Months after Zayn left the band, he opened up about his decision to Fader Magazine.
“I think the boys kind of knew in terms of the music, that wasn’t my cup of tea. They knew that, they were aware of that, always,” he said. “They would try to facilitate certain things for me so I could sing R&B ad-libs here or there and that was nice but obviously I think they always knew. When I was leaving the band, they obviously didn’t want me to leave, but they couldn’t talk me out of it at that point. I had already made up my mind so I just left.”
“[Liam and I] spoke about two weeks ago. It was the first time I’d spoken to him since I left the band. I rang him, and he wanted to talk. He said he didn’t understand it at the time, but he now fully gets why I had to do what I did. He understands that it’s my thing, that I had to do that, and that basically he wants to meet up and have a good chat in person. And he wants to do some music and work on some stuff aside from being in the band, which we always wanted to do anyway,” he also told the outlet.
During a 2016 interview, Zayn claimed that he never wanted to be in the band at all.
“I think I always kind of wanted to go. From like the first year really, I never really wanted to be there in the band,” the singer admitted. “I just gave it a go because it was there at the time and then when I realized the direction we were going in with the music, I instantly realized it wasn’t for me because I realized I couldn’t put any input in. I couldn’t give my opinion on this or that because it didn’t fit the grain of what we were as a band or what we represented. So that’s when it became frustrating for me, that’s when I had to be like, ‘I’ve got to start thinking about myself.'”
“In terms of me being described as the mysterious one, that was put on me as a stigma because I didn’t get the chance to speak as much. The other boys’ personalities were much more forward. They would answer the questions. I would let that happen because, like I said, I didn’t have any creative input there. I didn’t feel like I was going to say anything about it anyway. Now I get to talk about what I’m passionate about—it’s nice to have the chance to speak,” Zayn also said to Complex. “No one can ever say I was ungrateful, even though it sort of comes across that way when I mention that I was frustrated with the band. That’s not the case at all. That was just an experience that had to be dealt with at the time. With the music that I’m doing now, I get to express myself, and that creative tension is gone.”
He also explained that out of all the guys in the band, he was still closest with Liam.
“I’m still probably the closest to Liam. We talk on the phone. He congratulated me on my single. Which was nice. I congratulated him on his Brit Award,” Zayn said back in March of 2016. “It was a good chat. We hadn’t met in a long time so we want to meet up.”
In 2017, Zayn gave fans an insight on his current relationship with the guys.
“To be honest, I never really spoke to Harry even when I was in the band. So I didn’t really expect that much of a relationship with him,” Zayn told Us Weekly.
As for Louis, the singer revealed that they were still in touch.
“Yeah we spoke about [his mom’s death], we’re in touch, everything is on a civil level,” Zayn continued. “It’s not the way it used to be, obviously we were a lot closer because we were together the entire time, spending 24 hours a day in the band and now we’re not so we’re living our own lives, we’re all growing as individual men and we still keep in touch and check in with each other not as much as we used to.”
But as of November 2017, the 26-year-old admitted that he was no longer on speaking terms with any of the guys.
“Our relationships have definitely changed since we were in a band together, but I think that’s just life. Everybody grows up; two of the guys have got kids now. But no, I don’t talk to any of them, really,” Zayn told Billboard.
In early 2018, he reconnected with Niall.
“You know what? I actually spoke to Niall a couple days ago,” Zayn said. “We just really support each other and I even spoke to him the other day. I was saying to him I’m really proud of how well his music’s doing. It’s almost like an older brother watching him and it was cool to have that conversation with him. So yeah, we support each other. There’s no real competition, I don’t think, between us.”
But things didn’t seem good by November 2018.
“We went from theaters, to arenas, to stadiums — there was never any sort of bridge between. Just boom, boom, boom,” Zayn said. “I guess that kind of progression to any mind — but especially when you’re 17, 18 — it kind of affects you a little bit. People take it different ways — especially when there are five different personalities. The relationships had broken apart. I ain’t spoke to any of them for a long time, to be honest with you. That’s just the way it is. There’s things that happen and things that were said after I left… Snide things. Small things that I would never have expected.”