Louis Walsh: One Direction's Zayn Malik was in recording studios before split announcement
X Factor judge Louis Walsh has said Zayn Malik was working on solo material with producers in a recording studio just weeks ahead of the announcement today he was going to quit One Direction.
Speaking about Zayn's decision on RTE Radio One's 'Drivetime' this evening, the former Boyzone and Westlife manager said he heard the "rumours" that all was not well in the One Direction camp.
He told RTE broadcaster Mary Wilson that the 22-year-old was working on material in a studio with producers several weeks ago, saying he heard Zayn was a "talented songwriter" who could surprise us all.
"I'm told he's very talented as a songwriter and I know he's been in studio with producers in the last few months. He might surprise us," he said.
Louis is the longest serving judge on talent series 'X Factor' - in 2010 he was on the panel that selected Zayn, Harry Styles, Mullingar man Niall Horan, Liam Payne and Louise Tomlinson to form One Direction for the series. All five participants had been turned down as solo acts before they were selected for the band.
The band famously finished fourth behind Cher Lloyd, Rebecca Ferguson and winner Matt Cardle.
However, show boss Simon Cowell signed them to his label and set them on the path that propelled them to global stardom.
"I've heard the rumours for the last few weeks that everybody wasn't happy in paradise," Louis told 'Drivetime'.
"The problem with these guys is they've been in a bubble for the last five years, pressure, working, a lot harder than people think, so something had to give. So Zayn was the first person to crack up a little bit."
Wilson said she felt sympathy towards the singer in his statement when he said he just wanted to a be a "normal 22-year-old".
"Yeah but he's made an awful lot of money, seen the world," Louis replied.
"He's had an amazing time with the other guys. That's the good side of it.
"The dark side of it is all the travelling, the airports, in a bubble, not really seeing real life.
"They burn out basically... the thing with One Direction is they were massive worldwide. They were going from continent to continent.
"Going from hotels to hotels, he probably didn't see light of day, he was just working, working, working.
"Now it's everybody's dream but there's an awful lot of pressure with it too.
"Because with boybands, and with popbands, they have a shelf life of maybe five to six years with kids. And then the kids grow up and move onto something else."
Louis has experience of this - he was managing Westlife in 2004 when Brian McFadden decided to leave. Band members Shane Filan, Nicky Byrne, Kian Egan and Mark Feelihy continued as a four-piece, enjoying huge success. Brian enjoyed a short-lived solo career with hits such as 'Real to Me'.
"I've seen it before.... [Westlife] became a better band because they worked harder and became tighter as a unit. Geri Halliwell left the Spice Girls and Robbie [Williams] left Take That.
"If the other four work it, I mean they've got a tour and a record coming out next year. I don't think they're going to break up or anything."
Speaking about band break-ups in the past - and not specifically about One Direction - Louis said as bands get older, their situation changes.
"What I found in the past is that as things get on... the girlfriends are whispering things in their ears; 'you should be a solo star', 'you should be the lead singer' is usually the problem. The first few years are usually great and then people always want to be the solo star.
"Everyone always thought it was going to be Harry in One Direction and it probably will be.
"It happens in every band. It happens in every band in the whole world."
Read more here: One Direction: 'We'll continue without Zayn Malik'
One Direction are completely different to other bands, due to their massive global appeal, Louis said.
"They sold records all over the world, ever single continent.
"I mean with Boyzone, Westlife and Bellefire, they just broke Europe and parts of Asia. But these guys are worldwide. Where you go, everybody knows One Direction.
"And they've been travelling, and travelling, and touring and recording for the last five years so something had to give.
"As long as they want to stay together, I know they have another album coming , Simon told me this at Christmas. It's up to them. They might stick it out.
"Well Simon can't make them stay together. You can't make people want to stay together if they don't want to stay together and he'll probably do another band."
And as for Zayn's future, Louis said he could surprise us all. He is engaged to Perrie from girlband 'Little Mix'. They won the X Factor in 2011.
"I'm told he's very talented as a songwriter and I know he's been in studio with producers in the last few months. He might surprise us.
"He's certainly made enough money, for his life and health and sanity, he probably did the right thing.
"He's the guy that left One Direction but he has enough money in bank for rest of his life if he uses it right
"That's the business we're in. He joined [the queue for X Factor]. He was turned down as a solo act and he was lucky to get in One Direction."