It seems like a funny notion to be more excited about selling 500,000 copies of a record as opposed to a whopping 1 million copies, but once you hear the full story, I think you’ll understand Eric Church’s sentiment.
At his soiree earlier this week to celebrate his latest No. 1 single, “Talladega,” and the platinum status of his current album, The Outsiders, he was lauded by his peers and label and presented with plaques and all the usual accoutrements that come with having such massive success.
But he was also surprised with another plaque — one commemorating the gold certification of his 2006 debut album, Sinners Like Me. Containing “Guys Like Me,” “These Boots,” “Two Pink Lines” and a host of other fan favorites, if you really want to get to know Church and his musical message, this album is a fine place to start.
It’s a blood, sweat, tears and beers album for the singer — a passionate project created during the beginning stages of his career before he had the attention of radio programmers and listeners.
At the party, Church admitted to me how proud he is of Sinners Like Me project, and he wasn’t the only one. Mike Dungan, the head of his record label, gushed openly about the merits of the album and even offered to give attendees a copy if they didn’t own one already.
It’s proof that Team Church is in it for the long haul. And that means everything to him.
“I’ve learned that it’s not what you do but who you do it with,” he told the crowd at the party. “I’m a basketball guy. I’m a sports guy. I remember when we all used to get around the huddle, and we would huddle up and put our hands in.
“I don’t remember if we won the game, but I remember the faces around that huddle. Those are the people that go to war with you. Whether it’s the label, the songwriters, whether it’s management, whether it’s my band and crew, we take it to the people every night. That’s what this is about. It’s about that passion. It’s about going out there and delivering.”
And that’s exactly that he’s been doing night after night on his current tour. Fans are eating it up and singing along, whether it’s a deep album cut or his latest radio hit.
“I’m the luckiest guy alive that we have the kind of career where I’m as proud of ‘Outsiders’ and ‘Cold One’ off this album as I am ‘Hometown’ and ‘Talladega,” he said. “And I think that’s what we’ve tried to make our career about. … In Chicago, we played nine songs off (Sinners Like Me) and the people sang every song.
“That, to me, is what music is about. It’s about finding that connection and not being afraid to put it out there.”