After a hiatus from public life and interviews, Zayn Malik, the former One Direction member, appeared on a podcast that aired on Wednesday and talked about his decision to leave the group, what life has been like since then and his new single in his first interview in years.
“There were great experiences, I had great times with them, but we’d just run our course,” Mr. Malik said of his time in the band on the “Call Her Daddy” podcast, hosted by Alex Cooper.
Mr. Malik was the first to leave One Direction in 2015, after the group had steadily put out chart-topping songs like “What Makes You Beautiful,” “Story of My Life” and “Best Song Ever.” The boy band, assembled through the British musical competition show “The X Factor,” was together for about six years and developed a feverish following among its young fans, who were known for their shrieking and devotion to the five members.
One Direction continued to make music after Mr. Malik’s departure, but the group officially disbanded in 2016. Mr. Malik put out his debut solo single “Pillowtalk” that same year.
During the interview, Mr. Malik told Ms. Cooper that around the time of his departure, the bandmates were beginning to clash.
“We’d been together every day for five years and we’d got sick of each other, if we’re being completely honest,” Mr. Malik said, adding: “I look back on it now in a much fonder light than I would’ve as I’d just left. There were great experiences, I had great times with them, but we’d just run our course.”
He began to see signs that it might be time to go and that others might be doing the same, he said, and he wanted to “get ahead of the curve” and “be the first” to release his own record.
“I don’t want to go into too much detail, but there was a lot of politics going on. People were doing certain things. Some people didn’t want to sign contracts, so I knew something was happening,” he said.
Ms. Cooper also broached the topic of a reported confrontation between Mr. Malik and Yolanda Hadid, the mother of his former girlfriend, the supermodel Gigi Hadid, with whom he shares a daughter, asking about his decision to largely remain silent on the issue. In response, Mr. Malik said he believed that the issue should stay within the family.
“I just keep to myself. I knew what the situation was, I knew what happened and the people involved knew what happened, too,” Mr. Malik said. “I just didn’t want to bring attention to anything.”
In recent years, he has lived a much quieter life in suburban Pennsylvania, he said. He said he was happy to get away from the bustle of New York City, enjoying a life mostly free from paparazzi and spending many of his days in the studio, writing and making music.
He said he enjoyed spending time with his cats, dogs, turtles and chickens. (Mr. Malik noted that he got too attached to one chicken that died and decided to stop naming them.)
Being out of the public eye also allows for his daughter to live a more private life, should shechoose to do so, he said.
“I’m just trying to give her an option,” Mr. Malik said. “If she wants to be away from it, she can be out here.”
Mr. Malik said there was a constant stream of fans following the band around when it was together. He recalled one day before the band had ever released a single when fans hid in trash bins outside of a studio in Sweden waiting for the performers to emerge, then popped out and grabbed at them. “I think I had a mini heart attack,” he said, jokingly.
One Direction’s hit song “What Makes You Beautiful” was on Billboard’s Hot 100 list for 34 weeks, peaking at No. 4 in 2012. In 2013, “Story of my Life” had a similar staying power, with 32 weeks, and peaked at No. 6 in 2013. “Best Song Ever,” however, climbed the highest — it reached the No. 2 spot in 2013 and spent 21 weeks on the chart.
The group held four world tours, performing in North America, Asia, Europe and South America, and sometimes sold out shows in minutes.