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Kip Moore interview

Kip Moore is back in the UK and Ireland for a series of live shows taking in dates in Dublin, Glasgow, Birmingham, Manchester and London.

The dates mark his first trip back to the UK following a triumphant C2C: Country to Country set in 2015. Fans can expect a selection of tracks from Kip’s latest album Wild Ones and his huge-selling debut Up All Night.

Ahead of the tour kick-off I sat down with Kip to talk about his return to the UK and Ireland, discuss his upcoming third studio album, and to find out more about the influences that go into his distinctive sound.

I saw on social media that you indulged in a bit of English culture and went to the theatre. How was that?

I was man! It was a full-on musical last night, I saw Mrs Henderson Presents. I was so blown away by how on point and what masters of their craft they all were. Maureen, who was played by Emma Williams, was outstanding. The lady that played Mrs Henderson and the guy that played Vivian…they were all just outstanding. The singing was amazing. It blew me away how amazing all of it was. The harmonies were spectacular. It was nice to be in the seats watching a performance instead of doing the performance.

Your tour kicks off tomorrow. What can people expect from these shows?

(laughs) I have never known how to answer that question! I never know what to say. The only thing I can promise people – and you’ll have to come and find out yourself – is passion. You’re always going to get 100% passion out of a show from me and the band. I think that’s why we’ve built such a strong loyal following. Even through the midst of going absent at radio, our fanbase is still growing rapidly from live shows so you have to be there to experience it.

You really blew me away at C2C: Country to Country in 2015 with your set. Have you noticed since that show that your fanbase has grown?

I told my management and agents when I got back, ‘I’m telling y’all something special happened over there’ and they were like ‘what do you mean?’ I said, ‘I felt it, I felt it with the fans, I felt the connection we had was different than some of the other acts…we need to go back over there’. They said, ‘it’s probably not time yet, we need to probably put out a few more records before we go over there’ and I said, ‘no, something happened’. I talked them into letting us do this tour. I didn’t know the magnitude of the impression we’d made until now, seeing all the shows sold out.

I hear it quite frequently from US acts that UK audiences tend to know their material inside out singing the words to all the album tracks as well as the singles. Has that been your experience?

They’ve definitely shown me that they absorb the music in a different way. They do pay attention to a lot of detail and I’ve had people go into deep tracks from my records and tell me about the lyrics. My actual fanbase back in the US is a very unique fanbase in itself too. When we play headline shows they know every single song off both records and all the underground songs. I don’t know…maybe there’s something about our music that’s making people research in that manner. I’m not sure but they definitely seem to absorb it different and go into great detail about your lyrics with you.

Kip Moore
Credit: Humphead

Your music is incredibly distinctive. When I think about the other artists dominating Country radio either here in the UK or in the US, I can’t think of anyone that could be mistaken for you. Is that a conscious thing on your part or is it just how the music comes out?

I set out to always be authentic with myself. The Up All Night project and the Wild Ones project are pretty different, in their own rights, to each other. The Wild Ones record definitely tapped into more of an American rock & roll sound. I definitely grew up listening to those guys – Jackson Browne, Seger, Springsteen, Mellencamp – but I was also a huge fan of Otis Redding, Sam Cooke, Motown and those guys. You’ll hear a lot of those influences on this next project I’m doing. I just always set out to be authentic to myself and never chase whatever the trend is. I make a conscious effort just not to allow people to sway or persuade me to do certain things. I write what’s true to me and what I think is true to my fanbase. I’m elated when a song works on radio because I understand how important radio is, but I never write in terms of chasing after that.

As you mentioned Wild Ones is very different from Up All Night. Did you want to do something that was so completely different?

I never want to be that artist that you know what you’re going to get. You get those records all the time where you know exactly what it’s going to sound like, what the guitar tones and drum sounds and the bass sounds are going to sound like…basically you know the whole sonic sound you’re going to get. You know what they’re going to sing about…you know everything before you even get the record. That works for some people but creatively it doesn’t work for me. I have to constantly push myself to do something different than I did the last time.

If I’m growing and evolving as a person, why wouldn’t my music not evolve with me? The Up All Night record was so successful that I could have done something safe and just stick to writing those songs and that sound with the same players. I have to challenge myself creatively and I have to evolve. When I wrote the Up All Night record I had yet to travel the world. Most of that record, when you actually dug into it, was nostalgic looking back at when I was growing up. Wild Ones is a very anthemic life on the road feeling kind of record. I’d seen a lot more things so my life was going to be different about different things therefore the sound needs to change with that. This new record I was inspired in a different way so it’ll have a different sound to those two records.

There is definitely a tendency for some artists to say ‘well this worked for me, let’s do the same again’…

I understand that. I understand the fear and the safety net of that. I could have done that after the Up All Night project, written more of those songs and stayed in that realm. I just want my records to reflect different stages of my life and career. Hopefully one day I’ll look back and I’ll have seven or eight bodies of work, and I can go and do a tour just around one record, and do stuff where it’ll be a different thing for different people.

Does it make things a lot riskier by not sticking to the same formula?

Hell yeah it makes it more risky. The Up All Night record was a massive commercial success. Wild Ones is still like an underground cult kind of record. Our fan base has double and tripled in size due to the Wild Ones record and it’s yet to render a single radio hit, which is fascinating to me. Radio blew it up for us with Up All Night but this thing is just an underground current that’s happened. You’re running that risk of not having the mass appeal like the Up All Night when you do something like that. I don’t know what’ll happen with the fans and my core fan base when I make this new record. I’m sure some people will be like ‘well this ain’t what I signed up for, I liked the old Kip Moore record’. I’m going to stay true to how I feel and what I want to write, and that’s how I’m going to do my records.

What stage are you at with the new record?

I’ve already written over half of it. I never stop writing. I think I’ve written over 1,000 songs so I’ve got a lot of stuff in the vault to choose from. I’ve been writing specifically for this record recently. Like I said, you’re going to hear a lot of my Motown influences and a lot of my classic rock influences. You’re going to hear a lot of different colours on this record.

When are you going to find the time to record it?

I’m going to record right when I get back from this tour. I’m recording about 4 or 5 new ones when I get back from this tour.

Will we see the album before the end of the year?

I don’t know. We’ll see. I’ve got a good feeling about when I think it’s coming out but I’m going to keep quiet about it.

Credit: Humphead
Credit: Humphead

One of your songs, Pretty Faced Fool, was recorded by Jewel for her latest album Picking Up the Pieces. How did that come about?

Jewel is a fascinating human being. You sit and talk with her and she’s a special lady. She heard that song, gave me a call and said she was going to cut it. I was elated because I’m such a fan. I’ve had other artists record songs that I’ve written…you’re always happy when someone else is recording your music but when you’re really a fan of somebody it’s a whole other thing. I’m such a fan of who she is as a person, her artistry and her voice. I think she did a fantastic job with the song.

The song sounds like nothing else I’ve ever heard from you. Is that her interpretation of the song or is it the way you wrote it?

It’s the way I wrote it. I’m a chameleon of a lot of colours. I have a vault of stuff that would probably shock you if you heard it. I’ve got a whole project waiting in a Bob Dylan vein and stuff like the Otis Redding stuff. I’m a connoisseur of all different styles of genres. I love to study those genres, study the melodies and the way they do their music. That song she interpreted definitely in her own way but that was the melody and the riff that I had written.

Is there any song you’ve given away that you wish you hadn’t?

I wouldn’t tell you here in this interview (laughs). There have been songs recently that people have wanted to record and I’ve held onto them because I feel like I’m going to need them in my own career.

You tour relentlessly. What is it that you love so much about being on the road?

I’ll tell you what man it’s starting to wear my ass out (laughs). I told my manager the other day. I’ve been burning the candle at both ends for 5 solid years now. For 5 years straight we’ve done around 200 shows a year. That means I’ve probably been on the road 250 days a year. The band’s not here yet and I’ve been here for 3 days doing press so my schedule is different. It is definitely taking it’s toll on me but I love, like last night, being able to go to see a play and experience the vibe of the city and the different cultures. It gives me lots to write about. I love that part and I love playing the shows. The travel is here it’s really taking its toll on my body and I’m feeling the effects of it. Sometimes it causes me to slip into these very dark places that’s hard to explain. You start neglecting so much of your life and I feel like I’ve done that for so long. I’ve neglected very important things and relationships in my life and sometimes it’s very heavy for me to handle.

Do you think you might take a break once the tour ends in the autumn?

It’s booked up all the way to Christmas and it’s already booked into 2017. I usually get a week off between tours where I get to surf…that kind of thing and recharge a little bit. I definitely need to find a bit of balance. I’m not good at doing that. Usually the minute I finish touring I’m back in the studio.

That’s the passion of it though isn’t it?

Yeah. It’s the madness behind my love for what I do but at the same time I realise that it can be a little detrimental to personal things in your life.

Will you have time to fit anything else in this year other than the tour and the album?

Probably not (laughs). I’ll take a couple of surfing trips for sure. I usually take off after Christmas and take the first three weeks of January. I go stay in Maui and surf on Honolulu Bay then I come back and I’m recharged.

Do you want to come back over to the UK to tour again maybe in a year or so?

I hope they want me to come back. I hope the fans to show me that they want me to come back. If they let me know that, then I’ll do my best to keep trying to come back. It’s hard for us to come over here. It’s hard for a UK band to go to America. Financially it’s very tough. You know that coming over you’ll take a massive hit unless you’re playing an arena but that’s just our love for what we do and wanting to build something here so you take that risk.

C2C has been a good way for US artists to bring their music to the UK and test the waters. Is it something you would consider doing again?

Oh yeah! For sure. I hope I get asked back.

Kip kicks off his UK and Ireland tour tomorrow night in Dublin. Watch the music video for Running For You below:

Pip Ellwood-Hughes
Pip Ellwood-Hughes
Pip is the Editor of Entertainment Focus and the Managing Director of agency Piñata Media.

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