To some country music artists, success means crossing over and mixing genres to get those CMA Awards, platinum records and national attention.

Justin Moore prefers to stay in the traditional country lane, singing songs about good ol’ boys, bars, booze and babes, and, so far, it’s working for him. The 32-year-old Arkansas native racked up chart and radio hits with his first three albums and songs like “Small Town USA” and “Lettin’ the Night Roll,” and his winning streak continues with his latest release, the #1 country chart debut Kinda Don’t Care, and the single “You Look Like I Need a Drink.”

With the next single “Somebody Else Will” poised to follow suit and tour dates that will keep him on the road till summer, 2016 may be Moore’s best year yet. On a day off in Chicago, he called to discuss the record, the road and revelations about his wilder days, weird fan encounters and what fatherhood has taught him.

“I learned there was a lot more that went into a music career than I had anticipated, but I never wanted to wake up at 30 and wonder what would have happened. I wanted to know. I’d be happy in my life whether I’d made it or not, but, fortunately, I have.”

How does this album compare to your previous ones?
It’s definitely the most diverse. It’s been three years between the previous album and this one, by design… I started almost a decade ago now and country radio doesn’t sound like it did when I started. I never want to contradict myself or disappoint my fans but some of the song selections and things I did in the studio were a little out of the box for me. But my producer said, “Dude, if you love this music and are passionate about it, your fans are going to love it and be passionate about it.” I realized he was right.

Your tour with Brantley Gilbert and Colt Ford is winding down, and you’ll do some solo dates before co-headlining with Lee Brice starting January 12th. What can audiences expect?
This is probably the most fun I’ve had on any tour. I think our friendship comes across on stage every night. It’ll be sad to see that come to an end. But I’m looking forward to going out with my buddy Lee Brice. Our mentality is it’s our job to throw a party—we are the entertainment coordinators for the evening.

Any weird fan encounters on the road?
Over the years, I’ve been asked to sign strange stuff. The most bizarre was a baby. I tried to talk the woman out of it for 15 minutes and, finally, I did it because she wasn’t giving up.

Does your family join you on the road?
We play Thursday through Saturday or Friday through Saturday for the most part, so I’m home doing daddy stuff, taking the kids to school three to five days a week. My wife and kids did visit me a lot until my oldest daughter started school. She’s in first grade now and next year our middle child will start kindergarten. But, during the summer, they travel with me quite a bit. I have a really fun job but my favorite job is being a dad.

“Having daughters, I look at girls and women totally differently than I used to. But, more than anything, having little girls has taught me patience.”

Has fatherhood changed your perspective?
Without a doubt. Any significant thing you encounter, go through or deal with in your life changes you and your outlook, having kids in particular. Having daughters, I look at girls and women totally differently than I used to. But, more than anything, having little girls has taught me patience.

Who are your music idols, from your youth and today?
I listened to and loved the same laundry list that any country artist will give you—Merle Haggard, Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson. My favorite artists are guys I consider to be stylists: John Anderson, Vern Gosdin have really unique voices. My favorite artist of all time is Dwight Yoakam. He’s the ultimate entertainer, songwriter, musician. I also loved southern rock growing up—Lynyrd Skynyrd, Marshall Tucker, Allman Brothers are bands I’ve drawn inspiration from.

When did you realize you could sing, and decide to do it as a career?
It wasn’t until my junior or senior year of high school that I had any thought at all about pursuing it as a career. All I ever wanted to do was play sports. But my uncle was in a southern rock band and I played with him some. One day my father said, “What do you think about playing music for a living?” I didn’t think that was possible. But I’ve learned along the way that it happens to normal people, too.

You moved to Nashville when you were 18. Pretty bold thing to do.
I was too stupid to know any better. I was so green and knew so little about the music business. I learned there was a lot more that went into it than I had anticipated, but I never wanted to wake up at 30 and wonder what would have happened. I wanted to know. I’d be happy in my life whether I’d made it or not, but, fortunately, I have.

Were there times when you got frustrated and considered giving up?
I never thought of giving up, but there are [times] throughout your career when you have frustrating moments, before you have success and after you’ve had success. I didn’t have a song on the radio for almost a year until “You Look Like I Need a Drink.” You think, “Maybe this is the end of the ride.” But you just have to rely on the relationships that you make and hope that they’re genuine, and fortunately, for me, they have been. I’ve been doing it now for almost a decade and hopefully I can do it another decade.

Is there anything people would be surprised to learn about you?
I’m pretty much an open book. I think I owe that to my fans. Sometimes it surprises people that I was a good athlete. I played baseball and basketball in high school. I’m a really good cook and enjoy cooking when I’m home. I’m a meat and potatoes guy; I make a pretty good steak. My wife and kids love my stir fry.

What else is on your to-do list for the future?
I’ve had so much more success than I ever knew was possible so to me, everything from this point forward is cherry on top. If I had to choose one thing I’d like to become a member of the Grand Ole Opry one day. My main goal is to never get a real job, so I’ll do this until I don’t want to do it or can’t do it anymore.

Photo Credit: J. Meyers