The pressure is on for Anderson East. Having just played “The Late Show With Stephen Colbert” and racked up reams of glowing reviews for “Encore,” his bluesy, soulful new record, East (who has also drawn a fair share of tabloid attention for his high-profile relationship with countrystar Miranda Lambert) is on the road to visit fans and promote the album, the follow-up to his acclaimed 2015 release “Delilah.” Recorded in Music City’s famed Studio A with producer Dave Cobb, the Alabama singer-songwriter’s album also features appearances by Ed Sheeran, Avicii and Ryan Adams. East checked in from his home in Nashville.
Q: So you’re the guy redefining the sound of Nashville?
A: I think Jason Isbell did that. That’s his job. I’m just trying to figure out my own sound, man.
Q: There was no pressure when you made “Delilah.” Does it feel unnerving to have all this scrutiny around “Encore”?
A: I don’t really pay much attention. That’s not what I signed up for. I just want to play music. If people are talking about the record and the music, that’s all I care about.
Q: Was there a more concerted effort at capturing the energy of the live show in the studio?
A: That’s definitely where the album title came from. Just talking to Dave Cobb about it, I said, “I want every song to be played as an encore!” I still wanted to cherish the fact that it’s a recorded piece of music and have it be well thought out, but still human and rough around the edges. But, yeah, I think we just wanted to enhance the live show and have a great time playing these songs for a long time.
Q: How many of them have actually made it into the encore?
A: So far, we’ve been out for about a month now and we’ve tried three of them as the encore.
Q: Well done! Was there a moment after “Delilah” came out that you felt like, “OK, people are here for this”?
A: I can’t pinpoint a moment. Coming up and traveling around in my old station wagon, playing shows years ago, your biggest fear is nobody is going to show up. There were ample times where it was me and four people — and two of them were the bartenders. After a while, it was like, I didn’t have to worry anymore. That’s what that record did. It just astounded me. Every day, I’m more and more grateful for people taking a chance to come see us for the first time or people who drive eight hours to see us for the 20th time.
Q: You’re playing some pretty amazing rooms on this tour. Have you learned how to maintain that connection you have with your audiences in bigger spaces?
A: Yeah, we cut our teeth pretty well. We were on the road with the Stapletons. We did a Dixie Chicks tour. We definitely figured out how to bring people in and bring people along with us. It’s pretty much second nature. A stage is a stage. We’re the same group of guys on it, no matter where we’re at.
Q: Apart from being the only musician who worked with both Avicii and Chris Stapleton this year, you also collaborated with Ed Sheeran and Ryan Adams on this album. How did that happen?
A: Honestly, I have no earthly idea. I just woke up one day and they asked if I wanted to write with Aviici. I was like, “Yeah, of course!” I love writing songs, and being in Nashville as long as I have, you get set up on a lot of first dates. We turned what was supposed to be a writing appointment into a recording session. “Girlfriend” came out of that evening. Somebody like Ryan, I’ve been a huge fan for ages and ages. I had been listening to Ryan’s latest record; I can’t remember what track it was, but it had the kind of tone I was hearing for the song. Instead of trying to imitate it, I went right to the source.