Kip Moore

Kip Moore poses as Pepsi Surprises Fans with an "Out of the Blue Performance by Country Music Artist Kip Moore Outside of Live Nation's National Concert Day event at Irving Plaza on May 5th in New York City.

Bryan Bedder/Getty

After a long absence, the country star surprised fans in NYC for a Pepsi event.

Just how long have fans of Kip Moore been waiting for the follow-up to the country rock breakout's 2012 debut Up All Night? When the 35-year-old singer surprised a small group of devoted fans on a tour bus in New York last week, half of them were rendered speechless.

“Oh my God, it’s you!” exclaimed one of the 10 fans, who were selected by Pepsi under secretive pretenses (they originally thought they were going to see Florida Georgia Line, who headlined Live Nation’s National Concert Day on May 5). “I’ve been hoping for a long time to see you,” said another.

But for Moore, the wait for album No. 2 has been equally torturous. After originally eyeing a spring 2014 release, anchored by singles “Young Love” and “Dirt Road,” Moore scrapped an album’s worth of material to get back in the studio. “I ended up making a whole new body of work,” Moore says. Now, after releasing the set’s latest lead single “I’m to Blame” earlier this year, Moore says his sophomore album for MCA Nashville is “finally finished” with producer Brett James (Tim McGraw, Rascal Flatts) and a title to be announced in late May.

Kip Moore Says Second Album Is 'Not Going to Be for Everybody'

“I believe in this record with everything that I got,” Moore says. ‘“I’m to Blame’ was written at a time when I was honestly a bit pissed off with a lot of things in my life, a lot of things musically. When you start having a little bit of success, a lot of times it’s good to hear opinions from people, because a lot of people have very good opinions.”

One opinion Moore is less open to hearing is following the trend of “bro country,” the format’s hip-hop-influenced subgenre that seems more preoccupied with girls, trucks and drinking than it does with steel-guitar and fiddle traditions. Though Moore helped contribute to the bro-country movement with 2012’s hit “Somethin’ 'Bout a Truck,” he seems eager to distance himself from it today.

“I want to be authentic with what I’m doing and not chasing things. If you’re chasing something, you’re already f---in’ behind it,” Moore says. “I definitely have influences from my early days of listening to Springsteen records and Seger records and Haggard records, but I just focus on being honest. I told myself a long time ago: There’s a lot of people trying to pose to be a certain kind of thing. But me -- 100 percent as a person in my writing -- I don’t ever want to portray myself as something I’m not.”

Eric Fuller, director of Pepsi marketing, says Moore will be a recurring part of Pepsi’s Out of the Blue program as part of the brand’s newly inked agreement as Live Nation’s official soft drink. Other plans include collaborations on Moore’s summer tour with Dierks Bentley, who has a pre-existing relationship with Pepsi sister brand Mountain Dew, and a presence at Farm Borough, New York’s first country music festival set for June 26-28 at Randall’s Island, where Moore is on the bill as a performer.

“We want to be representative of multiple genres, but you can’t mistake how powerful country music is,” Fuller says. “The fans are just so passionate, like we are. If we can drop that velvet rope and offer them unexpected access to artists they love and follow, we want to capture that audience and reach a passionate fan base.” 

As for his summer plans, Moore himself is eager to hit the road with Bentley, citing the singer's Riser and Eric Church's The Outsiders as two of his favorite albums of the past few years. "I’ll be riding some waves in between here and there," Moore says. "But mostly I'm just excited to be finally done with the record, I’m done with this shit. I’m tired of writing for it. It's about to be packaged because they’re tired of me messing with it. So it’s good to go."

Tagged