We’re not allowed to talk about Miranda Lambert during our phone conversation with musician Anderson East. The Athens, Alabama-bred musician isn't going to answer any questions about his personal life, thankyouverymuch. Though all we need to know is peppered throughout Lambert’s Instagram account that documents their canoodling and confirmed relationship.
But that’s OK. East is entitled to his privacy, and he has plenty more to talk about. The 27-year-old singer-songwriter just kicked off the "Devil in Me" tour, and has the first single off producer Dave Cobb’s new powerhouse compilation, “Southern Family,” due March 18, alongside the likes of Zac Brown, Jason Isbell, Chris Stapleton and yes, Ms. Lambert.
He calls us from Richmond, Virginia, where he’s eating a cup of bean stew.
What’s with the stew — is this how you stay healthy on the road?
I’m trying to pack on the nutrients. I don’t let myself think about getting sick, but it’s really just sleep and water and you’re pretty good. Usually the Irish whiskey will kill all the bad, and a humidifier because it gets so dry and my Southern nostrils don’t like it.
Your birth name is Michael Cameron Anderson, so what made you take on a stage name?
I think at the time I was tired of myself, to be honest with you. I needed some kind of mental construct to have a difference between me being the guy that pays the phone bill and me being the guy who wants to say something profound. It gave me a way to be more honest, which I know is kind of a backhanded way to approach it, but it’s provided some distance where I wasn’t responsible for all the things I thought or said.
But what’s the significance of East?
I wanted a fresh beginning, and the sun rises there, and everything in mythology begins in the east. There’s where everything starts.
That’s pretty deep.
I know. I don’t usually get that deep.
Do you consider yourself more of an R&B or a country singer?
I think of myself as a Southern singer. There’s no separation [in those types of music], besides who’s singing it. I don’t have a clear-cut line of what I want to call it, but I want it to be American music. And most days it’s listenable.