“There were certain restrictions in terms of the way that we could come outside of that young teen boy look,” he told Complex who prodded him further about what sort of restrictions were imposed on him.
“Mainly my beard, honestly. I wasn’t allowed to keep it,” he answered.
“Eventually, when I got older, I rebelled against it, and decided to keep it anyway. That was just because I looked older than the rest of them. That’s one of the things that is now quite cool. I get to keep my beard.”
Malik also sports a bleached blonde hairdo now but apparently he wasn’t even allowed to dye his hair while in the band even though he wanted to.
He’s said a lot of things about the boy band since leaving to forge a solo career calling the music “generic as fuck” most recently but he denied to Complex that he is ungrateful for the experience.
“No one can ever say I was ungrateful, even though it sort of comes across that way when I mention that I was frustrated with the band. That’s not the case at all,” he said.
Malik will release his debut solo album Mind Of Mine on Friday, a record which he has described as “a very sexual album”.
As for what has inspired the record, the 23 year-old counts Tupac’s All Eyez On Me as one of his biggest influences.
“The songs are so real, and from a perspective of a place where somebody is not afraid to be completely 100 percent honest,” he said.
“He’s the first rapper to talk about the fact that his mom was a crack addict. For me, that’s courageous as fuck. He took that risk and spoke about everything in detail openly and without any shame.”
He’s also a Kanye fan because, “He’s speaking the truth, regardless of whomever he offends, he isn’t bothered.”
Listen: Zayn – BeFoUr