After taking quite a bit of time off due to the coronavirus pandemic, he just announced a massive arena headlining tour to start this fall and is releasing the first project, Heart, from the trio of albums Heart & Soul, next Friday.
Prior to the announcement of the new album, he spent time with his bandmates and producer writing and recording the entire 28- track project over a span of just 28 days. While it seems like an impossible task, of course Chief would be the one person who could pull it off.
He recently talked with Entertainment Weekly about the direction of this project and why he decided to make it this way in the first place.
It all started after the release and tour for his 2018 album Desperate Man:
“It was almost like a stopping point for me: I felt like we had reached the end of something, I didn’t know what it was. Normally, what an artist would do is fire their producer, get new musicians, and rethink the whole deal.
What I thought was, let’s put ’em in a weird environment, in a place that’s never been a studio, and make everybody, including myself, very uncomfortable.”
And on top of that, he had another wrinkle to throw at everybody who was a part of creating this album: they were going to record the entire thing in a restaurant. Eric’s favorite one to be exact, Artisanal, which is nestled in the blue ridge mountain town of Banner Elk, N.C., where he has a summer home to escape the Nashville heat. Apparently, he’d always had an inkling it might make a superb recording studio…. and that’s where the magic happened.
He’s already released a few songs in promotion of the project, like the rocking anthem “Stick That In Your Country Song,” which basically calls out the entire genre of country music in typical Eric fashion.
“It’s very, very aggressive, and in a format that sometimes is not, it goes right to the heart of the matter. And I dig that.”
I could not agree more.
But sending a message is one thing, backing it up is another. And for Eric, he’s calling the leaders in country music to push the genre forward:
“If you look back historically, diversity of any kind has led to the best music any format has ever made. I don’t believe you should be a white rapper, and not think you should make it in hip-hop; I don’t believe you should be an African American female and not think you can’t make it in country music.
Now, me saying that is one thing, and doing it is the other. So I think trying to work through that mechanism, the fact that we’re having the conversation, I do think matters, because up until now, we’ve not had the fucking conversation.
I think it’s our job, if we’re gonna be artists, if we’re gonna be pillars of this format, to move the format forward. It’s about not staying where you are. It’s about actually trying to go somewhere. I believe that’s our responsibility… we’re trying to not just put a song out, we’re trying to say something with that song.”
As if I wasn’t already amped for this new triple album, every time I hear him talk about it I just get more excited.