"The Story of My Life" was a huge hit for Harry Styles and his bandmates in One Direction back in 2013. Now Styles is on his own, and headed in a new direction. With Tony Dokoupil we Take Note:
He may be a little young for nostalgia, but Harry Styles has fond memories of the "good old days."
Dokoupil asked, "Give me an example of a day that you still think about, a day with the band, a day that was fun."
"I mean, first of all, it's fun because you're not in school," Styles replied. "You're already winning!"
To watch One Direction perform "What Makes You Beautiful," click on the video player below.
And it was this obvious joy that helped make him a teenage star, the youngest member of the British boy-band One Direction.
Their debut album "Up All Night" opened at No. 1 on the U.S. Billboard charts, a pinnacle not even The Beatles reached that early.
Between 2012 and 2015, they would release four more albums, with one hit song after another, fueling one of the highest-grossing concert tours ever, complete with a wave of adulation that quite literally swept Styles off his feet.
"The first time we got to Paris, we got off the train, there was a lot of people there, and I lost my shoes," he recalled.
"Where did you lose your shoes?"
"Well, I ended up off the ground somehow and realized I wasn't walking anymore. My God, that was crazy!"
And yet this fall may be even crazier. Styles is back on stage, back on tour, and back with a new number one album -- only this time, he's doing it as a solo artist, with a very different sound, featuring his own music and lyrics.
To watch Harry Styles perform "Sign of the Times" from his new album, click on the video player below.
"I wanted it to be honest," he said. "And I wanted to love it every time that I played it."
"Did it feel scary?" Dokoupil asked. "Did it feel like you were throwing away everything that you've built?"
"It didn't feel scary to me. I think the idea of making something that I wasn't 100 percent behind is much scarier to me."
The new Harry Styles has roots in the old country: Holmes Chapel, in Northern England, a village where Styles worked in a small bakery. He singing started early. "In the car, really," he said. "I was probably four."
His musical taste was molded by his parents. "My dad listened to Queen, Pink Floyd, Fleetwood Mac, The Rolling Stones, The Beatles," he said. "And then my mum would listen to a lot of, like, Norah Jones and Shania Twain and Savage Garden, stuff like that."
Still, his biggest early influence was a group of strangers -- contestants on the 2010 British singing competition, "The X Factor." Harry's mother signed him up. "We used to watch the show as a family, and one time kind of in passing I said, 'Oh, you know, that looks like it'd be fun.' A couple weeks later, she kind of said, 'You have an audition'":
He was eliminated as a solo artist, but found himself put into a made-for-TV group by the show's producers … a group that would go on to become the most wildly successful boy band of its time.
His adolescence was stolen by the tabloids … even the smallest, most unsavory details. He became skilled, he admitted, "at not answering questions … I like to duck and dive."
This past summer, Styles added a new dimension to his fame, as an actor in Christopher Nolan's World War II epic, "Dunkirk," a successful big-screen debut he credits in part to One Direction.
"We were filmed so much, and we had cameras around so much, that I guess I wasn't intimidated by the fact that there was a camera in my face," he said.
But Styles says he remains a musician first ... at home on the stage, comfortable in his own skin, but still firmly determined to be a man of mystery when the stage lights go out.
Dokoupil said, "Alright, you're on a date with somebody. Let's say you're walking in a park."
"How's the hypothetical date going? Is it going well?"
"You're hopeful! And then up ahead there's some rustling -- it is a photographer."
"I honestly don't think of that as part of a relationship," Styles said.
"But it ends up being your life. If you were to go to a coffee shop right now, I'd be in a picture next to you."
"Then we're 'dating,' I guess."
"OK," said Dokoupil, "that would be an interesting storyline."
"You're very handsome!"
Styles has been ducking and diving like that since before he could drive. When asked what his 16-year-old self would think of where he is today, Styles said, "I mean, yeah, he'd be very confused. He would be very confused!"
But though he may sing like he's already in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Harry Styles knows enough to realize he's still too young to know it all.
"I don't know the answers," he said. "And you know, I'm 23, and I very much feel like I'm still learning so much. I'm just kind of figuring it out."
To watch Harry Styles perform "Two Ghosts" from his new album, click on the video player below.
For more info:
- hstyles.co.uk (Official site)
- "Harry Styles" by Harry Styles (Sony Music), available in CD (Amazon and Barnes & Noble), Vinyl (Amazon and Barnes & Noble), Digital Download (Amazon, Google Play and iTunes), and Streaming (Amazon, Apple Music and Spotify) formats
- The documentary "Harry Styles: Behind the Album" is available via Apple Music