Ed Sheeran‘s new album, ÷ (pronounced “divide”), is out tomorrow. It’s going to sell a lot of copies—a lot of copies. Sheeran is at the level of success where he doesn’t really have to talk to anyone, but in spite of this, he’s given a pretty intimate interview with The Guardian in a new profile that’s out today. Even if you’re not a fan of his nice-guy shtick, it’s a fairly entertaining read, and makes the case that perhaps only English mega-pop stars like Sheeran and Adele are capable of retaining some everyman charm once they’ve hit that upper-upper echelon.
Basically, Sheeran just seems like a swell, regular enough guy. He tells a story about accidentally cracking Justin Bieber in the head with a golf club when the “Sorry” singer asked him to knock a golf ball off his mouth; he said he doesn’t care if musicians don’t like his work as long if they’re friendly. (“I know Noel Gallagher doesn’t like my music, but I get on with him as a person, so why does it fucking matter?”) He offered an extremely frank appraisal of how his new record will do, after The Guardian‘s writer asked him how he’d feel if it sold less than 2013’s x (pronounced “multiply”): “I’ll bet you anything now it won’t. I don’t think there’s any possibility it will. The next album, I promise you, will sell less, but this album will sell more. I don’t think I’ll have a year like this again.” He talked about what he did with all the money he’s made: “I did what any bloke would do – sorted my family out, bought a sports car that I never drive because I look like a tit in it, bought a house and built a pub in my garden.”
Elsewhere we get some basic copy about how he pushed for some weirder songs to make the new record, and how he’s written so many songs even he can’t remember them all. This is the basic celebrity stuff: The money and attention have made him feel weird, but at the end of the day, he still just wants to be a regular guy with his regular friends. Here he is about the unsettling feelings of realizing some friends had charged a lot of money to his bar tab after he’d gone home: “I know that’s a proper first-world problem, but … you just see people you’re close to seeing you as a cash machine rather than a mate, like if they hang around you they’ll get stuff from you. Whereas my mates back in Suffolk, as soon as we get to the pub they’ll buy me a drink. Small things like that, rather than going out at the end of the night and kind of sneaking off.”
Perhaps you, the non-millionaire, would have just paid the tab without making a fuss, because that’s what the money is for. But is Ed not a man? Is he not allowed to feel? Anyways, he’s accepted his celebrity life. The piece closes with Sheeran leaving to get a meal with Russell Crowe, where he points out he’s now a name-dropper, and offers this observation on his life: “I’m a kid from Suffolk, not that attractive, literally grew up in the middle of nowhere, who now has the opportunity to move in a Hollywood world where people I’ve grown up watching want to hang out with me, and I’m really fucking excited by that. I don’t care what people think. They’d do exactly the same thing in my situation.”
Amen, Ed. If you’re still not a fan, well, Ed says he’ll retire from pop stardom once he’s stopped having fun, now that he’s achieved mostly everything he could—the Wembley performances, the Grammys, the millions of dollars made and millions of records sold.
The new album is tomorrow.