him because I need because we are co-founders. We're seen as a unit. So when he's out in the street, you know, he won't mind me saying this because he's been drinking all day with the team and he's stealing bottles of wine off other people's tables, just total strangers. And he's stealing things in public, which you get arrested for with parts of his body that I'm not going to talk about. When he's doing those things, I'm getting a phone call. I'm 26 and I have to not only manage him, my business partner, but then I'm having to manage all the impact that's had on all of our employees. And I felt that I could never talk or be vulnerable. You are the thing I find so... But that's why I said it's not... People don't realize it's not just, you know, and what happened to a VQ is terrible by the way. And I haven't seen the documentary. I didn't watch. I actually knew someone who knew who worked with him. He wrote with me as well. And he said that why he saw what was going on was not good. But for the most part, for a lot of these people, there's usually somebody in there that's not very good. But everyone else is trying to help and you don't see the effect it's having on them as well. You live and die by the sword. I live and die by my sword. That's it. But the person who's behind trying to pick up the shield to help me, they haven't even got the fucking sword. They're just diving into battle for you. And that's the difference. You know what I mean? It's like people miss out on that bit. So it's never just on that person. You know what I mean? A lot of my stuff. If I hadn't had the help, I had... I don't know where the hell I'd be right now. So that's a credit to you in a sense. It's super, super tough. I think with the... The bit that I really respect you for, though, is you're very open about it. You talk about it. You talk about going to therapy. You talk about your lows. You talk about being unsure if you would even be here. And that's going to do a lot of good for a lot of people. Oh, so I mean, the worst bit for me is... I think it seems so much as a tool these days to hide behind the points. And for me, it's never about that situation. I'm just telling you as what it is. And that's the bit where I think, like I say, I don't want any of this to get lost in translation. I am not 1% moaning about my life. I love my life at the minute. My life's great. It's not as sad as it sounds, but it's... Yeah, I think I'd rather talk about it and it's therapeutic for me. And it's been a really good chat, by the way. This is a cool chat. I like this chat a lot. There's been some shit ones that we've never... Because I'm genuinely asking you questions that I give a fuck about. Yeah, that's it. That's the point. And I'm telling you the thing that's not trying to hide behind some sort of bullshit thing. And like I say, I think there's many people who have this effect on therapy and all those things and sobriety. And I ain't saying everyone at home, by the way, should go sober. I ain't telling them to go vegan. I ain't telling them to do whatever. I'm saying this is what I did and it worked pretty OK for me so far. So... You're making a... You made a movie, you wrote a movie, right? I've been working on something for a while.


You made a movie? (01:01:12)

I mean, Christian spoke about it a few weeks ago and... It's funny that it's based around AA, but I had a really weird AA experience the first time that I went into. What's AA for anybody that doesn't know? Alcoholics, not all of us. Right. And I... My first experience was with Russell Brand, which have you seen "Game to the Greek" or any of those other movies? I went to his house and I love Russell. There's something about that sentence that I can't get over. My first experience was with Russell Brand. OK. I mean, yeah, exactly. I mean, it's house. I'm in this dude's house. And I've only seen him on the movies and as a comic. And my bookie, "Wookie", I love that stuff. And I know a lot of things about him, but I'm not... I'm a really shy person when I first meet. And I'm like, "Oh my God." So he makes me a coffee and we sit talking about our experiences. And I've never seen someone look at me the way he looked at me. Like, "Find you a man who looks at you." Like Russell Brand looks at you when he's listening to your stories, because he looks into your soul. I was born again. And then we went to this meeting. It was an all-male meeting. And there was everything in the meeting from prison guards to ex-soldiers, to ex-cons, to post-men, to bin men, to everything. And then me and Russell Brand. So I'm like, "This is the weirdest room I've ever been in my life." We're in some old community church room or whatever. And then he's taking the chair in the room. So my first experience of AA was like the best experience ever. Because it was like he was just doing stand-up. It was unbelievable. He was doing stand-up in an aim. No, it's like they have one of chairs to... Oh, I can't believe that. The idea is that if they say like, "Oh, can you talk about relationships now?" It was affected by alcohol. Then he'll tell the story of... - His right. - His alcoholism or, you know, narcotics thing. And then you're linking from his experience to go, "Oh my God, I'm the same as you." And that's how it works. I'm not going to give the whole script away, because otherwise I'll tell you the whole film. But I kind of came up with this film. I haven't spoken to Russell by it, which is the first thing I have to do, because it was from him that this obviously I'm in a movie right now. Like, and I'm one of the characters and I'm sat here going, "I don't know what the hell I'm doing here, but apparently I'm alcoholic and I've got a problem." "Oh my God, what's going on?" The walls are closing in. - The wall's now. - The wall's now. Yeah, exactly. The wall for wall street was in the corner over there. No, it was wild. So it's... I'm excited about it and I think it's really funny. I showed it one of my friends. And she was... she realizes she left a lot of it, so we'll see. Quick one. As a serial entrepreneur, that's currently building multiple projects across multiple industries, everything from the marketing industry to blockchain to consumer goods, everything. One of the things that has been a lifesaver for me, and again, a company that I reached out to to evangelize about on this podcast, because I'm a loyal customer and they ultimately ended up sponsoring this podcast, is Fiverr.com F-I-V-E-R-R. What that site allows me to do is extend my capacity across all of my projects. If I'm looking for a graphic designer, someone to edit a video, someone to do a website for me, it allows me to extend my capacity without hiring people. And the quality of freelancers on Fiverr has been amazing. And when the trust and the service you get is that phenomenal, and the services offered are that diverse, it's a no-brainer. Whether you have one member of staff, you're a freelancer yourself, or a thousand members of staff, Fiverr can be a game changer for you. And I'd love you guys to check it out. Use the link below. Go to Fiverr.com/ceo. And send me a screenshot if you end up using the service. One of you's going to win something very amazing. What else is going on in your life in terms of business and investing and projects and stuff like that? When you think about the direction of travel that you want to take over the next 10 years, which directions do you want to focus on and go in?


What does the next 10 years looks like for you? (01:04:48)

You're investing tons, you've got your own businesses now, everyone's going to say the same thing to you every time you have an interview. They're going to say, when is the reunion? I mean, I've had wild, my business learning curve from the day I first got my first check, and I went to the manager. I'm like, what do you invest your money in? Because he had the biggest garden in London. I was like, he's a good place to start. He had the biggest home garden, which you don't think he does anymore, Steve, do you? Okay, apparently he doesn't anymore. Apparently he did when I was younger. He did. So I'm like trying to ask him what he's investing on about gold and whatever else. Then you learn about safe haven currencies and all these other things. Then I started to branch out a little bit more, a little bit more. Then I went on to properties, which was always the one I wanted to do. And then when I was 19, I nearly bought a fighting agency, which was fun. A fighting agency. Bama. I got bought into buy Bama when I was 19. So I roll up to this in my Burberry coat thinking I'm an absolute bad man, because I'm about to buy England's UFC. Oh, okay. Okay, fine. Right. So I go to this arena in Manchester and I'm looking, but he's not great. Everything else. I'm looking at all the stuff. And you're a kid. So I'm a kid. And I mean, I remember being in front row with a fight and some guy behind me, obviously doesn't like the band very much like, "Sit out, shut up, whatever else." Every fighter then after got out the ring and shook my hand. And I just kept looking behind thinking, "You still got up to the day?" Just say, "Do you know the guy with the scary clown mask?" I just need that where the guy's nose off. Like he's my friend. He's my son. So I was like, "Yeah, exactly." And then I went and met everybody afterwards. And I got in with company, but unfortunately the deal wasn't great. I put it through one of my investors that I have. And then it's like people try to catch you out. And this was always my biggest problem. I very fortunate to live in some lovely places. And every time someone would show up at my door to do something and the job would cost £500, they would try and charge me £50,000 because the house was big. And I'm like learning early on like, but don't get me wrong. I've spent some money on some stuff I shouldn't have meant money on. You and me both. Um, uh, yeah, I mean, I'm not going to go into detail. I'm going to get lots of money. Like my thing I always say to people is like, "I will tell you where I lost as much as I tell you where I win." You can't make mistakes though, right? We can't make mistakes. And like my point is I'm going to do better than whatever my last mistake was anyway. That's the point. If I trust myself enough, it won't matter in the moment. When you think about money though, you know, you didn't come from money. You didn't come from the back. When you started, I read that your dad had tons of debts and stuff like that.


Personal Insights And Future Aspirations

Your relationship with money (01:07:15)

And so your relationship with money will be very, very different as you've gone over the last decade than a lot of other people. Because to you, it was probably something that you thought was, you built up more when you were younger, right? Yeah. And I think as a kid, grow in and especially if you like rap music as well, it becomes a completely different thing. Oh God. Rap music made me spend a hell of a lot of money. I would say, yeah, I mean, I have one of my friends over recently. And my family, my dad made decisions in an house of what was going on and stuff. He did them for the right reasons. So I stand by that and he doesn't need to feel any pain in that whatsoever because he wanted us to go on a holiday and go to America and he would bury himself. And he was so stressed. He said at one point in his life, he woke up and he couldn't remember his own name because he was so far in debt that he was already covering the interest, which I can't imagine how that feels. I mean, it probably feels the exact same. Oh, I feel some days with the other side of it, which is wild. And we won't get into that. But at one point in my life, I mean, my friend, you know, professional poker player now, but he was quite a rich kid at school because he was like playing poker since he was like 13. So when we would go down to get breakfast, I couldn't afford it. And he'd buy me like 20 P's worth of toast and I couldn't afford it. Nice. Which is wild. So then when you get money, I didn't know my family were poor, but they were fucking, you know, we were not in a good place. So how did that impact your relationship with money when you finally got it? Um, were you a splurger? Do you mean, points? Yes, on certain stuff I would, but not. I'm more of a worrier than I was a splurger. I was like, because of where I lived and where I was from, I knew it could disappear. So I was always really cautious about protecting what I have and only spending what I own. That's money and happiness. Talk to me about the link. A lot of people. There isn't one. Yeah. So to myth. So I think money, I think the way to think about money, I mean, there's a beautiful thing I had as a kid. And when we used to go to church, the woman got a five pound note out. And she said, uh, have you ever read a five pound note? And I was like, no, I haven't. I was like, fire, and now. And she's like, uh, if you read it, it says, I promise to pay the bearer of this note. Five pounds of money is promises, which I thought was great. But if you develop on that and conversations I've had with people, money is, is care and the ability to relax on certain things. Life's going to kick you in that. Not sometimes. And you're going to need something to help those around you. So it's never so much been for me about spending money on me. And sometimes I have to remind myself to shop because I'm terrible. And I'm one of those people who like, well, go on a shop, fill a basket, and then just not do the rest of it. I leave it there. And I'm like, oh, yeah, I feel like I bought something. Now that's good. At least I did something fun with what I'm working my ass off for. But I'm not like that. So it's like, in terms of with things with my family and different things that have happened, like my dad's debt for all those sorts of different reasons, I'd rather have it on hand and if something God forbid happens to any of us, you know, my family and the last people they ever asked me for anything. And I'm the first one to go, this is why we do. What we do, you know? You have a son, bear, beautiful child.


Your son applies to X-Factor what do you say? (01:10:06)

He tells you that he's going to apply for X Factor someday. This is a tricky one. This is a tricky one. I think his mom's hoping he's going to become like yoga person. His mom's very chill these days. He says, I'm getting Instagram and I'm going to do X Factor. What'd you say to him? I mean, he's got the best advice from the parents around him for long run, I guess, but I don't know. I think he's going to want to. Obviously, we protected his identity to start off with. And that's not being pretentious or anything other than the fact that I want to give him a chance to be bear first before he has to be, oh, your mom and dad are so and so, you know? And I made my choice to be where I was at 14, 15. So I figured he can make his own choice then too. We'll have a good discussion about it, a long discussion, because I know what effects that can have as well. But I would never stop him doing something you wanted to do. I'd let him know the risks and I'd tell him what was going to happen. And better that than, you know, my parents didn't really ever experience any of the things I've experienced before I got this. They had no idea what I was signing up for. Would they change it? Probably not. But they would change some things that happened in between across the way I bet 100%. But he says he's going to do the show. You'd give him the disclaimer in the warning. What would you rather he did? If you could, as a dad, you could be that authoritarianist. If you could choose, would it be to walk in your footsteps? Something that he enjoys doing every day. And I mean, I say that lightly because I think everything that you do, depending on what kind of person you are, becomes annoying at a point. It's not what you'll be doing. It's like, I don't really have to do that again. You know, like my dad, I used to think my dad's job was the best job ever. Like building an airplane is an adult Lego. Like I said, as my dad's like, do not end up in that bloody factory. That's the last thing you want to do. Would you want him to follow in your footsteps though? No, I don't believe he did it better than I did. Really? Yeah. I don't know. I think sometimes you can get lost in the connection part of this game. And I think that's always been a difficult thing for me to connect with people. Because I put so many barriers up before you get to actually what's going on. You know, it's almost like hurtling them in a way. Why do you think those barriers are up? Protection. I think it's protecting people from what's, you know, if you turn up in the disguise at a time, then you can always blame it on the disguise. The moment you're not wearing one, you got nothing to blame it on. And what is it that your manager over there, Steven, would know about you that you probably make.


What don’t we know about you? (01:12:29)

I know, in terms of like... That ain't a box you got on this. In terms of like, you know, what someone who knows you very well would say about you that we wouldn't expect just from what we see online. You talk, because you talk a lot about this, wearing this mask, you know, wearing it in disguise, even in your relationships. I'm really trying to understand, because we've been here maybe now for two hours, whatever. And as time goes on and on and on, you get to know someone a bit better, you know, and like my barrier goes down a bit, yours goes down a bit, we get more comfortable. And I'm like, who is that person behind that? That people don't know, because... I don't know. I mean, I think it's a certain part for me having to translate it from music. It's difficult. And I am opinionated to an extent. Sometimes they can get me in trouble or some shit and I hate that. That really does annoy me because it's like everyone's in touch. So they don't want to say about something, right? You can disagree on whatever. Yeah. But I think for me, I hide behind humor a lot. I make everything I can for me. And then that will leave it to not be as... Offensive. Oh, okay. Interesting. I really want to get an idea of when you look towards the future professionally. What is the positioning that Liam Payne is hoping for? I guess, you know, from what you've described for bear, you just want to be doing things you enjoy. Yeah, I think so. I think that's, you know, there's been a slow road up to that point. And it's just doing things for the right reasons. I mean, we're in a beautiful age right now. You are your own press, which is actually great for artists if we learn to do it the right way. This whole thing I used to hate was going on and off talk shows, going on and off and doing this, doing everything else that seemed to be for everybody else. And it was promo in your record, but then the record bites and you get nothing out of it. And it's like everybody else got there five minutes, but the record just didn't do what it wanted. So it's like, you know, I want to experiment with the way I promo my records. So make sure that the record is taken before I go and halfway around the world's going, oh, no, this is a great song. And no one hears it. Oh, great. That worked well. You know what I mean? But it's like almost, you know, I think the music industry and listen up people, I think the music industry is in a place where people need to throw out the old, the old, you know, marketing format for these things. And it's almost like when you see companies that try and do TikToks, don't do it like that because we can see right through what you're doing. You've made a TikTok and I was supposed to that, but it's not funny. And it's the same for the music industry. It's like, there's a new way that people are promoing things there. You know, Billy Irish came from a bedroom and did this and did that. And it worked out really well, but it wasn't the same format that you used back in 2010. Even on, I mean, the way the industry's changed while I've been in it has been wild. And I've only been here, I've been here a decade, just over a decade now. But it's insane. But I just think record labels and sometimes people spend budget on stuff that they don't need to do. You have your format, you have your fan base, grow it organically, properly, not through, you know, I don't know, the way we're doing things at the moment. Because sometimes it's just like, I don't know why the hell we're doing this.


Social media (01:15:32)

Social media, your relationship with it. That's been my industry for the last decade. Good thing, bad thing. What's your relationship with it at the moment? I think it's good. I think it's a difficult thing to manage. I love the idea of what TikTok does, but for me, I don't want to get sucked into my phone with watching stuff constantly. And you do and you need to be on your learning stuff. And it's a hard, funny video, whatever else. But if you're for you, Paige, it's just funny dogs. Yeah, it's fucking funny. And you're in it. What the hell's going on? You know, that's what it does to me. I'm like, oh, really? So I don't know. I've seen a lot of different technology coming in and go out of my industry from the time from Twitter. And I honestly think there's a strong case for saying that we owe a little bit of our success to the way Twitter was, because worldwide trends weren't a thing before One Direction, before One Direction were an expatter. Whereas on that night, we could trend everywhere. And then people would go, oh my god, what's this? So magically, oh, the biggest band on expatter was the same time Twitter came out. It's perfect storm stuff. So I think it's great. I think we have a funny way, like I say, with the coins, that the markets just had the most weird few months of people making hoe coin, hoe coin plus, hoe coin extra, hoe coin. There's 90 of them. And I'm hearing all of my friends going, I did you buy doggy, doo doo doo doo doo doo. 21, no, no, no, I bought star, star corn. You know what I mean? I'm like, what the hell have we doing? We're talking in code. You know? And it's like that, but rather than the technology that works, Ripple, Ethereum, you know, things that have real world application rather than coins that are, hey, everyone, I made a coin that's about, you know, tripods for cameras. This tends to happen at the start of these like exponential bubbles. You get this like, weeds out the crap. Weeds out the crap. That's what happens to me. The markets took a big dip because they're trying to weed out some of the stupid stuff. And because it's an unregulated thing, it's like, but I find that that's with the same with social media. We need to weed out the bad stuff and focus on the good. There's a lot of debate at the moment because of the racism that some footballers have experienced. Marcus Rashford did a big post the other day that, you know, how do we, how do we stop people putting monkey emojis or any kinds of like abuse on, you know, because what happened, what I think is happening from a psychological standpoint is they see Lee in pain. They think he is up there on that mountain. That is not a human being. If I throw a rock and I hit, I might get a little bit of attention from him. So they pick up a rock. But that's why I sent you at the start about bringing people up to your level. And I wonder, but it's not so much for them that they can get away from, from, from not saying something about that. You know what I mean? I feel they have to speak about it. And it's difficult. We are going through a really fast moving era with everything in the moment. I mean, you wish there was an algorithm that would just beat that, right? But they will find some way of spelling it differently. And it'll just, you know, verify. I think they verify everybody's idea. I think that would kill 99% of it. Yeah. I actually thought of a thing for this, for voting. Because voting for me was always a really difficult thing. We all have our iPhones. We have our thumbprint that goes on. Why can't we verify via thumbprint to get accounts and then nap on your report? 100%. It was that great Black Mirror episode where that woman's going through life, trying to get these likes. And she's like desperate. You've seen that. Oh, I've got to please. I need to be in this neighborhood. But I know I was a five star this morning. You're just like, oh, I'm out of here. You know, you need a horrible crap on the way, darling. I'm sorry. But that's what life will eventually be policed by, I imagine, in a way. Speaking of Black Mirror, I guess this is a strange tangent. But when I had Johann Hari on the podcast last week, one of the key themes here is that all this technology and social media has taken the meaning out of our lives. Because dating now happens on these screens. People order their food by tap, tap, tap. And it shows up at the door. Even now with COVID, we're now working from screens. We used to have an office, offices we could go to now, it's all screens. And it feels like the world is getting more and more social. I mean, what's amazing is we were also worried about technology pushing us away from each other when COVID hit, right? Yeah. But it was the only thing that saved us. Thank God, when COVID did hit. Which I thought said a lot more about technology's good sides than it did about the bad sides. I mean, it's up to you how you use your platform in the end and what you let it do to you. Like I say, I enjoy TikTok, but I watch a few videos. And I watch things that people send me. I don't really have a for you page. I don't really go through it constantly. Yeah. Because there's, you know, I mean, it's difficult with kids and screens, man. I have one, and then I watch them. And I'm like, oh, I really want to like, you know, we go, I make them go out and do stuff. And sometimes we fall out big. We have a row about. Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. Sometimes it's not good. But he's learning with it, you know, and it's that it's, like you say, for all of us, we are the guinea pig generation for these things. We're learning, you know, we're the first. Yeah, we're the character generation. To be affected by an algorithm. And to be connected. What about the people who first experienced hay fever? They figured out the way around that, you know what I mean? It's like, for me, it seems like we will figure out the right things of it, but it's weeding out the bad sides of it and what it does. Like, I think if your TikTok screen is advice and videos about learning stuff or like stuff that you're actually really interested in, you enjoy, not just random funny crap. Because that's what you've been frame was, right? You want to find yourself watching you've been framed all day? Really? Because that's what you're doing. Or even worse on Instagram, keeping up with the Kardashians. Oh, look, she's amazing. She's 10 out of 10. Oh, and she's rich. Oh, her life's perfect. And look at my life site here in my box. She's short, see this pot noodle with my sell your life. Yeah, but that's the true illusion. Because I bet you... Of course it's an illusion. But it's an illusion designed to destroy yourself for steam, isn't it? Yeah. But I also think there's... I think there's a fine line between these things and accepting everybody and all this stuff is a given. But I don't think that in the process of that, we want to lose the thing to settle for ourselves. You know, there was a big debate about me on loose room at one point, which... I was all right with it. It was okay. I understood what they were saying. But I worked really hard for what I did in my underwear commercial. You know, and it was... It did overtake my life in certain respects. Yeah, for sure it did. But it was actually an aim of mine. It's one of the only things I've ever rained for, was to try and do an underwear commercial. So I remember I went to my meeting with the company I was working with. And they were like, "No, no, we don't want to do that with you." And I was like, "No, trust me. Just trust me." And they gave... To be fair, they put the trust in me. I went and trained my ass off and I got myself where I wanted to be. But then it was like people worried about people's self-esteem, looking at the picture and whatever else, I get that. But I quite enjoyed the idea of looking at someone and being like, "Wow, that's cool, man. I'm going to go out and get that." What an underwear commercial. I just thought I could do it. I thought I could. And I wanted to challenge myself in the gym to... It was... It's hard to be strictly about looking in the gym. Sure. They're not function. That was the bit I battled with myself a little bit. But it's like, "Yeah, I think you want to go out and get it, go out and get it." But I don't think we should... Like I say, in accepting everybody, let's not lose the idea of striving for something as well though, because it's so hard to say, "Yeah, I'm perfect." It was an advert I saw somewhere the other day and I thought, "Are we really that narcissistic that we have to call all ourselves perfect for everyone to be okay with each other?" Like I'm not getting trouble for saying some of this stuff, but it's just like my thought is like, I want to teach the next generation to strive for things as much as I want them to feel confident in themselves. It's almost like being a parent, right? You're going to mess them up somehow. Like if we start saying we're perfect, I guarantee next we'll be like, "Well, that's not worked out well, so let's rewrite the plan on that." You know? And I just think everyone just give each other a break and just go, "Dude, what you like?" Have you figured...


What makes you happy? (01:23:02)

It's taken me some time to try and understand what it is that actually makes me happy. I used to once upon a time when I was broke. This is a big one. I was going to end on this big question, but I used to think it was like, "Oh, I'll get a Lamborghini and then I'll be happy." And that's why my book is called Happy Sexy Millionaire, because I thought that I wrote in the first page of my diary 18, I wrote, "Rain Drovers, I bear in mind I didn't have a driver in this and I was stealing Chicago town pizzas at the time. Rain Drovers sport will be my first car. I'll make a million before I'm 25. I'll get a really hot girlfriend and I'll work on my body image. What I meant is I'll get six pack. I just don't want to write that." And I thought, "That is the goal of life." I get those things. Rain Drovers my first car made a million before I was 25, and I'm like, "Where is the confetti?" And if that's not it, then what the fuck is life about? I mean, what happens when you wake up in every day's a dream? I mean, I don't mess you up. I often have looked for the moment in life where I bagged my head and I might be in some sort of comorous dream that I've invented for myself. Like, I was that messed up as a point. I was like, "I'm sure this is the simulation, guys. I must have made this war because I can't be here, because of where I was yesterday." So it was, you know, there's those wild things that if you let them creep in, they will f you up bad. Someone says to me to be quite interested in the other day, "Our view of what we hunt for as humans has changed. We don't hunt for food anymore. We hunt for success." There's almost like the target went from animals in corn and food to friggin' Lamborghinis and that sort of stuff. But that's what we strive for now. Like, even to the point like you were saying earlier about your, you're so glad he was here, because that supplements your food sometimes. You're that driven by your drive that you forget you're going to eat sometimes. And I was the same at work, "Oh my God, I'm terrible." Like, I'm known for skipping lunch breaks and working through the day to get home quicker, because I can go without, I'll just muster on fruit. But think about that. You've got to ask your basic survival instinct to your wild writing against your health for like, like, queens? Yeah, exactly. But I might miss this thing that I'm exactly the same. It's something that I think that we struggle with in this respect. And it's like, priorities. I don't know anything about what makes me happy at this point. I really don't. Really? No, I've found a couple of things that I think I'm interested in. But like, the thing is once you start making money on these scales and things that happen, it only becomes the drive that's interesting to you. If it's going to fast forward you somehow, and that's not that toxic thing that we've funny enough, we've come full circle. But that's, it's the same sort of thing. And I think, I think it's a big problem for me, because if it's not, I'm thinking, "Why am I?" And that's why drawing for me was the biggest one at the time, because I was like, "This is what children do. Why should I do this?" And then funny that I drew something that was about being a child was that it's weird how things go full circling in that respect. But yeah, I often struggle to get on with something if I don't think it's forwarding me in life somehow, rather than just enjoying the moment or going out and watching the sunset. One of my biggest things that made me happy while I was training was the 4am getting up in the dark. And this sounds like I am some sort of psychopath. And I was. But you're like, go into the park, run for a little bit, and then stand on the thing and watch the sunrise. It was the best thing. And you know why? It's fucking free. You can stand and watch the sunrise and go, "Wow, thanks for another day." Sort of thing. And that sounds really woo-sah and light really far out spiritual. But for me, it wasn't like that. I just enjoyed seeing how beautiful this moment was. And I was the only person in Hyde Park running at 4am every single day. And it was some of the best time I've had in life. They've done studies, kind of linking to what you're saying there, where if they give someone a game, and I wrote about this a little bit, if they give someone a game that they enjoy, people will do it, and they'll have high motivation to do it. If you then pay the same person to do the same game, their motivation will decrease. I have a big problem with this. So you can love doing something, and then the reward starts to become extrinsic, which is external, which is money. Your motivation decreases. And this is why it's very, very important. Even for me with this podcast, I started it because I love doing it, love meeting people. When it starts to become a commercial thing, it moves into being a job. And then the science says, "My motivation will decrease." So it's interesting, though, because you talked about your drawing. You started drawing because it was a... And then it becomes this, and it becomes an NFT, and it becomes a business. And then it starts off to do. And then you're like, "Oh my God, I don't want to do this thing." I'm here again. Yeah, exactly. Yeah. Exactly. You said you've not figured out what makes you happy. Definitely not yet now. That's me in a few years. I mean, so what's my conclusive point been for what makes me happy? Professionally, it's super clear for me now. Having a... and these are key words. So a worthwhile challenge that I'm doing with people that I love. And I've come up with that based on a ton of things. Some of the things that you've said fit perfectly into it. When you look at Tyson Fury when he's not in the gym, depressed, when you look at gold, um, Olympians, whether they win or lose at the Olympics, they get depression. Because they've reached the mountain top and there's nothing else to strive for. And so when I was going through my notes and thinking, "The day that someone offered me 50 odd million to buy my business was one of the worst days of my life in Gary Vaynerchuk." I know you're doing some stuff with him. He says the same thing. When I spoke to him on the podcast, he was like, "The day when I buy the New York Jets will be the worst day of my life, it's like, I hope it happens on my deathbed." Because not having something to strive for. And this has been a big struggle of mine for men. You lose orientation, right? When you're training for the Olympics, we're going this way. This is our purpose in life. When the Olympics is over, you ain't got no fucking direction. Well, I mean, look at this and talk about direction. My, that whole thing for me and that mountain for me was 1D. And music after that, like I said, you're never going to keep up with what we did. Like we sold so many records and we did something. We broke so many records. We did so many things. You know, I mean, we were in stadiums every day, 94,000 people every day. Like I was in like, I used to break into Wembley Stadium on the nighttime because it was fun. And I was smashed. And I thought these people aren't going to recognize me. I've broken into every major stadium in America. Honestly, and then people used to chase us on these like, police like little squad bikes being like, "Hey, sir, you're not supposed to be in here." And we'd run because it was like a game attack. Nice, we're the good. And this is one time we opened up a door and found a Zamboni. You know, the thing that splashes the ice. And we accidentally emptied the like two ton of water on the floor. Doesn't sound like that. I might have to pay for that now, I said it. Yeah, so once you reach that height, I suppose one of the reasons I struggled the most out of it is because you're never really going to reach that height again. And then it's almost like a limbo. And also not knowing whether or not we're going to come back. Are we going to come back? Everyone's asking, "Oh, no, no, no." And it feels like pressure to come back. It's almost like your parents going, "When's baby two coming?" You know what I mean? Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. Now we're going to have another one. So that's, that's wild to me. And having to deal with that at a young age, I was always going to mess it up somewhere, is what I would say about myself. Because that's like he says, the worst day ever. You know, the day the band ended, I was like, "Thank Lord for that." And I know a lot of people are going to be mad at me for saying that, but I needed to stop or it would kill me. And I was like, "Thank the Lord." And then after that, trying to like funnel your way back into society, but like, "Hey guys, I'm still here." Turning up at Tesco's in a Lamborghini, like an idiot. You know, I'm like, "What the fuck am I doing?" And for a lot of that, yeah, I agree with a lot of that statement. You need to have something to strive for. And I feel like I'm finding that a little bit more now. And learning to relax. Yeah, you've talked a lot about this. Learning to relax. Learning to just be, you know, a lot of people go, "Be part of the moment, man. Be in the moment." And like, I'm like, "Bolsheep." But it's true if you can just sit, you know, and enjoy something for what it is for five minutes. Have you tried meditation? My ex, uh, Gerald is very big on meditation. She sent me one the other day and I got told off for not doing it again. Meditation gets me in trouble these days. Um, no, I need to, I, I, I, I, did a couple of things in meditation with my old personal training that were quite good, but I just, I'm mind so fucking busy. I can't shut it up. Like, the moment I'm trying to not think about it, I'm like, "Oh yeah, but what about if we just did this next week?" And I know you'll be exactly the same as my website. I'm like trying so fucking hard with this meditation. Let's do it together. I'm trying to open up every morning and I'm like, "Steve, close the tabs." And every morning I'm sat there in my mouth on the fucking floor of my shower because it's like, it's like, it looks like it's from Thailand. And the water's pouring and I'm like, "Just don't think about anything." And then I'm like, "I'm planning all that scheduling my head." I'm like, "Leum's coming for the podcast and I'm, what, what should I speak to him about?" And then, you know, I just... What do you do in the two senses thing where you like, think of like, what you can hear and what you can smell? I've tried all of them. I tried this one with beads where you like hold the beads and you just leave the piece in your hand. The simulation, like, yeah, yeah. I'd like the two senses one. It's not bad. It's good in the shower as well. If you like, close your eyes then pick two senses which you can choose like, feel or... Oh, interesting. I can't trade that. So your mind can only do two senses at once. So once you shut some of them off, that's technically meditation because you're in the moment. But I still don't feel like I've had that. You know, I'm not a monk at this point. I wish I was. I think it's important though. I do, I get it. I do understand it, but I also think... Imagine if you could get your mind just to be in the present moment fully and just be right here. If I could have done that at school, I'd have been... I'd have been top of the class. But my mind's going, "Oh, yeah, what are we going to do?" Lunch time. I'm not going to give up. So I'm going to keep trying. Every morning they hit on my bathroom floor. Now that's what I want to think about. I'm going to keep doing it. Worth while challenge with people you love. So worthwhile, you define it yourself, right? Challenge means it can't be easy because then your motivation won't be high and then surrounded by people you love. For me, that is where I've figured out my happiness lives. And so upon leaving my company that I'd found it for 10 years, now I'm like learning to DJ, doing a big theatrical play at the Albert Hall, which we've directed and produced. I'm just trying, I'm throwing my hand at everything, biotape. No, I'm the same. And that's what I was thinking from what you were saying.


Upcoming Endeavors

What's your next ‘mountain’? (01:32:40)

You're like, "You're never going to top that mountain." So where's what is the mountain? I mean, we've done so many random... The trip to Namibia with Amt was one of the things and we did the world first of the Canyon Swing in Namibia, which was really crazy. And wild and I thought I might die on national television, but that is okay. What else do we do? I do in the S.N.FT, things really interesting. Doing the online shows, because we were one of the first people to really like pioneer with the company, the theme for that. My team were massive, massive behind that. But it was almost like making a TV show every week with new songs and songs that I hadn't sang since whatever songs I'd never heard before. And I just would turn up and do it. And it really, really well, and I loved that. I don't know. I think I've had many, many, many jobs. I've got a laundry list. To the point where when the census came, I didn't know what the hell to write. I didn't want to write a performer, because I think it just sounds like such a bodge-off job of like... It doesn't, it doesn't encapsule anything. I actually do. I mean, we design clothes, but you go under air modeling, dada, dada, dada, dada, that's stuff. So... Do you think maybe you just need a really big, fucking scary, terrifying goal that you really care about? Well, I mean, someone did ask me to go and do Everest at one point, and I was like, I don't know. I might die on that one. But does that make you a little bit like Fright? Now we've got something to aim for, getting the gym. Yeah, I mean, in a way, I'm already... There's something I'm cooking up in my brain. I'm not gonna talk about it here. The way the scissors come off, but I'm cooking something up at the moment. It's very jamboree-entate, and I'm definitely gonna give it a big, big go. Something's pissed me off. Interesting. And I thought I just had to do it. I think the one thing I say, what the one thing I say about success, and about these things, if I'm honest about happiness, I think it's learning to have respect for yourself. I mean, there's a lot of things people say about, don't base yourself on others, and never look at other people in that way, which I actually think you need to throw out the window, because there's... When I was like, it's almost weird, I learned it from my character design. When I was a dying character, I didn't start from nowhere. And how I learned to design characters was like, how do you make a dragon? If you've never seen one. I didn't know what a dragon... They want... So they mix it with a... Exactly, this is funny. So they mix it with a lion, mix with a snake, mix with a crocodile, mix with a dinosaur. Because they're the ones that we have. So they base them off of stuff. So I look at people who are my heroes, and I think, what is it that I love about them, that I don't think I possess yet? And then that's how you know you can respect yourself. And I think that's the most important thing for me, is I forget, in the morning, I respect myself, I go, "Bed, on nighttime, I respect myself, I'm happy." But certain things are about my life, and even this moment, I want to change. But it's like... Christian Bale, for example, I love his acting go to. And I mean, some things he's done in his career have been really unhealthy, when you did the machinist and stuff like that. But I like that drive, and I like the fact that he buries himself into a role, and stuff. And I've never learned that quite yet. So that might be one of the things I want to... Still, exactly. It's almost, yeah, it's like taking people's stuff, but then you're molding it into your own character. We were talking today about avatars, which is obviously a huge market at the moment. People spend so much time on their avatars, on their games, when they start something. But in life, you are your avatar. You do whatever you want. And it's like, if you're making your avatar, and you've got to go and do 10 free kicks to own the next Ronaldo, but you're like, "Oh, I'll get in there and do them." The moment someone asks you to do something in life to earn something, you're like, "Oh, I don't want to do it." But it's like, that's why I was trying to think how we explain that to kids. But that's the most basic analogy I can come up with. Children's book. Children's book. I had an idea for Children's book, actually, but we didn't finish it. That's a lot of the root things. Look at my... He's smiling at me. Well, then we've talked about so much today. So much inspiration, and a lot of the questions are asked based on so. It's an amazing, amazing conversation. And I really, really respect and appreciate your willingness to be open and honest about all these things, because you're helping so many people. You don't even realize it. I do hope so. You know? And I think you're just a tremendously inspirational guy. You're an incredible entrepreneur, which I don't think people are fully appreciated yet, because you're very... You've not sort of disclosed all of the investments and businesses you're involved in, but I think that's certainly coming. I think we might have a bit of a European-astion cut chair on our hands, if I say so myself. But yeah, thank you, mate. Honestly, you know, you've been through what is a unique, just tremendously unique experience over the last decade. Nobody can understand it other than probably the boys you did it with. And from that, you know, there's ups, there's downs, but this is life, right? And you sharing it has brought tremendous value for me, so I know it will definitely bring huge value for our audience. So I just want to say thank you. No, I think, honest, this has been one of the best chats I've ever done. Oh, thank you. I'm excited to see what you bring to the table on track instead. I can't wait to watch it. I'm buzzing. I'm buzzing. Maybe you can come in with some of your ideas. I know. I'll come and pitch something. I'll be in there. You should be a dragon one, though. I was actually going to come in into skies. You do one week where I'll like, I'm decked the shit out of you. I'll just come on and be like, right, I've got this idea for swimming pools on roofs. Would you ever be a dragon? Oh, I think I'd be a terrible dragon. I don't know. I feel bad for people and I want to be like, I'll buy it. I'll take it. Thank you, brother. Appreciate you. Appreciate, thank you.


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