Southern, fiery and palpably patriotic, Eric Church always speaks and sings what’s on his mind. He’s not afraid to flaunt it, and he has received the honest attention of the country music industry.
Church is on tour as a special guest with Miranda Lambert as part of the 2010 CMT Tour: Revolution, which runs for another week across the southwestern U.S.
Between playing for boisterous crowds and posing for press pictures and appearances, Church took time to talk with the CU Independent to shed a little light on what he’s been up to lately.
The North Carolina country crooner has managed to speak his mind through his songs while plucking his guitar and picking up many fans along the way. With outspoken lyrics that play with left and right politics, and tell of artists who aren’t being true to country music, Church has established himself as somewhat of an outlaw within the country music industry.
Staying true to oneself and selling records at the same time is not an easy feat in such a demanding industry, but Church said he has his own philosophy that has helped him along.
“It’s about authenticity,” Church said. “It’s about staying true to who you are. I mean, I still have to make music that they’re gonna play on the radio…that people are going to relate to. But I think the great thing is that there are a lot of people out there who like listening to people who aren’t afraid to be themselves, not afraid to say what they think.”
Church said he isn’t looking to be a people pleaser.
“It’s been difficult, and maybe there were some people that were slow to come around at first,” he said. “But there’s always going to be people who just don’t like me, and that’s okay, I think that’s fair.”
If he tried to do it any other way, it wouldn’t be what makes him who he is, he said.
“For me, it’s all about being who I am and making music about that,” he said. “Because trying to pretend to be someone else just to have new songs or just to sell records really drives me crazy.”
It drives him so crazy that he wrote a song about it called, “Lotta Boot Left to Fill,” referencing the troubadours of American country like Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings and Merle Haggard.
Church sings, “You say you’re the real deal / But you play what nobody feels / You sing about Johnny Cash / The man in black would’ve whipped your ass /…Cause you still got a lotta boot left to fill.”
Church said the song has always been a favorite among fans.
“It’s one of our biggest songs of the night,” he said. “I think people can relate to it and they can relate to it how I relate to it. It’s one of my pet peeves, people who use their five minutes of fame regardless of where it is…but I think it’s (the country artists’) responsibility to make records that stand up with the Waylon Jennings and the Johnny Cashes and the people who really built this format.”
And that’s one of the reasons why Church said he won’t make a record unless it’s the best work he can do.
“I think it’s disrespectful to make a record that’s anything other than great because of what [Jennings and Cash] did,” he said.
The question, then, was begged: What is Church’s favorite Cash song?
“I think the uniqueness of it (laughs) and he didn’t even write it, Shel Silverstein wrote it, was ‘A Boy Named Sue,’” he said. “It was such a unique song and such a weird song. That one and then ‘Sunday Morning Coming Down.’”
When it comes to touring with Miranda Lambert on the CMT Tour, he said headliner Lambert lets him and other opener, Josh Kelley, have enough time onstage to where it feels like a full show.
“I think it’s a great package,” he said. “I’ve always been a fan of what Miranda has done; she’s a lot like me in a lot of ways. We make similar records and we’ve both gone against the grain a few times and Josh is great too.”
Church said fans can expect him, Lambert and Kelley to perform together.
“It’s fun, we do a song together every night,” he said. “It’s always fun to change the song a little bit or maybe put in another song that we don’t tell [Lambert] about.”
Read the CU Independent’s review of the 2010 CMT Tour when it stopped in Colorado.
Contact CU Independent Entertainment Editor Taylor Coughlin at Taylor.firstname.lastname@example.org.