Sun. Jul 14th, 2024

Eric Church on New Whiskey JYPSI Release, Upcoming Nashville Residency: ‘It Was Important to Us That We Could Be Creative’

By Michael Apr 2, 2024

As CMA entertainer of the year winner, 10-time Grammy nominee and whiskey enthusiast Eric Church has grown his varied business empire to include being a co-owner of the Field & Stream brand, launching his own SiriusXM music channel, “Eric Church Outsiders Radio,” rolling out the drinks line Whiskey JYPSI and his upcoming six-story venue Chief’s in downtown Nashville. Infusing his personal brand into every part of these ventures has been just as critical as it has been in his music.

For some artists, putting out a whiskey might involve little more than slapping their name on a bottle—but Church has never been most artists. His name doesn’t appear on a bottle of Whiskey JYPSI, yet he’s been intimately involved in crafting its feel and flavor.

“It’s not a celebrity whiskey,” Church says of Whiskey JYPSI to Billboard via email. “I’m a whiskey and bourbon connoisseur. It’s what I enjoy. I have my whole life and Whiskey JYPSI was built to produce a unique and high-quality product. It’s a true partnership and I happen to be a creative and that’s how I contribute the most.”

In 2020, Church joined forces with Raj Alva to launch Outsiders Spirits, an incubator for whiskey creativity. On April 2, the new Whiskey JYPSI Explorer Series launches, with the first release from the series boasting a blend of two six-year-old bourbons: a Kentucky-distilled low rye, as well as an Indiana high rye. The new offering follows the inaugural Whiskey JYPSI Legacy Batch 001, which released in 2023.

“We created this – Raj, Ari and I – it was important to us that we could be creative; to have creativity not just at the start, but through the whole process,” Church says. “We’re able to look around the world and find unique ingredients – like our initial Explorer release is finished with wood from the Appalachian Forrest in North Carolina, where I am from, and Legacy 001 had Canadian Rye that was very unique to its location. By finding unique ingredients and making smaller batches, you can super serve the product and get highly creative with the flavors. That’s what makes Whiskey JYPSI different as a brand.”

Church’s imprint is also on every inch of his upcoming venue Chief’s. The 20,000-square-foot establishment at 200 Broadway in downtown Nashville celebrates its grand opening on April 5, and not only features Rodney Scott’s Whole Hog BBQ on the rooftop, but a two-story, approximately 350-capacity live music venue called The Neon Steeple.

The Neon Steeple is set to feature upcoming performances from not only the “Chief” himself, but Ray Wylie Hubbard, songwriter Casey Beathard, Jim Lauderdale, Sunny Sweeney, Suzy Bogguss and Radney Foster. Church has been very hands-on in selecting performers for the venue, with some artists in the inaugural batch of performers having ties to Church’s own music. In 2019, Church’s music video for “Desperate Man” featured the song’s co-writer Wylie Hubbard. Beathard has co-written several of Church’s hits including “The Outsiders” and “Homeboy.”

“I have a vision for it – there is a troubadour element, there is a songwriter element, and that will evolve over time like anything else but that has been the fabric of how we want to activate the first year,” Church says. “I’m excited to do my shows and we will have other artists that people will recognize. For a lot of artists, it will be an underplay, and for others it will be a perfect place to play Nashville.”

Also originating April 5, Church will launch the 19-show “To Beat the Devil” residency at Chief’s—one that promises a wellspring of creativity and intimacy with his ardent fanbase.

“Very rarely do I get to walk out with a guitar in a living room setting,” says Church, who notes that it is likely that attendees will see some surprise guests show up at various shows during the residency. “It’s very rare that you get to go out and have a conversation like that. It allows me to turn the show into a full musical piece and not just playing songs. It was conceived that way. I have most of it sketched out and I can’t wait to do it.”

In August 2023, Church performed two nights as part of the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum’s artist-in-residence program, offering up a two-hour, 19-song set that included both Church’s radio hits as well as rarely-heard live renditions. The set was somewhat of a precursor to the unique nights of music he has planned for the Chief’s residency.

“It will be a lot of unique, new music that pertains to different times in my career; stuff that I wrote and maybe didn’t make an album or a story that nobody’s ever heard,” Church says. “That’s part of the reason we are going restrict cell phone use. That’s the only way people can truly be in the moment and experience the moment. As a parent, I understand the challenges of people being away from their cell phone though, so we are going to use Yondr [a pouch system that allows concertgoers to lock away their phones], which allows you access to your phone by stepping outside if you need to – which is important to me. But there will be no recording. What happens there is for the people that fought so hard to get tickets, and they get to talk about it,” Church says.

“It will be a completely unique show and one of the more challenging and special ones of my career.”

By Michael

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