Eric Church Talks Pushing Boundaries, Being Spontaneous on Tour
"Because I don't really have a set list, I'll go into the last seven or 10 songs of the night, and I'm calling them as I go," Church explains to NOLA.com. "Our record is 11 songs in a row without a radio single. For 11 straight songs, we didn't play anything that was ever on the radio.
"That's fun. The song is there on its own merit. The people that bought the record and invested in those know them as well as anything else," he adds. "But some of the other people are probably going, 'When do we get to hear 'Springsteen?''"
The North Carolina native used plenty of pyro effects on his Blood, Sweat & Beers Tour, but they are noticeably absent from this trek, which is exactly what Church wanted.
"I wanted to find another way to do it. Now we have a 40-foot inflatable Satan that comes up," he explains. "There's a song called 'Devil, Devil' on 'The Outsiders' album, which depicts Nashville as this devil. It came from a standpoint of all the people that I know that come to town to chase their dream. Most of them don't catch it, and the town can be very, very unforgiving. That's what it's about."
The singer-songwriter admits that a giant devil does make some concert attendees uncomfortable, but he remains undeterred.
"Especially at a country show, there's a lot of people that don't know how to take it," Church concedes. "But we wanted to try something different. 'Darkside' starts off a trilogy that goes into three-and-a-half minutes of spoken word poetry, and then it comes back into 'Devil, Devil.' I've always wanted to do that live, because it's so wrong. Nobody would ever think, 'Hey, we should do that live.' I've always wanted to see what would happen in that moment."
The 'Talladega' singer combines different styles and genres into each show, which he thinks is part of his growing appeal.
"I'm a child of the '80s," he explains. "You're really a byproduct of what you listen to and what you grow up on. Rock and roll is very much a part of my DNA. I don't feel like our presentation is because I want to hide the country side or I want to put more rock in. It's just who we are.
"For me, mixing rock and country and Americana at times has always been fun," he continues. "It's not one note. We could do a set where you would never think there was any metal or rock involved. We could do another set where you'd think it was a heavy metal band. We can do all that within the songs we have."
The constantly evolving show makes more work for Church and his crew, but he wouldn't have it any other way.
"It’s a challenge for us," he admits, "but that’s our problem.”
The 2015 leg of Church's Outsiders World Tour continues this week with a show in New Orleans, La., followed by stops in Tupelo, Miss., Nashville, Tenn. and Oklahoma City, Okla. See all of his upcoming shows here.
You Think You Know Eric Church?