When a photo showed up on social media of Kip Moore holding what appeared to be joint, the "I'm to Blame" singer wasn't mad at the fan who posted it — he was upset by the people who were asking him to take it down.
"I got some texts and calls that this might not be a good look, and that I might want to be careful about this," Moore tells Rolling Stone Country. "And basically, I said, 'First of all, it's not a joint. But if it were, I probably would have taken a toke of it.' I never want to hide who I am."
The incident inspired his new song "That's Alright With Me" (streaming exclusively on Rolling Stone Country below), from Moore's second record Wild Ones, out August 21st. Set to a swampy vamp that taps into his unique blend of heartland rock and blue-collar twang, it's an anthem about living life according to your own rules — not convenient stereotypes. It's a motto, too, that guided the entire course of Wild Ones: after scrapping his first set of tracks, Moore didn't veer more toward the central pulse of modern country radio, looking for an easy fix. Instead, he focused on a record that's inspired as much by Bruce Springsteen and Ray Charles as Willie Nelson, and showcases loud whirls of guitar and distinct, boogie baselines instead of smooth, Auto-Tuned production.
"Call me country/call me hippie/the wildcat from Dixie," Moore sings on "That's Alright With Me," co-written by frequent collaborator Dan Couch and "quirky bird" Luke Dick, in a voice that's deeply gravelly without fragility — it bends instead of breaks. "And if you do or don't like what you see/hell, that's alright with me." Mixing his roughhewn twang, a crash of symbols and an Ed King-era Lynyrd Skynyrd lick, it's equal parts country and rock & roll. But Moore couldn't care less about genre talk.
"People are like, 'This ain't country, or you ain't country if you're surfing," says Georgia-native Moore, who once lived in Hawaii and still heads out on his shortboard when he gets a moment on the coast. "I grew up in the sticks, fishing nonstop, and it's like, 'Well, what's the code you have to live by? Who said I can't learn to surf or broaden my horizons.' You can call me country, you can call me whatever you want. I could give a shit what anybody thinks or calls me."
True to form, last night in Nashville Moore debuted some of Wild Ones' key tracks — in a rock club, the Basement East, on the opposite side of the river from Music Row. It's the same venue where Ashley Monroe bucked convention last month and played an intimate gig, bringing friends like Miranda Lambert onstage. With a stripped-down band and perched on a stool, Moore barreled through songs like "Magic," alternating between sips of beer and water, and putting down his guitar to introduce "That's Alright With Me."
"People say you can't talk about left-handed cigarettes in country music," Moore told the crowd. "Well, I say you can."