Pop Goes The News — One Direction singer Liam Payne has opened up about his battle with booze and his thoughts on gay rumours.
In an interview with British magazine Attitude, the 22-year-old pop star admitted he turned to alcohol to help him through a particularly dark period.
“I’m not afraid to say that I actually went through a pretty bad [drinking] stage,” Payne said. “And for that time in my life, that was perfect for me. I mean, you’re away from home and that can get hard.
“Also there were a lot of things on my mind and that’s what helped me through.”
Payne said he’s a lot more focused now. “I feel good to be out of that zone and be more concentrated,” he explained.
“There were a just a few times that I went over the limit with things and then I had to pull it back.”
The singer also addressed accusations of homophobia that were sparked when he tweeted “huge love” for Duck Dynasty’s Robertson family shortly after patriarch Phil Robertson made anti-gay remarks.
Payne insisted he didn’t know about Robertson’s comments when he tweeted support for their “family values.”
He explained: “It had only been in the press in America. I was most definitely not supporting what he said. I hadn’t even heard it.”
Payne said he has a lot of gay friends and doesn’t “think anything about it.”
He added: “I actually find it funny that being gay is still something that’s talked about as though it’s not natural. I mean, I don’t go around saying, ‘Oh, this guy is gay.’ I don’t make a big deal about it. I will just say, ‘This is my mate.’ My mates are my mates, regardless of their sexuality.”
Payne even weighed in on the fight for equal marriage rights around the world.
“You can’t live in the past, you have to move with the times.”
He said he and fellow One Direction members Niall Horan, Louis Tomlinson and Harry Styles started seeing a lot of rainbow flags at their concerts following the U.S. Supreme Court decision to legalize equal marriage last June.
Payne said he believes fans were flying the flags because of rumours that Tomlinson and Styles are secretly a couple — which he said “is absolutely nuts and drives me insane.”
He said “that’s the sort of shit that gets to me.
“It becomes like a conspiracy or like a cult, the people who watch them and think that every move they make is a gesture toward them being together, and I know it’s just not true and it makes me mad.”
He’s also not a fan of the homoerotic art some fans share online.
“I get tagged in drawings of Harry and Louis being together,” Payne told Attitude. “I remember this one time I was sitting next to my dad and I see this picture of me on top of Niall, which was quite intimidating.
“It’s just really weird to have people drawing these sexually explicit pictures.”
Some fans have reacted negatively to Payne’s comments in Attitude but the singer is unapologetic.
In the interview, which is on newsstands next week, Payne also addressed One Direction’s upcoming hiatus.
“I realize now this is the time to start branching out and exploring,” he said. “This won’t last forever, and there will be a point when we will break off and do our own things, but… we will work together again.”
Citing Pharrell Williams as an inspiration, Payne said he hopes to do songwriting, production and other business ventures.
“A lot of people say to me, ‘Oh, you’ll go solo,’ but I haven’t thought about that. If the right song comes along and I think I should sing it, then I will release it as a solo artist. Otherwise, I’m happy being behind the scenes,” he explained.
“When the others boys go solo, I would love to write songs for them. I want to make great music that people want to listen to.”