Michael Buckner, Getty Images for ACM
"It's taken a lot of all three for me to get here," Eric tells the Associated Press. "Somebody asked me what was more of, barely, I would said beer, then it would be sweat, then there was a lot of blood. [laughs] There's been some blood along the way. I think it's fitting for the kind of tour it's going to be. It's going to be very in your face like the rest of our stuff. Probably, some parental guidance will be needed. That's OK. It's the kind of show we've always put on, and the kind of show I enjoy."
The past year has been a professional whirlwind for the North Carolina native. The turning point, he recognizes, was the release of his chart-topping album, 'Chief.' "I told somebody, I said, 'I feel like we were just in clubs last year,' and then I said, 'Wait a minute. We were in clubs last year,'" he recalls. "It's been a big jump. It's been a fast rise since 'Chief' has come out."
Adding an extra dose of star power to the tour, Eric has asked Brantley Gilbert to come along for the ride. "I'm looking forward to having Brantley out there with us," Eric says. "He's another guy that's built his career in clubs and theaters, and that's hard to do. I know how hard, we did it. I understand having success at that without having the benefit of some of the other things; it's tough. I admire and respect that. I think it's going to be a good match. I think it's going to be one of the best tours of the year."
Brantley's hard work paid off as well, with his tune, 'Country Must Be Country Wide,' topping the charts in November.
Catch them both at the second tour stop in Cape Girardeau, Mo. Friday (Jan. 20). Get a full list of tour dates here.