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‘It could get crazy in Bangor’ – A conversation with Justin Moore

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Justin Moore on stage playing for a packed house. Justin Moore on stage playing for a packed house. (photo courtesy Cody Villalobos/WestCoast2)

With two platinum-selling albums, eight gold records and seven #1 Billboard hit singles, Justin Moore is now a certified country music superstar. The Arkansas native is set to bring his “Hell on a Highway Tour” to the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor on Saturday, March 31, with special guest Dylan Scott.

Moore checked in with The Maine Edge during a tour stop in Park City, Kansas. He called from his bus where he was chilling with close pals Johnny and June.

TME: Congratulations on all of your success. You’ve busted tail to earn it. You have some huge fans here in Maine and I know they’re looking forward to your show here in Bangor on March 31. How has the “Hell on a Highway” tour been for you so far?

Moore: It’s been great, man. Anytime you get to do a headlining tour like this, it’s really rewarding. It’s stressful and it’s a lot of work but it’s also a lot of fun. I’m just grateful for the opportunity and we’re looking forward to coming back to Bangor.

Maine has always been really good to us. One of the first tour stops we ever did was in Bangor with Trace Adkins and Luke Bryan (January 24, 2008). We had our first single out (“Back That Thing Up”) and we opened the show and Luke Bryan played in the middle. I’ll always remember Bangor – in January (laughs). It was a little chilly at that point.

TME: I noticed that you have some breaks built into your tour, including one directly following the show in Bangor. Is that so you can spend time with your family?

Moore: Yeah, we try to build in breaks throughout the tour. I remember playing 220 dates per year and I think we’re playing about 80 or 85 shows this year. I’d like to back that down even more in the coming years.

I love going out on the road and playing music for the fans, but at the same time, I love being around my kids and going to ballgames. I coach two different softball teams right now for my two older girls and I try to be home for things like that. It’s not easy to balance the two, but if you’re strategic with the work portion, it can be done.

TME: You’ll have nearly two weeks off after your show at Cross Insurance Center. When you know you have that break, does it sometimes result in an even more amped-up performance?

Moore: It could get a little crazy in Bangor. I think we might play longer. My voice can handle a two-week recovery much better than it can a 12-hour recovery (laughs). Knowing that we have that break, it could result in us turning it up a notch.

TME: It’s been nearly two years since your album “Kinda Don’t Care” was released. I’ve heard that you would like to record a traditional-sounding country album. Could you give us a preview of the next record?

Moore: I’ve always said that if I had the opportunity to make the album that I really want to make without any outside interference, it would sound like it came out in the early ‘90s. I’ve said it for so long, I just decided “Hell, why don’t I do it?” Our last album was a little more progressive in spots…

(At this point, Justin was interrupted by his dog June, one of two Great Danes who accompany him on tour. The other dog is named Johnny; they’re named in honor of Johnny and June Carter Cash.)

…Sorry, June wants to talk to you. Johnny and June are both here with me. So our last album did really well and I just decided the time is right. We’ve written most of the next album and I think we’re in pretty good shape. No definite plan to record it as of right now but it should be ready near the end of this year or the first quarter of next year.

TME: On a show day, are you able to take time to explore the area?

Moore: Man, I’m kind of a hermit (laughs). I pretty much stay on the bus. I like to hang out and watch TV and chill. I think it’s because I have four kids at home. There’s never any silence or downtime so I typically take full advantage of it when I’m on the road. It used to be that you’d go home to get rest but once you have a family, you have to go on the road to get rest (laughs). I do try to play golf as much as I can and that allows you to see a little bit of the town.

TME: You’ve worked very hard to get where you are. At what point did you know that you had made it?

Moore: After we had our first record, “Small Town U.S.A.,” we said “OK. If nothing else happens, I can at least go back home and always say ‘I had that.’” As far as made it made it, I’d say it was the first time I played the Grand Ole Opry. To have that opportunity was just mind-blowing.

To be truthful, if you allow yourself to think you’ve made it too early on in your career, that can kind of breed complacency. I try my hardest to stay humble and remember that all of this could be gone tomorrow.

Fortunately, as far into our career as we are now, even if we never had another hit record, we could still go play music and do it successfully on whatever level that may be. I think we’ve reached the point where we never had to go out and get a real job which is pretty cool, but we still want more. We want to play to 20,000 people instead of 7,000 people. If it’s God’s will, it’ll happen. If not, I’m proud of the career we’ve had thus far.

(Tickets for Justin Moore’s “Hell on a Highway” tour with special guest Dylan Scott - taking place on March 31 at 7:30 p.m. at the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor - are available at www.CrossInsuranceCenter.com or in person at the venue box office, open 10-5 Monday through Friday. Ticket prices range from $24.75 - $59.75.)

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