John Peets

Eric Church is enjoying his first run as a headlining act on his Blood, Sweat & Beers tour, but he admits that being the biggest name on the marquee has its drawbacks. The North Carolina native has had to face the ugly side of selling tickets -- ticket scalpers -- and has harsh words for those who try to make money from fans who just want to attend a rocking show.

"Scalpers piss me off," Eric tells Billboard.com. "I've never encountered this in my life, we've never been at this level, and, quite frankly, we were unprepared."

The 'Drink in My Hand' singer always makes affordable tickets and preferred seating available first to members of his fan club, dubbed the Church Choir. But that gesture has backfired, as scalpers purchase those tickets first, forcing Eric's most devoted fans to pay a higher price in order to get closer to the star.

"We tried to make our tickets very accessible to fans, we kept the ticket prices low," Eric explains. "What we didn't count on was all these big ticket brokers would join our fan club, infiltrate our system, take advantage of our system, and buy up all these tickets. Now, at a lot of these buildings that are selling out, there's 500-600 tickets left to sell, and we don't have any of 'em. Ticket brokers are [asking] $200, $300, $400 a ticket. It penalizes the fans; that was gonna be their pit ticket, their front row ticket."

Eric says he is doing everything he can to make affordable tickets available to fans first, instead of a brokerage company, but it has been an ongoing battle.

"The down side is, the lower your ticket prices are, the more these ticket brokers can buy up, infiltrate your system, the more money they have to work with, and the more they can mark it up," he notes. "We've been trying to play that game of keeping their access away on the back half of the tour, and it's still a challenge. They are just some slimy sons of bitches."

One thing the 34-year-old says he will never do is raise ticket prices so more money goes into his own pocket. "The revenue thing, it's never been about that for me," he insists. "If you make it about that at any point in your career, if you come in and go 'we need the money now, mark the ticket prices up,' you have one shot at that and then it's over. For me it's always been about more and more people, not more and more money. It's about getting more people in the building, more people turned onto the music, that's the template we've believed in since the beginning.

A bright spot in the middle of this ongoing struggle is Eric's nomination for a Grammy. The chart-topping singer will head to the Staples Center in Los Angeles this Sunday (February 12) for the Grammy ceremony, where his No. 1 album, 'Chief,' is up for Best Country Album.

The Blood, Sweat & Beers tour, which includes Brantley Gilbert serving as opening act on all dates, with Blackberry Smoke, Jon Pardi, Sonia Leigh, Drake White and Cadillac Black splitting the duties, will head to South Carolina, Maryland and Ohio later this month. Keep track of his schedule here.