Zayn Malik graces the cover of Billboard magazine and opens up about leaving One Direction and shares his thoughts on his music and his future as a solo artist. The former 1D member says at one point, “I’m not censoring myself any more.”

Zayn Malik

Photo: Zayn Malik
Credit: PR Photos

The 22-year-old broke the hearts of Directioners when he announced he was leaving bandmates Harry Styles, Niall Horan, Liam Payne, and Louis Tomlinson. Like clockwork, month after month, the fans use hastags on Twitter and Instagram to make note of every anniversary of how many months without Zayn Malik.

Now that One Direction is on hiatus every word from every member and former member is going viral. The Billboard cover story has predictably gone viral as it’s the first extensive and wide-ranging interview that Malik has given since his departure from the band that first rose to fame in 2010 on The X Factor UK under Simon Cowell’s mentorship. Five years and five albums later, much has changed.

Zayn Malik tells the publication, “My fans are giving me sh-t every day,” he says, and continues, “Like, ‘Where the f— is your music? You’ve been at it for months. Give us something.’ ”

And in the absence of music — his solo album is due out in the spring via RCA Records — he reflects upon having left One Direction and says, ““I genuinely enjoyed [the band] and did whatever I could to be myself within that, but it’s just not where I sit as a musician.”

He goes on to say, “The other boys’ taste was generally indie rock. It’s good music, but I don’t f— with it. That was never cool where I was from.”

As for his current relationship with his former bandmates, Malik says, ““There are no sides to pick.” He adds, “We’re not going head-to-head.”

He goes on to says, “The truth of it is…you can think one thing about a situation and the total opposite can happen. I had every intention of remaining friends with everybody, but I guess certain phone numbers have changed and I haven’t received calls from a lot of people. I’ve reached out to a few of them and not got a reply. Certain people have pride issues, but it’s stuff you overcome in time.”

Asked to reflect upon the band’s legacy and what he’s gleaned from it, he says, “Status. The capability to restrain certain things I would want to do. I also learned it’s good to keep friends. Because you don’t know when you’re going to make new ones, so you should probably just keep the old ones.”

Yes, the interview and his candor are raising eyebrows as expected and it more than fulfills the title of the cover story, “Zayn Malik’s Own Direction.” Truthfully, we should not be surprised or alarmed. Boy bands are, historically, short-lived. Think Jonas Brothers or NSYNC. And we should not be surprise to see a breakout star. It might be Zayn Malik or another member of 1D branching out and maturing as a solo artist. After all, Michael Jackson, the King of Pop himself was once the member of a boy band. And in more recent memory, though NSYNC may be history, we do have Justin Timberlake.

The history now continues to unfold as 1D’s official hiatus begins and we look to see what happens when it ends. Not to mention the journey along the way.

You can see the full interview here and Zayn Malik’s Billboard cover and photos and behind-the-scenes video below!

A photo posted by Billboard (@billboard) on

A photo posted by Billboard (@billboard) on

A photo posted by Billboard (@billboard) on

Pictures: PR Photos