“A Lot Of It Is Molded To Be The Same” – Eric Church On Country Artists Who Are Driven By Commercial Success Instead Of Creativity

Eric Church Country Music
Eric Church

Eric Church isn’t your “cookie cutter” country music star. In fact, he’s probably the furthest thing from it.

He’s always walked to the beat of his own drum, and never changed for anyone, even when he was struggling to break through into the industry. The “Chief” only wanted to be a big name in country if he could be his authentic self, and eventually that paid off.

Nowadays, he can look back at his early career or even other things going on in the industry and give highly valued commentary. He actually tends to do that a lot, and staying true to himself, Church doesn’t hold back when he does it.

For example, back in 2020, Church was speaking at Country Radio Seminar about how he’s chased creativity above everything else in his career. The entire interview is worth your time, but there was one moment where he really honed in on why he does things a certain way.

Church and the interviewer Lon Helton were discussing his 2014 album The Outsiders, and the country star was asked about why he chose to release the project’s title track first. Eric said that he felt like he didn’t have a choice if he wanted “The Outsiders” to have a real chance at connecting with fans:

“I knew our best shot on that was first because once people heard the album, nobody had heard the album, and once they heard the album they were going to gravitate to ‘Talladega’ and other songs. I knew that.

But I loved the noise of ‘The Outsiders,’ and to this day, my favorite part of that is we did an iHeart or one of those country things, and it debuted at its peak. It debuted at 26 or whatever and that’s as high as it got. It went down from there. I’m proud of that, I really am…”

That last part of his response got a few laughs from the crowd, since once could assume that no artist has dreams of peaking at number 26 on the country charts.

However, Church certainly did have pride in how “The Outsiders” landed, and recalled that he was bombarded with messages about the song when it was getting radio play initially:

“I’ve never had more people that… it just blew their mind. I think the six minute version is the one they played. We didn’t send an edit. For six minutes, you basically heard a rock opera. It was progressive rock. 

It stopped everybody. Everybody. I had colleagues, friends, people going, ‘What have you done? You broke radio.’ I never want someone to hear something from me and then go, ‘Okay, I expected that.'”

I’d say anyone that’s a fan of Eric Church’s has caught onto that at this point.

The conversation then steered into the different motivations for artists, with the two primary driving forces being commercial success and creativity. Church went on to say that his sole focus when making music to create something that’s different, and that he’s okay with his songs not reaching the top of the charts.

But he explained that’s not very common in the modern age of country music:

“It’s not always about… you can have 20 number one hits. I don’t know what that’s like, but you can have 20 number one hits. A lot of the time, there’s no differentiation…

It’s a lot about how that speaks to the audience, what it says, is it different, does it stand out? We’ve spent our entire career trying to be different when a lot of the stuff is molded to be the same.”


You can hear more from Eric Church about the need for more creativity (versus commerciality) in the interview below:

A beer bottle on a dock



A beer bottle on a dock