Eric Church recently announced his first headlining trek, which is set for 2012 and appropriately titled the Blood, Sweat and Beers Tour. The 50-plus date tour will kick off on Jan. 19 in Fort Smith, Ark. and will wrap in May.

In addition to Church headlining the dates, Brantley Gilbert will also be joining him on tour. With so much excitement building up for the new year to roll around so he can hit the road again, Church says what has him most fired up is the opportunity to headline for the first time in his career.

“We’ve been the support role for the past year, year and a half,” Church tells Taste of Country. “This is the first time in our careers that we’ll be able to do this. We’ve been very fortunate because of it — we’ve been exposed to a lot more people [on the previous tours, but] I’ve just never been a big fan of the constraints of having a set time and space [onstage]. It’s going to be fun to go out there and do our own thing every night. We’ll be able to change it up.”

Church is well aware of the journey that’s led him to headlining status, and it is something he sees in Gilbert, which is one of the reasons he extended the invite to the Georgian.

“The reason we got here was from headlining little clubs and stuff, and to know that we came from there into these arenas, it’s incredible,” Church notes. “I’m excited to just get out there. I’m excited that Brantley’s going with us. I don’t know Brantley real well, but I like what he’s about and I like the way he’s built his career. It reminds me a lot of what we did early on … just sluggin’ it out in the clubs and breaking all these attendance records and then letting it grow. It’s very real. I dig it. I think it’s going to be a great tour. I have very, very high expectations.”

As far as the name for the tour? “The name I think is fitting … it’s taken a lot of blood, sweat and beers for me to get here,” Church says with a laugh. “So that’s why we decided to call it that.”

Click here to see a complete list of the dates announced thus for for the Blood, Sweat and Beers Tour.

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