By Annie Reuter
Kip Moore is well aware of the importance of country radio. After having what he calls a “lull” for the past year, he’s back with the gritty, banjo-tinged “I’m To Blame,” his fastest-added radio single to date.
A song he wrote with friends Westin Davis and Justin Weaver, Moore spoke with Radio.com during last week’s Country Radio Seminar in Nashville about the song, and why having a radio hit with Davis is so important to him.
Moore tells us that he wrote “I’m To Blame” while going through a frustrating time in his life, both personally and musically.
He then gets serious and begins speaking about his father, who has since passed away.
“My dad has always been such a….” He pauses, catching himself speaking about his father in the present tense. “He was just a very gritty, down and dirty, no bulls–t kind of guy, but he was so kindhearted at the same time. Being around him so much and looking up to him, he was so charismatic. I think a lot of that grittiness rubbed off on me.”
Getting back to the song, Moore goes on to explain that we’re in a day in age where no one wants to take the blame, and instead we point the finger at others. That is very different from the sentiment on “I’m To Blame,” where Moore places the blame squarely on himself.
“People are so concerned with fitting in and being part of the in crowd. Nobody wants to ruffle any feathers. I’ve just never cared too much about that kind of stuff,” he admits with a serious tone in his voice. His answer also adheres to the “gritty” quality he claims to have picked up from his father.
“I stayed true to who I am, and I don’t apologize for that,” he continues. “I care about other people’s feelings and I respect other people’s feelings, but I’m going to always go by what I feel like I’m supposed to in my heart.”
Moore says that “it was essential” to have “I’m to Blame” be part of his upcoming album. “It set the tone for what’s coming.”
Moore could not have written the song, though, without the help of his friend and frequent cowriter Westin Davis, a Nashville songwriter whom Moore first met over a decade ago. As Moore explains, it was Davis who came in with the first line of the song, “If it ain’t broke, you can bet that I’m gonna break it.”
“I just looked at him and grinned,” Moore recalls of the moment when Davis came up with that lyric. “I was already singing the melody. When he said that line it just kickstarted the whole thing. We ran with that whole song really fast.”
Moore and Davis met after they both moved to Nashville to pursue songwriting. He says his goal from the day he first met Davis was for the two of them to have a hit on the radio together.
“Me and Westin are thick as thieves, and he keeps my sanity a lot of times,” he asserts. “Him and Dan Couch have become my brothers. There’s nobody I’d rather have a hit with than Westin.”
The two have collaborated on previous Moore singles as well. “We had ‘Young Love’ and ‘Dirt Road’ together, [but] it didn’t quite work,” Moore admits, referencing his two 2014 singles that didn’t impact the charts as much as his previous No. 1 radio hits had done.
But, he says, instead of getting bummed out, “we just tried to stay positive and keep believing in ourselves and what we’re doing. It’s feeling good this time around, so we’ll see.”
He adds: “Westin and I, we’ve been scratching and clawing for a long time. We met when we both first moved to town 10 or 11 years ago, and we were writing together from sun up to sundown. He’d crash at my house, and then we’d get up and do it all over again, and we’d go to work and come back and meet that night.”
All that work is paying off. “We had dreams of having songs on the radio together, and now we have them. To be able to have a big hit with him would mean more to me than having a hit by myself, that’s for sure.”
Davis, in turn, sings the same praises for his friend Moore. Last year, while talking about his evolution as a songwriter, Davis told Radio.com that after moving from Nashville back home to Florida, and then back to Nashville to give songwriting another shot, he began writing with Moore.
“We just had this crazy dream that we were going to write songs and he would sing them, but we knew we could make it a reality as well,” Davis reflects.
Westin Davis (@WestinDavis) February 10, 2015
Like Moore, Davis pours his heart and soul into his songs, and his life is often an open book.
“I think writing in general is therapy,” Davis admits. “Somebody told me recently, ‘Man, I can hear you in every song that someone else sings or every song that I hear you play. I can hear your life story in it.’ I’ve been very fortunate to have very rainy days and sunny days.”
Davis and Moore have written several tracks together, including not only “I’m to Blame,” “Dirt Road” and “Young Love” but also “Lipstick,” which was featured on Moore’s 2014 Soundcheck EP.
“Kip is a prime example of [an artist who] takes what he does very seriously and connects with people, and my writing is the same way,” Davis says. “It’s not fabricated.”
Moore is currently taking the songs he has written with Davis overseas, where he’ll be playing for a UK audience this weekend at the C2C Country to Country Festival, something he has trouble believing.
“You hear about the fans in the UK, how passionate they are about music and their knowledge of music,” Moore says. “I’m just such a passionate person that I want to be around passionate people, and that’s why I can’t wait to play for those fans. Just hearing that I have a fan base over there is baffling to me. I can’t wait.”