Eric Church Says Production of ‘Heart & Soul’ Album ‘About Killed Him’

by Clayton Edwards

Eric Church fans around the world are eagerly awaiting the staggered release of his triple album. Heart & Soul will start dropping in just over two weeks. Heart, the driving, rock-tinged record drops April 16. Soul, which pays homage to both Muscle Shoals and Motown, hits shelves on the 23rd. & (Ampersand) will be available exclusively as a vinyl release for Church Choir members on 4/20. In short, it’s going to be one hell of a month for Chief and his fans.

The creation of Heart & Soul is pretty much the stuff of legends at this point. Eric Church, his band, and producer Jay Joyce took over Artisanal restaurant in Banner Elk, NC. Every few days, new songwriters would come and go. They worked together on writing song after song. The group stayed sequestered in the North Carolina mountains for twenty-eight days straight. At the end of that time, Eric Church walked out with 24 completed songs.

During their stay, Eric Church and his team would write a song in the morning. They would spend the day rehearsing it. Once the band had the song under their fingers, they cut the track and moved on to the next one. It was a daunting task. At the same time, it was as if Chief was looking into the future. This quarantine-style marathon writing and recording session took place in January of 2020. That was months before being locked down in one place was the norm.

Recently, Eric Church talked to Billboard about the recording session, the album, and what he has planned for the future.

Eric Church Says Recording Heart & Soul About Killed Him

According to the Billboard piece, the marathon writing and recording session had a deep effect on Eric Church. Chief said that it made him work harder as a writer. At the same time, the whole thing was madness. It was all late nights and early mornings. Some nights, he couldn’t turn his brain off. Other nights, he wrote songs in his sleep. He once said that “Crazytown” was written in a dream. About this, he said, “[it] ’bout killed me. From a sleep standpoint, I’ve never really been that unhealthy,” he went on to say that it was almost manic.

John Peets, Eric Church’s long-time manager said that he totally understood the mission Chief was embarking on. However, neither he nor the label liked it much. From a financial standpoint, it was a risky endeavor. They immediately went over budget. Church covered all of the expenses that the label didn’t. He was a man on a mission, after all. However, Peets and the label were worried about the books. About this, Peets told Billboard, “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.” However, Eric Church came away with three albums. At the same time, there are thousands of people eagerly awaiting their release.

So, recording Heart & Soul damned near killed Chief. However, it’s about to pay off in a big way.

What’s Next for Church?

It’s no secret that Eric Church loves being on the road. His tours are legendary. So, he is hoping to pull off an arena tour this fall. However, with the pandemic, that’s not going to be an easy feat. Dealing with restrictions and safety regulations makes live shows hard to do. At the very least, they’re nothing like they once were. Cordoned-off pods keep fans separated. Meet-and-greets seem like the things of a bygone era. Chief, on the other hand, is hoping to see them coming back.

To him, vaccines are the key to getting back to normal. He recently got his and is asking everyone to do the same. About this, Chief said, “It became very clear to me that the only way to really get back to normal is through vaccinations. You’ve got to get needles in arms.”

In order to bring this message to the masses, Eric Church will be appearing in pro-vaccine public service announcements. Starting on 4/18, the night of the Academy of Country Music Awards, he’ll be part of the ACM’s Lifting Lives vaccine education campaign. He hopes that if enough people get vaccinated, we can all get together for real live shows once again.