Artist Interview: 1-on-1 with Matt Moore

Artist Interview: 1-on-1 with Matt MooreHis lyrics simply move. From one song to the next, his album No Place Left to Hide is packed with seven killer tracks. Every song inspires and his voice just carries you from one song to the next. I really can’t get enough of this guy. He also has a certain style and grace about the way he handles himself. This kid has what it takes, and his voice demands some attention. No way this guy doesn’t sign with a major in the near future. He’s too good not to. I have no clue how he and I met, but who cares… he’s so good it doesn’t matter how we met, I am just thankful that we did. His track Change In Me is hands down my favorite song on the album. The instrumentals are solid too, something you would expect to hear on repeat on your favorite top 40 station. From being torn to pieces to being put back together again, it’s my absolute pleasure to introduce you to Matt Moore.

So is Matt Moore your real name?

Yes sir, that is the name I was born with.  In retrospect it would have probably been a good idea to come up with some sort of clever stage name since there are dozens of other Matt Moore’s out there playing music!

How long have you been performing?

I’ve been playing guitar for about fifteen years now in various different rock and metal bands, but it wasn’t until about four years ago that I decided to strike out on my own as a solo artist and start this project.

Where are you originally from?

I was actually born and raised right here in Clare, Michigan.  It’s just a sleepy little town right in the middle of the state, but it’s always been home.

Do you write all of your own lyrics?

Yeah, I really dig the challenge of trying to put my own feelings and personal experiences out there in such a way that it connects with other people.  If you can honestly share a part of yourself in your lyrics and people can identify it in their own life and feel it, that’s pretty special in my book.

Tell me a little bit more about the Big Ticket Festival.

The Big Ticket Festival is this big three-day Christian music festival that’s held in Northern Michigan every summer.  And since almost no artists ever perform in Northern Michigan it’s a pretty big deal to the folks who live around here.  Tens of thousands of people attend each year; it’s a pretty cool scene.  They have several different stages, and over a hundred bands that perform each year.  They also have an “Indie Stage”, where a select number of independent artists get to showcase their stuff and compete for a chance to perform on one of the main stages at next year’s festival.  Basically it’s a big battle of the bands, and they pick one winner for each of the three days.

I had applied last year to perform on the “Indie Stage” and was actually one of the artists that got selected.  At that point I was touring all over the place with just an acoustic guitar, and thought it would be really cool to put together a full band to try and recreate the sound on my CD.  So I asked my buddy Derek if he and a few of his friends might be interested in backing me up for just a couple of larger shows I had booked that summer.  The very first show we ever played together was the Big Ticket Festival, and as it turned out we ended up winning the “Indie Stage” that day.  So since we figured we must be on to something pretty good we decided to continue performing together, and this summer we get to come back and rock on the “Alternative” stage at Big Ticket 2011.

That’s really cool! Congrats on your performance on the “Indie Stage”. So tell me, where do you get all of your inspiration?

Most of my inspiration comes straight from my life.  I’m not really creative enough to come up with stories or fictional stuff, so I work with what I know.  And for some reason I always find it easier to write about the struggles I have in life rather than the happy stuff.  I don’t know, it’s almost like getting that stuff out helps me work through my own issues.  It’s kinda my therapy.

You are playing a ton of shows in Michigan, and a few in Indiana. What do I have to do to get you down to Indianapolis?

I have actually played several dates around Indianapolis over the past few years, mostly just smaller coffee house or church gigs.  I know we are bringing the full band down to Sharpsville in May for a gig, and a few other dates around Fort Wayne.  I’m always open to setting up more shows in the Hoosier State!  Just shoot an email to and we’ll work something out!

I know where you get inspiration on a daily basis… but where do you get inspiration for a new track?

There really is no set way that I go about writing a song.  Sometimes I come up with a cool guitar riff and that gets things rolling.  Other times I have a lyric, or a melody in my head and I have to put music to it.  Lots of times I will just start humming stuff while driving in the car and I have to find a way to record it on my phone or something.  I have lots of little song pieces that I have come up with over the years; the really tough part for me is sitting down and turning those ideas into a finished song.

I have to admit, I love the header on your website. Who does all of your graphic design work?

I work with an amazing graphic designer from Nashville, Tennessee named Leigh Ashlind.  He runs his own graphic design company called Avaliis, and he has done almost everything that I have put my name on for the past several years.  He designed my website, album artwork, shirts, even my official logo that I use on everything.  He does awesome work, and he knows how to take the stuff I see in my head and make it come to life, which is huge for me because graphic stuff is not my bag!

You are going to be performing at Soul Blast later this spring. That is a pretty huge bill. You starting to get excited about that show? How did that all come about?

Yeah that is going to be an awesome event!  I had actually heard about Soul Blast for the first time last year and did a little research to find out who was in charge of booking the artists.  As it turns out I actually know the dude setting the whole thing up!  He plays guitar for this amazing Michigan based band called Pauper’s Field, and we have played many shows together in the past.  So I quite literally sent him an email and asked him what I had to do to get myself in on the show!  Nothing like a little shameless self promotion to help open some doors!

You are on MySpace Facebook, Twitter, iTunes. How do you keep all of these social networks straight?

I use this great online service called Artist Data.  Basically I can enter my show information all in one place and it automatically updates my official website, Facebook, MySpace, Reverbnation, etc…  It has been a HUGE time saver!  Plus I even have it set to do stuff like automatically update my Facebook status to remind people where I am performing that day!  I highly recommend that any artist with a decent web presence check it out.  Plus it’s free!

I am sure this will be tough, but describe your genre in one word.

Modern-Alternative-Pop-Rock.  If I hyphenate the whole thing it should technically be considered just one word right?  If that doesn’t work I’ll just go with “AWESOME”!  And if that sounds too pompous… “rock”.

I know you’re busy touring… do you have a job outside of music?

How does that old saying go?  Real musicians have day jobs?  I actually work at an office technology company, which basically means that I fix laser printers and deliver cases of paper to people.  The great thing is that they have always been way cool about my music career, so they allow me quite a bit of flexibility with my schedule.  Just last year I moved from full time down to part time to allow me to tour more often, and if things continue to grow I’m hoping that I will someday be able to support myself solely as an independent artist.

What’s the biggest crowd you have ever played for?

I have played a handful of big summer festival type gigs where there were thousands people in attendance.  Those are always a blast!

What about the smallest?

Oh I’ve definitely played my share of shows were the only audience to speak of was made up of people that I brought with me and the staff at the coffee shop!  Those shows can be kinda humbling.

How have I never heard of your stuff before? Your sound is pretty much epic.

Thanks man!  I’ve actually been promoting this album completely independently so far, trying to get my music into as many wars as possible, and I know there are definitely some areas of the country I have yet to hit.  I am planning to perform around Indiana a lot more this coming year, and I am still working some of the indie and college radio stations in the area.  I have been very blessed that every single song on this CD has received some airplay on radio stations around the country, but it’s mostly a pocket of people here and another pocket over there.  I’m hoping that getting a chance to play around the area more often, getting some radio airplay in the area, and of course interviews like this one will help expose more folks in Indiana to my music!  Then it’s all about people spreading the word!

Let’s say you weren’t a musician. What would you be doing if you were not performing?

That’s a good question.  I’m not sure I would know what to do with myself at this point.  I kinda feel like that is what I was made to do.  I imagine I would still be doing something with music.  Maybe just writing songs and playing them for my kids or something.

What does a typical Friday night look like for you?

Well, we’re always out playing somewhere on a Friday night.  Sometimes it’s just my percussionist Josh and I jamming out in a little coffee shop, other times it’s the full rock band playing some bigger venue.  And since there are not many places to play around Clare, my nights usually involve a bunch of driving around and getting home really late!

What’s this I hear about you being the “hottest artist in the world”?

There is a big music website out there called Reverbnation, where independent artists all over the world can share their music with people.  It’s kinda similar to what MySpace used to be for bands, a place to post all your music related stuff and network with fans and other artists.  They also have their own charts to track who the top bands on the site are, and one of those charts is called the “Hot Chart”.  The “Hot Chart” follows who is climbing the rankings fastest in their respective genre, and in the fall of 2010 I reached the #1 spot on the “Hot Rock” charts for several days.  This means that during that period of time I could claim to be the “Hottest Rock Artist in the World” according to Reverbnation.

One of the coolest things about the way the charts are displayed is that they list both the artist’s name and location.  I thought it was pretty funny to see little ol’ Clare, Michigan listed above cities like Hollywood, California and Paris, France!

What if I wanted to wear your face around all day? Where can I get some Matt Moore merchandise?

You can always grab yourself some sweet Matt Moore swag at one of our live shows, or you can go to my website and click on the store link.  There you can grab an autographed copy of the CD, a t-shirt, etc…  You can even download the album absolutely free on my website if you want!  Or if you would rather pay for your MP3s you can find me on iTunes, Amazon, Rhapsody, etc…

It’s not always just you up there. Tell me about the other guys in the band.

There are four other guys in the band with me, and they all bring something really special to this project.  Derek Turcsanyi plays bass and sings backup vocals, Caleb Gates plays lead guitar, Josh Minor plays drums and Josh “THO” Thompson is my auxiliary percussionist, hype man, etc…  Actually “THO” does a little bit of everything for the band, both on and off stage.  He and I are both from the Clare area, and still tour around an awful lot performing a high energy, two man acoustic show.  To this day I have never seen anyone play the djembe like this cat, he is a monster!

Derek, Caleb and Josh were all in another band from around the Flint area before I convinced them to come jam along with me.  We started playing together last summer and things just clicked right away.  They are all incredible musicians, and I am constantly humbled that I get to make music with them.  I’ve recently started bringing in some of the new material for the next album for these guys to put their stamp on and I’m really excited with how it’s coming together.

Like I said before, it looks like you play a lot of shows in and around Michigan and Indiana. Do you ever travel outside of the Midwest?

Yeah, I have actually had the opportunity to travel all over the country the past couple years.  Last summer Josh and I did a nice little acoustic tour that took us as far south as Texas, and as far west as Colorado with many points in between.  The funny thing about that tour was that we actually packed a complete PA system, all our instruments, merch, clothing, food, sleeping bags, etc… into the back of a Ford Focus!  We called it the “Close Quarters 2010 Tour” since Josh and I spent most of our time only about six feet away from each other!  But hey, it gets way better mileage than the van!

I have never seen you perform live before. Not yet, anyway. What can someone expect from a live performance?

Well whether you catch an acoustic show at your local coffee joint, or the full rock band you can expect some of the same stuff.  We always strive to put on an entertaining, high energy show.  Even the acoustic stuff is pretty rocking; it’s definitely not your standard quiet evening at the coffee house.  We really work to create different moments in our show that people can connect with.  All kinds of stuff ranging from five man percussion breakdowns, a big looping section where “THO” plays like four or five different instruments at the same time, and even a couple cover songs that you probably wouldn’t expect.  We like to have a lot of fun onstage, and we really work to make sure that our audience feels as though they got their money’s worth!

What’s the best show you have ever been to?

I actually don’t get to go to a lot of other shows these days because we are out on the road so much, but about a year ago I got to go see Metallica live for the very first time.  They have been my favorite band since I was a kid, so it was a pretty special moment for me to see them.  And it was definitely the loudest show I have ever been to!

Seen any good movies lately?

No!  To be honest I have not seen a single new movie in almost two years!  Not at the theater, not on DVD, not even on TV.  I have a really hard time sitting down for two hours to watch a movie, I always feel like there are so many other things I need to be doing.

We got hit with one of the worst winters in recent history. I bet you guys got even more snow up north. Do you like the winter months or do you prefer the summer sun?

Living in Michigan you sorta learn to tolerate the winter months.  I guess I’m more of a warm weather kinda guy myself, especially when it comes to traveling around so much, but it’s all good.  Now if I could find a place to live that was like autumn all year long that would be perfect!!

I am sensing a little bit of Adam Lambert in your style. I am hearing a little bit of Ryan Cabrera in your voice. How do you manage to wrap all these singer/songwriter sounds together and produce a unique Matt Moore sound?

Thanks bro, I really appreciate that.  I just dig a lot of different music, so I’m really influenced by a lot of different stuff.  I’m a big fan of the singer/songwriter guys like Ryan Cabrera, Howie Day, Damien Rice, etc…  But I also dig a lot of R&B, soul, pop, folk, etc…  And of course I’ve always been a rock guy at heart.  So my goal is to let all those various things influence what I do and not try to imitate any one artist.  Hopefully what comes out the other side is something unique to me!

What’s the most embarrassing thing that has ever happened to you on stage?

I don’t really get embarrassed easily by stuff on stage.  I’m usually more embarrassed when we don’t play well or something.  There are definitely some more awkward moments though.  For example, I sometimes like to cover songs that most dudes won’t touch, just because I find it amusing, and sometimes they get me into trouble.  I can remember a particular show where the female violin player from the band that I was touring around with told me that she really liked my version of Rhianna’s song Umbrella.  So on stage that night I innocently dedicated the song to her, just because I knew she was into it, and it wasn’t until about halfway through that I realized exactly what I was saying, and the fact that I kept looking over at her was giving everyone the impression that I was singing this sappy love song directly to her.  Now for a lot of guys this wouldn’t be a big deal, but to a married guy with three kids… it was more than a little awkward.  After the song we all had a good laugh about it, but we agreed it was probably best to avoid eye contact for the rest of the tour!

Do you prefer playing the festivals or the smaller, more intimate crowds?

I know this is such a generic answer, but I honestly dig both for different reasons.  And they definitely both have their different challenges!  The big festival shows are fun because there is a lot of energy from the crowd, and you get to play rockstar to huge sea of people.  But those shows often feel less personal, and it can be harder to make those one on one connections.  Playing for a smaller crowd makes it easier to connect with each person there, and I find I can be a little bit more casual.  But I personally find it much more intimidating to play to a small number of people that you have to look in the eye than to a large crowd.  I guess I enjoy the challenges of both settings, and I can dig each one for what it is.

I know it’s a long time from now, but where do you see yourself in five years?

I definitely see myself still performing live all over the place, writing new music, and doing a lot of what I’m doing right now.  I certainly hope that by that point I will be able to support myself solely through music, and also able to support the other four guys in the band too.  I don’t know that I really see myself signing to a label at any point, as I actually kinda prefer the independent route, but I’m always open to the idea.  I certainly don’t see myself stopping any time soon.

What do you want to be remembered for when this is all said and done?

I would most want to be remembered as man that loved God, loved his family, and loved people.  I want to be remembered as an artist that genuinely served people with his music.  Someone that put his heart and soul into each song, each performance, and always strived to give people a great show.  And I hope that my music can connect with people, and that the personal things that I share in my songs can help other people through struggles in their lives.  I think that kinda stuff lives on long after I’m gone.

In all of the interviews that I do, I always let the artist get the last word. Go.

Hey Ricky, thank you so much for the opportunity to share a bit about my life and my music!  Definitely looking forward to catching up with you when we come down to Indy!