Kip Moore is comfortable with taking risks. He was once a surf bum, living cheap in Hawaii, then he decided to dive into music and move to Nashville. Three hit songs and a Top 5 title on the Billboard country albums chart later, and he’s still not done.
“I think getting what you want musically, you’re always struggling, trying to find what it is you want to say,” he tells CMT.com. “I always had these thoughts in my head and I had these sounds, and it takes getting better and better at your craft to figure out how to do it. It takes years and years of going into studios and recording something wrong to figure out how to get it right.”
His debut album, Up All Night, got it right, and so did “Somethin’ ’Bout a Truck,” “Beer Money” and “Hey Pretty Girl.” He’ll no doubt apply that same philosophy to CMT on Tour 2014: Up in Smoke , which kicks off Thursday (Sept. 25) at Best Buy Theater in the heart of New York City.
In this interview about the tour, Moore talks about seeing his hard work pay off, what kind of performer he wants to be and even lets a few traces of excitement escape his naturally even-keeled composure.
CMT: When you were just starting to get serious about music, what did you imagine this moment would be like? How does it feel to know you’re headlining your own tour?
Moore: When I set out to do this thing years and years and years ago — when we were playing in the crummy little bars all over the country — I always told the guys, who are still with me now, “Stick with me, I’m going to help get us there. We’re all in it together, just trust me on this.”
I had this vision of the exact kind of music I wanted to do and how I wanted to go about doing it, and I always envisioned us playing these big, huge rooms with people singing all the songs that we slaved over. So to be having our first major tour, it means all the hard work over all the years has led to this moment.
You’ve said you’re planning on performing the new music from your upcoming album. Do you like playing songs that people haven’t heard yet?
I do. I enjoy playing something that I wrote that very morning and I’ll play it that night. I like to see people’s reaction. You gotta be able to feel your crowd out. You can’t just pull it out. You gotta be feeling if you have them in your hand at that moment. But I love trying out new material. It keeps me on the edge of my seat as an artist and a writer, too. When I don’t quite know something great yet, but I’m trying to get through it, I like that feeling. It makes my heart race a little bit.
What artist do you look up to as stage performers?
(Bruce) Springsteen. Everything about that guy is magnetic onstage. I think Miranda (Lambert) is very magnetic onstage. The thing about the two of those artists, their heart and soul is completely in it. There’s no facade about it. A lot of people, you can tell they’re going through the motions and they’re going through their whole routine and acting like they’re into it. Those two artists really feel what they’re doing, and that’s what I’m drawn to as a fan when I’m watching people play. That’s what I want people to be drawn to with us.
What do you think kicking off the tour in New York City says about country music right now?
Country music has broadened a crazy amount. There’s all kind of walks of life. Especially if you come to one of our shows, it’s a very diverse crowd. It’s been thriving for a long time — it’s nothing new — but to be able to do it in the heart of New York City and be able to have fans come in from all around, that’s a special thing.
What have you taken away from fans in New York City in the past?
We played Webster Hall and the Bowery Ballroom and what I took away from both those crowds was the respect for what we were doing. They were so in the moment. When we dropped it down and did our quiet stuff, it was like the room just went to a hush. Some of my most diehard fans are in the Northeast.
Have you gotten to know your tourmates? What made you want to bring Charlie Worsham and Sam Hunt out with you?
Charlie has become a friend of mine recently. The craft of the writing on Charlie’s record is what I was so drawn to. I’m just such a fan of that record and the way Charlie delivers it, and that’s why I wanted to bring Charlie out. And Sam, Sam’s all soul. I’m a big Motown fan, and you can hear colors of that on his stuff. That’s why I wanted Sam to come out. We’re all polar opposites, and it’s going to make for a good tour.