Hello Niall! Your new album, Heartbreak Weather, is out now. What was the thinking behind it?
I had a successful first album, things went well. But I do feel like – and I can say this because it’s my album – I do feel like I pigeonholed myself a bit in terms of the types of songs I was writing. It was all quite chilled out. And having spent so much time touring, I could feel for me onstage and from the crowd, I probably did need a few more uptempos. When I had that in my head, I was like, now I’m gonna go and write songs.
You’ve said that you wanted to make an album, rather than just a collection of singles.
Yeah, I’m an album guy. I like the idea of hearing a couple of singles and putting them on an album, listening to that album as a whole and going, fucking hell, that’s a good body of work. It could be the worst album of all time, but I feel like it’s a good collection of tunes, as a bunch.
Was it inspired by real life events at all?
Yeah, from a breakup of mine. The album’s called Heartbreak Weather, as you know, and I didn’t want to write a breakup album that’s just sad ballads all the time, really selfish, narcissistic sounding stuff. So I was like, how do I write songs from different angles, and the different feelings you have when you go through a breakup. That’s where the Heartbreak Weather thing came from. It worked for me as a concept, the whole idea of the weather being like different emotions.
You’re firmly established as a successful solo artist now.
I hope so.
But were you ever worried about going down the pan?
I mean, fuck, 100 per cent. If you sit down and write a song, you want it to be the best song. And if you let that get in your way, you can be chasing a good song all the time. Whereas I was like, right, relax, trust that you’re good at this, and have fun with it. And if a good song comes, a good song comes. You can’t dwell on it either. The last thing you wanna do is fail, but if you think about failing all the time, you’ve already written yourself off.
What did you do to combat those late night studio blues?
Stop. Get up and leave, because you’re just fucking going around in circles for no reason. It’ll come back, you have to trust the process. I probably wrote 50 odd songs for this album, there’s 14 on it. It was easy to pick the good ones, put it that way. I remember talking to Ed Sheeran about it, he was saying fuck yeah, I write a billion songs a year and 60 per cent of them are shite, but 40 per cent is alright, do you know what I mean? You have to go through that period.
Your new single is called No Judgement, which is a really nice sentiment, but do you think some things deserve judgement, such as socks and sandals or moustaches?
Yeah. I think moustaches have to go. Socks and sandals, no. I see people doing sliders and socks, it’s not me. I’m a trousers and shoes man.
There’s a line in the song that says, “I get us breakfast in the morning /or you can slip out in the night.” If you are to spend the evening with a sexual partner and she does fail to slip out in the night, what would you make for breakfast?
Breakfast… I’m a scrambler, I call them scramblers. A scrambled eggs, smoked salmon type man for breakfast. That’s my number one go-to. Big fan of making smoothies and stuff these days, actually. So that’s what you’re getting. Or I’ll just run down the road and grab a coffee and some pastries.
Are you making a lot of breakfast for people at the moment or are you concentrating on your work?
I’m a single man, not making too much breakfast. Not gonna lie to you, this is God’s honest truth: I found myself getting that consumed by it, that I actually forget about everything else.
No, work! I get to the point where my father will ring me and go, what’s wrong with you? I get so into what I’m doing that I actually don’t even care about anything. I lose the fucking plot. Then when it comes to the dating thing, I’m not, like, a great dater. I like being introduced to someone. I’m not a great “go out and get it myself” type thing.
I suppose you’d catch a few people by surprise if you turned up on an app, wouldn’t you.
Oh, I’m not going on a fucking app. But yeah, I’m a bit too nonchalant about it, I should be a bit more into it… but maybe not! I’m happy on my own, too. I’m having a great time. Twenty-six, travelling the world, having a great time.
Good for you.
What’s your favourite record in the charts right now?
I love Billie Eilish’s album, she’s the best thing to have happened to music in a long time. I’ve been obsessed all year with Kacey Musgraves’ album. Maggie Rogers is one of my favourite artists. Love Taylor Swift’s album, another one. Taylor is one of those songwriters where I will literally get to a point in a song and go, what would Taylor do now? She’s got such a knack. And I told Taylor this. There’s not many of her in our generation, maybe Ed, from a popular music standpoint.
Has she ever given you any advice in terms of writing?
She tells me that she likes my stuff, which is great. When Put A Little Love On Me came out, she told me that she loved it. We’re fans of each other, which is great.
Finally, Niall, if you were to offer judgement on your own record – 10 being amazing, 5 being alright, 1 being a bit shit – what would you give it?
If you’re not going to back yourself, no one’s going to fucking back you, so that’s giving me a 5 straight away. I think as a body of work, if it wasn’t my album and I listened to it, I’d say it was a good album. I’d say, it’s not going to take over the planet, it’s not Ed Sheeran or Adele. I’m going to give it a 7.6.
Heartbreak Weather, the 7.6 album from Niall Horan, is out now.