Back in 2015, Zayn Malik‘s sudden departure from hit boy band One Direction shocked people around the world — including his bandmates. In a new interview on New Music Daily with Zane Lowe on Apple Music Beats 1, former 1D member Harry Styles opened up about Zayn’s departure and the eventual end of the band.
Harry revealed that he and the remaining band members — Niall Horan, Louis Tomlinson, and Liam Payne — were not aware of Zayn’s unhappiness in his role at the time, per Entertainment Tonight.
“It was kind of like we were sad, obviously, that…he was not enjoying it so much that he had to leave,” Harry said, adding that One Direction’s music and touring were doing well, and he had thought everyone involved was “enjoying it.”
“You didn’t realize he wasn’t enjoying it that much,” the “Sweet Creature” singer continued of the band’s shock when Zayn chose to leave.
In the end, they were sad to see Zayn move on, but relieved for him that he no longer had to do something he didn’t want to do. Harry explained that keeping Zayn on despite his feelings would have been “counterproductive.”
One Direction remained together for one more year until Harry decided to go his own way, as well. At the start of their final year, the band had some big decisions to make, the singer-songwriter revealed.
“We were about to start recording a new album and stuff and it was like, ‘Are we recording this without him?'” he said.
Although they did push on without Zayn and seemed to grow closer because of it, Harry said that he ultimately wanted to make his own career choices.
“I think there was a part of me that felt like I wanted to make some decisions for myself… I felt like I needed to make some decisions that just affect me.”
Harry is now set to release his second solo album, Fine Line, on December 13. Zayn has two albums currently out as well, Mind of Mine and Icarus Falls.
Harry’s words about Zayn in the radio interview come just days after he seemingly dissed the “Pillowtalk” singer during a recent Saturday Night Live appearance. The “Sign of the Times” singer noted in his monologue that Niall, Louis, and Liam were his “brothers,” but failed to include Zayn. Instead, after hesitating for a moment, Harry said “Ringo,” in reference to iconic Beatles drummer Ringo Starr, who was also the first to leave his band.