Women in Music 2016

Justin Moore Hopes to 'Hang With the Young Cats' by Updating His Sound on 'Kinda Don't Care'

Sandra Wallbank
Justin Moore at Waffle House in Little Rock, Ark.

Country star is promoting his new album by popping into Waffle House restaurants across the South.

If you've listened to Kinda Don’t Care -- the fourth album from Valory Music Co. hitmaker Justin Moore -- you might notice a little bit of a difference from his previous projects.

“We definitely tried to modernize it a little bit, as far as the production goes, especially with the tracking,” Moore told Billboard. “We also made some different song choices that I wouldn’t have recorded earlier in my career. But country music and country radio have changed so much. It’s hard to believe I’ve been doing this for almost a decade,” he says, noting that he made his Hot Country Songs debut with “Back That Thing Up” in 2008.

Justin Moore Serves Up Another Possible Country Airplay Hit With 'Drink'

His next single went all the way to the top, but things are a little different now. “'Small Town USA' probably wouldn’t work now. So I think the goal was to stick true to what has gotten me to this point in my career but also modernize it to where we can hang with the young cats out there on the road.”

No matter the arrangement, when Justin Moore sings, there’s no doubting the format, producer Jeremy Stover says. “I think that gave us a lot of ease to go out there and work with some different type of sounds and songs with this record," Stover told Billboard. "We knew in the end that it was still going to be Justin Moore’s voice on this, and we knew that was going to be country.”

Moore stressed that there’s plenty of down-home twang on Kinda Don’t Care. “There’s still a lot of traditional stuff on the album for my hard-core fanbase, but we really wanted to grow the fanbase to a place that it hasn’t been yet. In order to do that, I’ve got to continue to grow as an artist.”

One track that really shows Moore's evolution is the steamy love/lust song “Between You and Me.” When told that it could have been straight out of the 1980s Conway Twitty playbook, from a lyrical standpoint, Moore smiled and said, “That’s a huge compliment. That’s a song that we heard early on. I thought it was either the craziest thing I’ve ever heard because of how it's structured or it’s the coolest thing I’ve ever heard. It’s probably the most rock thing we’ve ever recorded. It’s going to be fun to play that one live, and I do envision that one being a single down the road.”

Justin Moore on Touring With New Artists: 'When Did I Get to Be the Old Guy?'

The singer is in the midst of a promotional week of shows, interviews and appearances at the Waffle House restaurant chain; Moore hopes his waistline won't suffer as a result. “Hopefully, I won’t be gaining 10 pounds by the end of the week. I can’t go in there and not eat. Each time we have recorded an album, we’ve tried to do something a little quirky to release it -- whether that meant playing a show from a bass boat at Central Park or things like that. I didn’t even hear the plan; I just heard Waffle House, and I said, ‘I’m in.’"

One of the restaurant’s specialties is their hash browns, which can be ordered plain or “scattered, smothered and covered,” with toppings like onions, ham, cheese and mushrooms. Moore says he prefers to go all out. "I like it all the way or with nothing. It’s all so good. Back in the day, when I was drinking a little more, I would eat there a lot on the road. Since then, I’ve scaled it down, but I love it. It’s going to be fun.”

Moore has been on the road this year with pal Brantley Gilbert, who lends his vocals on the anthem “More Middle Fingers.” Moore smiles when asked about the song, saying, “As if a song called ‘More Middle Fingers’ needed any more testosterone. It was so much fun. We actually recorded it together, which is a rarity nowadays. Usually, the parts are done separately. We recorded it face-to-face, and it’s going to be fun doing it live as we’re touring together. We’re great friends and have been for a long time. We’ve had some success before when we’ve worked together, and any time you can be creative with some of your best buddies, it’s so much fun.”

On the Waffle House run this week, which includes stops in Little Rock, Charlotte, Nashville and Knoxville, fans may be surprised to see Moore donning an apron and doing a little bit of cooking -- or at least trying to do so. “We stopped at one last night in Little Rock, and I got behind the bar and did a little cooking myself," Moore said. "I busted one egg, and that was it.”

Who Should Perform at Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump's Presidential Inauguration? Vote!

Sam Byrd, regional manager of 22 Waffle House locations in the southeast, says he has total faith in the singer’s ability to come back strong from that “opening night.” “I wasn’t there; that was in Arkansas,” Byrd said. "We’ll make sure he does well in Tennessee. We’ll teach him.”

For the Arkansas native, it’s one of the perks of a release week, but he admits there are times that it gets a little emotional being away from home as much as he is this week. “It’s a grind," he said. "I actually had a little bit of a breakdown last night. I haven’t seen a lot of my wife and kids lately, and I’ve got a long week ahead of me -- an exciting one for sure, but you do have to pace yourself.”

Waffle House and Moore have teamed up for a flyaway sweepstakes to attend a 2017 Justin Moore concert and hang with him afterward at a Waffle House. For more information about the contest, visit WaffleHouse.com/JustinMoore.