SIKESTON -- Given the choice, country music singer Eric Church said he would rather be a songwriter than a singer any day.
"It's not even close as far as I'm concerned," he said in a telephone interview.
That's why he insisted that he have a hand in writing each of the songs that appeared on his debut album, "Sinners Like Me," which was released last year.
"That's the only way I would have it," he said. "Anything else just cheapens it. I'm much more interested in people who are writing about something they live."
Church is scheduled to perform at the Jaycee Bootheel Rodeo on Aug. 11.
Two songs on the album -- "These Boots" and "Sinners Like Me," are the most biographical, Church said. "There's a lot of me in those songs."
Like most writers, Church said he jots down notes whenever an idea strikes him. "The number of songs I've written on the back of a bar napkin is probably in the 20s," he said. He's also written into the steam on the shower door.
Church's musical influences came from his parents: his dad was a Motown fan and his mom a country/bluegrass fan.
"I think between those two genres, there's a lot of room to play around," he said.
His mixing up different styles in music is reflected in Church's diverse fan base.
"They're hard to describe," Church said. "We show up at shows where half the crowd is in tattoos and mohawks and the other half have cowboy hats on."
Church said he has a young fan base, and has seen several fans tattooed with his name or other logos.
"For young people to be that passionate about something has been the real neat thing about it," he said, adding that type of recognition is usually reserved for more established artists.
Performing is all about "having a few beers and getting loud and rowdy," Church said.
Which is why he and his band start the party on stage and hope their excitement spreads to fans. "If the band and the artist are having a good time and they're really into the whole party of it, the crowd will do the same, I think," he said. "It's not rocket science."
That attitude is why Church was selected as the "freshman artist" to perform Saturday night, said entertainment committee co-chair Cal Crader.
"It's going to be a high-energy act," Crader said. "From what we've seen and heard, he's going to be a real crowd-pleaser.
Although Church is already working on coming up with content for his next album, that likely wont come out until next spring. Church said he thinks the songs have a lot of depth, so five or six, in contrast to the normal three, of the songs will be released as singles.
Until then, he will remain busy while touring.
"I don't set foot in Nashville until August -- we've been playing six nights a week lately," he said. "That's good though -- we've had a lot of success here lately and we're thankful for it."
Church's album sales are on the rise. His first two singles "How 'Bout You" and "Two Pink Lines," were No. 14 and 19 on Hot Country Songs. His third and current single, "Guys Like Me," is currently No. 18.
And he's going to keep the ante up. "The best way to success is to continue taking it to the people," Church said. "We're not going to back off."
Ticket sales have been strong for Church's performance, but seats are still available, Crader said. They can be purchased at the ticket office, on the web at www.sikestonrodeo.com, or by calling 1-800-455-2855.