Several songs from Kip Moore's new Wild Ones album seem tailored for his live show and the thousands of die-hard fans that pack theaters several times each week to see him. The Georgia-raised "I'm To Blame" singer's followers make Swifties look uninterested. They know his singles. They know the new songs, the never-recorded bootlegs and of songs he's talked about writing, but not yet gotten to. Moore took extra steps to protect a few from the new project from this group, just so he had something to surprise them with.

So, who was Kip Moore's Kip Moore? Who was the artist he was so dedicated to that he learned every song frontward and backward in 12 different keys? Was there an artist he felt as passionately about as his fans do him? The answer has to be "Yes," and it is. How else would he be able to relate to a group he refers to on the album as the Wild Ones?

I’m never going to be one of those guys that gives you politically correct answers," Moore says. "I can’t do it. It’s not in me.

But there's a twist. Living in rural Georgia as one of six kids meant few live shows for the 35-year-old from Tifton. “My childhood didn’t consist of going to concerts,” he says. “For me it was all about who I connected to on records.”

At age 13 Moore started working on the golf course his father managed. He and his brothers worked maintenance, and all the money the future singer made got pumped back into his favorite habit, buying records.

Kip Moore
Brian Killian, Getty Images

“I think back then it was Bob Seger,” he says, finally answering the "Who is Kip Moore's Kip Moore?" question. “It was weird. I was an old soul as a kid.”

This meant that in the late '90s he was discovering albums recorded 15 to 20 years earlier. Beautiful Loser, Night Moves and Against the Wind are a few Platinum Seger albums. And of course there's the incomparable Live Bullet, recorded during two nights at Cobo Hall in 1975. The album is widely considered amongst the best live albums ever. Years later Moore would begin fine-tuning one of the better live shows in country music.

“I was so enthralled by everything about those records. I remember getting all of those records and I listened to them constantly.”

Taste of Country sat with Moore to talk about his career and songs from Wild Ones, but really only got to three questions. Each took several minutes for the contemplative, introverted singer to explore. "If fans could only afford a concert ticket or the album, what would you advise?" we asked. Moore says to get the concert ticket.

"I know my label is probably going to kill me when I say that, but I’m never going to be one of those guys that gives you politically correct answers," Moore says. "I can’t do it. It’s not in me."

“I feel like there’s something special that we do as a band live," he adds. “That’s where you fall in love with us and the music, and that’s what makes you go and get the music.”

Radio airplay has been elusive at times for Moore and his MCA team. "I'm To Blame" is nearing the Top 20 on airplay charts, but two previous lead singles from this second album failed to make an impact. Both "Dirt Road" and "Young Love" were scrapped from the final list of 13 songs on Wild Ones. It hasn't slowed him down. Moore says his fan base has nearly doubled over the last 18 months. A high profile CMT tour certainly helped, but more than anything fans were just drawn to his passion, scathing self-awareness and honesty.

Seger was born in Ann Arbor, Mich., but drive 30 minutes east on I-94 you'll find another, unlikely Moore influence. Motown covers this new album in subtle and not so subtle ways.

“I’m so influenced by Motown,” Moore says. “Even if you listen to the bass line. A lot of bass line in these songs, like if you take ‘Come and Get It,’ we really focused on using the Motown era and the bass lines were … they were the song!”

It's most obvious on "That Was Us." The singer, songwriter Dan Couch and producer Brett James become the Temptations at the end, adding three-part harmonies to a brooding beat.

Wild One Critic's Pick
MCA Nashville

From there you'll need to go to Jersey to find his ultimate influence. It's been said before, but Kip Moore is as close to country music's Bruce Springsteen as you'll get. "Heart's Desire" matches his gravelly voice with a real-life, poetic story of heartache better than any song on the album. It's the project's signature song.

“He’s my favorite all time," Moore says of the Boss. "There’s no shying away from that. I feel like the guy changed my life around 24 or 25 years ago."

Of the comparisons Moore — who'll tour with "Kiss You In the Morning" singer Michael Ray this fall — says it used to make him uneasy. Now he doesn't think about it much, unless an interviewer brings it up.

"I just kind of do my thing. I feel like I pay tribute to those guys through my music.”

Wild Ones hits stores and digital retailers on Aug. 21. It's the follow-up to Up All Night from 2012, which included hit songs like "Somethin' 'Bout a Truck" and "Hey Pretty Girl."

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