Concert Heartstrings Interview New Release

East of Nashville: An Interview with Anderson East

We at Hearstrings believe that there’s no better way to start off the month of July than to introduce an exclusive interview with Anderson East. Oh, and by the way, Anderson is releasing his sophomore album, Delilah,  just 10 days from now, on producer Dave Cobb’s Low Country Sound. Although East has lived in Nashville for the past eight years, he was raised just an hour from FAME Studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama. That’s where, in just a few hours, he recorded five live performances that he later used to tantalize us, by slowly releasing them one-by-one, in the weeks leading up to his full-album release. With Independence Day just around the corner, the timing of Delilah’s arrival couldn’t be better, as East is an emblem for everything Americana. His music is both a collection of, and resting place for, the sounds which came before him, and a harbinger for the sounds to come.

This summer and fall, you can also catch him performing live at several festivals (including SummerTyne, Merchant Street and Sweet Pea), as well as at some epic shows where he’ll be sharing the stage with John Butler Trio, The Lone Bellow and Brandi Carlile.

 Lauren Jahoda: Flowers of the Broken Hearted was recorded in LA and Nashville, and Delilah in Nashville. How did the concept of doing the 5 live recordings at FAME as a preface come about?

Anderson East: Growing up near there, I had always wanted to record there. The history of the place alone is enough to make anyone go set up a cot in the back. But my manager and I got the balls enough to call down there and see if we could go through some of their archives. We really were just fans and wanted to hear the tunes that Wilson Pickett and Jimmy Hughes and people like that didn’t put out. To our surprise they let us. We went down and hung out for the better part of a day with Rodney Hall just listening to odd tunes. We actually stumbled on this George Jackson tune that we actually recorded called Find em’ Fool em’ and Forget em’. So after we were done making the record (Delilah) in Nashville, we decided to go down to the Shoals and do this live from FAME thing. It didn’t cross our minds that this would be the first thing people would hear. But I feel like it worked out great. We recorded them all live in just a few hours and I couldn’t be happier with how it came out.

What was it like going home to record, with FAME being just an hour drive from where you were raised?

It was so comfortable and charging. To be in that room and make the music I love, with people I love, was a true gift that I hope I get to do again. And then we all went back to my Dad’s farm and rode 4-wheelers and went to my favorite burger joint. What else could you want?

What was it like recording in the same room as some of your heroes?

There is a spirit in that place. Hiding in the walls. I’m not a very religious man but I could equate it going to Mecca. Some of the most inspired music from some of the most talented musicians alongside some of the greatest singers and songwriters that have ever lived have left their mark on that place and you can feel it. There’s even a sign above the door that says something quite similar to that because…it’s true. So to be blunt it felt pretty damn amazing.

Anderson East.  Photo by Sundel Perry.

Anderson East. Photo by Sundel Perry.

You have Jeremy Fetzer (Steelism), Kristen Rogers (Humming House), Annie Clements (Sugarland), Chris Powell, Wesley Winfrey, and Frederick Weathersby with you on the recordings — can you tell me how you all came together?

They’re my friends. We had a super narrow window of time to get ready to do it. Chris played on the record and he’s such a sweet guy, whom I love and was thrilled he agreed to do it. Annie and I have played music together for a long time, so she flew home early off a cruise ship. Similar stories with everyone. I’ve know Kristen for ages and we’re super close and she did all the harmonies on the record and I’ve done a lot of session with Fetzer and just love his playing.

Do you plan on performing live on tour together at any time?

We’ve all gotten to play with each other in different arrangements but everyone has their own things happening too. I’ve had somewhat of a revolving cast for a long time. So I’m sure it will happen in some type of configuration again very soon.

AndersonEastDelilah

I read that the title for the new album, Delilah, is named after the story of Samson and Delilah. Can you tell me more about this and why were you influenced by this story?

Yes, It’s about the story when Samson, who was blessed by God with supernatural strength falls at the hands of the woman he loves. It’s not a literal reflection by any means but the sentiment felt true. A large portion of the songs are love songs and especially “wanting” love. It felt natural… Love or wanting to be loved can really knock the wind out of you.

How about on a personal level? In other words, is there a personal experience directly connected with and that resonates with this story?

Yea absolutely. But I think it’s been a theme instead of one specific event. Every song is truth and if not in the direct narrative then in the emotion or essence behind it.

Did you set out creating this album with this theme in mind or did it evolve over time?

No not really. I think we were almost done making the record and I had a working title in mind and it just didn’t fit any longer. So thinking about what this record was, we were mixing “Devil in Me” and in the second verse that name comes up and I tucked that thought back that these songs could have been loose soundtrack to the secular version of that story.

What do you do when you’re not playing music?

These days when I’m not playing music I’m just driving somewhere to play music again. Thats the way it should be. But I love listening to stories on those drives. That really gets me off. A well told story… there’s nothing like it.

If you could give one piece of advice to a large group of people, what would it be?

Be nice. Laugh.

 

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