A week and a half into all the One Direction drama, we're finally hearing from Zayn Malik, who took himself off the road last week and then took himself out of the band completely on Wednesday.
"It is crazy and wild and a bit mad," he told Britain's Sun, describing the days around the split, which happened while the group was on tour in Asia. "But at the same time I've never felt more in control."
He explained his situation: "I did try to do something that I wasn't happy doing for a while, for the sake of maybe other people's happiness. And that was mainly the fans. And I only ever tried to do it for the fans, and it was only ever for them," he told the paper.
"I'm only upset I feel like I may have let them down in some sort of way ...," he said of the group's fan base, the so-called Directioners. "It's not that I've turned my back on them or anything, it's just that I just can't do that anymore because it's not real to me."
He firmly denied talk of tension in the group, which is now a quartet made up of
The five-member incarnation of the boy band had been rolling nearly nonstop since being put together as a group in 2010 during the seventh season of
Since then, One Direction has put out four albums and, according to Forbes, took in $75 million from June 2013 to June 2014 alone.
Tomlinson, the oldest of the guys, turned 23 last Christmas Eve.
"I feel like I'm doing what's right, and right by myself and right by the boys, so I feel good," Malik said in the Sun interview, which was conducted at a West London recording studio and published online Thursday behind a paywall.
Accusations that he cheated on fiancee Perrie Edwards -- she's a member of the girl group Little Mix, which was on Season 8 of "The X Factor" in the United Kingdom -- seem to have been the tipping point last week. After being photographed holding hands and embracing another woman outside of a nightclub in Phuket, Thailand, Malik tweeted his love for Edwards and that he was "sorry for what it looks like."
He told the Sun that Edwards was supportive and "all right, man," in the middle of the furor. "She's a good girl."
Malik's former bandmates have been supportive and understanding as well, he said, predicting they'd be fine without him.
"I think," he said, "they're going to be cool."