Maybe We Never Die

Maybe We Never Die

Anderson East dazzled listeners with his Alabama-bred take on blue-eyed soul on his first two major-label releases, 2015’s Delilah and 2018’s Encore. There’s still plenty of soul on Maybe We Never Die, but on this outing East dramatically broadens his horizons, an intentional exploration driven largely by his own curiosity. “My intention was to be engaging and interesting and not necessarily purely predictable,” East tells Apple Music. “We tried to make a wide palette sonically. It was mainly to keep us engaged, but hopefully the listener will maintain that engagement throughout it, too.” Produced by East, Dave Cobb and Philip Towns, the album opens with the title track, a sprawling meditation on perhaps life’s biggest question: What happens after we die? That track sets the tone for the ambitious album, which finds East and his virtuosic singing voice exploring big themes over even bigger arrangements. Below, East walks Apple Music through several key tracks on Maybe We Never Die.
“Maybe We Never Die” “I've been doing a lot of thinking about my grandmother going through Alzheimer's. And I’ve been thinking on broad topics of what really becomes of us after the physical body dies. Seeing somebody mentally fade away, I started to really wonder how much of us actually is that thing—whether it's our memory or our emotions. And it's a broad question, and one that's definitely worth more than three and a half or four minutes' worth of a song.”
“Madelyn” “I wrote that with Trent Dabbs and Philip Towns. We showed up that day and kind of had an idea of what we were wanting to do. And I feel like the first verse of it sets up this tumultuous environment. We didn't feel so glib about everything to where it was defeatist, but we wanted to frame feeling troubled in a positive way. And so what best to personify that than through a love song. And then ultimately, right before we went to mix, we just reverted all the way back to that day-one kind of thing, and incorporated some of our bells and whistles that we had explored.”
“Drugs” “That one was very literal at first and it felt just too on the nose. So then I worked on rewriting it just to make it feel a little more conversational. It's really hard when you have a chorus that says, ‘Everybody's on drugs.’ It seems like this celebratory thing, and even feels like it with this kind of party mentality of the track, but in the verses and the bridge we tried to be adult about it and be really conscientious not to be this glorification of substances. Instead, it’s this sober-eyed view of things going on around us and what it takes people to get through their day.”
“Hood of My Car” “Our intention was this cinematic, all-American kind of approach, like a John Hughes movie—like a John Cusack standing in the rain kind of thing. Dave [Cobb] is playing drums and Phil [Towns] is playing keyboards and it's this very simple progression. And I had this title, ‘Hood of My Car’, and we just literally started playing. As I sang, the first verse just fell out.”
“Jet Black Pontiac” “That one's another one that Trent Dabbs and I did, and this was kind of during the mid-lockdown period when there was really no end in sight of anything. I'd gotten some new gear and told Trent, ‘Let's just play around with some of this stuff and just kind of see what came out of it.’ It provided this very Americana, muscle-car thing, but on this bed of really tacky-sounding bass and drums—just really aggressive, but it feels really clean and smooth all at the same time.”
“Interstellar Outer Space” “I wrote that with Lucie Silvas and Fancy [Hagood] and Philip [Towns] again. I think I had just the title and Fancy started off on keyboard and it was these really odd chord changes. And then the more we just kept playing around with it, it was like, ‘Oh, there's something really interesting and odd, just tonally, about that.’ I just kept trying to make it more and more like, ‘How do you make an extraterrestrial love song meet a noir kung fu movie?’”

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