After splitting with Australian rock group Sick Puppies in 2014, singer and guitarist Shim Moore is finally releasing his first solo album self-titled Shim on September 14th. This is the first music Moore has put out in four years and during the time in between, he faced some pretty dark times. It wasn’t until he admitted to himself and realized that the doors just weren’t opening that Moore came to the conclusion it was time to do something. His initial intention was never to become a solo artist but in this case, it is a blessing in disguise. Screamer Magazine sat down with Moore for what was more like an afternoon chat with an old friend rather than an interview. Giving us candid access into Moore’s vulnerability as he touched on his time with and departure from Sick Puppies, his new record, life in the music industry and his personal struggles. There is nothing fake or off-limits to him and he was more than willing to share it all with us.
We started by asking Moore about how he feels as the anticipation for his album release builds and if he had any nerves initially. “I feel good about the new record. When I started this process I decided that I was going to do things a little differently than I have in the past. Not just with Sick Puppies but as a whole,” Moore says. He pauses for a moment and discloses that he is going to just lay it all on the table and be completely honest about the music and everything in between. “In terms of how I feel about the music is that for the first time in my life I feel like this is the music I’m supposed to be doing. Not to say the music in Sick Puppies wasn’t, but, it was only me to a certain degree. In a band, there are all these elements and a gauntlet of politics and there is a democracy that goes with it.
Becoming a solo artist was due to more of a lack of options really and not at all meant to be some vanity project according to Moore. It wasn’t the reason for his four-year hiatus and he wasn’t hiding out somewhere writing a solo album. In fact, he felt that he wasn’t ready to be 100% responsible and accountable for his music and he had a lot of emotional work to do after the split with Sick Puppies. This would be the first time he was doing everything and it was a scary thought. But music is who he is and he needed to put it out there for people to listen to and share their experiences. It couldn’t wait anymore. “I should have done this sooner but I was being a little bitch about going solo,” Moore admits. “This is what I mean by I am going to be honest with you on this. But, the real truth is that nobody goes into a rock n’ roll career intending to be accountable and responsible for everything you do. You don’t want to make all the decisions and then have to explain all your mistakes. It’s too much pressure. But, it got to the point I was looking at the clock and thinking about all the time that I had wasted and let pass me by. The more time that passes, the more challenging things will become.”
Moore took it especially hard when the split with Sick Puppies happened. “I was really fucked up for a long time afterward. I attempted to do some solo shows and put a few other things together, but it’s like when you get out of a marriage, regardless of the circumstances of your divorce. You wake up one day and you don’t have this identity that you had before. I’m not Shim Moore from Sick Puppies anymore. Who am I now? Finally, I had no choice and if going solo was the only way for me to get my music out there than so be it. Even if it isn’t a big success and it’s only for my fans I am happy with that because I believe in my music more than are anything in the world. This is what I am supposed to do and once I made that choice and if I was going to do it myself then I’m going to put all the risk in and put my name on it and it’s on me, I’m going to make my record my way .”
When you put out a new record, you are always going to have those who love it and those who have criticism. But at the end of the day, the music is written and recorded. “This is the most honest, real truthful dark, bright, colorful album I have ever done,” he tells us. “There is a lot of blood on this album because I was digging myself out of a hole. I didn’t have a band or a record deal. It was devastating to me. I just started writing music and I finally realized what people meant when they said music is therapy to them. It hadn’t really been my therapy before. It was something that I did because if I didn’t do it I would feel sick. I am the shittiest person to be around when I have a song I need to get out, but when the song is done I am the best company. I feel like this is the first record that truly represents me. This is finally the perfect music and it’s not much different than what I did with Sick Puppies It’s just the truest, most honest music I could do. There is a strange feeling of freedom and I have no regrets regardless of what people think.”
Moore is doing it for the right reasons, for the love of music. And that’s usually when people become successful at it. When Hallelujah the first video single from the album was released, he concedes that he just wanted to put out something new and fresh and different, but everything was riding on the reception from this song. Of course, Moore anticipated that people would respond like they did, but it didn’t spark an overnight frenzy like he had experienced with Sick Puppies. Nonetheless, he hadn’t finished the album at that point as there were many changes and tweaks he wanted to make. Basically, it was the deciding factor on how the rest of the album would sound which could easily sway one way or the other, but Moore’s commitment to doing it his way is paying off and it is transparent in the album. “I am getting what I wanted with this record and people are already telling me how much these songs affect them and the degree they are affected. All I can say is that I am flattered and humbled because that is the ultimate compliment as an artist. Music is the soundtrack to your life. Music is a foothold to get you to the next place. Everyone’s on the fence about something, some decision, they want to do something, they want to change something they want or whatever, and they need a foothold to just give them a push over the edge. And that’s what music is,” according to Moore.
Moore doesn’t deny that he was not the easiest person to work with when he had his first chart-topping single at age 17 in Australia. “I was so cocky back then. My mentality was lame and I had my head so far up my ass. I remember thinking that I deserved all of the success because I am amazing and whatever I touch will be the best thing in the world. And just as quickly as you become an overnight sensation, people can forget about you too. Because we won a competition and it turned into something so massive it went straight to my ego. Looking back now though it was all good fortune and it was insane. But, then things happen and you become more humbled but still, it is all about luck. It was very important to make the admission that I was as true to myself as I could have been and I gave everything I had for 15 years. But, to have that level of responsibility and success at that age was too much and so when it went away I felt destroyed. Friends turned to enemies and all of those opportunities weren’t there anymore. There were so many sides as to how things ended but we grew up together and we just gradually started going in different directions and couldn’t connect on the issues we had so eventually we parted ways. The whole thing taught me a lot and when I didn’t know what else to do but to rebuild myself. Now, facing this accomplishment and achieving a goal that you didn’t even know you had at first is quite something. Living in that mindset of doing things merely for the praise becomes somewhat ironic. One minute you are doing everything you can to become the person you have in your head and the next minute you are actually doing it.”
It is a challenge to remain true to yourself in the music business. Generally, the people who lend themselves to this profession are deeply insecure, so they’re susceptible to other people controlling everything you do. They take advantage of the fact an Artist has their eye on a prize and that they will do anything to get there even if it means becoming a shell of the person they started out as. “I had an epiphany” Moore says. “I’m finally happy and comfortable. I don’t need anyone’s approval.”
Moore found inspiration in the band Incubus, most notably their lead singer Brandon Boyd. He admits to mercilessly copying Boyd vocally while he tried to figure out his own style. Luckily by the time that Sick Puppies released their first album, Moore had already tapped into his own style. While he couldn’t remember the first song he learned to play on guitar, he does recall the first song he ever wrote. It was inspired by a friend of his who lost her Father back when he was 14 years old. He explained that he didn’t know what else to do for her other than to write a song. “I have written a lot of songs that aren’t about anything specific really and then there are songs like this where I first learned how to express myself this way and I was immediately addicted. I knew music was my calling and I wanted to emotionally connect with people this way and with rock n’ roll you can’t fake it.”
When we asked Moore about how he feels he has progressed since he started out as a teenager and he doesn’t really think things change much within aside from the usual life experiences and you just keep trying different things until you find what works for you. Moore has managed to keep a level of kindness and humbleness despite the pain and disappointment life has thrown at him. “Some days I am positive and some days I am down. I choose to lean into it whichever way things go. If I am having a good day, I make sure to really have a good day and if I am having a bad day well then I embrace it and allow myself to go through the feelings and just accept what is going on. If you don’t then it gets you in other ways. You can’t get around it and you can’t get away from it. It’s just there and the sooner you get it over with put the sadness and pain in your catalog of things that you’ve learned from. The same thing goes for joy. When it’s a good day, you lean into it. Really, really, really have a good fucking day. Share it and buy someone a cup of coffee or give someone a compliment. I love giving people compliments because they don’t expect them because the world’s all fucked up. You meet someone for the first time that you go, fucking great hairdo, great jacket or whatever. I locked myself in my home for three years and I came out of it and people are older, jaded and fucked up. I’m just trying to do me,” he admits. “The rest will fall into place.”
The new album rebirths Moore in many ways. He seems in his true element and more in tune with what he really wants to do musically and the avenues he can explore as a solo artist. He is currently working on his tour schedule to promote the new album and made it known he will be offering a money back guarantee with each show on his upcoming tour, he feels that if you go to the show and you don’t leave feeling better than when you came in then request a refund and it will be given. Somehow, we do not foresee that happening. Another thing fans can look forward to is a new song that will be featured on a video game but is confidential at the moment but it will be out next year. Moore closes out by saying how much he enjoyed the chat and appreciated our help in spreading the word. Can I get an AMEN!?