Eric Church has ruled the airwaves ever since his 2011 album, "Chief," soared to the top of the charts, and became one of the biggest selling albums of any genre. But while the North Carolina native is thrilled to finally be getting hit singles, he says he is still dissatisfied with a lot of what is played on radio.
“It’s very feel-good,” he shares with Rolling Stone Country. “It’s a little bit shallower than it was a few years ago — it’s ‘Let’s drink, forget our worries, beach, bonfire, lake.’ When something’s working, everybody falls into a pattern. One thing I miss is turning on the radio and just having a song punch me in the gut, and, as a songwriter, knock me on my ass. And I think we could use more of that.”
The 37-year-old says that, ironically, he was the one that unintentionally introduced the new format to radio.
“‘Guys Like Me’ [from his 'Sinners Like Me' album] has a guy that drinks too many beers,” Church explains. “That was before anybody had ever put beer and trucks related in songs. Now, it’s in every song. That song never went Top 10. Barely went Top 20. That’s because it was too guy-driven — that kind of came out during [the] ‘soccer mom’ country period. There were no males in country music at the time in the radio world, and it suffered. And it’s funny now to look at that song, which every song is a lot similar to now.”
Church’s latest album, "The Outsiders," debuted on both the Billboard Top Country Albums chart and the all-genre Billboard 200. The singer-songwriter says he felt even more challenged to release the best album he could make, based on the success of "Chief."
“Everybody said ‘Chief’ was the biggest record I would ever make. [They said] ‘Don’t even go back in. You’ll never top that.’ I used a lot of that as fuel,” he concedes. “I saw other artists trying to follow what we were doing. I thought after the ‘Chief’ record, we got pulled to the middle and I became one of the guys that were the center of the format. And I hated that, because I feel like we made our best work from the outside of that. With the title of the album and what we were trying to do, I wanted back out there. And I think, musically, we got there.”
The third single from ‘The Outsiders,’ ‘Cold One,’ is in the Top 30 and climbing. Church will kick off his the Outsiders World Tour on Sept. 11 in Bossier City, La. See all of his upcoming shows here, and download ‘The Outsiders’ here.