Like many artists, Kip Moore moved to Nashville with dreams of musical success. Eight years of dues-paying later — including breaks co-writing songs for other artists like Thompson Square and Jake Owen — Moore has notched two No. 1 country songs, “Beer Money” and “Somethin’ ’Bout a Truck” from “Up All Night,” the best-selling country debut album of 2012. A third single, “Hey Pretty Girl,” is currently working its way up the charts.
We chatted with the Georgia native by phone from New York City, where he was still buzzing over the fact that he sold out his Boston show at the House of Blues on Saturday in 20 minutes. “It was pretty fast, which was a pretty humbling thing. I’m so excited to come back.”
Q. “Hey Pretty Girl” is at No. 30 and rising, making you three-for-three on hits from your first album. Are you surprised that it’s gone so well right out of the gate?
A. I actually feel like this is one of the best songs on the record, one of the ones I believed in the most. So, I’m not surprised because I believed in myself for a long, long time. I’m humbled and I’m grateful but I really believed in this record and I’m just glad people are getting a chance to share it. I’m a little surprised at how quickly things are moving but I’m not surprised this song is resonating with people.
Q. You came up the old-fashioned way, logging a lot of miles touring. Is this new fast pace a weird, but welcome, change?
‘I felt like I kept my musical integrity throughout the whole process and that’s why I’m blown away that it’s working. I didn’t have to compromise one bit and I won’t, I never will.’
A. Oh yeah. For so many years me and the band would tour in a 12-passenger van for a year, taking turns driving nine-hour shifts and playing these dive clubs where nobody gave a [expletive] about us being there and just trying to win five fans. I would sing so damn loud, I was going to make you turn around and listen to me regardless of whether you were watching the game on TV or not. We tried to play every show like it was the last time we were getting to play. And then all of the sudden, things started looking up. It’s been a true blessing for sure.
Q. You co-wrote all of the tunes on “Up All Night,” which is rare for a debut album for a country artist in Nashville. Was that much of a fight with your record label?
A. It was not a fight at all, to be honest. My publisher is Brett James, who is one of the biggest songwriters in the world, and the label, they’ve been so adamant about loving my songwriting for such a long time that they pushed for all my songs. I was actually open to other stuff, but they loved what I was doing so much that we went with what I was doing.
Q. While you’re considered a country artist, your big influences were more in the heartland rocker and singer-songwriter tradition, right?
A. Yeah, those are my heroes. The guys that I studied were Kris Kristofferson, Jackson Browne, Willie Nelson, Bob Seger, Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan. The singer-songwriter thing has been my thing for a while. I can’t wait until people hear this next record.
Q. Contemporary Nashville country pop-rock has a certain sheen to it. Although “Up All Night” certainly has some of that, it also seems like on some of the album cuts you were given a longer leash to stretch production-wise as well.
A. Yeah, I take heavy pride in that. That’s me tinkering around for years with guitar sounds in the studio and just trying to capture something different musically the best I could, the way I hear it, and not worrying about “Well, is this a Nashville sound?” I heard it the way I heard it and played the licks the way I heard ’em and this came out.
Q. In talking about the creative process, artists often say just that, that when they decide to stop second-guessing what their producer, record label, or fans want, they make the best music. But that doesn’t always translate into commercial success. You must be gratified to have gotten both.
A. I am, because I felt like I kept my musical integrity throughout the whole process and that’s why I’m blown away that it’s working. I didn’t have to compromise one bit and I won’t, I never will. And I’m ecstatic that I’m getting to do it my way and it’s working.
Q. You moved to Nashville on Jan. 1, 2004. Was this type of success what you were imagining as you drove into town?
A. Oh yeah. Everything that’s happening now is what I envisioned a long time ago. You have to see it first and I kept envisioning the whole thing in my head. It’s finally coming to fruition.
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