JELLY Babies, teddy bears and underwear. Since the dawn of time rock n roll in the mid-fifties, pop idols have had all manner of items thrown at them by fans, eager to please.
But in the case of boy band One Direction, it’s been a most unlikely orange vegetable.
“We get carrots thrown at us,” says Liam Payne.
“I think Louis (Tomlinson) made some remark once that he liked girls who liked carrots. So now they all bring carrots and throw them at us.
“He could have picked a softer fruit (fruit?) but he’s a bit stupid like that is our Louis.”
Or you could have suggested how much you like £20 notes?
“Yeah, we love Rolex watches.”
They have all been moved into a swanky new apartment block in London recently but the riches of pop fame have yet to roll in for the five lads, who met two years ago on the X Factor.
So the cash hasn’t started rolling in yet?
“No it hasn’t yet,” says Liam with a laugh.
“We’re still being paid in sweets.”
With the exception of JLS, One Direction are the biggest group to emerge from the X Factor.
They’d all auditioned as solo singers but judge Nicole Scherzinger suggested they team up to form a group.
As One Direction, Liam, Louis, Niall (Horan), Zayn (Malik) and Harry Styles went on to finish third behind Matt Cardle and Rebecca Ferguson.
All three finalists recently played shows at the Royal Concert Hall but only One Direction have booked a return to the city, at the Capital FM Arena next March.
“We can’t wait to come back with a bigger show,” says Liam.
“We’re going to put on a massive show this time, with all the bells and whistles. And I hope you guys enjoy it.”
The group played two shows at the Royal Concert Hall in January on the same day. Both sold out before Christmas.
“They were really good shows,” says the 18-year-old from Wolverhampton.
He adds: “My sister’s boyfriend goes to university in Nottingham and she goes up there quite a lot, so I know a little bit about Nottingham. I know it’s got a good party scene.”
There’s a pause...
“Is it true that the boy to girl ratio in Nottingham is really different?”
That old chestnut is still doing the rounds then? Three girls for every boy...
“That’s mental!” he says.
But you have a girlfriend (he is dating a dancer from the X Factor) so what does it matter to you?
“Erm, I was just intrigued. For the boys, obviously. I just wanted to clear up an old legend, that’s what it was.”
Since emerging from the X Factor in 2010, One Direction have topped the charts with their debut single What Makes You Beautiful and album Up All Night, had two best-selling books and sold out a UK tour in a matter of minutes.
Last month they picked up a Brit Award for Best Single.
“It was amazing,” he says.
“To be in that room with so many established people and brilliant artists, we were so excited. I mean Example was the first one that we met and I think he such a great artist. The tunes he brings out...
“Rihanna was there and Bruno Mars. Then to walk away with a Brit... we are such lucky boys. The fans had been grafting away hard on the internet and it paid off.”
The single award was voted for by the public.
“We’re so thankful that our fans are the sort to pick up the phone and go on the computer and spend hours and hours voting.
“I actually heard that there was a girl in Sweden who voted for us 134 times. And to do that she had to make 134 e-mail accounts.”
So what about the aftershow party?
“To be honest our aftershow party was a bit pants. I was sat there with my girlfriend thinking, I’m not enjoying this. You quickly come to realise that aftershow parties are all about loads of talking and meeting people.
“Although I did meet Chris Martin. He was a nice fella.”
Did he offer any advice?
“He just said enjoy it. Everyone says the same thing really.”
The day after the Brits they were up for rehearsals at 10am, then flew to the US for a brief promotional tour.
There is YouTube footage of their arrival at the airport in Chicago, faced with a wall of hysterical girls.
It happens all the time, says Liam.
“We have to be really careful what we say about our plans otherwise we have trouble at the airport.
“The other day in France we had a crowd surge and I lost a shoe.”
Rival boy band The Wanted, featuring Newark-born Jay McGuiness, have also been in the US promoting their single Glad You Came, which topped the iTunes chart. It’s the first time a UK boy band has enjoyed such success since Take That in the mid-nineties.
Says Liam: “They’ve been out there a while now with lots of radio play. Fair play.
“We’ve had a really good start over there. It’s a massive confidence boost to go out there knowing that we’ve sold some records. And you can feel the fans on Twitter.”
They’re back in the UK now so what happens next?
“We’re looking to do a bit more travelling and stuff. Coming back and forth to the UK as and when we can. It’s so difficult to stretch ourselves pout across all these different places.
“We really want to see all the fans but we’re struggling at the minute. It’s hard to be in ten place at once.”
One assumes there’ll be another album before next year’s tour?
“Yeah, for sure,” he says, before thinking about the Nottingham show.
“I don’t know what we’ll be performing but it’ll be a lot of fun. I know that much. I was watching the Justin Bieber DVD Never Say Never recently and it looked like so much fun. I can’t wait to get out there.”
He has since restyled his hair but for a while, like Harry Styles, he’d been accused of copying the Bieber fringe.
“The last holiday I had was the Christmas before last. That was to Florida with my parents and my girlfriend. We went to one of the theme parks and I got recognised before I’d even got on the first ride. It was an English person who picked me out.
“Then the Americans thought I was Justin Bieber. No I’m not Justin Bieber!” he adds, with a chuckle.
“They were funny times.”
So what is life like on the road for One Direction?
“We play computer games and have a laugh with the boys. It’s a bit like being on a school trip.
“It’s like a really bad version of The Inbetweeners actually. That’s kind of how our lives are at the moment.”
Tickets for One Direction’s show at the Capital FM Arena on March 20, 2013 are sold out. Hospitality tickets are still available from £88. Call 08444 124624.
To register for notifications of returns or extra tickets visit www.capitalfmarena.com.