More than seven years after One Direction’s hiatus, Louis Tomlinson has found his confidence, sense of self and his solo sound.
That’s what fans learn in his new documentary, “All of Those Voices,” which screens in theaters worldwide starting Wednesday, March 22. The hour and 47-minute-long film follows Tomlinson from 1D’s final “X-Factor” performance in December 2015 through the present day and delves into his childhood, relationship with his family — including the deaths of his mom and younger sister — and self-discovery after the band.
Here’s everything fans will learn about Tomlinson in his new movie, including how he felt while in One Direction, how he struggled with the band’s break and what touring is like now.
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‘I don’t see where I sit within this band,’ Louis Tomlinson says of 1D’s early days
After One Direction was formed on “The X-Factor” in 2010, Tomlinson apparently struggled to find his place in the boy band.
It started when he first heard their debut single, “What Makes You Beautiful,” and realizing “I wasn’t on it,” he says in “All of Those Voices.” Though he remembers “singing a couple of different verses on the first single,” the track leans heavily on fellow bandmates Liam Payne and Harry Styles.
He pushed to make sure that he’d be in their second single, “Gotta Be You.” He worked with a producer and was “naïve enough” to think it would ensure his inclusion in the song.
“All I want is to sing a bit of this next song. And we’ll just stay here until I get it right,” Tomlinson recounted about recording his vocals for the song.
Again, the verse he’d painstakingly recorded didn’t make the final cut.
“There was an element of me feeling it doesn’t matter what I do. I’m not really in control here,” Tomlinson said. “And I don’t see where I sit within this band. … I was like, ‘Well if I’m not going to (expletive) sing, then what else am I going to do for this band?’”
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How Louis Tomlinson found his place in One Direction
It took a few years for Tomlinson to find his footing in the five-member band.
“The first two and a half years, I just felt like I wasn’t in control of myself and certainly not necessarily had an influence in the band,” he said.
Eventually, he “felt ownership in what we were doing” and “in control again.” Starting with their third studio album, “Midnight Memories,” he was credited as a co-writer for the majority of 1D’s songs. Looking back, Tomlinson is proud of having the most writing credits in the band, he says.
“By the end of it, I knew exactly who I was in the band. Because I was like, ‘I finally understand what my role is and who I am in this band,” he said. “I wanted to stay in the band, but that was not an option anymore.”
Louis Tomlinson: ‘I was not prepared’ for 1D’s break
In “All of Those Voices,” Tomlinson makes it clear that he was not the one to call off One Direction.
“I think the feeling that I remember the most was a little bit of anger because I didn’t want to go on a break. It upset me; it shocked me. I wasn’t prepared for it. I thought, for me, it was the band or nothing,” he said.
“It’s not as if in the five years I was in the band I’d ever dreamt about being a solo artist. Not once, not once, because I was so obsessed with us moving as a unit and being part of this team. I’ve spent all these years doing this; I don’t really see myself doing anything else.”
Whether he was ready for it or not, 1D’s last performance came when they took to “The X-Factor’s” stage a month after their fifth album, “Made in the A.M.,” released.
“Even right up until we went on the break, there was still really no closure on that idea,” Tomlinson said. “It hit me like a ton of bricks. I was not prepared for it. Not at all.”
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Why Louis struggled with his post-One Direction career
Tomlinson said he took a bit of time after the hiatus began to figure out what to do next. After taking some meetings and speaking with his mom, he decided to continue to pursue a career as a musician.
The transition was anything but easy, and comparing himself to his former bandmates didn’t help.
“It was very easy for me to imagine Harry having a solo career, Liam having a solo career. It was harder for me to imagine, like, myself doing that,” Tomlinson said.
“Where I left One Direction was I’d come off stage feeling like a god,” he said. “Now, I’m doing my own performances, and it feels like the opposite.”
It was difficult enough acclimating to being a headlining artist rather than a member of a band. On top of that, Tomlinson experienced some setbacks as his solo career was getting off the ground, including when his mother and sister died in 2016 and 2019, respectively.
“I felt like, from that moment, for years I couldn’t win. Life was just against me, and it didn’t want me to succeed,” he said. “I kept having all of these difficult things to deal with.”
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Louis finds his confidence as a solo artist
As the oldest of seven children by almost seven years, Tomlinson was very close to his mom — a relationship that several family members speak to in “All of Those Voices.”
Knowing that she wouldn’t want her death to set back his career, Tomlinson endeavored to find his sound with the support of his online fan base.
Writing “Kill My Mind” and “Walls” for his first studio album seemed like a turning point. But his stage presence and confidence in performing live were a sticking point.
In one scene, his vocal coach, Helene Hørlyck, accuses him of rushing through songs in order to get off the stage quickly. Though Tomlinson is doubtful heading into his first solo tour in March 2020, he ultimately is buoyed by the fan support he experiences while performing.
When it seems like he’s going to start hitting his stride, pandemic lockdowns begin to threaten the tour; he and his team realize, seemingly backstage at a venue, that they would have to rebook spaces for one year out.
“(I’ve been) waiting for that break,” Tomlinson says. “I’ll be waiting a little bit longer, I think.”
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‘I finally feel worthy of where I am’
After a two-year wait, Tomlinson finally resumed his tour with avid crowds greeting him in venues around the world.
“It’s my first solo tour, you know what I mean? I did not think I’d be in these kinds of experiences so soon into my touring career,” he says. “I’m really enjoying this momentum at the moment. I can feel myself getting better as a performer, better as a singer.”
“All of Those Voices” also shows how Tomlinson continues to live up to his partying persona while balancing his family life. Between getting rowdy in the back of the tour bus and causing havoc on stage with his bandmates, Tomlinson seems to spend time with his son, Freddie, who lives in LA.
“If I told myself five years ago that I was going to play 80 shows or 80-plus shows globally, bigger venues than I ever imagined, I swear I wouldn’t believe you,” he says. “In the last 12 months, I finally feel worthy of where I am, what I’m doing and the success I’m having throughout this.”
Where to watch ‘All of Those Voices’
“All of Those Voices” is in theaters starting March 22. For showtimes and locations, go to https://www.allofthosevoices.com.
Reach the reporter at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @kimirobin and Instagram @ReporterKiMi.
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