As he prepares to hit the road, Justin Moore talks about family, touring, and his new single, “Somebody Else Will.”
From meeting Kenny Chesney in a Pottery Barn to later opening for him in concert, country star Justin Moore has come a long way, but he still sticks close to his humble Arkansas roots. After his whirlwind rise to fame, the father of four and his wife moved back to Arkansas to raise their three daughters and newborn son.
Now, after a short break and on the heels of last year’s album, Kinda Don’t Care, Moore is preparing for a new tour, Hell on a Highway, starting October 27 in Birmingham, Alabama. Joined by rising-star newcomer Dylan Scott, Moore promises that he will deliver new tunes, like his most recent single, “Somebody Else Will,” and old hits to give fans the best show possible.
Recently, Moore talked with C&I about his Hell on a Highway tour, balancing family life, his funny and Emmy-nominated skit on Jimmy Kimmel Live!, and his home state Arkansas.
Cowboys & Indians: What are you most excited about in your upcoming Hell on a Highway tour? Are there any places that you’re especially looking forward to playing?
Justin Moore: Any time we have the opportunity to do a headline tour, it’s exciting. Each one is a little different. We’re excited to have Dylan Scott out with us on this particular tour. He’s off to a really good start in his career, with his first record going No. 1.
We look forward to every stop on the tour. It would be difficult to say we’re excited about one place more than another. We’re looking forward to it, and it will be a great way to close out this year and start the next year.
C&I: What can fans expect in terms of the show? Will you be singing all of your new and old hits? Are there going to be any surprises?
Moore: At the beginning of this year, when we did the American Made tour, along with our buddy Lee Price, we put a new show together and actually put a whole lot of our older songs back in the set that we haven’t played in years and years. I think we’re going to stick with that because we’re playing different places on this tour than we played on the last one. We definitely are playing some stuff off the newest album obviously. We’ve listened to requests of the fans. We’re excited to be playing some stuff that we haven’t played in a few years, too.
C&I: What’s it like to have newcomer Dylan Scott join you?
Moore: We’re excited. I’m sure he’s enjoying a great start to his career and folks getting to know him. I think my first single went to 38. He’s had a better start than I did. I’m looking forward to getting to know him. I’m happy he’s going to be out there with us.
C&I: I read that you worked at Pottery Barn when you met Kenny Chesney and told him that one day you would open for him. Then years later you did in Baton Rouge. Did he give you any advice that you would want to pass on to Scott?
Moore: No, I think he just looked at me like I was a nut job. He was really nice to me, but it was a brief meeting. As far as advice goes, if you’ve gotten to the point where you have a record deal and are out doing this for your career, you’re a pro. You’ve been playing music for a long time, but specifically, the best advice for any upcoming artist or established artist, in my opinion, is that it’s all about songs. You have to have a little bit of talent, and you have to be able to sing a little bit. The songs have to be there because there are so many great artists with great material, whether it’s stuff they write on their own or find from outside places. You’ve got [to have] great, great material. [We’ve] been able to write songs that people dig and can relate to. We’ve been able to find some outside material that we’re fortunate to get our hands on.
C&I: Are there any other influential country music icons, like Kenny Chesney, who inspired you to become an artist?
Moore: There are a lot of them, but my favorite artist of all time is Dwight Yoakam. He was really inspiring to me. Our music is not even that similar, to be quite honest with you, but I was always a big fan of people who I consider to be stylists. What I mean by that is no matter how much anyone tries, you can’t be like Dwight Yoakam. He has his own thing. There are a handful of other guys out there who do that and have that quality about them as an artist. I always looked up to him and loved his whole artistry, from writing to singing to playing, recording albums, etcetera.
C&I: Have you met Dwight?
Moore: Yes, I have. A guy from one of my record labels used to work with him back in the day and hooked us up many years ago when my first album came out, which was really, really cool to me. Since then we’ve done a number of shows together and had the opportunity to hang out. It’s pretty neat when you become friendly with people who meant so much to you growing up, especially when I was first getting into the business. ... There are many examples of looking up at certain points and going, “How the hell did I get here? How in the world did this happen?” Meeting and becoming friends with some of your heroes are examples of that.
C&I: You did a skit on Jimmy Kimmel Live!, performing the song “The Ballad of Claus Jorstad.” It earned an Emmy nomination in the Outstanding Music and Lyrics category. What was that like? What did you think of the lyrics and how did you keep a straight face through it?
Moore: It was hysterical. Everybody who knows me, knows that I don’t take myself too seriously. I don’t mind making a fool of myself or having a good time. They asked me to do it and I was totally up for it. I thought it was hilarious.
When I did the story, I didn’t realize that it was a legitimate news story, that it actually happened. I thought they made up the whole thing. When I found out that it was a real story that happened to some poor guy, it was even more hysterical. Then we went back out to play our current single at the time, Somebody Else Will, and they told us it was nominated for an Emmy. That was hysterical. I’ve been nominated and won one country music award in my career, but I can go sing a song about a guy getting his jock stuck in a stool and get nominated for an Emmy. It was pretty funny.
C&I: Would you do something like that skit again if the opportunity arose?
Moore: Sure. It was a lot of fun. I’m always open to making a fool of myself. It’s the entertainment business. As long as we stay entertaining, then we’re doing our job.
C&I: Would you say that’s your favorite experience on a talk show?
Moore: Yes, it’s right up there. We’ve done a lot of late-night things, a lot of early morning things. They’re always fun to do. It would have to be up near the top of the list, for sure.
C&I: Speaking of your new single, “Somebody Else Will” recently went No. 1 on the Mediabase and Billboard Country Airplay charts. This makes it your seventh No. 1 single. That’s exciting.
Moore: It is. It’s mind-boggling, to be honest with you. When I moved to Nashville 16 years ago, No. 1 single wasn’t in my vocabulary. We were just trying to go get a record deal, play some shows, and not have to get a real job. The fact that that was our seventh No. 1 is really special. I can’t thank the fans and country radio enough for embracing me from the get-go of my career and helping us sustain some longevity. Again, still have never had to get a real job, so we’re very appreciative of that.
C&I: How did you go about the process of picking out the singles off your new album?
Moore: It’s a group effort. Obviously, I have a pretty big say-so in it. I rely on the people around me as well, such as the record label and management. There are a lot of people who have done this a long time. We all kind of have a pretty good feel for it, and we listen to fans as well. Fortunately, we’ve picked more hits than we have misses over the past decade. You don’t always get it right. Obviously, we have quite a few times.
C&I: I hear you just welcomed a son into your family and you have three daughters already, correct?
Moore: Yes, we do. It was pretty wild. This was the first child that we didn’t find out the sex before he arrived. The fact that we had three daughters before that, we didn’t hold out a lot of hope we were going to have a boy, even though that’s what we were crossing our fingers for. We walked around the house kind of in shock for a few weeks. We’re certainly excited. He’s healthy and happy, and we’re very blessed.
C&I: How do you balance your career and family life?
Moore: It’s not the easiest thing to have this career when you have a family. We make the most of the opportunities we have to spend [time] together. Technology nowadays has really helped. We FaceTime and all that stuff. Anytime I have the opportunity to, I take my little ones and wife on the road with me. It’s a balancing act. You’ve got to be strategic in the way that you do things. Back in the day, we were playing over 200 shows a year before I had kids. Thankfully, we don’t have to play that many shows anymore. That also is a big help.
C&I: You’re an Arkansas native. What do you miss the most about your home state?
Moore: I don’t because I live in it. About seven years ago, my wife and I moved back. When I wasn’t here, family was the obvious thing that I missed. We’re certainly thankful that we had the opportunity to move back right after we had our oldest daughter.
C&I: What is something that fans might not know about you — any hidden talents or interesting facts?
Moore: Early on in my career, I surprised people that I’m a good cook. I really enjoy cooking. If there’s another career out there that I think would be almost as much fun as what I do for a living, it would be culinary school and that career.
For more information on Justin Moore and his upcoming tour dates, visit his website.