Exclusive Interview with Eric Church
This country music rebel reveals more about his album, Chief.
Written By: Stacie Standifer
My initial chat with Eric Church was at one of his favorite places, the Nashville classic restaurant, Rotier’s on Elliston Place. It’s fitting that he loves this place—laid back, casual and not following any trends—and to boot this is also where he had his very first interview for Rolling Stone magazine in 2006. It was also convenient, as Church was preparing to take Boone McCoy Church—his then two-day old son with his lovely wife Katherine—home from Centennial Hospital shortly after our visit. He was wearing a hospital bracelet and his signature smile, but beaming a bit more than usual. Just 48 hours after becoming a father, he instantly assured me that while parenthood would change his life, he wouldn’t be recording music that sounded like lullabies.
Perhaps that’s not surprising from the artist that had us all wanting to abandon any rules and “smoke a little smoke” after the single became that song stuck in our heads for weeks. Church has got a lot of those songs, including the soon-to-be big hit “Springsteen” which pays tribute to another musical rebel from a different genre.
Over time, I got to know a bit more about the artist, who has been referred to as sort of a bad boy—yes, even by his own label at times. He’s a non-conformist with his own ideas and very strong opinions about both his music and the country genre in general. His widely respected and popular album Chief has garnered accolades from some of the top names in the industry (those on Twitter have followed the comments raving about just how great and original the sound is). He’s just satisfied that the sound is genuine.
He’s happy about the response, and while all of the hits from the record are still yet to be realized, there’s no plan to try to repeat the same pattern with his next album. Church explains that he’s not sure when he’ll be releasing new material, but that he is certain that it won’t be a repeat or an effort to conform to any model. Instead, he wants to keep it fresh. If bucking the system is what it takes, then that is exactly what will happen. He’s an artist first and to the finish.
Our conversations involved things he loves about Nashville—from Granny White Park where he takes his dog (“Quincy Jones”), to his favorite neighborhood dining fix, Wild Iris. For a night out, he and Katherine head to Printer’s Alley for some serious karaoke. For a burger with guys, he’s a Brown’s Diner fan. One place Church clocks serious time is browsing the vino selection at Midtown Wine and Spirits. Wine is a passion, and he can’t say enough about his devotion to what he calls “the best source of great wine in America.” And, of course, he loves Rotier’s for sentimental reasons, but mostly “because it is timeless, with it’s own story and vibe”— just like his music will be for generations to come.
Photos by Ann-Marie Hensley