Q&A: Catching Up With Justin Moore

Kinda Don’t Care Lands Aug. 12

A video production crew restages its set up as Justin Moore settles into an oversized chair at the day’s office, the three-story Johnny Cash house in East Nashville. It’s important to note the country legend never actually stayed there, but a few of paintings of his image hang on the wall.

But for a cozy $775 a night, fans can stay there through Air BnB. It’s a stunning home away from home with a wraparound porch on every level and a rooftop deck that overlooks the VinnyLinks Golf Course on the Cumberland River. The price includes a personal concierge, who is on call daily for all questions from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m.

Moore sits a coffee table away for our CMT.com interview to promote his new album Kinda Don’t Care. If he wasn’t on the job, he would be in San Antonio with his family. His wife Kate and their three daughters, Ella Kole, Kennedy Faye and Rebecca Klein, are in Texas for business with the Miss Arkansas organization.

The funny thing is, none of his girls are that big into pageants. Kate got involved a few years ago as a favor for a friend and stayed on board after seeing an opportunity to make a positive impact on the lives of young women.

“But they’re not pageant kids,” Moore says, “she’s not a pageant mom. That’s why it’s so random. I went to one last year, and I was the prize for one of the winners. And I’m like, ‘Y’all can’t get them nothing better than meeting me?’ But my kids are athletes, which I’m like, ‘Yes! Perfect!’ I can handle that.”

Moore is proud of his little athletes, who haven’t had a dull moment all summer with 25 softball games and a basketball camp.

“It’s just nonstop,” Moore says. “I coach their basketball team and helped a little bit with softball. My daughter asked me to coach softball next year, so I may be taking over that, too. It’s coach pitch softball six and under. My oldest is 6 now, and she’ll have one more year of it. And my middle daughter Ken, she played this year and she is hysterical. My oldest daughter is super serious and really good. She’s one of the best players on the team. Ken, she’s got a ways to go.”

CMT.com: Sounds like me. Growing up, I was out in the outfield picking daisies.

Moore: She was behind the plate catching and playing with dirt — just nonstop playing with dirt.

Maybe she should pursue a career in music. Speaking of, you’ve got a new album coming out. Talk about how it brings out the best in you as an artist.

I think I was pushed outside my comfort zone on this album, which is a good thing. Especially if you’ve been doing it for as long as I have. You have to continue to attempt to evolve. Some of the songs required me to sing better than I’ve ever sang. I’m hopeful that comes across. But it’s fun for me to challenge myself both from a vocal standpoint and challenged myself from a musicality standpoint to kind of diversify. I think that we did that on this album.

I noticed this collection is mostly songs written by other songwriters.

I wrote a ton of songs for this album, and over time, we just kept finding more songs I fell in love with. I’ve written 90 percent of the stuff I’ve recorded on the first three albums, and it wasn’t by design that I didn’t write nearly as many on this album. I just have always taken on the mentality of may the best song win. And I’m not going to try and write something I’m not comfortable writing when there are guys in this town that do it so much better than I do. I write super-traditional stuff, and I feel confident in my ability to compete in that arena. But the more modern stuff that we recorded for this album, I’m not as good as those guys are at that. So I fell in love with some of these songs.

Where is your creative space? You’re working all the time being a dad and a performer. When do you find time to create?

Somebody asked me earlier where my favorite place to write was. And it’s probably the beach. We have a house down there in Florida. There’s something about being there, I don’t stress about little things and I’m not worried about my phone. I like to create in places where there is less things going on and less things to worry about. That happens to be the beach for me for some reason.

We’re building a new house right now and I’m going to have an office that’s detached from the house. So maybe that could come in handy as far as that’s concerned because we kept having so many babies, I Iost my office at my last house. I haven’t had an office in a long time. Maybe that could be my office if we ever finish our freakin’ house. Who knows?

Do you have any dream amenities you would like in your new digs?

We’re building our house on the property that I grew up on. I bought it from my grandpa, so I’m really excited about that. It’s been in our family since the late 1800s. My grandfather bought it from his grandfather, who had the original abstract title. The only way I knew that is because he gave it to me. As far as the amenities go, I just want a bar. I want a real bar, and so we did a pool house that is a legitimate bar — like a 2,000-square-foot bar. And so I’m pretty stoked about that.

It sounds like being close to where you come from is a source of personal strength for you.

It is. I think it’s served me well in life and it’s helped me maintain values that I feel are important in life. In the same breath, I think that has helped me in my career to stay grounded. And I think it’s one of the reasons why we’ve been successful in our career. I think people recognize that, and that’s allowed us to record the music we have and have success with that. People know that it’s genuine. We’re not just playing a part.

It definitely translates in “Got It Good,” written by one of your producers Jeremy Stover with the Cadillac Three’s Jaren Johnston and Neil Mason.

That’s one of my wife’s favorite songs. I had told her on my last album when I let a song go and it became a hit for somebody else, that I would record the next one that she liked that I was on the fence about, which happened to be “Got It Good.” My producer co-wrote it, and he called me goes, “I need to know if you want to record this song because Keith Urban wants it because Nicole Kidman loves it.” And I go, “I’ll take it.” I’m not going to hear from my wife again, “Hey, you let this song go.” And so, yeah, I recorded that for Kate. She digs that. And she’s got a good ear.

She has had a lot of luck picking your singles with “Til My Last Day.”

She has. I wish she would get a job in A&R.

I definitely want to ask about “More Middle Fingers.” Talk about working with Brantley Gilbert. And when was the last time you wish you had more middle fingers?

Working with Brantley is great. We had a hit record a couple years ago on “Small Town Throwdown.” We’re on tour together, which has been a blast. And we really are very good friends and have been for a number of years. I think we’re always looking for an opportunity to work together. “More Middle Fingers” couldn’t be a more perfect song for the two of us. We actually recorded that together, which is a rarity. Most people probably don’t know that, but usually with duets, I record my part at one time and he’ll go in and record his later and vice versa. We actually did it facing each other in the same room at the same time, so I thought that was pretty cool. I think that probably contributed to the energy in the track. When’s the last time I wanted more middle fingers? Probably anytime I turn on the news, to be quite honest. It’s crazy right now. There’s a lot of people I’d like to give the middle finger to. But I won’t on record.

When songs like that comes on the car stereo, do you let your kids sing the words?

I don’t listen to my music really. I keep it kid-appropriate. But their favorite song on this new album is “Put Me in a Box.” It’s really cool. It literally doesn’t mean put me in a box. But it always makes me feel a little awkward that my 4-year-old and my 6-year-old are singing “Put Me in a Box.” I’m like that’s a little morbid. I don’t know about the cuss words. I’ll have to think about that one. I probably won’t let them. I’ll just turn me off when it gets to that point.

Lauren Tingle is a Tennessean and storyteller who eats music for breakfast, lunch and dinner. When she’s not writing or rocking out, she enjoys yoga and getting lost in the great outdoors.