Payne told radio hosts Dave Berry and Lisa Snowdon on Capital FM‘s Breakfast Show that Malik quit the popular boy band to spend more time with his fianceé Perrie Edwards.
“He wanted to go and spend some time with his family and missus,” Payne, 21, said on Monday. “He’s just off doing his thing man and that’s cool. We’re just going to keep going and flying the flag.”
Malik announced he was leaving the immensely popular group in March.
A week prior to announcing his departure, Malik faced rumors that he was cheating on Edwards, a member of the English girl group Little Mix, after photos surfaced of him holding hands with a mystery girl. The couple, who got engaged in 2013, appear to have weathered the storm.
Payne, who was one of the first band members to reach out to Malik after he quit, also told Berry and Snowdon he misses the singer.
“I mean you know, he had to do what he had to do really, for himself,” he said on the radio show. “We wish him all the best with whatever he goes into and stuff. We’ll just have to see what happens.”
Payne made sure to give his former a bandmate a shout out when the group picked up the Top Duo/Group award at last weekend’s Billboard Music Awards.
“There’s one more person to share this with,” he said onstage, “that’s our brother Zayn.”