Last June, Kip Moore was promoting a new single and expecting a fall release date for his second album. The song, "Dirt Road," had more to it than the title suggests, telling the story of a Southern kid who begins to reject the message his preacher sends down from the pulpit. Moore had been proud of the tune's loud guitars and slyly subversive message, but when radio barely played it, the subsequent LP was pushed back into 2015. Rather than cross off days on his calendar, the Georgia singer wrote and recorded an entirely new collection of tracks.
"Because of 'Dirt Road' stalling and me having more time than I thought, I scrapped the record and started over," Moore told Rolling Stone Country backstage at New York's inaugural Farmborough Festival. "The record was supposed to come out a year ago, and that stalled. And because I never stopped writing, my writing morphed into a whole 'nother thing. I liked where the body of work was going, so I decided to make that the record."
The result, Wild Ones, is now set for an August 21st release. Moore is cautious not to reveal too much, but he twice compares listening to the LP with going on a journey. "This was a very organic record," he says. "I just let the songs come to me. I didn't force anything, and it just kind of molded into a certain kind of thing. I think that it's gonna make you feel something, and that's all I can say."
The Wild Ones journey won't include "Dirt Road," but not because Moore has moved on: "I love that song and that's a big song with our fan base. You can still get it on iTunes. I just decided, 'You know what, I'm gonna open up a slot for a song nobody's heard.'"
Farmborough became the perfect place for the singer to test this new material: Though the festival drew a cross-section of country music fans, his strong Northeast following was well represented. Moore still isn't sure why the region quickly embraced him, but he suggests two possibilities: his Springsteen-influenced songs and Springsteen-sweaty live shows,
"The people are so kind to me here, and they really latched on to our band," he says. "We've been grinding in the club scene for years up here. We developed a true underground following. I don't know if it's the style of music we play. I don't know if it's because of the blue-collar lifestyle up here that they relate to me and the band. I want to feel like it's the intensity and passion we play with each and every night — that's my hope."
According to Moore, this intensity has attracted crowds that are not only growing but becoming more diverse; he likes festivals because they bring in "a sea of different walks of life." "I'm definitely seeing a massive, eclectic background at my shows," he says. "I'm not sure why that is, but I love it. I love seeing different races in my crowd."
In August of 2012, a little more than three months after the release of his debut album, Up All Night, Moore headlined a show at the 575-capacity Bowery Ballroom downtown. Even then, he was so moved by these crowds that he wrote and performed a new song about their hometown. Asked what had inspired this sentimental one-off, he attempts to describe a feeling he only gets in New York.
"There was such an electricity in the show, in the city, it made me feel 10 feet tall for so many hours," he remembers. "Then I get back to my hotel room and I was just starring out to the abyss — how big and massive that place is — and I never felt so alone in my entire life. The city has this way of holding you up and at the same time making you feel so small."