Eric Church symbolizes what awaits an artist who cuts against the establishment's grain, so when he saw newcomer Tucker Beathard do something similar last year, he made sure he was supportive.

The "Some of It" singer famously rebelled against Rascal Flatts' tour demands in 2006, leading to his firing and banishment, as he's recalled. Beathard refused to bend his creative vision to satisfy the demands of his old record label, Big Machine Records. Now with Warner Music Nashville, the "Better Than Me" singer recalled talking to Church during that tenuous time in his life.

“I think he gets it as far as when you’re super passionate about your art … a lot of people won’t see what you see and you gotta just prove it yourself," Beathard tells Taste of Country.

“And the only reason he met with me or gave me the time of day was because he really respected — like, 'OK, he earned his stripes.' It’s like a respect thing. You’re not gonna get Eric’s respect easily.”

The 24-year-old is signed with the same publishing company as Church and at the time, he says, the hitmaker was looking at trying to get him signed to UMG Nashville. Of course, Church was familiar with Beathard before learning of the label rift. In 2011 he released the song "Homeboy," co-written with Beathard's father Casey Beathard. The song about a rebellious youth was inspired by then-teenaged Tucker. It'd become a platinum-selling Top 20 hit.

Eric Church Got Fired, But He Might Have Deserved It: 

After splitting from his record label, Beathard says he lost quite a few members of his band and support team, making his comeback even more challenging. He released the Nobody's Everything album independently last November and plans to drop Everybody's Nothing later this year. Both were recorded at the same time, and signing with a new major record label didn't force him to bend his creative vision one bit. Still, the two albums are different.

“Overall it seems lighter," he says of the second, which includes "Better Than Me."

"Not like musically … there’s some lighter themes that were left out of the first half that are on this half.”

Outlaw stories in country music are few and far between in 2019, perhaps because few artists bounce back or (more likely) because so many artists are afraid to give their record label or management team the bird in the name of art. Beathard says he gained the respect of his community for fighting for a sound that leans right up against the border separating rock and country, a line that gets more blurry every year.

“What I did, I think a lot of them would say if they had the balls they would do it too," he says. "I don’t advise it, but I had to do it.”

Beathard spoke with Taste of Country in Nashville just prior to playing a media showcase of songs from the new record. Last week he released the decidedly more playful "Better Than Me" music video. None of the music he recorded at Big Machine is available on streaming platforms any longer.

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