One Direction’s fifth album, Made in the A.M., hits retailers on Friday — and to celebrate the massively popular boy band’s last album before going on a hiatus, EW caught up with the group to learn about the songs, albums, and artists that have inspired them over the years. Below, Louis Tomlinson shares his picks. For more, here’s Harry Styles, Niall Horan, and Liam Payne.
As one of One Direction’s most prolific songwriters — along with Liam Payne and 1D’s steady roster of songwriter-producer collaborators like Julian Bunetta, Jamie Scott, John Ryan, and more — Louis Tomlinson plays a huge part in determining the band’s sound, one which has grown leaps and bounds since their debut album, Up All Night, was released four years ago. Their latest, Made in the A.M., is on track to be their best yet judging by the songs that have been released ahead of the Friday drop date. (And no, newly released “History” is not about departed band member Zayn Malik, despite fan and media speculation to the contrary. “People are always going to read into that kind of thing but actually, conceptually, ‘History’ is more about the relationship as a whole, you know? As a band,” Tomlinson tells EW. “We’ve all been through this together and we’ll never forget it but also we’ve been in this relationship with the fans and that’s … that’s kind of as far as it goes.”)
Below, Tomlinson, 23, reveals his inspirations and the songs that have helped him grow as a singer-songwriter-producer while touring and recording over the past five years.
THE FIRST MUSIC I BOUGHT WITH MY OWN MONEY: Bullet in a Bible, Green Day
“The first album I bought would probably have been … although it was a live DVD, Green Day’s Bullet in a Bible tour. One of the Green Day albums, for sure. I used to be obsessed,” Tomlinson tells EW. “I was probably around 18 — that’s when I started getting into Green Day, I reckon. That’s quite old to buy my first album. I didn’t download them illegally, though!”
Though Bullet in a Bible-era Green Day is a far cry from Dookie-era Green Day, you’d be hard-pressed to find any influence of the East Bay, California-founded punk band in One Direction’s music. However, Tomlinson says that, as far as 1D is concerned, it was the performance aspect of Bullet that inspired him: “I just watched the DVD religiously. The show they put on was so incredible.”
A SONG I WISH I HAD WRITTEN: “U.N.I.,” Ed Sheeran
“Well, every Ed Sheeran song ever,” Tomlinson says when asked to name a song he wishes he had written himself. Sheeran has written for three out of five One Direction albums, including concert staple “Little Things” (Take Me Home) and, most recently, “18” (Four). “What is so great about his style of writing is it’s so simplistic, but so fantastic. He makes simple stuff sound so great. I think that’s why he’s so good at being relatable.” One particular track that struck him was “U.N.I.”: “I love the lyrics behind it.”
THE SONGS I’M MOST PROUD OF: “Love You Goodbye” and “Midnight Memories”
“The one I wrote on that I’m most proud of on the new one is probably ‘Love You Goodbye,’ ” he says, describing it as a “romance-y but not romance-y” power ballad. “Not a very good description,” he jokes. So, what’s “Love You Goodbye” about then? “I think it’s kind of like when … how to put this? When you come to the end of a relationship and you always find yourself seeing that person one last time. It’s that moment.” He pauses, adding with a laugh: “If you can read between the lines.”
From the previous four albums, Tomlinson is most proud of the title track from Midnight Memories. “ ‘Midnight Memories’ was the first song that we felt like we had real ownership over,” he recalls. “I remember that session and it was just one of those really magical moments in the studio.”
THE ALBUM THAT REMINDS ME OF MY FIRST LOVE: Far Away, Nickelback
Though Tomlinson responds with “the first Nickelback album” when asked to name the record that reminds him of his first love, he specifically cites the title track from Far Away (2006): “I actually have that tattooed on my arm. I just really like it.”
(Earlier this year, Tomlinson — along with Payne — posed for a photo inside a recording studio with Nickelback frontman Chad Kroeger. The results from that meeting have yet to materialize.)
THE ARTISTS THAT HAVE MOST INSPIRED ME: Ed Sheeran, Green Day, and Robbie Williams
“As a songwriter — as I’ve said before — Ed is really inspiring in his ability,” says Tomlinson. “And then growing up on Green Day, that kind of got me into performing. And maybe also Robbie Williams — he’s a fantastic performer. Watched a lot of his stuff.”