On Monday (Aug. 24), One Direction’s Niall Horan and Louis Tomlinson clarified widespread breakup rumors by admitting on Twitter that the group will be taking a “well earned break at some point next year,” not “splitting up,” according to Horan. The news was a shock to many longtime fans, but Julian Bunetta, the producer/songwriter behind many of the group’s biggest hits (including new Top 10 smash “Drag Me Down”), says that One Direction’s upcoming fifth album was recorded with the four members knowing it would be their last for a while.
“There was a feeling of, ‘Well, we’re going to take a break, and anything in the world can happen during that time off,’” Bunetta, who has co-produced and co-written 1D hits like “Steal My Girl” and “Story of My Life,” told Billboard last week. “It’s the first time of there being some uncertainty, of not having things planned out beforehand, since they were 16 years old. There was definitely a vibe of making [the album] the best it can possibly be, and knowing it has to last as long as it needs to until we make another record — if we make another record.”
Since releasing its debut album, Up All Night, overseas in 2011, One Direction has issued a new album and embarked on a coinciding tour every year. Bunetta says that 1D’s as-yet-untitled follow-up to 2014’s Four (due out this fall) will address some of what has happened to the group members over the past year — including the departure of Zayn Malik, which became official last March.
“There’s a song about losing someone that isn’t Zayn,” says Bunetta. “There’s also a song about the band being on shaky ground and not knowing what the future is. There are songs about love, there’s a song that is a little more sexually charged. It’s all over the map.”
“Drag Me Down,” which Bunetta co-produced with John Ryan and co-wrote with Ryan and Jamie Scott, debuted at No. 3 on the Hot 100 chart upon its release, and received a NASA-themed music video on Friday (Aug. 21). The buoyant pop-rock sing-along previews an album that Bunetta says will not dwell on the sadness of a One Direction hiatus, but that celebrates everything the group has achieved so far in its five-plus years together.
“There was a lot of them not knowing if they were going to take a break or not, because that wasn’t decided just yesterday,” says Bunetta. “There was definitely some of that going on, [but] it wasn’t like every day was depressing in the studio. We were having so much fun when we were making this record — going out, having parties, really enjoying ourselves and not taking any day for granted that we got to spend with each other.
“When you’re faced with some uncertainty, you appreciate the moment more,” Bunetta continues. “The moment that you’re in becomes really special and sacred. It was definitely one of the most fun album-making processes I’ve had because of that.”