With his confessional new album – (pronounced Subtract), on the way, Ed Sheeran opened up like never before in his cover-story interviews with senior writer Brian Hiatt, which took place over a week in Auckland, New Zealand. Some highlights follow, or read the whole cover story here.
“I want to slowly make this album that is quote-unquote ‘perfect’ for the rest of my life, adding songs here and there,” says Sheeran. “And just have it in my will that after I die, it comes out.”
“I spent so long with people laughing about me making music,” Sheeran says. “Everyone saw me as a joke, and no one thought I could do it. And I think that’s still the drive. There’s still this need to prove myself. And I’m still kind of not taken seriously. If you were to speak to any sort of muso, ‘Oh, I love my left-of-center music,’ I’m the punchline to what bad pop music is.”
With Dessner, Sheeran says, “there’s no filter. There wasn’t any going back and checking on any lyrics. And I think that’s what was brilliant about Folklore and Evermore — it’s just complete brain-to-page. That’s where you get lines like ‘When I felt like I was an old cardigan under someone’s bed, you put me on and said I was your favorite.’ There wasn’t anyone challenging that line. And that’s why it’s brilliant.”
“I didn’t want to live anymore,” he says. “I’ve always had real lows in my life,”But it wasn’t really till last year that I actually addressed it. No one really talks about their feelings where I come from. People think it’s weird getting a therapist in England.”
“I’m self-conscious anyway, but you get into an industry where you’re getting compared to every other pop star,” he says. “I was in the One Direction wave, and I’m like, ‘Well, why don’t I have a six pack?’ And I was like, ‘Oh, because you love kebabs and drink beer.’ Then you do songs with Justin Bieber and Shawn Mendes. All these people have fantastic figures. And I was always like, ‘Well, why am I so … fat?’
“I was just drinking a lot,” he says. “And that’s when it clicked….And I don’t ever want to be pissed holding my kid. Ever, ever. Having a couple of beers is one thing. But having a bottle of vodka is another thing. It’s just a realization of, ‘I’m getting into my thirties. Grow up! You’ve partied, you’ve had this experience. Be happy with that and just be done.’ I love red wine, and I love beer. I don’t know any old rockers that aren’t alcoholics or sober, and I didn’t want to be either.”
“We’ll rise from the ashes and write in stars with our names,” he sings. “The joy was worth the pain / Love’s the beautiful game.”
“I’ve got loads and loads and loads of shit,” he says. “Who’s to say at what point creativity stops and you can’t write any more songs? At least there’s enough banked up.”
Jacket by Tom Ford. Shirt by Prada.
From Rolling Stone US