Kip Moore may be proud of the fact that he's a Georgia boy through and through, but on a recent trip to the midwest to play Michigan's Faster Horses Festival, the country singer admits he has a soft spot for the Midwest. "I love the fact that we’re playing a country music festival in Michigan," he smiles. "We just played Detroit maybe four or five months ago, one of our headliner shows, and it was chaos."
"You know, country -- it’s everywhere," he points out. "It’s not just a southern thing. That’s a huge misconception. There are rabid fans around here just as much as there are down south!"
That said, Moore is certainly happy to help satisfy those looking for good country tunes, no matter where those fans may hang their cowboy hats. He's poised to release the follow-up to his hit debut, 2012's Up All Night, and is feeling a tad rabid himself to get the music out.
"Impatience about the new record coming out is not even the a good word to describe what I am at this point. I’ve worked so hard over the last year and a half to get this thing out to my fans," he explains.
One thing he's not letting himself be worried about is whether his new material will measure up to his wildly successful Up All Night, which marked the best-selling debut album by a male artist in 2012. "I think it’s natural to be apprehensive about how people are going to react to your sophomore record, especially when your first one was a success," he admits. "But I try, anytime I start feeling that way, I try not to allow myself to go there.
Moore feels that he's managed to reach a deeper emotional place with his new work. "I was honest on the first record but this one is a little more in the present; in the moment, And a lot more vulnerable than the first record was," he says. "I feel like if you’re in-tune with yourself and your life is changing, then your music should be changing. And it’s just evolved into a more intense thing for me and a much more in-the-moment present deal for me.
"The first record was a very nostalgic, looking-back record if you got past 'Truck' and 'Beer Money,'" he continues. "And it was a very moody, vibe-y, mellow record. This is just a little more intense, gritty record. All those years of working on demos and records in the studio and figuring out what sound you want, you just evolve. I don’t want to make the same record over and over.
"So, it’s still me, and it’s just a transformation, you know, from the first. But it still has colors and layers of the first record. It’s just a little more in-your-face than the first one was.
One song that some found particularly stark is the confessional "Dirt Road," which draws from Moore's Baptist upbringing and which several listeners construed as being critical of religion. Moore explains that's not the case at all; he was simply trying to capture the way he felt when he was younger and having questions about faith, as most people do at one time or another.
"People in such a politically correct society take everything you say, ane they really wanna hammer you for it. It was never meant to be a literal song," Moore asserts. "It was much more about the verses, and the angst and frustration that I felt as a young teen in a small, southern Baptist town, and dealing with hellfire and damnation every single Sunday.
"When you’re that age, you don’t like anybody telling you what to do, and you wanna lash out, and you wanna fight back. And that’s what the song was capturing, I had my own faith and I had my own beliefs."
Controversial or not, the song resounded immediately with fans. "The reason we even put it out is because it was a big underground hit with our fans," Moore says. "They loved it ... I felt like people were drawn to it."
Moore not only is at peace with his faith, he's at a complete state of peace regarding his music in general. "I believe in what I’ve done, I believe in this new music. And it might not be received at first, because they have something to compare it to, but if they live with this record, I just simply believe it’s better than the first record."
After all, as he sagely notes: "I know what my fans want out of me and I know what I want to do."