Eric Church turns 41 years old on Thursday, enjoying status as one of country music's most acclaimed artists. Early praise from numerous media outlets accompanied the July 2006 release of the North Carolina native's debut album, Sinners Like Me, from which four singles were issued. The first of them, "How 'Bout You," was written by Church with his brother, Brandon, and veteran songwriter Brett Beavers, and hit radio in January 2006. It fell just short of the Top 10 but placed higher than subsequent singles from the LP, including "Two Pink Lines" and "Guys Like Me."
With his sophomore effort, 2009's Carolina, Church notched his first-ever Top Ten single in "Love Your Love the Most," continuing that momentum with "Hell on the Heart" and "Smoke a Little Smoke," but still a couple of years away from the major breakthrough he would enjoy with Chief.
An essential element to most country artists' daily routine, especially in the early stages of stardom, is the radio tour in which they travel cross-country to be interviewed on-air and to play live for the listening audience, often promoting local appearances as well as their latest single. In-studio cameras offer a rare glimpse into the process and in Church's case, in the above clip from 2009, a chance to see him sans sunglasses and baseball cap.
Filmed at the studios of Modesto, California's KAT Country 103, Church is seen wearing a blue toque and a Rolling Stone T-shirt – four years before he would grace the first-ever country issue of the magazine (which coincided with the launch of Rolling Stone Country that June). Strumming an acoustic guitar, in his first
In between songs, Church recalls opening 30 shows for rock legend Bob Seger and calling his dad to tell him about the experience. He then performs what was his current single at the time, "Love Your Love the Most," a romantic tune that somehow weaves in nods to mustard on french fries, college football, mama's cooking, NASCAR, the songs of George Strait, the books of William Faulkner, cold beer – and his dog and truck.