In One Direction’s fifth year, the ever-maturing boy band endured the most drama and chaos of their career, following the loss of original member Zayn Malik and the announcement of a hiatus to follow the release of fifth album, Made in the A.M. The album, out on November 13th, follows in the vein of the classic rock and folk influences that have pervaded the pop group’s sound since they became more proactive songwriters on 2013’s Midnight Memories.
“I’d like to think, at least for me, that these songs are not one dimensional, lyrically and sonically,” says Julian Bunetta, who has written for and with One Direction since 2012’s Take Me Home. “I’ve listened to this album more than you ever will. I can guarantee that. There are still elements that continue to surprise me and little things I notice, little sounds I hear and little entendres that make me go, ‘Huh, did he mean to say that? Did he slip that by me? How did I not notice that the first time?'”
Bunetta spoke in-depth with Rolling Stone about what listeners can look forward to on their newest collection.
When did you start writing and recording Made in the A.M.?
We started in March in London. John [Ryan, co-writer and co-producer] and I flew to Japan before that in February to talk about shit, hang out, see where we’re all at because the boys were on tour during the first little bit of the writing. After that, we came to London and the boys met us there.
They have such a hectic touring schedule. How did you and John write and record with them around that schedule?
You don’t write around it because you can’t. You have to write in the middle of it. Just get in the middle of it and write. It’s absolute chaos and wonderful. They’re all just having fun and writing songs and flying around. No one goes into the place with a spreadsheet, a ruler, a compass and a protractor to write a song. … Some of the best times in my whole entire life have been with these guys. Whether it’s talking, writing, partying or eating, we just have the best time and a song is bound to be written when we’re doing all those things.
How have they developed and grown as songwriters since 2012?
They’ve all just gotten more confident. Their style of writing reflects who they are, but they’ve just gotten more confident. … They’ve had to go under the process of becoming songwriters under a microscope, which has made them grow exponentially because there’s so much pressure. Everything is compounded in the situation they’re in, but they know what they like and they know what they don’t like. They’re more confident than they were, in a way. But also we all just sit around and go “Is this great? I don’t know! Who knows?”
Liam Payne and Louis Tomlinson seem to have morphed into the most regular writing partnership from the group.
They’ve written a few classics, those boys. The process is interesting because there’s a lot of people in the room. You have me, Louis, Liam, Jamie [Scott, co-writer] and John. Or you have Ed [Drewett] and Wayne [Hector] in place of Jamie. Everyone is very headstrong and very, very talented, so it’s a fight, a lot of the times. Sometimes it takes days before we all agree on something. It’s a good fight!
What can we expect on the album?
“History.” … “The End of the Day.” “I Love You Goodbye.” “Hey Angel.” All these songs will make for great five-paragraph essays, that’s for sure.
You can take them in so many [ways]. We all know what we’re going through; what Louis is going through, what Harry’s going through, what Niall’s going through, what Liam’s going through. We’re all going through the same emotion but in different context. One might be heartbreak. One might be the loss of a family member. One might be the loss of a dog. We’re all simultaneously experiencing a lot of the same emotions together, like a new girlfriend or a new adventure or a new house or confusion. There are so many emotions, and we’re all experiencing them. I’m a 33-year-old guy. The band is 21 to 23. All these songs are taking everyone’s experiences and we’re trying to say what we’re feeling but also give it a broad enough feel for whatever anyone else is experiencing. … There’s a lot of love and loss and success and failure crammed into this, and we just had the most fun you can ever have doing it. That’s the truth.