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After a year-long hiatus that saw him throw away his iPhone and travel the globe, Ed Sheeran returned in 2017 with a stellar third LP, ÷, and a massive world tour. As the 26-year-old crosses the Atlantic for several months spent dotting the U.S. map, Sheeran opens up about staring down years of live dates, his love of “trashy” food, and his take on the Taylor Swift-Katy Perry feud in a new interview with EW.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Your tour to promote the album ÷ kicked off in Europe before coming to the U.S. How’s it going so far?
ED SHEERAN: It’s always weird realizing that [the crowd] wants to hear new songs more than old ones. But I’m glad that they do. I’m in Mexico at the moment. It’s my first time here and I’ve eaten my body weight in tacos!
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Based on your Instagram, you’ve also been drinking margaritas.
We do this thing now where when we go out we keep tallies on our hands so that when we wake up the next morning, we know how bad it got. Yesterday I only had three, but the day before I had about 18 — but that was throughout the whole day.
Do you have any over-the-top rider demands?
I don’t really have one. I feel it’s a waste of money. Like, I read that there was this band that wanted a f—ing lobster dinner once, and from then on, there was always a lobster dinner for them. There’s only so many times that you’re going to want a lobster dinner!
Your tour stretches into 2018. How do you keep your energy up?
We’re all into really trashy food. I’ve got, like, 40 people in my touring party and we’ll all go out to, like, a Buffalo Wild Wings. We’re actually having that tonight. [Laughs]
You now have three platinum albums, including ÷. What’s the one song you can’t omit from a set list?
“Thinking Out Loud” is the song, worldwide, that if I didn’t play, people would be like, “That was weird!” But as long as people react well to a song, I don’t care how many times I play it. I’m always going to be in love with it.
What’s the most unpredictable song to play live?
“Galway Girl” [off ÷] is a weird one; I’ve never put out a song before that’s polarized people so much. People really, really hate it! It, like, offends them that the song exists. But I do think, in five or 10 years, those same people will be dancing to it on St. Patrick’s Day, drunk at the bar.
Eric Clapton and Elton John are both fans of yours. Who’s been the most surprising guest at a show?
I can’t remember where I was playing — Boston or Philadelphia or something — but after, my tour manager said, “Paul Simon wants to have a drink with you.” I’m like, “What?! Surely someone would have said, ‘Can we put Paul Simon on the guest list?’” But nope, he bought a ticket and came with his daughter, who is the sweetest.
As a close pal of Taylor Swift’s, what’s your stance on the beef with Katy Perry?
I’ve learned one thing from this industry and it’s to stay away from drama. I can be supportive to my friends privately, but I want to stay away from it publicly. And I don’t know enough about it to get into it, but I’m always available to be supportive when it’s needed.
You went on hiatus in 2016 and got rid of your cell phone. Are you still device-free?
Avoiding [my phone] has been really helpful. And I’ve stopped smoking and started exercising, which I’ve never done before. I think, yeah, not going out and [partying] in a bar until 6 a.m. and then tweeting [all day] until 6 p.m…that helps!