Eric Church on Surprise No. 1 Album: 'It's Really Restoring My Faith'
Eric Church on Surprise No. 1 Album: 'It's Really Restoring My Faith'

Bruce Springsteen has given Eric Church a formal thumbs-up about the country singer's platinum hit, "Springsteen."

Church tells Billboard that Springsteen's assistant and road manager Wayne LeBeaux attended his concert on Aug. 19 in Gilford, N.H., bearing a gift from The Boss -- a set list from one of Springsteen's recent shows at Fenway Park in Boston, with a personal note on the back.

"(LeBaux) came on the bus and was telling me this story," Church recalls. "As they were leaving the Fenway show, (Springsteen) said, 'Wayne, what are you doing this weekend?' 'I'm going to see Eric Church.' "No kidding,' and (Springsteen) took out a set list and wrote me a great note, filled up the whole back of the set list talking about how he was a fan of the song, how his family was a fan of the song. He signed it and said 'I hope we cross paths somewhere' and told (LeBeaux), 'Make sure you deliver this to Eric.'

"It's a pretty incredible note. It's the first time I've officially heard from him. I had heard he was a fan of the song, but it's the first time I officially heard. It means the world to me -- and the set list is three hour and 37 minutes. That impressed me, too." Church says the set list note is currently "locked up" in a safe place."

"Springsteen," the third single from Church's third album, "Chief," hit No. 1 on the Hot Country Songs chart and was also his first Top 20 hit on the Hot 100, peaking at No. 19. (It's not about Springsteen, per se, but uses him as a reference point for the couple in the song.) Church is currently on his Blood, Sweat & Beers arena headlining tour behind the chart-topping, platinum success of "Chief," and while others are clamoring for a follow-up, Church cautions that fans should not hold their breath.

"I'm not anywhere close" to a next album," Church says. "I'm not in a hurry. I'm never in a hurry to make records, never will be. I'm waiting on the creative process to tell me what's next. I'm not going to be an artist who just makes records so the (label) can make its quarterly numbers or just to support a tour. That's the worst reason in the world to make music. I still think there has to be evolution...and it would be very disappointing for us to come to the point we've come to and not have that next record show great evolution, because I think the best bands and best artists do that."

Church hopes to release a fifth single from "Chief" ("Creepin' " is the current release) and is planning a light work load in 2013 in order to facilitate the creative process, with some Canadian dates in the early part of the year but plans to only play "about 15 shows" during the course of the year. "I'm going to be out of the spotlight next year, really," he explains. "I want to see if I can write some songs and see where we can go, musically. I'm looking forward to that. I really want to see where this thing goes."