by Lindsey Eck
Originally appeared in Austin Songwriter 2:3, March 1997
Moore was fresh from a string of five consecutive nights at Rockefellers, Houstons tony rock and blues venue. As so often in the past, his hard-won set brought the audience to its feet crying for Mo(o)re! Mo(o)re!
Ians just-released full-length video project comes on the heels of two highly respected albums on Capricorn. If anyone in rock is on the verge of national recognition from Austin, its Ian Moore. His songs push the boundaries of classic rock themes and exhibit a versatility that bespeaks a talent of the first rank. Its because of his insistence on transcending his Texas roots that Moore may build a national reputation.
Unlike many other Texans I have interviewed, Moore actually grew up in the music capital and has an urbanity and sophistication about him that contrast with more rural Texas songwriters. We met at the Spider House, a café near U.T., on a chilly and wet February evening over coffee (Moore) and beer (me), where I taped this interview.
|Q||You have the reputation of being one of the nicest guys in the music business. What would you say to someone who believes the business is nasty and hard, and you have to be a cutthroat to survive?|
|A||Fuck off, probably. Oh, I dont know, I dont know, Thats not true at all. I dont know anybody who survives thats an asshole. Everybody that I know that is successful has a certain amount of humility about em. I mean, people tend to be confident because you have to have confidence to make it through the, the fire, but you have to have quite a bit of humility as well, you know.|
|Q||Your show in Houston at Rockefellers was very impressive, and you promised a different show for each of five consecutive nights. Certainly the night I saw you you worked up a heavy sweat. I'm wondering if knowing that patrons have paid $17 or more to see you helps to focus the attention as compared with a $5 show at Steamboat.|
|A||Nah, focus the sweat glands maybe. No, its the same thing. Well, what I will say is that when people are paying more money I do feel I have the responsibility to kind of theres the balance between what you feel is artistically right and the fact that some Joe just paid, you know, his days salary to come see you and all your artistic esthetics can go out the window because the guys giving you his money to see you play. So I try to give em a good show. I mean I dont cater to the people exactly but thats real rock showmanship: the balance.|
|Q||Do you have a vocal coach?|
|A||Not a vocal coach per se. I've worked with a lady a lot with breathing. And with vocals, I mean we dont do vocal exercises because that doesnt help your singing. What happens with me is I have a tendency to lose my voice, and also I have a tendency to well, that's a whole bag. We could have we could have the Vocal Interview. But vocals are essentially the whole way youre expressing all the words that youre saying, so its not just about singing in key there's so many little nuances to it that I I have mentors. There's a lady I work with named Susan Lincoln and weve spent a lot of time in focusing on what youre trying to do and so forth.|
|Q||Is she here in Austin?|
|A||Yeah. We dont do the scale thing. [mock operatic] La-la-la-la-la.|
|Q||At the Rockefellers show you were continually changing guitars. I'm wondering if the difference between, say, a Tele and a Les Paul is really enough to justify all those changes. Would you still keep changing guitars if you didnt have a roadie to help you out?|
|A||Well, I always have. Well, first of all its not just that, its that, number one, I knock the guitar out of tune in one song generally. Number two, there is significant change in tone and in feel. Its like any guitar I play on I play quite a bit differently. Put me on a Tele and Im playing more twangy, pull-off-y, kind of a country style; thats just the way it is. On a Les Paul, because its a much thicker sound you play a certain way and they really, theyre just vehicles, like different lenses for a photographer, to get to a different place. And also, the other reason I change guitars quite a bit is theyre all in different tunings.|
|Q||Meaning different pitches or theyre actually in different tunings, open tunings?|
|Q||You cut your musical teeth as a guitarist in Joe Elys band. Was Ely a mentor to you?|
|A||Sure. I mean well, I didnt really cut my teeth so much; I just filed them down. Id already been playing for about six years when I started playing with Ely. But Ely was a huge, was really, really a blessing. I had just been signed and subsequently dropped by EMI and I didnt have a record deal; Joe didn't have a guitar player. And Joe called me up. And everybody in Austin thought he was crazy because I obviously wasnt David Grissom or for that matter Jesse Taylor or any of those guys. And Joes real famous for doing shit that people dont understand and taking chances The biggest thing that Im really realizing that Joe imparted to me is the sense of doing things the way I want. I am so stubborn now about what I want. And Im completely willing because I know that what I want is whats right for me.|
|Q||Meaning that you saw [Ely] want to do things his way?|
|A||I saw him tell the record companies, Yeah, so what, I can be a star. But I have a certain thing that Ive created through all these years, through the Flatlanders and all the stuff. And thats something that Im very proud of, and Im not just going to sell it out for a hit song on TNN. You know? And thats what Ive carried in my own career as well as he really returned me on to a certain way of songwriting. He comes more from the . Texas style, the storytelling style, and the songwriters I was listening to werent necessarily coming from that vein.|