The Huffington Post: A Conversation with Kip Moore
A Conversation with Kip Moore
Mike Ragogna: Kip, your new album is titled Drive Me Crazy and you're driving like crazy on your tour right now.
Kip Moore: Since March, and it's just now winding down. At one point in the last three months, I have seen my house only five or six days. It's pretty extensive and it's beating me up pretty bad, but it's what it takes trying to get as many people as we can. This is what it takes in these beginning stages trying to get as many people to hear what we're doing.
MR: Well, it seems that the press and gossip about Kip Moore is pretty good so far.
KM: I hope that's the case, Michael. It's feeling good, man. We're seeing more and more people coming from long hauls just to see the opening set. In some parts of the country, there is a cool, underground scene happening, and it's cool.
MR: You're from Georgia, right?
KM: Yeah. Tifton, Georgia.
MR: And you came into music not only through the country genre. Can we talk about some of your influences and also your talented family?
KM: My mom was an amazing piano player, she played organ in the church. Then she decided to quite and teach piano lessons at the house, so there were always people coming in and out. She was a dour Christian woman, at the same time she was a fanatic for Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings, these outlaw country guys; it was pretty crazy. She had a really cool side to her. When she would take us on these long trips to Mississippi to see my grandparents, she would wear out these Red Headed Stranger records. My dad was totally on the rock 'n' roll side. We would go fishing and drive to the gulf and he would play Springsteen, Jackson Browne and Bob Seeger. It was that stuff over and over. I had a love for both. I definitely felt like Springsteen and those guys had such a huge impact on my songwriting and the way I looked at things.
MR: Let's get into that because this mix of influences was pretty obvious on your single "Marry Was A Marrying Kind." Your style is a mix of country and genuine rock making you an anomaly in country music right now. And if you were paid by the word, you would be a millionaire.
KM: Thank you man, I really appreciate that. We really worked hard on trying to create something really unique. I'm just so anxious for people to get into the depth of the rest of this album, like "Crazy One More Time" and "Hey Pretty Girl" and songs that I'm really proud of. I think it's going to make people feel something, and that's what listening to those old records did to me. They move me and they make me feel something, and I really want to bring that to people. So many times, we just hear songs and it's a formula and it's a song, but I really want to get to move people and it might be different for each person.
MR: And with a song like "Somethin' 'Bout A Truck," you do broaden your audience.
KM: I'm getting a lot of posts on my Facebook and Twitter saying, "I don't like country, but I'm loving this"...it's a neat thing to see. I wrote that song with Dan Couch, we wrote most of the record, and we've got five or six cuts on that record together. We had already gotten done writing a song and he was about to walk out the door. We had just got done talking about when my dad let me hold that truck, how I had this little beat up car and I was hanging out with girls who didn't seem too into me, then I picked her up in that truck and picked up a whole other woman. I threw the keys to my dad when I came home and said, "Damn dad, there's something about a truck." Right when I said that, he was walking out the door and said, "We've got to write that right now." It was about five o' clock and (Dan) had to be home, and he called his wife and told her we had to write something else. We sat there for another few hours and that's what came out.
MR: What's also great about "...Truck" are the different levels of meaning you can go to with that song.
KM: Yeah, that was a fun day in the room where we just kept playing with each verse and building it. The beauty of writing with someone like Dan is that there are great songwriters in this town, and I would never discredit any of them, but sometimes, the guys that are so used to getting cuts have this formula. They stick to this formula really tight, and if I had been in the studio with a big songwriter, they would have been scared about the way we did four verses before we hit the chorus. With a guy like Dan, he trusts me, and he was like, "Yeah man, lets do something different." So, we just kept playing off the words and it's the way we went with it.
MR: You also have to give MCA a pat on the back for allowing you to do a record like that.
KM: I can't stress that enough, what you just touched on. Luke Lewis, who's the president of the label, I've grown to love this dude. He's the coolest cat, and he's an old school guy. When we went to make this record, he sat me down and with his staff, he said, "Man, I love what you do. I love your demos and I love how you approach this whole thing. You go make the record you want to make. Cut the songs you want to cut, and hell, I'll let you pick the first single." I can't think of anybody else that would have done this with a brand new artist.
MR: Yeah, Luke is very intuitive about records, and Lost Highway has been built around some of his greatest risks. So, you also crossed paths with Scott Stepakoff, Westin Davis, and Keifer Thompson.
KM: Me and Keifer used to write constantly together. We wrote for three years before he got his record deal for Thompson Square. We would talk each other off the ledge, and we would constantly be saying, "Man, I don't know if this is going to happen for us." We kept each other's spirits up, and we both found it at about the same time, which was a neat thing.
MR: It's nice that you have both a crew and a support system.
KM: It's great and all of us came up together. I've got to give it to my boss Brett James, who's one of the biggest songwriters in the world. He's a star. He could see what we were doing was a unique thing, and he didn't try to put me in the room with big time songwriters. He said, "I love what you guys are doing, and I want you to keep doing that." When I said I didn't want to go write with these big writers, he understood, and we kept this little nucleus like that in the office.
MR: You've been songwriting for a while, yet this is your debut album.
KM: I'm new to the listener, lets put it that way. I've been in town for nine years, and even before that, I was playing the bar band scene in South Georgia for a long time.
MR: You also were playing as a Point Guard for Wallace State.
KM: Yeah, I love Basketball, it was my first love even before I started playing music. I did that until I was 20 years old. I still love to play. I love basketball.
MR: Do you find yourself doing a little one on one on the road?
KM: Yeah, I've been hearing about how good Tim McGraw is, I'm anxious to do a little trash talking to him one day on the road. We're going to have to wheel out the goals, and I'm going to have to put some tight lock defense on him. (laughs)
MR: Putting the tight lock defense on him for some charity game, right?
KM: (laughs) Exactly.
MR: Let's talk about the song "Mary Was The Marrying Kind." It's a lyrical gem, can you go into the story of that one?
KM: Yeah, Dan Couch and I were in the room with Scott Stepakoff one day, and we had been banging around on that rhythm. I had that opening riff the whole day, and we probably wrote five songs over that before it came out. Throughout the day, I had mentioned that I went home and ran into a girl I haven't seen in six or seven years, who I went to high school with. In High School, she was one of those girls that just slipped through the cracks. You would see her go through the hall and you never really noticed her. She always hid her head down and was mild-mannered and meek. Then, fast forward six years later to a party I was at when I was back home, she was amazing. Not only was she beautiful but she was smart, funny, charming, and witty. She had grown into her figure and she became confident, and had a great job. There was such a charisma about her, and I really wanted to kick myself in the ass for not noticing that at that age, along with all of my other friends. I think that's just part of growing up.
MR: Sometimes gratitude and things like that slip by.
KM: You look at different things when you're younger.
MR: And it seems Kip Moore played the Grand Ole Opry.
KM: I did and it was a pretty special experience.
MR: What was it like?
KM: It was me, Little Big Town, Keith Urban, it was an eclectic bunch. When I first moved to town, the Grand Ole Opry was one of the first places I went to within two weeks of being there. I moved to town by myself, I didn't know anybody. I was sitting in the back with an usher named Goldie, an older woman, and we got to cracking up, she was really funny. Towards the end of the night, I told Goldie that one day, I was going to play on this stage. She laughed and she said, "Sure you are." When I got to finally step on that stage--and they have that old piece of the original Opry where you stand--you could feel the presence which was eerie and it was intimidating, nerve wracking, and it was so many things all in one. When I walked out, people still didn't really know me yet, and it was kind of dead silence. You get such a humbling feeling from who's been there before you. I haven't been nervous playing a gig in a long time, and that got my blood pumping really hard.
MR: You've now become part of a great country tradition by playing there.
KM: They have all of the pictures on the wall of everybody who's been in the room you've been in. They have all of that kind of stuff. I'm a music buff, I grew up listening to all kinds of music, and I have such an appreciation for it. Just to get the chance to play there was an honor.
MR: Speaking about honor, you must feel honored that at some point, Robert Oermann said he'd been looking for the link between rock, singer-songwriter and country, and apparently, it's you.
KM: Man, I read that article and I had a great time hanging with Robert, but I had no idea he was going to say something like that about me after he got my record. I didn't even know what to say, I've seen him also say the opposite to people. (laughs) I've seen the other side of the articles where it's been pretty brutally honest. I didn't know what he was going to say, but it was flattering. I was completely humbled by what he said about my record.
MR: That's what you get with passionate people. They don't have filters so they just tell the truth.
KM: That's what I got from him. Even for how long he's been in this business, you get the sense the minute you sit with him how passionate he is about what he does, and how bad he wants to hear the music he wants to hear.
MR: Robert is awesome, absolutely. You also have the song "Drive Me Crazy," which kind of sets up the theme of the album.
KM: Yeah, "Drive Me Crazy" is about those teen years for me, and I'm sure so many others. You're so confused who you are and you're trying to figure yourself out. I just lost my dad recently, and looking back--I was talking to my brother last night--in my teen years, I can remember so many times where we would argue and I would butt heads with him, but all he was trying to do was talk to me. I was so stubborn and stuck in my own ways that I couldn't see that at the time. I wish I could go back and mend that whole thing. That's what that song means to me when I wrote it. It might come across as something different to somebody else, but for me, it's about two teens who find refuge in each other. That was what it was with me and this girl. She had to grow up fast and pay the bills and take care of her family at an early age. I was just always angry about certain stuff, trying to figure my own self out. When we got together it was one big fire, we released all of our frustration and we talked about life. That's what we had for each other, we were each other's refuge and release point.
MR: I want to ask you about a couple of these "intros" to your songs. They seem to be a part of the song and yet separate.
KM: We had that on almost all of them, but we had to cut some out because we thought we were getting a little too crazy on it. I felt when people used to buy records, it was an experience, it was an all day event, at least it was for me. I know that times have changed, but I wanted to try to make it possible as much as I could, at least the first time around when you heard this record. So, we made these long intros and these vibe setups to the songs.
MR: What songs are your favorite and what are the stories behind them?
KM: For me, "Hey Pretty Girl" was one of the most special tracks on the record. For me, I've been rambling now for a long time and I've moved a lot of different places by myself. I lived in Hawaii for a long time in this little hut, surfed all of the time, backpacked and worked little odd jobs, then I moved to Nashville. With me spending that much time by myself and coming from a big family, it made me that way. I desired to get my own time because there were so many people trying to get a word in, I kind of grew up that way. With the job I have now, I'm always on the go, always on the run, and settling down is not really in the cards right now. I do know myself enough though to know that I'm going to desire. I think that's how we're all made, and it's how we were all created. You want to go through life with somebody at some point and have somebody to lean on. That's what I was thinking the day I wrote "Hey Pretty Girl." It's one of those things for me that's more of an idealistic standpoint--that one day, this is how I hope to feel about somebody, and this is the way I like to go through life with somebody.
MR: And there's "Still Growing Up." Do you feel like you're still growing up at 31?
KM: Man, I might still be growing up by the time I'm 50. I'm still figuring it all out and having a good time.
MR: I think the concept of growing up and becoming an adult doesn't really exist anymore.
KM: I want to always have that youthful spirit about me, I think that's the only way to go through life. I hope I never have to lose that.
MR: We talked about your dad earlier, and as we've been talking, I've been reflecting about it. From his end, having loved you as he did, it was probably the same thing going on, maybe some frustration with the events not the son.
KM: I'm sure it was. We never really talked about it, I got along with him as a kid too. I just had a lot of moments where we really clashed. As I got older, I learned to accept how he was and I learned to just diffuse it if we began to clash. I would make a joke, we would laugh, and everything would be fine. We got super close as we got older, we all did. We learned to appreciate who he was so much. He was a rough and rugged and a very blunt man. He said what was on his mind; as a kid, sometimes that's hard to take. As I got older, I learned to appreciate that. There was also an understood thing. I knew that he cared about me and I knew he wanted the best for me.
MR: When you're a father, you feel like you have to be rough with your boys a little. Also kids idolize their parents so much, that when they start growing up, they realize that they have faults too, and it's sometimes hard to cope with.
KM: You're so right. I'm very fortunate to have a dad like him for as long as I did. He molded me to the man I am now, so I'm thankful for him.
MR: Can you go into "Still Growing Up" a little more?
KM: Earlier, we were talking about how I don't want to lose that youthful spirit. This also being my debut record, I need to let some people in to me growing up, also letting people in on my life a little bit. I wanted to make it pretty true to me growing up as a kid, not being scared to even be a little offensive to people. I get so tired about how now, people get so politically correct that they say, 'He can't say that in a song." Even if you mention you had a couple of beers in a field somewhere, they say you can't say that in a song. I think, "Why," because that's the way teenagers grow up. You sneak a couple of beers or whatever, that's part of the growing up process, we do dumb things as kids.
MR: That gets folks in trouble sometimes, telling the truth like you did.
KM: Yeah, I'm going to be hurting some people's ears with that song. They're going to try and cover their kid's ears up. I just wanted to write a record that was true to me and I didn't really factor in if it was going to bother somebody. I wanted to say this is the music I want to do, and hoping that there is a crowd that will like it.
MR: Can we talk about one last song, "Faith When I Fall"?
KM: It was one of the songs where I had been in town eight and a half years before I was offered a record deal, I was a songwriter before I got the record deal. You're used to getting your teeth kicked in around town forever, it's a hard road. I lived in a lot of dumps. It's been a hard road to get to this point, and I'm still climbing, but I wrote this song the day after I got offered this record deal by MCA and it was an emotional day for me. Knowing my personality, I got to that point, and I was wanting to get to the next point. That's what the song is about, it's about having faith in whatever you're doing in life, just having faith and believing you're going to get to the next place.
MR: What advice do you have for new artists?
KM: Don't let anybody tell you "no." That's my advice, and stick to your guns, and hold yourself to the highest standard you can possibly hold yourself and people will take notice.
MR: Is there one thing we need to know about Kip Moore?
KM: I'm a huge advocate for wine. I love wine. Lets go with that.
MR: (laughs) Okay, and thanks so much, Kip. All the best.
KM: Thank you, Michael.
1 Drive Me Crazy
2 Mary Was the Marrying Kind
3 Somethin' 'Bout A Truck
4 Up All Night
5 Crazy One More Time
6 Everything But You (Intro)
7 Everything But You
8 Still Growin' Up
9 Hey Pretty Girl
11 Where You Are Tonight
12 Faith When I Fall (Intro)
13 Faith When I Fall
By - Mike Ragogna