El Paso Music Scene
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Ian Moore Interview

by Charles Hurley
October 3, 2007

EPMS: How long has it been since you've been to El Paso?

Ian Moore: It's been quite a while. I used to play at Moontime Pizza. I really, really liked those guys. I played there a bunch of times. The scene in El Paso is frustrating. You try to do shows, and they treat it like it's a crime. It's tough to find venues. I would play there more often, but I can never find a place to play.

EPMS: How many shows a year do you do in Texas?

Ian Moore: Texas shows, I would say, probably about two hundred in the country, typically forty to fifty in Texas.

EPMS: Why did you move from Texas to the Seattle area?

Ian Moore: It was a mutual decision with my wife and I. It's just part of the process of growing up; getting away from things I was comfortable with. In Austin, I had a lot of success and pain there. With the move to Seattle, I wanted to see if I could re-establish myself.

EPMS: How much do you play in Europe?

Ian Moore: I go there when I can. It comes in waves. I went there two times; I did two full European tours. I really like going over to Europe. They have a wonderful environment.

EPMS: When you made your first album, Ian Moore, you were positioned as a southern rocker, with which you weren't very comfortable...

Ian Moore: That was just the record company, because they were from Macon, GA. They'd been involved in southern rock. A lot of my early success happened because of them positioning me that way. It was mostly just a my first record.

EPMS: What great lessons did you learn from Joe Ely, with whom you played at the start of your career, and Terry Allen?

Ian Moore: I learned a ton. I really try get things from artists I really respect. I'm always struggling to improve the show. I always want it to be better. I take a lot of things from older musicians, like Bob Dylan, The Beatles when they were young, I always want to know how did they do things. A lot of things that I have done, when I look back on them, I say, "That was good, but..."

Mainly, I want to know how to be more than an individual. It's about being more than an individual, which is why you make art. You have a responsibility to be yourself. You try to lift people's spirits with your music, and to do that, you must be yourself.

EPMS: You had been playing acoustic shows for the last few years, up until recently. Why acoustic shows?

Ian Moore: I just went through different styles of music. I was getting into experimenting with different sounds. It's all about trying different types of music. I'm always looking at opportunities to do interesting things.

EPMS: You had six top twenty hits in the 90's, right?

Ian Moore: I don't think I had six, probably four... Yeah, four. Four have done really well on the radio. I play probably a couple a night. They were so long ago at this point. Satisfied from my first album; Blue Sky, I play those every night. People expecting you to play your radio hits are not really fans. I can't do that.. It's not my soul. I pick the songs, whatever is going to make the best set.

EPMS: You don't like playing your hits?

Ian Moore: I don't dislike playing them, they just aren't necessarily the kind of music I like to play. For the last fifteen to twenty years, for most musicians, the songs that became the hits were not the artist's best songs. When I put a show together, it's like a dinner. I've got all these things that I can use... you don't put a hot dog next to caviar. I try to put the best show together possible. I don't think what's played on the radio should determine what songs I play. I want my audience to hear the best songs.

EPMS: So, you vary your show every night?

Ian Moore: It depends.. Right now, we have a new rhythm section, so we don't mix things up as much as we will. Once the band is more autonomous, we''ll try pretty much anything.

EPMS: Do you ever just play something that you haven't rehearsed at all, some Elvis cover or something?

Ian Moore: I've definitely done that plenty of times. To Be Loved is very orchestrated. There's a lot of harmony stuff on it. The overall picture is very complex. We have to rehearse the new material a lot.

EPMS: Give me two or three songs by other people that you really like playing, whether on-stage, or not:

Ian Moore: We play a number of covers. We do a song by the Bee Gees, Chris Bell (of Big Star)'s, I am the Cosmos, which is one of my favorite songs ever written, for sure. We do one by a Scottish band, Teenage Fan Club, called Start Again. Also Joe Meek, by (English singer-songwriter) Wreckless Eric, which is about Joe Meek, one of the early rockers. We do a song by a Texas artist for an encore, a song by Doug Sahm, of the Sir Douglas Quintet, At the Crossroads.

EPMS: You said once that you were trying to make the guitar sound like a sitar.

Ian Moore: When I was growing up, my dad was an India scholar. The early parts of my life were spent between India and Mexico. At that point, I was really into the sitar, and emulating it.

EPMS: What instruments do you play now?

Ian Moore: I mainly just play the guitar. When you're recording, you've got to do the voice and the guitar, so these days, those are my two main instruments.

EPMS: What was it like being a bona fide guitar hero?

Ian Moore: I didn't think about it too much, I just tried to get better. I got away from being a guitar hero early in my career. It's just natural that as you get older, you start focusing on different things. I didn't really think of myself as a guitar hero. I just kept working.

EPMS: You once said that playing like Stevie Ray Vaughn is easy, that what's hard is to play like Elliott Smith.

Ian Moore: People misunderstood what I was trying to say. It is NOT easy to play like Stevie Ray Vaughn... I just meant that people that think guitar solos are the reason for a song are missing the point. To be Stevie Ray Vaughn was very, very difficult. Everybody that tries to imitate him is just painting by numbers.

EPMS: When I read that quote, I decided that I would have to go out and buy an Elliott Smith CD. What album of his would you recommend?

Ian Moore: Well, Either/Or would be the one his hardcore fans would tell you to get. It's very poignant.

EPMS: He kind of reminds me of you, when I was doing his research... moved from Texas to Oregon, was multi-instrumentalist...

Ian Moore: His reasons for moving were different from mine. He moved around a lot. he had a very, very difficult childhood. I didn't know him that well. His music changed a lot. Over the last five to ten years, it seems that most people now are multi-instrumentalist. Who, in the last twenty years, has done anything to revolutionize the guitar? Some say Van Halen, but then, who after Van Halen?

EPMS: Here's an easy question, which of your albums are you most proud of?

Ian Moore: That's not an easy question for me at all. I like all of them, for different reasons. I'm probably most proud of my last one, because I engineered it, produced it, played on it... I had the most invested in that one. That one, Luminaria... (Got the) Green Grass was a huge departure. I was proud that I had the bravery to do it. I'm also really proud of my second album, because that one set the tone for who I'd be as artist.

EPMS: You said once, that your goal was to make The Beatles' The White Album. Have you made The White Album?

Ian Moore: No. LOL. I don't think anybody's every going to re-make that. The Beatles were just amazing. Some people don't like the White Album, and there is some filler on it, but some of it's brilliant. It was a departure for them. I like making really varied records. It's all about taking the most chances.

EPMS: What do you tell younger artists that start to be successful? Can't just repeat what you just did, but how do you know what to do after you've had some success?

Ian Moore: That's a very good question. Especially for younger musicians, it's really important to not try and do what you think you're supposed to. It's the same thing with life. You can't listen to people tell you who and what to be. There's a lot of people who think my decisions have not been the best, but I'm happy with where they've taken me. You need to know who to trust.

I think, first, you need to know what you want. If you want to be famous and rich, keep doing what you're doing. To me, that's failure. If you are really motivated by trying to do something to help the world, you have to do your own thing. If, all of a sudden, you decide that playing choir music is your thing, then do it! Who knows, you might start a whole new thing. You have to play the music that you're feeling. Every great band has done that. Doing things get people to look at you is the easy route. Subtleties are much more difficult.

Some people just turn into these beautiful creatures. You have to try to make the most beautiful records that you can. I don't want to come across as too preachy, but so many people have sold their souls. if you're talented, people will juice you like a juicer. There are some great people that can help you, but you can't trust a lot of folks, esp managers, booking agents.

EPMS: Thanks for your time. I'll see you next Wednesday at The State Line!

Ian Moore: I appreciate the effort. Yeah, I will talk to you later, man.

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