In an interview with British personality Dermot O'Leary for Audible's People, Just People podcast, the "Slow Hands" singer admitted that he did occasionally feel like a "prisoner" while a member of the boy band, due to the hoards of fans who descended upon them to show their appreciation at every turn.
"I struggled with the idea of, why won't you just let us out? We just want to go for a walk, you know?" he recalled. "But, you can't get inside the brain of a fan, and now I completely get it, but at the time, you're like, you're our age! Just let us out! We just want to walk down the street. You must understand!"
He shared that during the band's South America stadium tour, which took them to countries like Peru, Uruguay and Argentina, the fans were so intense it was impossible for them to really enjoy all these "amazing cities." He called the experience "heartbreaking, but amazing at the same time."
"We get into Lima at 1 a.m., and we're driving from the airport to the hotel, and we see a shopping center," he continued. "Me and Louie and Liam were like, 'Ok, when we get up tomorrow morning we'll have a little stroll around there.' The next morning we wake up and me and Louie were playing FIFA in the room, and Liam comes up and is like, 'Come on, let's go.' And Louie still had his curtains pulled. Then Louie goes, 'Just have a look out that window.' The police had done a headcount, and there were 10,000 people in the street the whole time."
One Direction took a hiatus in 2015, following Zayn's exit from the band. Since then, the bandmates have gone their separate ways to work on individual projects.
Check out Niall's interview with Dermot above.