Church worshippers to flock to Huntington CenterWritten by Vicki L. Kroll | | email@example.com
It wasn’t too long ago that Eric Church was playing bars and clubs. That’s when he started wearing that black cap and those sunglasses.
“The band, it was kind of a joke, they started calling me ‘Chief’ because I’ve got those mirrored, kind of police shades, and it became a nickname that stuck,” he said. “They didn’t know that was my grandpa’s nickname; he was chief of police for 35 years in the town I grew up in.
“And I just loved how without them knowing it, it was always his nickname and it became my nickname naturally. And it was fitting when it came time to title this record. It paid homage to the live show, but it also paid homage to what he meant to me.”
While he has several pairs of shades, there’s only one hat.
“There’s just something about the hat. I found it at a truck stop, and I’ve never seen another one. I’ve thought if I lose the hat, the career’s over,” the country singer joked during a call from Nashville.
Church’s career has skyrocketed since his third disc, “Chief,” debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Top 200 last year.
“It’s like all of a sudden somebody flipped a switch and you’re headlining and in our case filling out arenas,” he said. “It’s been overwhelming at times to see the number of people out there and think about what we came from and how fast we got to where we are in the last year’s time.”
Church will bring his Blood, Sweat & Beers Tour to Huntington Center for a 7:30 p.m. concert May 10. Brantley Gilbert, who sings “Country Must Be Country Wide,” will open. Remaining tickets range from $32.75 to $40.50.
“Drink in My Hand,” the second single from “Chief,” became the North Carolina native’s first No. 1 song.
“It’s amazing how few people can see the stage from my vantage point; from my vantage point, I get to see the crowd — they get to see me, but I get to see them, and there are certain songs that they’re amazingly coordinated with their beers. They’ll go left, they’ll go right, it’s almost synchronized, and sometimes it’s humorous to see,” Church said.
“We came off stage and one of the songwriters in the group said, ‘Why don’t we just put a drink in their hand?’ and the song was born basically from just watching the crowd.”
“Springsteen” is based on the country star’s first amphitheater concert.
“I was around 15, 16 years old, and you know it’s the first time you don’t go to a concert with your parents. You spread a blanket up on the lawn, you buy the cheap tickets, you’re involved with whatever buddies are up there, you’re not old enough to drink beer so you’re borrowing beer from the people on the lawn,” he recalled. “There was a big group of us, but there was a girl I had my eye on, and it ended up being a night that we hung out, we talked and got to know each other. And we didn’t last very long, but till this day when I hear that artist’s songs, I think about her.
“And for me, it was not Bruce Springsteen; I’ll never say who my artist is because I want everybody to have their own artist. I picked Springsteen as the palette for the song because of how Bruce defined an era. Chances are from 1980 to 1989, Bruce was probably your guy in America, and I love the way he built his career. I love his songwriting.”
The 35-year-old also loves old-school country — and rock.
“You couldn’t be a child of the ’80s like I was and not listen to rock n’ roll — AC/DC, Metallica, even stuff like Iron Maiden, Pantera,” he said.
So it’s fitting Church will play Metallica’s Orion Music + More Festival in June.
“I’m excited and a little bit apprehensive, ” he said. “We’re the only country act in there. It’s a great honor; I’m flattered to do it. I just hope they don’t kill me.”
The country outlaw is used to going his own way.
“I was proud with ‘Homeboy’ when ‘Chief’ debuted No. 1 in the world. ‘Homeboy’ was a pretty deep song; it wasn’t by any stretch an easy radio hit, and we decided for that reason it was the first single off the record. I wanted people to know we didn’t change what we did, and we still had the No. 1 record in the world,” he said.
“We actually made music that said something; we made music that took a stand. And those things still work even when everybody said they wouldn’t. You can still have a career; you can still sell records; you can still sell tickets by doing something a little bit different.”