Justin Moore may be small in size comparison to a couple of his idols, Randy Houser and Jayme Johnson, but coming from a very small town and embracing the values of his upbringing is making him a pretty big name with his latest single, and title of his soon to be released CD, "Small Town USA”.
Justin and I slowed down from our crazy lives long enough to grab some lunch at Bosco’s and talk about the music, his life and his big dreams.
Bev: Justin, you have a new CD coming out this Spring, and I know you have been working very hard to get it done and get the music heard, how are you feeling at this point?
Justin: Well, right now we are looking at June 9th for the release and I am very excited for everyone to hear the rest of the project. We have worked a long time on getting this together and doing it so it is just right.
Bev: You did something a little different, along with your label The Valory Music Co., in the song selection process for this CD which enabled the fans to select which songs they wanted on the album. How did this all come about and how do you think it worked out?
Justin: The idea came from me, because I write songs all the time, and every time I finished one I went to the label and said “this has to go on the record”. They were good about listening, but jokingly said to me they were not going to put out a box set. What we did, was each week for the last ten weeks of the year, we put up two songs and would let them decide which of the two they liked better. It all works out great for me because I wrote them all, with the exception of “Back That Thing Up”, so I am thrilled with how it all has come together. I think it was a very cool way to get the fans involved, because they are the ones going out and buying it.
Bev: Will there be any bonus cuts or surprises on there, or have the ten been selected and that is all you will have on this one?
Justin: I believe we are set and the ten will be it. It is well rounded and the fans really did a great job choosing the songs I would have chosen as my favorites too.
Bev: Since moving to Nashville from your hometown of Poyen Arkansas, population 272, what has been the biggest adjustment for you?
Justin: Well I cannot pee off my front porch anymore. (Laughing) I grew up on 100 acres, so I could do whatever I wanted by walking out my back door. I could hook up to the boat and fish and go hunt without it being a major ordeal. I miss that. I go pretty stir crazy. I am actually trying to talk my wife into letting me buy a boat so I can go fish when I am in town, and that would help me relax and feel more at home.
Bev: Your childhood dream was to be in Nashville and become a country star, what has been the biggest eye opener and furthest from what you thought would happen?
Justin: Learning to be very patience is definitely the biggest thing I have had to learn. I moved to Nashville almost eight years ago and I think I speak for a lot of aspiring artist thinking we will move to town and make changes and be the next big thing. It does not happen that way. Even when you do land a record deal, the wheels move very slowly. In looking back it has been a luxury actually to be able to move so slow and grow and learn and appreciate everything where you are, and it keeps you working your butt off, because if you don’t someone else will step in there and take your spot and pass you up.
Bev: You have been touring with big name artists such as Trace Adkins, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Hank Williams Jr., Brooks & Dunn and ZZ Top. What has been the best memory you can share about this?
Justin: Hank Jr. and Lynyrd Skynyrd were probably my most favorite to go out with, but these guys were who I grew up with. It is who I drank hot beer too and that brought back so many memories for me and to be out on tour with them was just a pinnacle moment for me. That is the kind of stuff I dreamed of. My guitar player and I were talking the other day about how these guys influenced my music and how cool it is we were able to do that.
Bev: Now that you are becoming a household name, you are also asked to lend your time and help promote special events and charities. Do you have any stories that have impacted you from these events?
Justin: I played Gulf Shores last week for a cancer research fund raiser, and I had been to St Judes a few months prior, so finding a cure for cancer is close to my heart. There was an 18 year old girl there who had gone in for a sport physical and they had found a football size tumor in her stomach, but seeing this 18 year old completely bald just grabs you and makes you really realize what is important. We tend to worry about where are songs are on the charts and where we are headed on tour, but you see things like this and it makes you see the bigger picture. I have lost several family members in the last few years and my grandpa was just diagnosed with cancer, so this is a very personal issue for me and my family.
Bev: If you could choose a style of music and be labeled on that kind of artist, what would you want to be?
Justin: Well I think I have already been labeled an outlaw. I did not set out to be, but I kind of been branded that from the first song I released digitally, and then a slightly risqué’ video to go with it, and now “Back That Thing Up”. But that is okay with me, it is what I grew up with and listening too. Right now the only other outlaws are Jayme Johnson and Randy Houser and I love them two, so to be in their company is fine by me because I respect their music.
Bev: You have been singing from a young age and I am sure have been offered advice many times along your career. What is one piece of advice that always stuck with you?
Justin: I grew up singing in church, and remember there were only about 300 people there, so not very many people sang in key. I had to do all the leads in plays and musicals. When I moved here, the best advice I received was to be myself and follow my instincts. If it felt right to me, then it would be ok. Stay true to yourself. I had people tell me I could not say certain things in my songs and they have ended up making huge strides for me. I was told no one would listen to “Back That Thing Up” and it is the song that got me my record deal and on tour with Hank Jr and Skynyrd.
Bev: Do you have a favorite song to perform, whether it be old or new or regardless if it is something you have written?
Justin: I think as a songwriter you always enjoy playing your own songs. Your favorite is always the one you just wrote yesterday. We always end with ZZ Top’s “Give Me All Your Lovin’” when we play live, it is a personal favorite of mine and fun to do.
Bev: If you could choose anyone from the past or present to perform with, who would you like it to be?
Justin: Dwight Yoakam. I am a huge, huge, huge Dwight Yoakam fan. I am never nervous to meet people, but I am honestly not sure what I would say to him if I met him. I would love to make it happen that we could perform together though, and I guess it would force me to think of something to say.
Bev: If you absolutely could only do one or the other, would you choose live performances or studio recording?
Justin: Ohhhh no doubt live performances. A lot of artist enjoy the studio, but it is boring to me. God bless the producers and studio people, but I did not get in this business to do that. Someone asked me if I would want to co-produce my next album and I said no way. I do this to get out on stage and sing and perform to a live audience.
Bev: Are you presently anyone sponsoring you or you have anything in the works you can talk about?
Justin: Yeah, there are a few things in the works. I am a redneck at heart and Wrangler has been talking to us about some things, which would fit into who I am. We have a few other things we are looking into, but as of right now, we are not sponsored by anyone. I would love it if Bud Light would come on board.
Bev: What is the best thing about being an artist or performer?
Justin: Going on stage every night and seeing the crowd react is the best. That is what I meant before, I live to get on that stage and sing to a crowd. The part people do not see or realize is my least favorite, but it is still fun. We are putting in very long days between stage set up and interviews and sound check and all of the other little things that go on to put this thing together. My parents were at a show the other night and I barely got to spend five minutes with them, because I was busy with everything else. So that is the hard part.
Bev: Have you had anything really embarrassing happen to you while you were performing?
Justin: I have been pretty lucky not to fall over any of the wires, but the other night I tripped and pulled the cord out of my guitar player’s guitar and the lick just stopped, there was no sound, and it was a little embarrassing. Another was I jumped down off the stage into the crowd and the stage was up maybe eight or ten feet off the ground and I realized there was no way back up. I had to rely on a body guard to give me a boost back up there.
Bev: I know you will be doing the Opry this week for a special show, can you tell me about the show and how you feel about playing the Opry?
Justin: Playing the Opry means more to me than about anything else. The tours were cool, but the history there is so amazing. We are doing a show called Country Classics, so I get to do a Waylon Jennings song and one by George Strait. It is a Texas themed show and I am very excited about that. I dream of being asked to be an Opry member someday.
Bev: As far as promotions and other events you have going on in anticipation of the release, can you share some of what you are doing?
Justin: Right now we are on the road most of the time performing and introducing the music to the people. You have to get out there and expose the music in order to get a following. I am doing some listener appreciation shows for radio stations. Country Radio has been amazing and I have been asked to do a lot for them, especially the writer rounds.
Bev: I understand you have started a You-tube video series, can you share the story behind these?
Justin: That started out because I was bored one day while out on our radio tour and the gal from the record label turned the camcorder on and I was just being stupid and acting like a moron and being myself. The fun thing is my fans love it and it keeps them coming to the website. We have a lot of fun with it.
Bev: The ultimate question of the day, do you Twitter?
Justin: That is so funny you asked, because I have a meeting with my label today about setting up a Twitter account for me. Is that not ridiculous? A Twitter meeting. I am so illiterate when it comes to technology. But we will figure it out. As of today or tomorrow you can follow me on Twitter. I will be Tweeting.
Bev: With CMA Fest around the corner, do you have a lot of things planned for that?
Justin: I know I am going to be there, but where I am playing yet I am not sure. I know we are trying to organize a fan club party and I might be involved with some other things if we can work it all out.
Bev: Justin, I have enjoyed our time talking to you and wish you much success and longevity with your music career. I look forward to seeing you again.
Justin: Thank you and I have enjoyed talking to you too, I appreciate you taking time to do this.
For more information on Justin Moore visit www.thevalorymusicco.com/justinmoore or www.myspace.com/moorejustinmusic.