The Music Man! VIP chats to Niall Horan about touring, famous friends and reunion rumours

It was a whirlwind 24 hours for Niall Horan as he touched down in Ireland for a very quick trip. So quick in fact, he didn’t even get a chance to swing home to see his family in Mullingar.

“If I had more time, I’d see everyone. It’s hard when you’re only an hour away from home but I’ll be back over the summer,” he tells us.

Life on the road is all he’s known for the last decade. Since launching into superstardom with One Direction in 2010, he’s been all over the world, playing the biggest stadiums and venues to millions of fans. Now out on his own, he’s soaring once again with his solo career and his third album, The Show has landed.

To celebrate, he performed an incredibly intimate gig at Fuel on Camden Street to roughly 50 people, before sitting down with us the next morning for a catchup.

Here, Niall opens up about music, mental health and famous mates – oh and, of course, those relentless 1D reunion rumours, too!

Niall, welcome home! How are you? How does it feel to be back?

Ah, I’m grand! I went for two pints last night in town. I had to have a Guinness because I do a lot of travelling and it’s not always great abroad! I kept it chill though! If I had more time, I’d see everyone and I’d probably go home. It’s hard when you’re only an hour away but I’ll be back over the summer.

Obviously we’re here to chat about the new album, The Show. Talk to us about the inspiration behind it.

When you’re not writing heartbreak-y type songs, you obviously need another angle and I’m in a good place now, so I decided I could write about the ups and downs of life. The way the world was turning when I was writing the album was a big part of it. When the pandemic happened and all of the control was taken away from us, we were like deers caught in the headlights. We didn’t know what to do! What I say in The Show is that if everything was always easy and nothing ever broke, how would we realise how good we have it? That line inspired me to write the rest of the record.

Your latest single Meltdown is a bit more upbeat in tempo and different to what we’re used to hearing from you. Can we expect more of that from the album?

No, don’t expect anything else actually [laughs]. It’s by far the fasted song by about 100 beats per minute. I write a lot of songs about feeling anxious but they’re usually ballads and that’s not the tempo of what’s going on in your head at the time, so I knew I needed to write something faster. But, there’s not a lot of that on the album.

When you experience those feelings of anxiousness and unease, does writing help you deal with it?

I wouldn’t say I’m an overly anxious person, but we all have those moments and it could be over anything. In Meltdown, it’s more about knowing that everything will be fine.

When it comes to your fanbase, is it important to try normalise those feelings and show they can happen to everyone, even you?

It’s all relative; feelings like that. It’s the world we live in. It’s becoming more prevalent that people talk about it. No matter what I’m writing about, I’ll always try to write introspectively whilst keeping it as relatable as possible. That’s what we get out of music, isn’t it? We attach to singers who write about how we feel and that can be said for me too. There are artists who I listen to and who I get the same feelings from, too.

Other than your singles, what were your other favourite songs on the album?

Probably On A Night Like Tonight, –I love it. Also, Start A Cult, too. I just love how it sounds really dark but it’s not. I’m sure there’ll be all sorts of theories flying around, but that’s what makes songwriting so interesting — you can have a title that dark and make it the complete opposite.

Speaking of theories, what’s the strangest one you’ve heard?

Oh, if you just sat on Twitter for ten minutes! I’m so used to it now though. I began my career at the start of social media; I’ve seen it all! I couldn’t even pick one out, there’s some mad stuff going on!

We’d well believe it! Tell us Niall, you’re heading back on the road but how do you feel about the new tour?!

Touring is my absolute favourite thing in the world to do, if I could just constantly tour, I would. I haven’t done any shows since 2018!

You’ve played the smallest gigs with 50 people in a room, but then also sold-out stadium tours around the world. Do you have a preference?

Bigger the better! I was nervous yesterday playing that show on Camden St! I perform much better in a bigger room. I love when people can just be themselves and lose the plot at gigs. People just forget about what’s going on in their lives, well not forget, but leave it at home for an hour. I love that.

Obviously, the One Direction reunion rumours never quit, is there any truth to them though?

There’s nothing going on that I know of. We’re still really close, we’re very supportive of each other and we keep in touch a lot. It’s as good as it can be for people who don’t get to see each other very often.

Lewis Capaldi and Niall Horan in Mullingar Pic: Lucy Foster

We can see that you and Lewis Capaldi are such good mates, but is it hard to make friends in the industry?

I generally don’t look for them in the music industry. I’ve no interest in just becoming friends with famous people to be honest with you. I think everyone has this assumption that famous people are all friends for no other reason than the fact they’re famous, personalities don’t even come into the conversation. I’d say I have two or three famous friends.

Are you still really close with your pals from home?

Oh yeah! That’s why I don’t really have many famous friends – I don’t need loads of new friends. But myself and Lewis are great!

Is there anyone in the industry you’d like to collab with? We know you’re a Taylor Swift fan, would you ever work together?

Oh yeah! I’d love to! She knows where I am, she’s got my number! I love this new girl, Lizzy McAlpine, she’s class! She has a song called Ceilings out at the moment and it’s unreal. All the women in music at the moment are unbelievable. Maggie Rogers, Olivia Rodrigo, Taylor, I’ve done stuff with Julia Michaels before, Anne-Marie… I think Olivia, Olivia would be great!

We’ve seen a lot of singers go down different paths in their career, would you every think about heading down a different route?

I never thought I’d do The Voice and I’m doing that now. It’s one of those things which just came up. I do struggle on music videos and stuff like that, it’s a lot of stopping and starting and waiting. I can’t imagine doing that for three months shooting a film. I don’t know how good I’d be at acting either or if I can act! If some big director came to me and said, I think you’d be good [at this role], I’d probably get some confidence from that and give it a go!

So you’re not going to appear on Fair City any time soon?

No, you won’t be seeing myself and Mondo! [bursts into laughter].

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