Inside a shopping centre in West London, a heavily built bodyguard leads GQ.com through a crowd of screaming teenage girls. The squeal is high-pitched and deafening but the five young men at the centre of this vortex of noise are unfazed. Since finishing third on last year’s X Factor, One Direction’s Liam Payne, Louis Tomlinson, Niall Horan, Zayn Malik, and Harry Styles have gone on to release “What Makes You Beautiful”, the fastest selling single of 2011, as well as their debut album Up All Night. Stepping inside the circle of security, minders and press officers who make up their day-to-day coterie the first thing we notice is how tired everybody looks. Everybody, that is, except for the boy-band themselves, who are a wide-eyed bundle of hyperactivity. Here the band talk about fans bearing vegetables, creative merchandise and whether they’ll write a “diary of naughtiness”.
GQ.com: Did you have a good time at GQ Men Of The Year?
Louis: One of the best nights we’ve had this year, wasn’t it?
Niall: Just being in the same room as Bono was great. Stephen Fry’s speech was incredible as well.
Harry: Bill Nighy looked sick.
Liam: When Johnny Depp popped out I couldn’t believe it.
You already have your own action figures – what other merchandise do you aspire to?
Liam: Can we get waxworks at Madame Tussauds? We’ve never thought about that.
Harry: We’re doing Transformers. Louis transforms into a car. Like a Porsche or something…
Louis: We’re doing women’s lingerie as well.
JLS have their own range of condoms. Do you fancy creating your own line?
Louis: We’re not going to go down that road…
Harry: Though we are all for safe sex.
Louis: We’re all about femidoms. That’s the future. That’s an exclusive right there!
Zayn: Why should we have to carry them? [laughs]
What’s the most important item on your rider?
Harry: People put stuff in our room, but we don’t go there and tell them what we need. Basically, if you can get a cup of tea or a bottle of water it’s fine.
Liam: We get sweets just because we’re kids.
We noticed fans keep bringing you carrots…
Louis: In week one of the X Factor, just to be a little bit quirky, I decided to say that I like girls who eat carrots. Ever since I’ve had lots and lots and lots of carrots.
Zayn: That’s why he’s very tanned.
Louis: And why I’m also very good at seeing in the dark.
What’s the strangest gift you’ve got from a fan?
Louis: Sanitary towels stuck to the window of the car.
Zayn: They’d put their Twitter names on it.
Is that a good tactic to get One Direction to follow you on Twitter?
Louis: We didn’t actually follow them because it was taken away so quickly.
Niall: For some reason I didn’t want to touch them…
It does seem a bit… unsanitary.
Louis: I like what you did there!
[One Direction give GQ.com a impromptu round of applause. We feel like Oscar Wilde.]
Liam: Save that in the memory bank.
Can you recommend a good book?
Niall: One Direction: Dare to Dream.
Louis: James Corden’s new autobiography [May I Have Your Attention Please?].
Liam: Russell Brand’s My Booky Wook.
Zayn: This is going to make me sound like a geek, but I read a book called On A Wing and A Prayer. I think it was about World War I.
Niall: Michael Buble’s Onstage, Offstage.
Liam: The script of An Inspector Calls. That’s the only one I’ve ever read.
Harry: You’ve only ever read one book in your life?
Niall: Me too. It was called: How To Kill A Mocking Bird.
Liam: Wasn’t it just called To Kill A Mocking Bird?
Harry: It’s confusing because you’re 200 pages in and the bird still hasn’t died.
What music do you love that would surprise people?
Liam: Bing Crosby.
Louis: Bombay Bicycle Club.
Liam: Two Door Cinema Club. Daniel O’Donnell. I’m just coming up with random words now. Two Milk Bottles and an Egg!
We understand that you all own monogrammed full-size babygro-style “onesies”?
Louis: These boys have stopped wearing them but I have loads of onesies at home. I know they don’t necessarily look sick but they’re so comfy.
Zayn: They’re good for when you’re chilled out at home. You can’t always look tip-top.
Liam: I bet you sit in one at home.
Do you get chatted up a lot on tour?
Liam: Honestly, because we’re taken from the venue to the hotel and whatever else you don’t really see much in between. We don’t really go out, but this tour will be different because we’re all 18 now…
Niall: Supermarket sweep!
So this tour will be a bit more Mötley Crüe?
[cue blank expressions from One Direction so GQ.com explains who Mötley Crüe are, with particular reference to their candid rock confessional The Dirt]
Niall: I can’t wait for that! Can we do one?
Liam: A diary of naughtiness?
Harry: Ours would be more like The Virgin Diaries.
Liam: Porn… without the illustrations.
Louis: Just porn!
Liam: This interview’s gone horribly wrong.
[One Direction’s PR intervenes and starts wrapping up the interview…]
Harry: We’re all adults here. We’ve all seen our share of…
Liam: No, you haven’t! You’re still 17! Shut up!
Louis: I find the whole porn thing quite…
Harry: I think it’s derogatory.
Liam: It can be a bad influence on youngsters…
Louis: …but sometimes it’s great.
Harry: Sometimes it’s amazing!
Liam: You’re 17, shut up! Louis, you brought this up! We’ve brought this upon ourselves.
Harry: This is going to be a great read.