Campfire Tales: Kip Moore interviewed
US country music is trying its damnedest to break through in a big way in the UK. The acts at the forefront of that are some of the hardest working in music; relentless touring in their home country has helped many acts there and those same acts are now bringing that attitude here. Live shows gain fans.
“I hit a bump in the road on radio and I wasn’t really played much in the last year but the fans stuck with me; radio helped me explode but we built somethin’ really solid as a band long before anybody heard us on the radio.” Kip Moore is a man who takes his fans seriously as his promise to “sign until everybody’s done” at his recent slot at the O2 for C2C Country To Country showed.
@KipMooreMusic is probably the nicest guy in country music! This is the queue waiting for his autograph #C2C2015 pic.twitter.com/RZdq7gI3lA— Judi Burger (@judiburger) March 8, 2015
The Georgian country singer released his debut Up All Night in the US back in 2012 but it’s only recently seen the light of day on this side of the Atlantic. His whirlwind tour of Europe (“I’ve been doing press all day so I haven’t experienced much of the UK yet. I’m pretty worn out but I’m gonna try [to get out and see London]") has taken him through Scandinavia, Scotland, and Ireland with the travelling C2C festival. Though the promotional trail and touring the record has been hard work (“I haven’t been home in three years,” he laughs) it’s something that Moore is totally happy to do. “I’m experiencing true freedom. People see that word and think it sounds like a simple thing. I’m talkin’ about the freedom that’s so elusive to most people. I’m livin’ life by my terms, doing exactly what I want to do with my life. That’s freedom to me and it’s changed my life for the better; some things that I’m able to do behind the scenes for people that nobody knows about, it’s been an amazing thing. I’ve been able to help people in ways I’ve always dreamed of doing but now I’m gettin to do that because the fans and radio have given me this amazing life.”
During TMF’s chat with Moore he sounds like a man who is “constantly zapped” and “jumpin’ on planes, takin’ red eyes all over the place” but he’s always engaging and aware that musicians moaning about their life is not what fans want to hear. “I’ve worked other full time jobs and I’ve done the 9-5 thing too.” The conversation is peppered with mentions of his fans and US country radio, and at a time when Aaron Watson and Blackberry Smoke have hit the top of the country album charts with zero support from US country radio, it’s interesting to hear the 34 year old's take on fans on the ground vs radio airplay. “They go hand in hand, you gotta be doin’ both. You can’t do one without the other. You can have a sustainable career if you’re not super successful at radio but to get to that next level you’ve got to have that.” It’s a part of the American psyche to aim for the stars, live the American dream, and Moore has a drive to succeed. “Radio’s a huge part of what we do and I thank ‘em for it. There’s been times where I’ve been really successful at radio and there’s been times that I haven’t. But I’m still grateful for ‘em, they play my music in places that it might not be gettin’ heard.”
But it’s the fans that are at the heart of every subject Moore talks about. “You have to be building a solid fanbase that has a root structure. They’re not brittle roots and they’re not going to break and they’re gonna be strong for ya. That’s the kinda roots you have to have, and that's from out there road doggin’ and doing somethin’ that the fans feel is special and worthy to hold on to. You can play a million shows but if fans aren’t connectin’ with ya you’re not gonna build a fanbase. Blackberry Smoke are obviously doin’ somethin’ very right as they’re building a true and solid fanbase.” And as proven at the London show the Georgian is happy to go the extra mile. “Man, I’ve signed after almost every show, I’ve probably signed after 85% of my shows in my whole career, where sometimes it takes me three hours.” But it’s something he doesn’t think will last forever “It’s very hard on me, wears me out, as far as travellin’ and playin’ shows. When I could be goin’ and restin’ I’m out there for three or more hours, puttin’ me in the bed at 2 or 3 o'clock in the morning then I’m waking up at 8am to do radio, so it’s taxing on me but I appreciate them so much I want to show them.”
And finally making it to the UK (“It’s been amazing. I’ve been trying to get this album over here for the longest time”) means that Up All Night feels re-energised “It feels like we’re playing this record for the first time again, it’s been an invigorating thing, it’s energised us as a band; tryin’ to win new fans over, to show what we’re about, the album’s taken on a whole other life for us.” Even three years on it still holds up for its creator. “It’s still true to me and it’s definitely true to where I was at that stage of my life. I’ll always be changing and evolving as a person and as a musician, that album represents where I was at that particular time in my life.”
There is a second record on the way though and it might be a bit of a surprise. “The next record’s gonna be a whole lot different for sure. I’ll never make the same record twice.” Current single ‘I’m To Blame’ has a harder edge and more direct lyrics than previously. “It’s a very in your face aggressive thing of 'this is who I am'. I always feel like I’ve got a backbone and I feel like if I’ve messed up, and I’ll apologise if I need to and if I don't I won’t. I’m quick to point the finger at myself when I feel that nobody wants to do that in today's society, everybody wants to be politically correct, everybody wants to be accepted when I’m like, I don’t need to be accepted, I’m fine, you know. This is who I am and this is the way it’s gonna be.”
So what is he looking forward to most? “Just being immersed in the culture of the people man. I’ve had a blast gettin’ to know some of the people so far. Finally get a chance to get in front of them and play your original music and see how they respond, that’s what you dream about. To be surrounded by people that are passionate like you are that what I’m lookin’ forward to is to step on that stage and showing them myself, you know, you’re showing them a piece of yourself when you walk out there and you play that music.” And the reaction on social media to his appearance at C2C confirmed that he is well on the road to building those strong roots in the UK too.
Got the @KipMooreMusic album on repeat in the car after #C2C2015 ! Come back to the UK, Kip!— Natalie Carr (@natfrog5) March 12, 2015
Still gobsmacked that @KipMooreMusic stayed hours after his set at @C2Cfestival to meet n greet every single fan! Legend! Respect! #C2C2015— Lisamarie Bond (@BondLisamarie) March 10, 2015
After seeing @KipMooreMusic at #C2C2015 bought 'Up All Night' today, what a great album. Can see me playing it in my car non-stop— Andrew Blandford (@ZackNova) March 10, 2015