If things had gone according to Eric Church's plan, fans would be able to hear an album of duets between the singer and some country legends right now; instead, they got Mr. Misunderstood. In a new interview with Nashville Scene, the country star and some of his friends and collaborators open up about creating, surprising Church's fans with and promoting his newest album.

Following Church's successful 2014 release The Outsiders, Nashville Scene reports, the singer-songwriter set out to craft a collaborative album featuring duets with some country music greats. He was partially inspired by Willie Nelson's duets projects, and partially by "an epiphany that some of those people aren’t going to be here forever,” explains John Peets, Church's manager.

However, when Church started writing, the material that came out didn't make sense for a duets project: "I said, ‘I don’t know what to tell you, you own those songs,’" Peets remembers. "He was very motivated by this urgency, and it just started to fall out. He wrote quicker than I’ve ever seen him write.”

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Church himself spoke to that urgency in a note distributed around the surprise release of Mr. Misunderstood in November of 2015: "I wrote my first song [for this album] late [in the] summer [of 2015]. Twenty days later, I had 18 songs. Twenty days following that, I had 10 recorded," he explained at the time. “It always takes me time to look for inspiration to make a new album. This time, inspiration found me. Together, we found Mr. Misunderstood.”

Church distributed Mr. Misunderstood to fan club members one day before releasing it publicly. He kept nearly everyone in the dark about the record -- a process almost thwarted by Brothers Osborne's John Osborne. To Nashville Scene, Church remembers how the singer accidentally stumbled on Church and his band in the studio.

“I’ll never forget — John Osborne had been working with [producer] Jay [Joyce], and he forgot something in the studio,” Church explains. When Osborne returned to retrieve his lost item, he saw what was going on, and "John [Peets] had to spill it to him. The whole thing could have come unwound because of John Osborne."

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