Eric Church on Running a Live Tour: ‘I Have Become an Amateur Epidemiologist’
Eric Church didn't just roll out tour dates and cross his fingers. The Gather Again Tour announcement came with nearly as much planning as a moon mission.
Talking to Taste of Country Nights, Church — whose Heart & Soul album project debuts on April 16 — says that yes, he's a little nervous about this tour as it relates to the pandemic. Some days, he might be more than a little nervous — but he's done his homework.
“This is not something that we just did," Church assures. "We didn’t just say we were going to do this — there has been more meetings with local municipalities and governors and epidemiologists and scientists."
The rollout and execution of 55 shows across America and Canada is complicated by the lack of a universal standard. Each state and even each county will require different things, so Church and crew will remain fluid, often holding off on putting tickets on sale until six weeks prior to the show (per Billboard). Then, on show day, some arenas will make masks optional. Others will recommend them.
"And there are gonna be cities where it’s mandatory mask. I think we’re going to deal with that, at least in 2021," he tells ToC Nights.
The "Hell of a View" singer says he expects that after this month, most states are going to open everything, indoors and outdoors, and focus less on case numbers. While the number of people vaccinated won't quite be at critical mass, nearly everyone will have the access.
“Once every able-bodied adult can get a vaccination — which I think is going to be sometime this month, in April — it’s really going to be … up to the person," Church says. "If you want to get a vaccination, then get one. If you don’t, then depending on what the current situation is, you might want to wear a mask at the show. That's what we’re going to deal with for a little bit.”
(Note: The Center for Disease Control says wearing a mask prevents someone with COVID-19 from spreading the virus through airborne droplets. It's less effective as a preventative for contracting the virus, as it can still infect your body elsewhere.)
While the CMA Entertainer of the Year will soon begin starring in PSAs for the COVID-19 vaccine, he's sensitive to those who don't want to get the vaccine themselves. Church — who has gotten his — has been accused of being pro-vaccine and anti-vaccine, but says: “I’m neither. I just want to put on a guitar."
"I am playing the cards that I’ve been dealt," he adds.
Still, Church recognizes that the vaccine is the path back to being able to gather again, hopefully as soon as the Gather Again Tour, which runs this fall and winter.
"I have become an amateur epidemiologist," he jokes.
No one will open the 2021 Gather Again Tour. Church will perform for three to four hours in the round with an intermission, as he has done before.
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