Teen Vogue article under! ‘Some call our fans crazy; I call them passionate’ – Zayn Malik ‘We are often a little bit mischievous’ – Louis Tomlinson ‘We’re normal teenagers’ – Niall Horan ‘I don’t really have a backup plan’ – Liam Payne ‘We’re not too clean-cut’ – Zayn Malik ‘I’m quite old-fashioned’ – Harry Styles ‘Our fans inspire us to write about stuff that’s relevant’ – Niall Horan
As a general rule, once an action figure has been created in your likeness and shipped to toy stores around the globe, any claims of regular-guy status pretty much go straight out the window. But the five members of the British boy band One Direction—that’s, from left, Niall Horan, Louis Tomlinson, Liam Payne, Zayn Malik, and Harry Styles, for those of you who were literally raised by wolves—tend to insist, quite convincingly, that they’re still the same lads who first auditioned for the U.K. version of The X Factor more than two years back. “What we do isn’t normal,” allows Niall, nineteen, in an interview conducted on the London set of the group’s Teen Vogue cover shoot. “But we’re normal.”
Harry, eighteen, agrees. “One time, a girl dropped her phone in my pocket,” he recalls, “and I found it and was like, ‘There you go.’ And she said, ‘If you’d had my phone, you’d have had to meet up with me to give it back.’” Hearing this story, one can’t help but be struck by the girl’s optimism—and cheek—but Harry seems more astounded by the idea that she deemed him worthy of such a ploy in the first place. “It’s nice to have people go to these lengths for you,” he says, “but sometimes it’s hard to understand, because we’re just guys. We’re guys who would be at your school, who got this amazing opportunity.”
Of course, it’s true. And thanks to the fact that the band was formed while cameras were rolling, anyone who wants to see what their favorite member of 1D was like pre-fame is able to do so simply by entering a few keywords on YouTube. (We recommend Zayn refuses to dance at boot camp for a combination of shyness, stage fright, and stubbornness that’s almost as crush-inspiring, at least in retrospect, as any of the slick videos that came afterward.)
Now, the guys are hard at work promoting their just-released second album, Take Me Home, and prepping for a world tour that begins in February. “We’re playing the Staples Center in Los Angeles,” announces Zayn, nineteen. “One of the first concerts I saw in America was there—Britney Spears—and I remember thinking, ‘This place is massive.’ Now we’re going to be playing there? I can’t wait.” Their schedule is intense enough that Liam, nineteen, has to think long and hard to come up with a single thing about his life that hasn’t changed in the past year. “I still put on underwear every day,” he offers, at last.
But according to Louis, who is about to turn 21, the boys continue to have plenty of time to be boys, so to speak. “There’s quite a lot of waiting around,” he explains, “so we often find the need to be a little mischievous. Like today, for example, Liam and I managed to get on the roof of [the photo studio], and we were hiding from everyone. We just try to keep ourselves entertained.” Luckily, they’re doing a pretty good job of keeping everyone else entertained while they’re at it.