Adventure man Kip Moore has never been the kind of person to play it safe with his music or his travels.
He once swam across a channel of alligators to catch good surf in Central America. He’s gone head-to-head with a raging bull, and earlier this year, he attempted to scale vertical cliffs in Iceland.
“That was pretty dumb,” Moore told CMT.com of his Icelandic adventure. “There were a couple of slips that we had that could have been detrimental. But we wanted to see what was at the top of certain canyons, and that was the only way to get there. So we went for it.”
When CMT.com caught up with Moore in fall 2016 to talk about his Underground EP, he said artists have two choices: play it safe with the music they make or evolve to offer fans music that speaks to their souls with every note.
That’s what fans love most about Moore. It’s his willingness to push the envelope with the subject matter he sings about, and it’s the way he expresses what’s on his mind that draws sold-out audiences around the world.
But out of all the risks he takes in music and his travels, one thing that he’s most careful with is his heart. The title of Moore’s third album Slowheart was inspired by an observation from his guitar player David Lapsley once made.
“He told me that I had a slow heart years ago,” Moore recalled “He said, ’It takes you a while to show your cards — to show your heart. You evaluate yourself before you make decisions, and you keep your feelings close to you.’
“He named me that, and then I named the band that. I just felt like the journey was such a slow, organic process to making this record that it just all made sense. It was all cohesive with the travels, with the pictures, with the making of the record. It was just time to call the record Slowheart.”
CMT.com: Are you ever afraid of disappointing your fan base with some of the risks you take musically?
Moore: I think that there’s always a slight fear when you make music — Are your true fans going to latch onto it the way they maybe latched onto the last thing? But that fear subsides with confidence once you start digging into the record. I know that’s how it was for me. I felt like I was in the midst of making something special.
They also gave me confidence with Wild Ones. It was kind of this underground cult record. It wasn’t as commercially successful as the first. But yet my fan base had gotten so big — even internationally — off that record. It gave me even that much more confidence in making this one.
Last fall, you said there was a muse that inspired some of the material. Did those songs end up in the final track listing?
I try not to touch too much on who the people are in my life. There’s definitely been people that inspire certain tracks. Once I step away from situations, relationships or friendships, whatever they may be, that’s when I try to evaluate how I feel, and how I want to grow from it. A lot of that’s when the music starts pouring out. It’s after the aftermath.
Why should fans pay attention to “Guitar Man?”
“Guitar Man” came from actually watching a guy in a bar, and it just took me back to being that guy for so many years. That’s how that song came about, was drawing from someone, remembering my life and the people that were a part of my life at that particular time.
I think that’s the most honest, autobiographical song. It displays all the vulnerabilities of what you’re feeling in the midst of chasing after a dream.
I definitely felt those insecurities into my late 20s, living in a garage apartment and barely making my rent while my other friends were building their 401Ks, having babies and houses with white picket fences. You have all those insecurities of feeling like a loser. But you still continue to dream and you fight. It kind of exposes all those elements.
Some of the songs hint of promiscuity. How do you get comfortable singing about that?
The ironic thing is, I’ve never been a promiscuous guy, but I’ve also never been a saint. I’m just not scared to call it like it is. “Fast Women” is not so much about being promiscuous as it is more about being OK with your own timeframe and not feeling rushed to do anything that you’re not ready for. It wasn’t necessarily about women. It was more about being okay with your own past.
“I’ve Been Around” is also not about that. It’s more about poking fun at my own life, the turns that it’s taken and those situations that I find myself in. Making fun of a guy like me drinking $1,000 bottles of wine. It’s not in a braggadocios sense. It’s more clowning on my own self. I find it humorous when I find myself in the social circles I’m in at times. It’s kind of comical to me.
Talk about “The Bull.” How has encountering people who have doubted you shaped who you are today?
The reason I put “The Bull” on this record is, I wouldn’t have put that song on the Up All Night record or the Wild Ones record because it wasn’t time for that song yet. It took going through getting that second record shelved and then having to make Wild Ones, and then that one being doubted, too. It took all that for “The Bull” to make sense to me, and to be on this record.
It’s a song about self-preservation, and getting kicked in the teeth, and always getting back up. When you do stand back up, you might have a middle finger for a few people that doubted you along the way.
On Sunday (Sept. 10), Moore and Tony Hawk hosted the Music City Skate Jam at Nashville’s Music City Walk of Fame Park. Proceeds will support Moore and Hawk’s respective non-profit initiatives, Kip’s Kids Fund and the Tony Hawk Foundation, which work to build skate parks in low-income communities.