Niall Horan on 'This Town,' Debut Solo Album & Life After One Direction

By Nicole Mastrogiannis

November 10, 2016

This January, it will be one year since One Direction split up. Since then, the guys seem to be doing their own thing, many of them going off into a solo career, including Niall Horan. Niall just released his new pop single "This Town," which is an acoustic tune about bumping into an old flame while in your hometown. The song is only the beginning for the 23-year-old as he is currently working on his debut solo album, and he's set to perform during select dates during this year's iHeartRadio Jingle Ball Tour.

Niall recently stopped by iHeartRadio HQ for an exclusive interview, where he opened up about what life has been like after 1D, his new single, what fans can expect from his forthcoming album, and more.

Following the end of One Direction, Niall went on a backpacking trip through Southeast Asia at the end of February 2016. After the split he tells us, "I generally just wanted to chill." He adds, "Going backpacking was spontaneous. As we were moving around, we booked the next place. We didn't really think too much into it, and then just get like a $30 flight to somewhere in Cambodia. It was kind of very random. Everything had been planned for me up until then; hotels, and traveling all over the world. So I wanted to do it our way."

His backpacking trip sparked a lot of ideas for Niall in terms of music. He tells us, "I had a lot of time to write down a lot of stuff, like ideas, and stuff like that. So that's where a lot of my ideas came from." Following the trip, in March/April of this year, he began writing songs, with "This Town" becoming one of the first songs he wrote.

On the meaning behind the lyrics of his single "This Town"

"The reason I wrote it is because it's very relatable to everyone. It's basically about when you had that girl or guy that you dated when you were like 12. But then you go home, and you haven't been home in a long time, and you just bump into them everywhere you go. It's got that kind of idea behind it."

Niall's own hometown is Mullingar, Ireland, and although he loves going to visit, he explains that many of his friends have moved to the US and countries like Australia. "We all kinda go back at the same time, and that's when you start bumping into people, but it's nice."

Niall Horan 2016 Photo

Niall is currently working on a full-length solo album to be released via Capitol Records, and he tells us that most of the songs are already written. Now, he's in the process of recording the music in the studio. He says, that after a few more writing sessions, one of which are with the writer who wrote James Bay's "Hold Back The River." He says, "Now it's time to go to the studio and start writing or recording everything from the drums, to the guitars, to everything. All my songs are basically either voice notes, or ready-to-go demos. So I need to start from scratch now."

On recording an album as a solo artist vs. with One Direction

Although Niall is recording a solo album, he says that, for him, the writing process was no different from writing with the rest of his bandmates in One Direction. 

"The writing process, for me, was no different. Because when we would write with 1D, we would just split off anyways. So like we'd go off on our own. So the writing thing was no different. I wasn't writing big chorus' or anything. I was writing to suit me. Like completely me, because I have to sing every one of them, which is different. But it's been good. And I'm looking forward to making the music side of it."

Niall Horan Interview

On what fans can expect to hear on Niall's new debut solo album

As for what fans can expect to hear from the rest of Niall's solo debut, he says that it's "honest" and "naturally [him]," and that it's based around his taste in music, which he describes has being heavily influenced by Bob Dylan, The Lumineers, David Gray, and more. "I've been trying to get a mix of everyone, and with a twist of myself."

In his 1D days, Niall was known for playing his guitar, and fans will notice that "This Town" is very acoustic. But Niall explains that although there will be a few other similar songs on the album, there will also be songs featuring a little more production.

"There [are] one or two more [acoustic songs]. There's one in particular that's probably my favorite that is literally, from what I can kind of guess, it's gonna be just me and an acoustic guitar, and maybe a tiny, little bit of piano." He adds, "But the rest of them are a bit more gigged up, because if I play 13 of like 'This Town' at a concert, you'd probably bore people to death, so I'm not gonna do that. And also, these bands that I grew up listening to have up tempo music too, so I'm looking forward to getting out there, and doing some shows actually."

Niall Horan iHeartRadio Pic

On being nervous about releasing music as a solo artist

"I have been sitting on 'This Town' since March, and it only came out like a month ago. So I've known about that song. I knew that it was good, but I didn't think that it was gonna get the reaction that it did. So, in those months leading over it, and the weeks leading up to it, you get a little bit anxious, and it is quite nerve racking. When there's another 12 or 13 songs to be out, that's gonna be even more nerve racking, but I'll give  it me best shot."

Listen to Niall Horan's "This Town" below:

Niall Horan

Photos: Rachel Kaplan for iHeartRadio

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