Eric Church

Eric Church: The Billboard Cover Story

December 2, 2013

With "The Outsiders," due in February, Church is bringing his harder-rocking country sound to the next level. "It's important for the health of the format that we all don't follow the leader, that we branch out"

Eric's putting the finishing touches on his fourth album, "The Outsiders," which is due Feb. 11 on EMI Records Nashville. Church was already at the vanguard of contemporary country's rock movement, but The Outsiders blurs the lines even further. The first single, the title track, contains even more of the rough electric guitar and big booming drums that define Church's live shows. It's dark and loud, and without the North Carolina accent in Church's vocals it might find itself in between Kings of Leon and Linkin Park on rock radio. But its rebel attitude ("We saddle 'em up and ride in the pouring rain/We're the junkyard dogs, we're the alley cats") and the twang in the vocals put it squarely in the world of country music. Like a modern-day Lynyrd Skynyrd, Church manages to be simultaneously more rock'n'roll and good-old-boy than anyone else out there-no easy task.

"'The Outsiders,' the first single, is a great taste of what this album is going to be," Church says. "We were pushing the envelope and doing things that we hadn't done, creatively and artistically."

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