Kip Moore on Integrity, Skateparks and the Importance of the Slow Hearts

"I'd quit before I'd sell out and do something that didn't feel true to what I do."

By Brian Ives

Kip Moore is an American singer-songwriter that swings for the fences: if he was around in the ’70s, he probably would have been considered “rock and roll” and would have existed in a similar lane to John Mellencamp, Jackson Browne and Bob Seger. These days, of course, he’s a big up-and-coming artist in country music.

And just like the aforementioned artists, he’s a dogged individual, not really worried about what the rest of the industry is doing, and dedicated to following his vision and slowly building a fan base that will last for decades.

In our last interview segment with Moore, he told Radio.com about how he didn’t feel much of a sophomore slump on his recently released Wild Ones, because he’s always writing. He’s always an interesting interview subject as well.

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You’ve been building your fan base gradually since [2012’s] Up All Night.

That’s what I want, I believe that when you do that, you have a solid core. I think that when you grow the fan base the right way, they’ll be there for a long time, and I want to have a long career. I’ve always thought it was a dangerous line to walk, being the main commercial product of the time can be a hard place to be in. You might have a ton of success and make a whole lot of money, but sometimes that can be a dangerous spot to be in.

It seems like classic rock was a big influence on Wild Ones.

Yeah, Motown was a big influence too. if you listen to the bass grooves, like on “Wild Ones” and “Come and Get It,” it’s like Motown, where the bass follows its own melody. Those are very thought out parts.

You co-wrote every song on the album. 

That’s just what I do. I’m a writer first. I feel like, who better is gonna say what I want to say than me.

Surely, there has to be pressure for you to have songwriters pitch songs to you. 

There were definitely songs that were pitched to me. “This might get you back on, this might get you a hit.” I just can’t bring myself to do that.

But it can’t be easy to say “no” to that. 

I just said I’d quit before I’d sell out and do something that didn’t feel true to what I do.

So, you’ve said that you have hundreds of songs; are you having them pitched to other artists? 

There’s already been some stuff thats been picked up, and you’ll hear some of it soon. There’s stuff I have left over that I’m holding on to.

Have you begun working on your next album already? 

I have my next four albums written. And they’re all completely different bodies of work. I never want the fans to know what I’m gonna give them next. I want to always keep them guessing. All four of them sound different and have completely different subject matter. One of them is completely different from anything I’ve ever done. There’s another one that’s very Texas country. I’ve loved Texas country for a really long time. It’s gritty and rooty. That’s a whole cohesive album. I’m a huge fan of Randy Rogers and Wade Bowen, and I’m a massive Willie Nelson fan.

Your first single from Wild Ones, “I’m To Blame,” has banjo on it, which you haven’t used much before. 

I didn’t set out to put a banjo on a song, it’s just what I heard in my head for that song. I recently heard a harmonica on one of my songs, so I put a harmonica on it. I just do whatever the song calls for.

You recorded the album with a relatively small combo. 

We tracked the songs with a three-piece or a four-piece. There wasn’t like, six or seven people, that’s why there’s a lot of space. A lot of country songs have like thirteen guitar tracks stacked on each other. Well, there’s no way the band can really play that live. We got three guitar players in our band, and there’s never gonna be more than three guitars on one song.

People run a million [backing] tracks in their shows now, and there’s tons of auto tune and stuff. There’s kind of a bare bones-ness to this album and I like that. I never did more than two passes singing the vocals on these songs I wanted the imperfections. That’s what you get.

Related: Interview: Kip Moore Explains New Album Delay & Praises The Boss: ‘Springsteen Gave Me Hope’

I don’t see you as a big auto tune guy.

That’s not gonna happen, man. There’s a lot of that going on. you’re gonna hear me messing up at times, and that’s what it is.

I also don’t picture you using too many pre-recorded backing tracks at your concerts. 

There’s been occasion where I’ve had one track, but 95% of the time it’s just us. When someone stacks a million tracks, I don’t think the fans know it, most of the time. But it’s evident when you’re a musician. To each their own. It’s just never been something that I wanted to rely on. I’ve seen people actually cancel their show because their computer crashed. Or they can’t get the tracks going. It’s true: I’ve seen that. I never want to be in that situation where if my damn computer breaks down, we can’t go out there and play the show. That’s why I did the soundcheck EP. It’s one take, straight through the board, all of us playing and you can hear the imperfections. It’s completely exposing yourself to the mistakes that you make, but it’s an honest depiction of what you’re gonna see when you come see us live.

Related: Four Minutes with Kip Moore at FarmBorough

Did you ever feel like you should put the band’s name on the album cover, like the Heartbreakers or the Silver Bullet Band? 

They’re called the Slow Hearts. I named them that, and our fans know us as that, we’re a slow grow. We’re not one of those bottle rockets that shoot up really quick and burn out. We’re taking our time.

Talk about the song “Comeback Kid.” 

I’ve just always felt like that guy who’s always had to scratch and claw for everything I’ve ever got in my life. But I never count myself out.

You named your skatepark initiative after that song. 

I feel like those are the comeback kids. Those are the ones that face trouble every day. I grew up witnessing that and I just wanted to give those kids a safe place to go, somewhere they could feel good about themselves.

You don’t see a lot of country artists who are interested in the skateboarders or surfers. 

I don’t think like that. It’s just something I got a heart for. If I’m the only one doing it, then I’m the only one doing it. I skate and I surf, that’s unusual for people in this genre,  but it’s just something that I want to do .

Tell me about the song “That Was Us.”

That was us is probably my favorite song on the whole album. We were riding through Montana. I have a hard time sleeping, I have for a long time, I woke up at 4 am and started playing the guitar riff and started singing the first bit: “We got high, we got stoned…” The melody came first. I didn’t know what I wanted to do with it yet, and luckily, [songwriter] Westin Davis – we’re kindred spirits , we’ve been writing for ten years together – he was listening to me, through the door. He said that first line, “Me and Teddy used to burn that old Chevy/All the way up to Mary Lee’s/One of the guys a kinda ride or die/And we were thick as thieves” and it immediately made sense. We both had that girl who we grew up with, that we would have hurt somebody for, if they messed with them. Like our sister, who hung out with our group of people. It turned into a story song about that person.

Related: Kip Moore Explains Joint Photo Captured by Fan

So, the line, “We got high, we got stoned.” Marijuana used to be a bit of a taboo subject in country music, but it doesn’t seem to be anymore. When did that change?

I’ll be honest: I don’t know if I’ve paid attention to the fact that people sing about it now and didn’t before. I think that’s why I haven’t written a lot with the so-called bigger writers in Nashville because early on, they tried to steer me away from saying what I wanted to say. Guys like Dan Couch and Westin Davis and Brett James for that matter: with them, I just say whatever the hell it is that I want to say.  I just don’t worry about that stuff.

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