Ed Sheeran’s debut album “+,” is still yielding active dividends — including a Grammy Award nomination for Song of the Year (“The A Team”), a pair of Brit Award nods, and an upcoming tour with Taylor Swift. But rather than merely reveling in its success, the British singer-songwriter is already honing in on his sophomore effort.
“I’ve got around 26 songs for the next record, and I’ve got another nine months on the road to keep writing as well, so the record’s definitely on his way,” Sheeran tells Billboard. “I can tell you it will probably come out in February 2014, and I’m gonna be recording and writing it over the whole Taylor tour,” which starts March 13 in Omaha, Neb. As for what he expects it to be like, Sheeran notes that, “most of the first record was written when I was 17, 18 at the time, and I’m 21 now. So I’ve definitely evolved in the way I write songs and the way I perform, the whole mindspace. So it’s just going to be a little more developed, I think.”
Sheeran, meanwhile, is pleased with the impact he’s having in the U.S. after taking “+” to No. 1 and five-times platinum in his homeland. The set peaked at No. 5 on the Billboard 200, while “The A Team” reached No. 16 on the Hot 100 and “Lego House” is currently building. “It’s kind of happening very gradually,” Sheeran says. “I feel like if everything keeps going the way it is, it’s going to be bigger in America than it is anywhere else in the world. The stage I’m at now in America, both live-wise and record sales-wise…is far greater than it was in the rest of the world after having one single. I’m selling out, like, 6,000-9,000 capacity rooms with one single, where in England I’ve only just reached that point with a five-times platinum (album). So, yeah, it’s very interesting. I thought there was potential, but I didn’t realize it would kind of get as big as it has.”
It’s likely to grow exponentially when Sheeran takes his featured spot on Swift’s Red Tour. The association began when Sheeran learned about Swift writing some of his song lyrics on her arm during a show in Australia. He eventually met Swift’s manager at Sheeran’s own show in Nashville, and he and Swift hooked up for “Everything Has Changed” for her “Red” album, as well as two other songs that remain unreleased.
“I’m a fan of Taylor’s, not just her work but her ethics and that she writes her hits herself and she’s probably the only woman in her position in the industry who writes 100 percent of her hits,” explains Sheeran, who also co-wrote the One Direction hit “Little Things.” “It’s a very cool thing. The song that ended up on her record was pretty much 100 percent her idea in the first place; I did what I could to help, but she definitely knows what she’s doing.”
As for the tour, Sheeran readily says that, “I don’t know what’s going to happen. I’ve never really played to crowds that big before, so I’m hoping it goes down well. The longest I’ve played in a stadium was six songs at Wembley Stadium for some big radio event. That was mental. So doing that with Taylor night after night is definitely going to be an experience.”