Louis Tomlinson is Music Week’s cover star for our November issue - and he’s got plenty to say about his solo career ahead of album No.2.
You can get hold of the issue this week to read the wide-ranging interview with Louis Tomlinson, written by Charlotte Gunn.
Tomlinson is now an independent artist after 12 years in the major label system. Faith In The Future, released on November 11, marks a new deal with BMG, following a long spell with Syco (five One Direction albums and his debut solo release Walls). Tomlinson has 4.25 million monthly listeners on Spotify and the single Bigger Than Me is on 15m streams.
Tomlinson’s guitar-heavy second album has credits including Mike Crossey (Arctic Monkeys, The 1975, Wolf Alice), Theo Hutchcraft (Hurts), Joe Cross (Courteeners), Dan Grech (The Killers, The Vaccines, Halsey), Nico Rebscher (Aurora, Alice Merton) and Rob Harvey (The Music, Kasabian).
Tomlinson wrapped his most recent tour – which included a stop at OVO Arena Wembley – in September. He’s also been championing some of his favourite acts - including The Vaccines, Hinds, Sun Room and Stone - at his own Away From Home Festival.
Ahead of the album release, Tomlinson has dropped a new single, Out Of My System, and confirmed UK and European dates for autumn 2023. The tour includes a stop at The O2 in London (November 17), as well as dates in Sheffield, Manchester, Glasgow, Brighton, Cardiff and Birmingham.
Here, in an exclusive preview of our Music Week cover story with Louis Tomlinson, we present some of the interview highlights…
Louis Tomlinson on his solo career
“With hindsight, I always knew I wanted to do it. But the question was, could I? What would it sound like? It wasn’t as sudden as this, but in my brain it felt like I woke up one day and all of a sudden, the band had gone on a break. And it took me a long time to get over that idea. There was a petulance there, I wanted it the way I wanted it.”
Louis Tomlinson on the end of the Syco era
“I think it probably made sense for both me and Syco to go opposite ways. I had my own frustrations, I’m sure they had their own frustrations with me to a degree. I wasn’t really the traditional Syco artist. So it was a bit of a no-brainer for me really, and I did feel relieved when I was out of that.”
Louis Tomlinson on his new label home at BMG
“Everything BMG stands for is really important. The level of control, even the way that the deal is structured, everything makes you feel like you’re in control and they’re there to help. Yes, they offer opinions, but it’s not saying, ‘This is what the single or video should be.’ I needed that freedom because the last thing I want is to be sitting in my rocking chair when I’m in my seventies thinking I should have made my own decisions. They’ve really embraced me as an artist, all of my ideas and thoughts, which gives me loads of confidence and was what I needed.
Louis Tomlinson on mental health and music
“In terms of One Direction, it’s often easy to stereotype these big evil managers or big evil label heads who demanded that we did this [or that]. It wasn’t really like that, I will say that everyone did their best by us, and I’m talking specifically about our mental health. However, being an artist is very individual and the pressures that you have day-to-day, no manager or record boss understands that. Until you experience it, you don’t understand it. Sometimes words are powerful, it can be a little throwaway phrase that comes from this suited label boss and you think about that for the next couple of months.”
Louis Tomlinson on helping his fans
“In terms of what I think could be better, honestly, there’s too many fucking greedy fuckers. As artists, we can all do a little bit more to help out, with things like ticket prices, merch prices, everything that we put any kind of price on… Those things are really important to me. I could have had a meet and greet for the seven months I’ve just been on tour, and it would have been amazing fucking money. But the bottom line is, whoever’s got the richest parents or the most money gets a better experience, and that’s not fucking fair.”
Louis Tomlinson on his album collaborators including Courteeners bassist/producer Joe Cross
“I definitely had a clear idea of who I wanted to work with, what kind of songs I wanted to make and the direction I wanted to go in. And that meant missing out on any of the moments of treading water and trial and error. When I look down the list of people that have worked on the record, it makes me really proud and especially people like Joe who plays with the Courteeners. I’ve seen loads of Courteeners gigs. Like, that’s fucking dead cool that he’s associated with my record!”
Louis Tomlinson on One Direction
“I suppose it’s only a break if we ever get back together! When we had the conversations, we never got any real clarity on what it was. And I can remember going into those meetings and saying, ‘You know, I understand – it’s not what I want – but all I would ask is just put a rough time on how long a break.’ And there was never really an answer. So I definitely came out of the band, crossing my fingers thinking, ‘Oh, maybe it’s only going to be like a year or two.’ That’s also why it took me a long time to get over it because I didn’t really know what it was. I think that’s probably stopped me from going into my solo career because I was still just thinking I wanted to be in that band.”