Eric Church‘s latest album, Chief, was among the albums up for Best Country Album at this year’s GRAMMY Awards. Eric told the LA Times leading up to the awards that he considered himself a long shot to win the award. “If you’re not into country music, I’m definitely the one where people would go, ‘Who is that?’” he said. “I feel a little bit like the odd man out, and I don’t think anybody else would argue that.”
While the award ultimately went to Lady Antebellum’s Own The Night, Eric can’t be too disappointed when he has superstar Keith Urban counting Chief among his favorite records. “Hands down, it’s one of my absolutely favorite country records of recent memory,” Keith said, adding that he likes Eric’s “mischief, swagger and raw nerves.”
Chief is Eric’s third studio album and his tenth radio single, “Drink In My Hand,” recently became his first No. 1. With a rabid fan base that’s helped him sell out dates on his first arena-headlining tour, The Blood, Sweat & Beers Tour, Eric took the roundabout way with getting his music heard on radio. He says that’s because he chose risky singles like “Two Pink Lines” about a possible unplanned pregnancy and “Smoke A Little Smoke.”
“We haven’t had the easiest path with radio,” he told the LA Times. “To some country traditionalists, I’m the bane of their existence because I don’t use fiddle and I don’t use steel [guitar]. So there were times we were way off everybody’s radar, out there playing bars and clubs.”
Ronnie Dunn supports the way Eric has spread his music, even as he struggled to be heard on radio. “Eric’s breaking the mold in a legitimate way,” he said. “He hasn’t had major radio play, but he’s out there on the road putting it in front of people night after night. There’s plenty of guys who tout themselves as self-proclaimed outlaws; he’s earning his stripes along the way.”
With a GRAMMY nomination, a No. 1, and a headlining tour, not to mention the birth of his first child, Boone McCoy, Eric is riding high. He spoke to the LA Times the day after playing a sold out show in Knoxville, Tennessee and let them know he going to seize the opportunity in front of him.
“Believe me, I’m not just gonna let this moment go by,” Eric said. “When I stood on that stage last night and looked out, I was thinking: We’ve earned the right to be there. We’ve worked as hard as anybody to get to this level. And now that people are interested, I wanna make them realize what they’ve been missing.”