This week, Rolling Stone is proud to be celebrating the launch of RollingStoneCountry.com — a new website fully dedicated to the genre — with a special Country Issue (on stands Friday) featuring two of Nashville's most compelling stars: Eric Church and Miranda Lambert.
In her first Rolling Stone cover story, Miranda Lambert takes contributing editor Josh Eells to her adopted hometown of Tishomingo, Oklahoma (population "Three thousand, one hundred," she proudly proclaims), site of her ever-growing empire – her Pink Pistol clothing boutique and a planned bed-and-breakfast named after her Smith & Wesson – and the farm she shares with her husband, Blake Shelton.
When she's not fussing over their menagerie of animals, fishing or planning on castrating bulls, Lambert tells RS about her obsession with Beyoncé. "She's a girl from Houston, and she worked her butt off to get where she is," she says. "She's not just being carted around on her chariot; she's driving it." She reveals she got a crash course in how to write a country song by paying close attention to her parents, who opened a detective agency called upon to investigate Bill Clinton for Paula Jones' sexual-harassment case, and chatted openly about who was drinking, who was cheating and who shot whom at the dinner table.
She also opens up about life as one-half of country music's hottest couple. "It was pretty instantaneous," she says of their rocket to über-fame. "One day we were country singers, and the next we're on the front of the tabloids. I'm, like, really magical. I've been pregnant for two and a half years." Shelton confirms that when Lambert gets heated enough, she will get into a bar fight. "People always try to pop off or call her bluff at bars," he admits. "One of them I don't want to say the guy's name, but he's the lead singer of a very popular rock band. His initials are C.K." (He's referring to Nickelback's Chad Kroeger.)
Rolling Stone also gains unprecedented access to Eric Church, dining at his Nashville home with his wife and son (something the country rebel has never allowed a journalist to do before), following him to Vegas for a casino gig and visiting the Stagecoach Festival to catch his headlining set. Associate editor Patrick Doyle gets to see both sides of the singer, which Church explores deftly on his most recent album, The Outsiders: the temperamental drinker who almost gets arrested in a fight after the ACMs in Vegas and the hard-working family man who composed 121 songs for his fourth LP, a record whose rocking seriousness goes against the grain of much contemporary country.
"It's a little bit shallower than it was a few years ago," says Church of the music he hears on the radio. "It's 'Let’s drink, forget our worries, beach, bonfire, lake.' Kacey Musgraves is great and has taken a lot of chances that have hindered her at radio. Brandy Clark should be the face of the genre."
Church chats about getting pranked by Brad Paisley and making amends with Blake Shelton and Miranda Lambert after dissing stars who come out of Nashville and go into reality television. And the singer of the Number One country hit "Springsteen" talks about meeting with the Jersey icon. "You can't really put Bruce in a box — what kind of music does Bruce do?" Church says. "It could be country. If he came out right now? No doubt, that's where he'd live."
And Church doesn't mince words when it comes to his take on where the genre is at now. "True red-white-blue American rock & roll fans have gone more toward country," he tells us. "Hip-hop has gone down. Rock's down. People are kidding themselves if they think there's a bigger format than country. It's an interesting time."
Also in this issue: Brad Paisley, Big Machine boss Scott Borchetta, Keith Urban, Sheryl Crow, the Band Perry and much more. Plus David Fricke on the Foo Fighters and Phish, our Summer Cable TV Preview, Nina Burleigh on campus rape and our review of Jack White's new album, Lazaretto.
Look for the issue on stands and in the iTunes App Store this Friday, June 6th.