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Eric Church Interview Part 2: ‘Creepin” Hitmaker Talks CMAs Nods, Fatherhood and Why He’s Taking Time Off in 2013

Eric Church
John Peets Photography

(Continued From Part 1)

Who is somebody else in the music business you would like to work with at some point down the road?
There’s a number of people. I am a big fan of Kacey Musgraves, who is getting ready to come out. She’s really good. Luke Laird — a buddy of mine and a co-writer of mine — also produces her. I’ve only heard a couple of things from her, but it’s really good.

The fall leg of your Blood, Sweat and Beers Tour recently kicked off. What are you most excited about with the latest leg featuring Justin Moore and Kip Moore?
I think it’s going to be real good. I’m excited to have both of those guys. They fit. There will be nights that there will be people out there fighting, probably, but it’s kind of what we’re used to. I think those guys are the right fit to go and go in front of a crowd that is going to be pretty rowdy. I think that’s what they’ll be. I think it’s cool to be in front of those crowds.

I also like Kip’s album a lot. I’ve only met Kip; I don’t know Kip, so I’m anxious to get out on tour and hang out with him. I love his record, though. I think there’s a lot of depth to a lot of his songwriting on that record. That’s something that I’m drawn to — the songwriting side. I’m really looking forward to meeting him and getting to know him a little better because I’m certainly a fan of his record.

Describe the feeling and what goes through your mind as you get ready to walk out on stage, knowing there’s a sold out crowd waiting on you?
I kind of go into a mode pre-show, when I put the hat and shades on. I’ve done it so much — bars, clubs, all the way up to theaters and being opening acts, to here — arenas. It’s almost like you’ve got your uniform on and it’s game time. I start to get more focused on what the show is going to be, and just really let the energy exchange happen. Sometimes if you go out there and try to do too much, you can choke that off. I think for me, you have to be receptive to what the energy of the crowd is, and you’ve got to start getting that relationship going. The first song is kind of like you’re just getting used to the crowd a little bit. You’re out there, they’re pumped up and you’re pumped up. It’s loud, and nobody can hear anything [laughs]! So you’re just trying to let it start to get into a rhythm of what the show’s going to be. Once you get past the first song or two, it starts to settle in.

Next year you will release a live album, recorded on the current tour. How did that idea come about?
Part of the live record is because we’re not really going to be out there [next year]. I don’t know if we’ll do 20 shows next year. We’re going to do some shows here and there, but there will be large blocks where we don’t do anything. A lot of it is just letting the creative process start for me so I can figure out when and how to write the next record. Part of the reason we’re putting out the live record is it’s just a good time when we’re not out there touring to put a live record out. We can at least look at what we’ve done the year before. I’m glad that we’re doing it in a small venue. I think going back to a theater really reminds me of where we came from. I think it will be a cool moment with the crowd to kind of where we are now from where we were. It will be a good energy exchange.

Last time we talked and we asked you about the next album, you said, “Hell no,” — you weren’t anywhere close to even thinking about going back into the studio. Does that mean there’s a good chance after ‘Creepin” does its thing, we can hear another release from the ‘Chief’ album?
At that point in time, yeah. We’ve got our songs that are in the running. I think it’s between ‘Like Jesus Does,’ ‘Hungover and Hard Up’ and ‘Over When It’s Over.’ It’s going to be that kind of song. We will come with mid-tempo or off-tempo. That’s the three that everybody kind of mentions, all three for different reasons. When we get to that point, depending on what ‘Creepin’’ does, I think we’ll have the decision to make between those three.

Where are you with the next album? Have you given songs or the direction of the project any thoughts yet?
I’ve written a few things, but I don’t feel the fire yet. I’m still trying to get that process started. I’m just not there yet. I’m going to try and use next year to figure that out. Once we get done with ‘Creepin’,’ I’ll see if there’s anything there. You and I might be having this conversation next year, and you’re going to be going, ‘When in the hell are you going to make this record?!’ It’s very possible. For right now, I’m not close. I wish I had a better answer. I saw some fans at a recent show and they were busting me pretty good about it being time for another record. It’s just not time. I can make a record right now, but it’s not the record I want to make. I need to wait until it’s right.

Your son turns 1 on October 3. Do you have anything special planned for his birthday?
We’re working on that right now because we’re going to be in New York, so we’re going to try and make it a special day for him in some way. I can’t believe he’s going to be a year old. It’s happened really quick. It’s going to be fun to be up there with him. I’m glad that when he gets older I will be able to tell him he will have never have got the chance to meet Leon Helm, but he will know that his dad played the benefit with guys like Greg Allman and John Mayer and people like that. It will be a cool story later on in life to tell him, that he was in New York City for his first birthday and that’s what we were up there for.

What has the past year of fatherhood taught you about yourself?
Patience. That’s something that I haven’t always been good at, but you just never know. We used to have our days planned out where we would do this and then we will do that… Katherine would do this or do that, and then we had times where we would eat dinner and then go to bed. When you introduce a child, it’s their schedule. If he’s going to get up in the middle of the night, I don’t care how tired I am, we’re getting up or down or whatever. It’s just a matter of being patient and enjoying the process. We try to enjoy every step of it, even at times we enjoy the parts where we haven’t slept for three days because we knew there would come a time when we would think back on those days. We just try to enjoy it and embrace it.

It’s a good thing you are used to not getting much sleep as a touring musician!
I haven’t slept since 2001 [laughs]!

Next: Before Church Was Famous

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