Eric Church Says Country Artists No Longer Need Radio: “People With Multiple #1s That Couldn’t Play Their Own High School”

Eric Church
Anthony D'Angio

Go ahead and preach, Mr. Church.

Eric Church is never one to shy away and speak his mind, and in a lengthy feature with Esquire last year, he talked about his disappointment with his 2021 Gather Again Tour, his plans for new music, buying into his hometown team the Charlotte Hornets and much more.

But the part I found most interesting was when he noted his admiration for artists well outside of mainstream country music, mentioning names like Tyler Childers and Brandi Carlile specifically.

Church explained that you don’t need country radio, record labels or big-time country music award shows like the CMAs to have success in the industry anymore, and it’s certainly not what it was even 10 or 15 years ago.

It’s an interesting take for someone like Church, who has been on major labels like Capitol Nashville and EMI Nashville and scored right around a dozen #1 radio hits, but doesn’t seem to fit the mold as a “major label” artist in a lot ways, either.

He has a reputation for doing things his own way and not apologizing for it, putting him on the very edge of being “mainstream” and in a pretty unique spot, honestly.

Eric Church is a household name at this point and country superstar, and clearly has built a large and dedicated fan base over the years that has him headlining his first outdoor amphitheater tour with The Outsiders Revival Tour in 2023, but still doesn’t get the recognition others with the same, or lesser, resume in the genre seem to.

My favorite part of his explanation, though, came when he made the extremely accurate comparison that “there’s guys out here that have never, ever been on country radio that are doing eight thousand tickets.”

He gets it…

“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.”

Of course, he’s spot on, and I love hearing such a big, mainstream artist talk about the industry this way, because he’s completely right and knows exactly what he’s talking about.

Eric also added said in the interview he has “a ton” of music ready, though he says the big issue is that it’s a little bit unfocused and kind of all over the map in terms of sound.

He most recently put out his Heart & Soul triple album in 2021, so I’d say we’re well overdue for some new tunes anytime now.

“I’ve got a ton. If anything, the biggest problem is I’m a little unfocused creatively—I can play you five songs right now and you’re gonna go, ‘What the f*ck is wrong with you? This is all over the place.’

I have a couple of things speaking to me, but I don’t have it figured out. But I love thinking about where we’re gonna go. I like having the horns in the back. You could lean into that. You could do orchestral stuff.

There’s a lot of shit you could do. And I’m into that. It may work, it may not.”

And of course, if it isn’t obvious by now, he’s not worried about rushing it ” to get something to radio”:

“But to not chase that, and to just sit back and go, ‘Well, I’m going to try to get something to radio, add two more songs to your catalog that you can play,’ that feels wrong to me.

So like always, I’ll know when I know. And honestly? It’s probably going to get wilder.”

I just hope we get to hear some of it sooner rather than later…

And speaking of Eric doing things his own way and The Outsiders Revival Tour, let’s cue it up…

“The Outsiders”

19-Show Residency At His Nashville Bar

One of the things Church has been busy with is his new Nashville bar, Chief’s, which is officially opening next month.

He just announced that the Broadway bar will open on April 5th, 2024, and of course, he’s going to do it up big with a grand celebration. The bar is unique in that it includes a live music venue called “The Neon Steeple,” and Eric will kick off the celebrations there with an intimate 19-show Eric Church: To Beat The Devil starting on the day of the grand opening.

Members of his fan club, Church Choir, will have first and priority access to tickets, and can sign-up for a chance at tickets today on his website.

Eric says these intimate shows will be “one of a kind,” and he’s going to even be playing some songs that will only ever be heard at these 19 little concerts:

“These shows at Chief’s will be one of a kind, only for Chief’s and with some songs that will only ever be performed during these shows.

It’s the most unique show I’ll probably ever do, and I’m excited to enjoy this chapter of what Chief’s will be.”

ll seats are reserved seating and range in price from $99 to $499 (with no additional ticketing fees). A portion of proceeds from every ticket benefits Church’s non-profit, Chief Cares.

Eric Church country music

The new venue will be located in the heart of downtown Broadway, among many bars named after his fellow country artists. Church bought the building for $24.5 million along with Ben Weprin, founder of boutique real estate investment management firm AJ Capital Partners.

He’s also bringing in a taste of his local Carolinas by partnering with famous BBQ chef Rodney Scott, the James Beard Award-winning pitmaster and founder of Rodney Scott’s Whole Hog BBQ, for the bar’s food program, which will be served from the rooftop and contain all-weather seating for visitors.

And to set itself apart from the other artist bars in downtown Nashville, Chief’s plans to feature the aforementioned two-story seated music venue that will continually host ticketed live events featuring all kinds of artists.

The bar recently shared a glimpse of the music venue that fans have to look forward to once the bar’s completed, with stained-glass windows around the multi-story venue reminiscent of the historic Ryman Auditorium just a few blocks away.

I’m sure these tickets will not last long at all, and to be honest, the Church Choir will probably snag most of them up before they even go on sale to the general public. With limited space and just 19 shows for this residency run, if you can happen to get your hands on some tickets, it will certainly be a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Eric Church: To Beat The Devil Dates:

Friday, April 5 (Grand Opening)
Wednesday, April 17
Thursday, April 18
Monday, April 29
Tuesday, April 30
Wednesday, May 1
Tuesday, May 7
Wednesday, May 8
Friday, May 10
Saturday, May 11
Tuesday, May 14
Wednesday, May 15
Friday, May 17
Tuesday, May 21
Wednesday, May 22
Thursday, June 6
Friday, June 7
Saturday, June 8
Sunday, June 9

A beer bottle on a dock



A beer bottle on a dock