Eric Church‘s upcoming three-album set, Heart & Soul, was recorded over the course of several weeks while with his band, songwriters, other musicians and producer, Jay Joyce, in the mountains of North Carolina. The massive project comes on the heels of Church’s 2018 Desperate Man record, although there are very few similarities between the two.
“The comfort element is something that, on the Desperate Man album, I felt like that was a harder album to get, for me,” Church says. “The hardest that I had, because I felt like everybody was just a little bit comfortable. And it was harder to get the record because of that. This time I wanted to make people really uncomfortable. We sequestered ourselves in the mountains of North Carolina, a place I’ve been many times. There’s a restaurant called Artisanal and everything’s wood, the entire place. I said to my wife, ‘This would be a great studio.'”
While Church knew in theory that his idea was a good one, executing it was an entirely different process — and much, much harder than he anticipated, both for Church and his longtime producer, Jay Joyce.
“So we descend on this restaurant,” Church recalls. “It’s not very big, and we’re still using it as a restaurant. It’s what we fed people. I remember the day we were loading in, he’s looking around going, ‘Okay, I’m gonna put guitar, here, I’m gonna do this here.’ They just moved the tables out of the restaurant. There’s a bar. He goes, ‘I don’t know what I’m gonna do with that bar.’
“To see Jay react to that, I think that put him back where he started,” he adds. “He’s not comfortable at all, and he’s just trying to go, ‘How do I make this album in this place?’”
The process of writing and recording three separate albums was arduous in other ways Church didn’t anticipate as well.
“Every day, what we would do, we would write a song in the morning, or whenever during the day, and we would record the song that night,” Church explains. “It really put creativity in the driver’s seat, and it was exciting to me, because there were a number of days that I didn’t really have a good second verse yet, or maybe my bridge was missing something, but I liked the song. And I decided, just start it, and we’ll figure it out as we go. Normally it’s not like that. You know exactly what you’re going to cut, and you cut it.”
Now that it is completed, the 43-year-old is grateful for the entire process, and especially glad that it is finished.
“I spent about a month on-site,” Church says.” I did not anticipate the mental creative grind that doing this daily would do, where you have to come up with something everyday. I got to where there was one stretch, three or four days, I didn’t sleep, because when I would lay down at night to try to sleep, after we recorded a song, first of all, you’ve got a lot of energy from recording. But then immediately you go, ‘We’re gonna do this again tomorrow, and I have nothing.
“There was a period there where it was hard,” he admits. “It was a lot harder than I thought, and just going through that grind mentally, creatively, I’ve never been there before. I’ve never been that far out on a limb with the creative process.”
Heart & Soul will be released on three separate dates in April. Pre-orders are available at EricChurch.com.