ERIC CHURCH FIGHTS THE GOOD FIGHT ON ‘OUTSIDERS’

ERIC CHURCH FIGHTS THE GOOD FIGHT ON ‘OUTSIDERS’

With a writer as prolific as Eric Church, there’s never a shortage of material for his albums. And with The Outsiders there was nothing less than an embarrassment of musical riches from which to choose – 121 songs to be exact. So who makes the call on which songs do or don’t make it to the final album? With Church, the process was the same one he’s used for previous albums.

Eric Church meets fans at the Jack Daniel's Experience at Fan Alley in Downtown Nashville on Thursday, June 6 during the 2013 CMA Music Festival. Photo by Natasha Moustache / CMA

Eric Church meets fans at the Jack Daniel’s Experience at Fan Alley in Downtown Nashville on Thursday, June 6 during the 2013 CMA Music Festival. Photo by Natasha Moustache / CMA

“We have a small group I’ve used on every album,” he explained. “No label people are involved. It’s five people. We get together and everybody gets some CDs and we go through them. We had our first meeting and it was pretty easy to get from 121 songs to about 60. But when you start fighting at 60, you know it’s going to be a process. Everybody had their favorites.

“There are eight or 10 songs that did not make this record that, for us, would’ve been major hits,” he continued. “We didn’t put them on this album because we felt like we’d been there. It reminded us of something. It’s very important to me that we’re always mining new ground. We’re mindful of that artistically and creatively.

“But I loved getting down to 25 or 30 songs and we were all fighting. I loved having that passion for the songs and threatening each other: ‘If this isn’t on the record, I’m walking out.’ That’s a good environment.  I was surprised to have 121. I had just been writing as we went along.”

While Church definitely benefits because he’s so prolific, he’s not the only artist to reap the rewards of his strong writing work ethic. “Lee Brice cut ‘Life Off My Years’ (written by Church, Michael P. Heeney and Jeff Hyde) when we just couldn’t make it fit on Chief,” he said. “There may be a song or two from this batch that will still find a home.”

Eric Church at Jay Joyce's studio in St. Charles. Photo by Reid Long.

Eric Church at Jay Joyce’s studio in St. Charles. Photo by Reid Long.

As producer Jay Joyce conveyed, the selection process for the album is made easier because of one key factor. “To me, what sets Eric apart is he knows who he’s singing to. In this town, especially on Music Row, you can be distracted by business and what’s in and what’s out. But he’s always been speaking to his audience. That answers a lot of questions that other artists have a hard time answering, because they’re more connected to the business end of things. He’s always been more about ‘what are my fans going to think about this’ as opposed to what is radio or Music Row going to think.”

“And we made the record with our live show in mind,” interjected Church, confirming again his musical allegiance to his ever-growing fan base and yet another factor in the song selection process.

One thing Church and his entire team will agree upon is that, once Church and Casey Beathard had written “The Outsiders,” the rest of the record had a lot to live up to.

“The musical depth of ‘The Outsiders’ set the bar for the rest of the record very high for us,” says Joyce. In other words, the rest of the songs had to be pretty special to be in the company of the title cut. And they are.”

CMA MEMBERS: Find out more about Eric Church and The Outsiders in the Feb/March 2014 issue of CMA Close Up!

Listen to Eric Church’s “The Outsiders” here:

Watch the “teaser” video for “The Outsiders”:

Visit Eric Church’s official website, EricChurch.com, like him on Facebook, or follow him on Twitter, @EricChurch.