Countless artists have tried to secure a record deal and catch the attention of the public and, ultimately, failed miserably. Whether it was a combination of not having the right connections, songs or timing, there’s always something getting in the way making it near impossible to be a career musician.
Thankfully, Nashville soul sensation Anderson East has persevered and weathered the musical storm to deliver one of last year’s most uprising new offerings, "Delilah" (2015), released on the Low Country Sound imprint through Elektra.
His sound, a combination of Southern soul and well-orchestrated rhythm and blues finally found traction and, similarly, caught fire with an adoring (and loyal) fan base. Propelled by songs like the piano-driven “Devil In Me” and the soul-soaked, multiple horn-laden “Satisfy Me,” his throwback sound still comes across amazingly fresh and exciting rather than dull or derivative.
A resident of Nashville and an esteemed member of the music and recording community well before his album was released, Anderson learned through trial and error how to push through the many barriers of an industry who lets few inside its hallowed doors.
And while many know East from his connection to country star Miranda Lambert (also his girlfriend), few fans care and readily embrace his music, regardless of his star-studded relationship.
Best Bets caught up with Anderson East en route to yet another capacity gig in Atlanta, Ga. Although one would expect him to be distracted and perhaps tired of interviews at this stage in the game, he was nothing but charming and attentive.
Today, his buzz has reached near critical mass and he’s now playing sold-out venues – most booked well before his new-found popularity launched him into a veritable headliner – yet he couldn’t be any more humble.
“Some day(s), it’s pretty overwhelming. I will say it’s extremely gratifying to have fans all over, and to come play some city across the country where they can’t fit anymore people in the door. I’ve toured many times to four walls and a bar,” East said. “It’s kind of a humbling to fill a venue in a town I’ve never been to.”
East’s touring band has finally become a well-oiled machine after a full year together.
“I’m happy to say this line-up is pretty much set. It’ll be the same group of guys going out with me for the next leg of this tour in April, since I can’t seem to get rid of ‘em,” he said, laughing. “Some of them have been with me longer than others, but the group is fairly new.”
Great live shows
The road has become Anderson’s true calling and he’s delivered on his promise of a great live show as evidenced by his growing popularity and, more importantly, filling venues to their tipping point.
“I’ve found I have many different favorite songs that change from night to night. Once we start playing, there’s songs you didn’t realize you liked so much and some of these ones have so much energy lately,” he said.
But even the rigors of the road leave little time for planning ahead. When pressed if he was going to add new songs to the set list for this run of shows, Anderson was pensive.
“You know, I really don’t know just yet. We haven’t planned anything out for the upcoming shows but we only have two more nights on this tour, and then we’ll reassess,” he said.
East is constantly writing and reworking his large catalog of songs having released two extended plays and two full-lengths well before finally landing his first major label debut. Additionally, he has even more leftovers from his "Delilah" sessions that haven’t seen the light of day.
“We recorded a lot of songs for this record that didn’t make the cut. I still love the songs and hope they find a place regardless of music genre or working together on a record,” he said.
He also plans to work again with Nashville veteran Dave Cobb who not-so-coincidentally runs the Low Country Sound label and produced his record.
“I can say we’re definitely planning on working with him for the new record. I’ve worked in studios for a long time, and after working with him the first time, I realized I could finally safely relax in the studio and let him have control,” East said. “It’s hard to find someone you trust, and I’ve learned that early on while doing some engineering for him and also making music together. It was a real honor to be the first one he signed up to his label."
Although many have tried to lump Anderson East’s music into one genre, all appear too constraining for an artist still in his formative years. “I don’t really concern myself with the whole genre conversation. If people like it, that’s great. I’m just doing what I’m doing,” he said. “In the end, I’m just trying to make Southern music. Its a fairly complicated title for what I do, but everything falls under that pretty nicely.”
Those looking for a new album in 2016 should know, if anything, it’s in the most infant stage possible.
“I don’t know what the next one’s going to called since these kinds of things never turn out the way you originally think they will in your head,” East said. “We got time.”
Nothing but time.
Onward and upward.