Eric Church is making headlines today for some of the commentary he provided in a recent interview with Esquire.
The always unapologetic “Chief” opened up about how he thought about stepping away from touring following his 2021 “Gather Again Tour,” and how CMA Fest told him to never come back after his performance in 2019.
Those are big stories, but the quote that is really getting some attention is what he said about the changing landscape of the industry and how artists no longer have to rely on country radio, record labels, or awards shows to sell tickets.
In fact, he argues that some artists with radio success still CAN’T sell tickets:
“I don’t think you have to have radio now.
I don’t think you have to have a label, I don’t think you have to win CMA Vocalist of the Year—I don’t think any of that is necessary anymore.
There’s people in the country music industry that have had multiple No. 1 songs that couldn’t play their own high school, and there’s guys out here that have never, ever been on country radio that are doing eight thousand tickets.”
Artists like Turnpike Troubadours, Cody Jinks, Whiskey Myers, Tyler Childers, Sturgill Simpson, Zach Bryan, Brandi Carlile, Billy Strings… these artists put asses in the seats, and most of them haven’t had an ounce of help from terrestrial country radio. Hell, Zach Bryan is one of the biggest acts in the world right now, in any genre, and his only real radio single is “Something In The Orange,” which topped out at #20.
Anyways, back to Eric Church…
We posted a story about his comments to Esquire earlier today, and once it was posted on our Facebook page, we couldn’t help but notice that a former star in the country music world and a recognizable American Idol alum slid into the comments to give his take on Eric Church.
Josh Gracin took the American Idol fanbase and country music world by storm back in the show’s second season. Before he started singing on the singing competition series, he was a member of the United State Marine Corps, which helped him earn a lot of respect from fans that were tuning in to hear him sing.
He ended up finishing fourth on American Idol, and after he wrapped up on the singing show, he went back to finish out his service with the Marines. Following an honorable discharge, he and Lyric Street Records signed a deal and he started putting out original music in the mid-to-late 2000s.
He released a few albums in the early 2000s and even had a #1 hit in 2004 with “Nothin’ To Lose,” as well as a handful of other Top 10 singles at country radio.
Many people might now be asking the question “where did Josh Gracin go,” and we can confidently answer that by saying “he’s on Facebook sending fiery comments back at Eric Church.”
Gracin took to Facebook to reveal how he felt about the Chief’s comments about country artists with multiple numbers ones, saying:
“He just can’t keep his mouth shut. Little insider info, I was next to him on the radio tour when we first started out. He was singing about “two pink lines” with long hair and a shell choker. Got pissed off and whined about not being played on the radio.
Went away for years to build the ‘chief’ persona like he was some kind of outsider, a rebel radio didn’t want, yet he’s always been on Capitol records, a major label. He’s never been an outsider or rebel, just plays one.”
And he didn’t stop there.
Gracin continued to fire shots at Church by attacking his vocals, and even questioning his authenticity:
“One of the worst singers as well. Tired of his mouth, it’s been running for 20 years unchecked. He’s done nothing but tear other artists down for years until he realized he needed back in current media, so he started taking Morgan Wallen out golfing.
No doubt he’s done well for himself but he shouldn’t throw stones considering he’s nowhere near authentic. Guy can’t swing a hammer let alone be a rebel, while sitting comfortably at a major label all these years.”
Claiming that the guy “can’t swing a hammer” is a pretty bold take.
I mean, you could argue that Eric has done a lot for other artists, especially ones outside of the mainstream. He introduced us to Ashley McBryde when he had her out to perform her own song “Bible and a .44” with him in 2017, showcased Rhiannon Giddens on “Kill A Word,” worked with Ray Wylie Hubbard on “Desperate Man.” And this new tour, The Outsiders Revival Tour, features a TON of non-mainstream artists.
We’re talking Whiskey Myers, Cody Jinks, Koe Wetzel, Paul Cauthen, Muscadine Bloodline, Shane Smith & The Saints, The Red Clay Strays and more.
It’ll be interesting to see if Eric Church fans swing in to defend the former Entertainer of the Year, especially considering the comments came from an artist whose career didn’t exactly pan out.