For all the hype surrounding Zayn Malik's sudden departure from One Direction, the story behind it is actually quite tame.
"I guess I just wanted to go home from the beginning," he tells The Fader in the mag's new cover story. "I was always thinking it. I just didn't know when I was going to do it. Then by the time I decided to go, it just felt right on that day. I woke up on that morning, if I'm being completely honest with you, and was like, 'I need to go home. I just need to be me now, because I’ve had enough.' I was with my little cousin at the time—we were sat in the hotel room—and I was just, 'Should I go home?' And he was like, 'If you want to go home, let's go home.' So we left."
The interview marks Malik's first high-profile feature since leaving the boy band that made him famous earlier this year. In a video posted to The Fader's website on Tuesday, a snippet of Malik's new song, "Befour," plays in the background. His new album, produced by Frank Ocean collaborator James "Malay" Ho, is reportedly expected to be released in early 2016.
"I'm working every day now, but I'm working on music that I enjoy," he says, switching gears to the songs he had previously recorded with 1D. "That's not music that I would listen to. Would you listen to One Direction, sat at a party with your girl? I wouldn't. To me, that's not an insult, that's me as a 22-year-old man. As much as I was in that band, and I loved everything that we did, that's not music that I would listen to. I don’t think that’s an offensive statement to make.
"That’s just not who I am," he continued. "If I was sat at a dinner date with a girl, I would play some cool sh*t, you know what I mean? I want to make music that I think is cool sh*t. I don't think that’s too much to ask for."
Malik also got candid about his own experiences working in the studio as a member of One Direction.
"There was never any room for me to experiment creatively in the band," he said. "If I would sing a hook or a verse slightly R&B, or slightly myself, it would always be recorded 50 times until there was a straight version that was pop, generic as f**k, so they could use that version."
While his former bandmates are currently promoting their fifth studio album -- their first without Malik -- the 22 -year-old hints that he's not the only one to take issue with the way 1D has been managed.
"I wasn’t 100 percent behind the music. It wasn’t me. It was music that was already given to us, and we were told this is what is going to sell to these people," Malik claims. "As much as we were the biggest, most famous boy band in the world, it felt weird. We were told to be happy about something that we weren’t happy about."
Meanwhile, ET was with Harry Styles, Niall Horan and Louis Tomlinson during a recent tour stop in Belfast, Ireland, where they opened up about Malik's departure from the group.
"I think in any field of work when you lose someone on your team, obviously it's hard, but the positive take on the situation is we felt we definitely got closer as a group," Tomlinson said. "We sat down and spoke about it -- this is something we all still want to do, so in the end we actually bonded together tighter, I think."
For more from the guys of 1D, see the interview in the player below and tune in to Entertainment Tonight all week for more from our exclusive sit-down with the boys.