Chief seems about the right title for American rock-influenced country star Eric Church, whose third album of the same name has led to his first sold-out headlining tour across Canada.
The 2011 disc debuted at No. 1 on both the Billboard 200 and country charts in the U.S., was nominated for a 2012 Grammy for best country album and won the 2012 Country Music Association Award for best album.
Still, Church, who has his 15 month son Boone McCoy (Church is a long lost relative of Daniel Boone and his wife is related to the McCoys of the Hatfields and McCoys) in tow on the road, says his popularity in Canada caught him off guard.
“To be frank, we were a little surprised,” said Church, 37, of his Canadian trek that runs Jan. 31 to Feb. 23.
“When we put the tour on sale, everything started selling out, day of. We were shocked. I had expectations. I didn’t think we were going to sell out the whole country.”
More recently, Church also picked him up two 2013 Grammy nods for Chief’s third single, Springsteen, with the awards taking place Feb. 10 (Sunday) in L.A.
We (canoe.ca) caught up with the Granite Falls, N.C., native down the line from his Nashville area home.
Q. How do you feel about Springsteen’s two Grammy nods for best country song and best country solo performance?
A. I’m excited. I mean the Grammys are the holy grail. If you make music and you want to be recognized for anything, the Grammys are the ultimate, musically. I enjoyed going last year. We’re going this year. And I said many times, I have no control over any of those things. All you can do is make the best music you can make and play the best show you can play. That’s what I can control. So as far as expectations, I have none. But either way, win or lose, it won’t change what we do.
Q. Does The Boss know about the success of Springsteen, a song that talks about young love and independence at one of his amphitheatre concerts?
A. I got a note from Bruce late in 2012. I was playing up in New Hampshire and the night before Bruce had played Fenway Park in Boston and his assistant was actually going to our show in New Hampshire. And I get a knock on the bus door, prior to the show, and it’s his assistant, Wayne, and he goes, ‘I was with Bruce last night and I told him I was coming to see you play.’ And Bruce said, ‘Well, do my a favour and hand me my briefcase.’ He takes an old set list that was three hours and 37 minutes long. And he writes me a note about how big a fan he was of the song and he was so happy that’d it been No. 1 and done well for me… And said, Hope we get to cross paths and hang out soon.’ About the coolest thing I’ve been handed.
Q. In real life, the song is based on your own experience as a 16-year-old at another artist’s show – who you refuse to name – at the old Blockbuster Pavillion in Charlotte, N.C. Why change it to a Springsteen show?
A. I’m a huge Springsteen fan. And I just made the comment, ‘I would dare say that more people have had that experience that they will remember forever at their first Springsteen (show) than any other artist.’ I’m pretty diverse. I love Little Feat. I love The Band. But Springsteen was just a constant in my life. He was my anchor musically. … It became easy and natural to make the song about it.