Despite him having toured the UK before, it’d be fair to say that Anderson East is still very much breaking through on our shores. Having released his second album, Encore, in January, which includes co-writes with the likes of Chris Stapleton and Ed Sheeran, Anderson is perhaps better known by some for his love life. As soon as anyone listens to Encore, or his debut effort Delilah, that will all change. The singer-songwriter has a voice dripping in soul and backed up by gravelly howls, telling stories of love, life and much more. With a sound that falls anywhere between Americana, soul, country, blues and Motown, his music is sure to appeal to the masses. This year he’s on a run through Europe which sees the ‘Encore World Tour’ take in both London and Manchester before heading onto the continent. We caught up with Anderson before the show at Manchester’s Night & Day Café for a chat.
Welcome back to the UK, Anderson. How has your visit been so far?
Yeah, so far so good! We haven’t really done anything yet.
This is the first show of the European tour of course. You’ve been over here a couple of times already, how do you find it to be over here?
Last time was great. Everything was fantastic. We tell them to keep the lights pretty bright so we don’t really see a whole lot! Everybody has been really sweet to us, just to be so far from home and playing shows.
It must be difficult for you because you have so many varied influences, from Motown to country to soul, to kind of find where to fit in when you’re approaching a new country? Do you find it tough to break new ground in that sense?
I just think that we’re kind of a genreless band that’s comprised of lots of interests. So yeah, it’s very difficult for us to get pigeonholed into one category or a genre, which is a good thing and a bad thing sometimes! Ultimately it just means that we cast a pretty wide net!
You’re coming off the new album, Encore, coming out this year. How did you find the reception to that record?
Everything’s been great. The crowds are bigger and bigger every time. I’m super proud of the record and it seems to have taken hold with a lot of people.
Do you think there’s been much of a shift for you from Delilah to here?
Yeah, I think sonically we’ve definitely made a much more musical record. It’s a lot more thoughtful. I think, as far as the songwriting approach goes, it’s definitely different. It was more about songs with a little deeper feeling to it.
You had the likes of Chris Stapleton, who co-wrote King for a Day, and Ed Sheeran with writing credits on there. Do you find that helpful?
I’ve been fortunate enough to have some really talented friends who enjoy writing songs. I’ve been writing with Chris for quite a while now, we’ve been on tour a long. It’s all just natural, none of it is super forced.
It must be quite cool to watch Chris, an artist in Nashville who is bringing something a little different and perhaps a bit more soul and crossing genres, to see him achieve such success? Everything is so radio driven in the States and he’s stepped out without it.
I think that the songs are undisputable. A lot of the things on the radio can be disputed! It’s always great to see people that deserve it make it.
Going back to the record, two of my favourites, Surrender and Cabinet Door, are such polar opposites. One will have you up dancing and the other will have you crying. Have you got a particular favourite on the record? Particularly to play live?
To play live, This Too Shall Last is probably my favourite because we kind of stretch out a little bit and explore a little more of what that song is. There’ll all kind of my children though, you’ve got a certain favourite but you protect them all!
Moving on a little bit to your influences, we’ve talked about how your music has so many styles, from growing up through to now, what have you been listening to?
Nowadays, I’ve been listening to a lot of Unknown Mortal Orchestra, I think he’s pretty great. I didn’t really have a lot of awareness of soul and Muscle Shoals growing up. We weren’t a very musical household so it was just kind of the songs that were on the radio at that time. I got pretty heavy into jam band music and a lot of my tastes early on came from skateboard videos! There was a lot of great underground hip hop, so those kind of rhythms sort of jump back in.
Moving on to Britain and Europe, do you have many influences from here?
Yeah, I’m absolutely a big fan of Oasis and Travis. My friend Sadler (Vaden from Jason Isbell’s 400 Unit) have been tweeting every day asking for a reunion! Travis was another big one, the sonic of those records is just so interesting.
Talking of Britain, we spoke about how the States has a strong radio culture, over here it seems to be less about that and more about listening to albums. Do you think that’s a good reason to keep you coming back?
Yeah. I think that it’s mainly just an appreciation of music itself instead of being kind of ‘scene driven’ or ‘song driven’. People seem to be more willing to try different food and have a more expanded palette.
Can you see yourself coming back over and over again?
I do. I’ve just been thinking about that. Touring the States, there’s 50 of them and it takes a while to get around. With here it’s also a lot of effort to get over here but it’s one of those things that, I see what we’ve built in America, and I’m really thirsty for it over here.
You bring the full band with you as well. It can’t be cheap. We spoke to Brothers Osborne who’ve done amazingly well here and they say that, to make it here, you’ve got to really want it.
Yeah. I figure that if people are going to come see us then I want to give them the most accurate representation of what I want them to see. There’s a lot of us! We’re just wondering how we’re going to fit on the stage!
Obviously you play these big shows supporting the likes of Stapleton in America. Is it cool in a way to come back to these smaller venues in the UK?
Yeah. There’s definitely positives. We thrive on sweaty rock clubs! There’s always ups and downs, whether you’re in a stadium and you miss that intimacy and connection with the audience and here it’s literally right in your face. We love it though. We also thrive on each other on stage, we get almost as much inspiration from each other.