Eric Church: ‘Success Gives You a Chance to Take More Chances’
If anyone in country music knows success, failure and everything in between, it's Eric Church. He also knows what its like to take risks. So when he says that success gives you a chance to take more chances, you'd better listen up.
The singer, whose first 'Austin City Limits' performance debuts on Nov. 15, has taken more chances than most. When he played too long on Rascal Flatts' tour, Church lost his slot as their opening act and was relegated to the outskirts of country music for a while after that. But when he re-emerged with the Grammy-nominated 'Chief' album, the results were pretty spectacular.
"We went from clubs and theaters to arenas. Just like that," Church recalls in an interview with ACL TV. "It was a little bit of whiplash. We were not threatening to play arenas at any point and time in our career ... all of a sudden we went to that level."
Thanks to that success, when he worked on his next album, the No. 1 'The Outsiders,' Church felt the freedom to play with a little fire and take a chance.
"'The Outsiders' album ... was about getting a little more non-commercial," he says, "and trying to be a little more artistic and creative and not get pigeonholed."
In fact, Church had specific intentions with the record to show his new fans that 'Chief' didn't define him.
"I wanted them to know it's more than just that album. We're more than that," he says. "We were 'Sinners [Like Me],' we were 'Carolina.' We've taken a lot of chances."
For Church, rather than feeling pressured to stick to a formula that worked, success instead brought freedom of speech and actions, in a way.
"I think success gives you a chance to take some more chances and say some things that maybe early on you couldn't say -- you wanted to say, but circumstances and conditions maybe kept you from it," he says. "It's up to us as artists that when we're given that success ... that we don't just sit back."
Instead of sitting back, Church is more committed than ever to pushing himself. He's always been a risk taker, but he admits that as his success continues, he'll keep pushing the envelope -- and it won't always be in ways that are smiled on by rule-followers.
"There's 8 or 10 songs we didn't put on this album that I knew in the bottom of my heart were gonna be big, big songs for us," admits the 'Talledega' hitmaker. "But I felt like we had done it before, I felt like we had been there."
Instead of focusing on album sales, hit songs or award nominations, Church is focused on one thing: evolving.
"I want to continue to do things that interest me creatively," he concludes. "I don't know what's next: acoustic stuff or, I don't know, somethin' different."
But even Church draws the line somewhere.
"We're not gonna go do polka anytime soon," he adds with a chuckle.
Press play on the video above to watch the entire 'ACL' interview.