"When you’re doing hundreds and hundreds of [concerts] and it’s the same 22 songs at the same time every single day, even if you’re not happy, you’ve got to go out there," he says. "It’s almost like putting the Disney costume on before you step up on stage and underneath the Disney costume I was pissed quite a lot of the time because there was no other way to get your head around what was going on."
"I mean it was fun," he adds. "We had an absolute blast but there were certain parts of it where it just got a little bit toxic."
Payne also admits that he "never" felt in control during those days. "I still struggle with it now," he says. "I really struggle to say no because I don’t like to let people down. It’s in my nature."
One Direction began thanks to what Payne describes as "the perfect storm" -- five guys being paired together by Simon Cowell on the British version of The X Factor -- but its effect has long since continued, often not positively.
"There were so many scenarios that had to fall into line for that to happen," he says of the band's quick and epic rise. "It’s not something that can easily be recreated or probably ever will be because of the way the internet was kicking off, the way The X Factor kicked off. I just think it was just dumb luck."
"... It’s difficult when you have the level of fame that we had in the band," he adds. "There have been a lot of people in trouble with mental health that aren’t really getting the help that they need and I think that’s a bit of a problem in our industry. It’s the same s**t that happens to everyone, that’s been happening since the '70s. You know what the traps are and if you are lucky enough, like me, to be able to get out of that scenario and back into a sense of normality, then you know it’s a bit different."
While Payne still struggles with being known as "the guy from that band," he's learned many lessons through his experiences with One Direction.
"If you are what you think you are, then you don’t have to f**king prove anything," he says. "... I’ve got a lot of things wrong in my time, but they were also the moments that I’ve learned the most about myself. The moments to do with fear, patience, intelligence, all those different things."