Inside Liam Payne's Long Road to Finding His Voice

This day has been a long time coming for Liam Payne.

When One Direction called it quits in January 2016, heading out on an indefinite hiatus to pursue projects outside the group that had propelled them to global (and, some might say, all-consuming) fame in 2010 after forming on The X Factor, the assumption was that the race to release solo material was on. After all, Zayn Malik, who’d departed the group in dramatic and sudden fashion nearly a year earlier, had signed a record deal of his own and was putting the finishing touches on his debut solo album, Mind of Mine, released that March. Why should the former bandmates he’d turned his back on let him have all the fun?

Soon, record labels began snatching the lads up. First came Harry Styles and his deal with Columbia, announced in June. Niall Horan followed suit in September, signing with Capitol and releasing his first single as he did so. So it was no surprise when Liam, known as one of 1D’s principal songwriters and credited with co-writing more than half of the songs on the band’s final two albums, was snatched up by Republic Records in October. (As for Louis Tomlinson, a deal wouldn’t be announced until July 2017. But that’s a story for another day.)

And yet, in the time it took Harry and Niall to drop their debut albums, released in May and October 2017, respectively, Liam only had two singles and a collaboration with Zedd under his belt. And since the release of “Strip That Down” on May 19, 2017, it’s been a slow process to LP1, his debut album, out now. So, what happened?

In short, Liam needed to figure out just who the hell he was.

“It was difficult at the start, because I didn’t really know anything about myself,” the “Stack It Up” singer told The Guardian this month. “It was a bit of a numb feeling.”

Elaborating with GQ Hype UK last month, Liam explained, “I went into therapy a couple years after leaving. I kind of went off the rails a little bit and just couldn’t really figure out what was making me sad. So, you know, my team got somebody around to help me through a couple of different, difficult things that I was going through. I was just trying to figure myself out. It was just such a strange course through life, and then when the switch turns off you’re left to your own devices…”

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As he began releasing music, he was also, as he told The Guardian, “struggling” with alcohol. “I just hid it very well,” he added. What followed was a year of sobriety. “My social life completely plummeted,” he said of those 12 months. “I don’t know whether it made me happier, but it was definitely needed.” All of this was unfolding as he entered into a relationship with Cheryl Cole in 2016, fathered a son, Bear, with her in 2017, and broke up with her in 2018. (He’s currently dating model Maya Henry, which he confirmed in September of this year.)

As he was figuring out who he was, he was also hard at work on determining just what his sound was. “It was difficult. I mean, it’s opening up at first and trying to figure out who you are and what people want to know from you. And what the sound is,” he told GQ. “Trying to find that medium point for all those things. It’s just the most difficult thing…”

After splitting from Cheryl last year, he made the decision to delay the release of the album, telling fans on Twitter that he’d “looked at some of the songs…which were done a while ago and they felt from another age.” After releasing the EP First Time, it was, at least partially, back to the drawing board.

“The writing process was interesting to say the least. I mean, it was almost like blind dating in LA with different writers, and when that happens it’s hard to get traction, or get to know anyone properly, or let your guard down in a way,” he explained to GQ. “You feel like you’re going into different rooms all the time, with different styles. There are so many things that can affect the writing unless you find that one person who can carry you all the way through a record. Post Malone has a producer called Louis Bell, whom he works with, and there’s a common stitch throughout the whole thing that kind of puts it all together properly, whereas we never really found that.”

While it took some time, Liam insists he was never worried that it wouldn’t come together. Rather, that, when it did, it wouldn’t be up to snuff. “I kind of always knew that something would happen. I just didn’t know what the hell it was going to be. And that was the scariest part of it,” he continued. “You just didn’t really want to make a fool of yourself at that point. I think after such a long legacy of your band being absolutely amazing, the most important thing was make sure you don’t step off that pedestal; don’t embarrass yourself. The biggest worry was don’t ruin the legacy.”

Despite all it took to get here—or, perhaps, because of it—he’s quite pleased with the finished product. “I didn’t really know what I was aiming for, but it was actually exactly where we are right now,” Liam told The Guardian. “I just needed to find the right keys to make me feel like the man I wanted to be.”

LP1 is available now.

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How Liam Payne and Ex Cheryl Make Co-Parenting a Holiday Tradition

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This Christmas, Liam Payne is looking forward to hanging out with his child, who he hopes will “get” the holiday more than ever.

The 26-year-old singer and former One Direction member and 36-year-old pop star Cheryl, who broke up in mid 2018 after two years together, share a 2 and 1/2-year-old son, Bear. Liam confirmed this past September that he is dating model Maya Henry. In a new interview, he signaled he and Cheryl will unite again for a holiday meal with their son.

“I’m going to go down and see Bear, maybe cook a Christmas dinner and just hang out with family,” he said on the ITV show This Morning on Thursday. “Yeah we’re going to go down and cook some food and hang out.”

Last year, despite their breakup, Liam and Cheryl spent the holiday together with their son.

“I think it’s the first time he really gets Christmas now. I want to see if he actually gets unwrapping presents this year though, because otherwise, it’ll just be Cheryl by the tree again,” Liam said on This Morning. “I can really remember it from last year, she wrapped them all up and then unwrapped them and I just sat there going, ‘Right, what is this?'”

Watch Liam’s interview below:

Liam and Cheryl have made it a point to co-parent Bear amicably following their split.

“Liam is a great dad. He’s much softer than me,” Cheryl told The Telegraph in April. “But it is what it is, and I’m OK about it. When you have a baby, you are not consumed with just thinking about yourself. It’s your responsibility to keep things settled and happy, so you make the best of everything. And we have.”

“I’m the strict one; Liam isn’t. I’ll be the one saying, ‘Just one square of chocolate,'” she said. “But Bear is so good. If I get cross with him he puts his little hands on my face and looks into my eyes to see if I’m deadly serious or a tiny bit cross, and it melts my heart.”

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Liam Payne reveals why he struggled to bond with baby son Bear

Liam Payne has opened up about how he struggled to bond with his baby son Bear when he was first born in 2017.

The singer says that he found it difficult to be a father to Bear because his ex-girlfriend, Cheryl, was ‘always glued to him.’

Liam told The Guardian, “I built it up so much in my head. Finding your feet in that relationship between child and father – it’s difficult.

“Cheryl was always really glued to Bear, so for me, I was like, ‘What’s my role in this? If I cook and look after her, then in turn I’m looking after him’ – that made sense to me.”

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The admission comes after Liam recently opened up about his split from the former Girls Aloud singer and how he feels about her moving on.

“It’s not the most normal situation. My life is abnormal, so what is normal,” he said.

“We genuinely get on, there are so many parallels we share in life.

“I hope she’s happy, she deserves it, she’s a great mum, she works hard, she deserves to find happiness.”

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The former One Direction star, who is now dating model Maya Henry, added, “I have thought long and hard about [her moving on with someone else].

“We will find our own peace with it, for now, it’s good. I go over, do whatever, watch TV, it’s good, it’s nice.”

Speaking about the split, he added, “Both of us struggled under the pressure – working away a lot, a lot of noise being shouted at us about it, having a child in the mix, we grew apart.

“I was worried I would not be enough to look after the both of them.”

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Liam Payne ‘struggled to connect with son Bear as Cheryl was glued to him’

Liam Payne has opened up about his struggles to find his role as a father to his two-year-old son, Bear.

The 26-year-old former One Direction singer said that Cheryl was "always glued to Bear" when he was a newborn and he couldn't find a bond with the baby.

Speaking to The Guardian , Liam said the first months of his son were "difficult" as she searched for his role in the little one's life but decided that the best way to help him was to look after 36-year-old Cheryl.

Liam said: "I built it up so much in my head. Finding your feet in that relationship between child and father – it's difficult.

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"Cheryl was always really glued to Bear, so for me, I was like, 'What's my role in this? If I cook and look after her, then in turn I'm looking after him' – that made sense to me."

Liam has admitted that going weeks without seeing Bear has been difficult but his career has dictated that this is the case.

He has cited new technology as a saviour for his relationship with his son and while it is "always difficult", Liam said: "He's good at using the phone and FaceTime."

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Liam currently co-parents Bear with Cheryl and despite splitting in July last year, they spent the Christmas together.

Speaking about his time with One Direction, Liam revealed that he took an epilepsy drug as a mood stabiliser.

He also admitted that he battled an alcohol problem while with the boy band.

Liam said that he took the drug as a way of stabilising "erratic highs and lows" that were part and parcel of being with the world's biggest boy band.

He also said that he was sometimes would be affected by certain lights when performing live.

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Explaining why he turned to booze, Liam said that at the height of One Direction's fame, they were often stuck inside hotels for hours on end as fans waited to mob them outside.

It was during these long hours that Liam turned to alcohol to beat the boredom.

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