- Associated Press - Wednesday, March 21, 2012

NEW YORK (AP) - One Direction’s Niall Horan was in a taxi when he learned that the group’s first album, “Up All Night,” debuted at the top of the latest Billboard Top 200 albums chart.

So he did what any 18-year-old would do in that situation: “I freaked out.”

He immediately started spreading the news with phone calls, but wanted to keep the news from his mom to play a joke on her.

“I wanted to say we had lost out and that whole thing, but Billboard had posted it on their website so my cover was blown,” he said Wednesday.

Horan and his band mates have a right to be excited. They sold more than 176,000 copies of the album in its first week of release to reach No. 1. It makes them the first British act to debut at No. 1 with their first album.

Harry Styles, 18, called the news “humbling” in a phone interview.

“We’re just five normal boys from the U.K. who’ve been given this opportunity, so we’re having a great time working very hard.”

The fans of One Direction have been hard at work as well. Thanks to social media, the group’s followers have helped to spread the word about their music.

“It’s played a massive part,” said Styles. “Twitter, Facebook and YouTube have been a large percentage of the reason we’ve been known outside of the U.K. … We owe a massive thank you to the fans.”

“Whenever you ask anyone how they know about us, it’s always Twitter or Tumblr or something like that,” added 20-year-old Louis Tomlinson.

The success of One Direction and other groups like Big Time Rush (who toured together recently) has led industry watchers to believe the boy band is making a comeback, and the guys are proud to wear that “boy band” tag.

“There’s nothing wrong with it,” says Niall. “We are boys in a band. … People have it in their head that a boy band, that it’s everyone wearing white and sitting on stage. That’s one side of it. We’re trying to do something else.”

One Direction first came together when they all tried out individually for U.K. edition of “The X Factor” in 2010. Judge and mentor Simon Cowell thought they would make an interesting combination instead. The group ended up in third place that season and Cowell signed them to his Syco music label, a division of Sony.

Cowell said the group’s success so far makes him feel very proud.

“I desperately wanted (a No. 1 record) for the boys more than anything else,” he said. “I’m probably more excited about this than I have been about anything for a long, long time.”

The group also announced Wednesday that they will headline their first North American tour beginning May 24 in Fairfax, Va.

Liam Payne, 18, hopes the tour will lead to even more opportunities.

“The ultimate goal would be to do a big, worldwide tour. That would be the most amazing thing we could do.”






Alicia Rancilio covers entertainment for The Associated Press. Follower her on Twitter at https://www.twitter.com/aliciar


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