Eric Church Explains ‘Goal’ of Making Album Exclusive for Fan Club Members Only

by Chris Haney

Country star Eric Church isn’t just considered an honorary Outsider for no reason. The musician does things differently. To say he walks to the beat of his own drum is an understatement. Yet that’s also why Church has been able to build such a fervent fanbase. With his upcoming album Heart & Soul, the country singer is rewarding those that love his music the most with a fan club only release.

For some artists, it could be career suicide to limit a new release to a small portion of fans. However, Eric Church has been down this path before, and doesn’t mind shaking things up a bit. In fact, he chose to record the lead single off his new album knowing it would ruffle some feathers in the country community. He wanted it to.

As soon as he heard “Stick That in Your Country Song,” Church knew he had to record it. The track takes aim at country artists, labels, and radio stations that promote songs with little or no substance. In addition, the single calls the same group out for shying away from songs that confront the troubling issues of our times.

The song’s co-writer Jeffrey Steele told Church that anyone who decided to record the track would be shooting themselves in the foot if they released it. In true Eric Church fashion, he not only embraced the possible backlash, but made sure to promote it as the first Heart & Soul single.

“There’s no chance I’m not putting this out,” Eric Church said to Billboard during an expansive interview. “I love how in your face it is, I love how honest it is. I love how Jeffrey thought no one in their right mind would record it and send it to radio.”

Eric Church’s Record Label Didn’t Exactly Love His Idea of Fan Club Only Album

Eric Church is gearing up to release his newest, highly-anticipated triple album later this month. But he’s once again shocked many in the record industry with his plans for the release. None more so than his own UMG Nashville record label.

Church’s longtime manager John Peets explained that he loved the singer’s idea of a triple album. But he admitted that if he completed the sessions with no record or even just one, they could lose tons of money on the project.

“If he walks out of the situation with no record or one record, it’d be the most expensive record known in country music, probably,” Peets told Billboard.

His management also said that UMG Nashville “completely understood the mission” for the trio of albums. But they “didn’t love the idea” of Church reserving an entire album for only his fan club. That’s something that Church has faced before from the music industry. Yet he continues to follow his own instincts, which have served him well considering he’s racked up numerous awards and chart-topping songs and albums.

“There are a lot of people [who just want] to put something out that’s going to go to No. 1 every time. And that’s fine,” Eric Church said to Billboard. “That’s just not my goal. I’m trying to push the narrative a bit for the whole industry, for the whole format.”

Triple Album ‘Heart & Soul’ Releasing Soon, Including Fan Club Only Release

The musician spent time in his home state of North Carolina recording Heart & Soul. Unsurprisingly, Church and his crew took a slightly different route this go around. They recorded the entire album in a restaurant in the Appalachian mountains called Artisanal.

However, don’t get the wrong impression over the restaurant sessions. Eric Church didn’t choose Artisanal so he could be catered to at one of his favorite dinner spots. Instead, he utilized a rotating cast of songwriters every few days. To promote creativity on the album, the country artist and his team would create a song per day. The group would write a song in the morning and record it that evening. Rinse, repeat. 28 days later, the crew had created 24 songs.

Creating that many tracks was at times both physically and mentally exhausting. Church says there was a stretch of three or four days that he went without sleep.

“I did not anticipate the mental creative grind that doing this daily would do, where you have to come up with something every day. I got to where there was once stretch, three or four days, I didn’t sleep. It was a lot harder than I thought, and just going through that grind mentally, creatively, I’ve never been there before. I’ve never been out that far on a limb with the creative process,” Church said about the album’s creation process.

Following many tireless days working on Heart & Soul, Eric Church left his mountain sessions with a collection of three albums. Heart, the rock-inspired first of three albums will release on April 16. Next, & (pronounced ‘ampersand’) will release on vinyl or can be streamed on April 20. But Eric Church is only offering this second release for members of his official Church Choir fan club. Last, the Muscle Shoals and Motown-inspired Soul will release on April 23. So set your calendars like the rest of us and get ready for a trio of Church albums headed our way soon.