Shim Goes All In With Upcoming Solo Album, Unveils New Single ‘Hallelujah’ – Exclusive Song Premiere + Interview
The time has come. Shim Moore, former frontman for Sick Puppies, is ready to resume his recording career as he's currently putting the final touches on his debut solo album. Shim has teamed up with Loudwire to give fans the first taste of new music from the upcoming disc, a rocking new single called "Hallelujah," that you can hear exclusively in the player below. The song will be hitting radio later this week in advance of his solo band's debut at Rock on the Range on Sunday, May 20.
In addition to the bluesy rocking song, we also had a chance to speak with Shim about his musical journey since his exit from Sick Puppies, the road to self-discovery he's been on and how that has factored into his music and why Rock on the Range being the first show back means so much to him. Check out the interview just below the "Hallelujah" player and keep up to date with Shim's future announcements here.
The last we talked was a couple of years ago and you were doing the Screaming at Demons song for the Homeless Rock Stars project. So let's start by going from there and what led you on this discovery of wanting to continue as a solo artist and why was now the right time to return?
It wasn't so much that I wanted to be a solo artist. It was really the only option I had left. I wanted to make music and I kept trying to find a place where I could co-exist. I wanted to be in a band and I wanted to share this experience with people because that's just what I was always used to. Screaming at Demons was just one thing. The only reason we released anything is because I wanted to help the chap with the charity. That band was the guys I was working with at the time, but we just released it to raise money for the charity. And there were a couple of other things I kept trying to figure out where I was going to land after the Puppies, and it kept not being the right place for me. And eventually I was like, I don't have a bunch of years to dick around. I have to do what I do do.
But basically, I've been making this record since right after I stopped working with the Puppies. I started working with everyone, and then I started writing songs by myself and I started putting the record together and I couldn't really find any other situation that worked. I wanted to be in a band, but I just couldn't find the band. But truth be told, I wanted to be in a band because it was what I was used to, maybe not what I was supposed to do. But I guess it turned out that maybe I'm supposed to be a solo artist.
But I kind of just decided to release this song from the record because I have to release music. And I can produce my music now and I can write my songs and I can do all that stuff, so I just decided I've got to get music out.
And to answer your question about why now, I'd post stuff to my fans and say, "Hey, I'm in Santa Monica or hey I'm at this restaurant or with this person," and no one gave a shit. They'd write back and get really pissy with me and say, "Where the fuck's your music?" They were really getting pissed off that I hadn't put out any music so that really got me going and it really kind of helped push me forward.
I know this has kind of been a D-I-Y project for you and like you say, you learned to produce, but was just curious if you worked with other musicians or brought in extra help in order to complete this disc or is it a "solo" solo album with it being all you?
It's definitely a solo record. I produced a large part of the solo record myself in my bedroom and I just learned a lot of tricks that I'd learned from the producers off the Puppies records. When I was making the Puppies records, I would sit there with them and learn every trick and every way I could to record music. I was very hands on with the Puppies music, from the bass to the drums to the guitar tones, everything. So I actually enlisted some of the people who played the secondary instruments on the Puppies records, cause we'd hire out for extra instrumentation. So I just called those guys again, and I worked with a couple of co-producers on a couple of songs, but a lot of it I did really myself and I just had to put it together and borrow gear from people. I didn't have a recording studio, I just had a laptop. And I'd just borrow gear when I could and I'd buy stuff from Guitar Center and return it and do whatever I had to do to get the record finished.
There's always the talk of having your entire life to write your first album, but you've obviously had years with the Puppies after the first album took off. With some time after the Puppies, did that allow you to have some life experience out of that cycle and how much of that factors into what we're hearing on the new album?
Oh yeah, absolutely. They say you have your whole life to write your first record, but really my first record was the Puppies record. But this record, it's a big deal, man. It's like a story of evolution. When I was with the Puppies, there really wasn't much opportunity to get any perspective and sort of take a breath and look around and kind of figure out who you want to be. You're just the guy in Sick Puppies. And there's pros and cons to that. If you're the guy from Sick Puppies, that's someone. But at the same time, that's it.
There was a very, very hard period after I was no longer in the band where I was no longer the guy from Sick Puppies, so who the fuck am I? And that's really what the record is about. Well, who the fuck am I? And I wrote all this music in the three year period between when I was no longer in the band and now and it sounds like growing pains. It's figuring shit out and it's painful and it's beautiful. There are moments in terms of the emotional reach and the melodic reach and the musical reach, there's a lot more going on than I think I ever did with the Puppies. I've got no problem saying that it's the best record I've ever made and I've been fortunate that the people I've shown it to have agreed and they know my previous work. So that record is from the three year period between the Puppies and now and that's where it was born and it's about a three year period of rebirth and figuring out who the fuck I am now.
The first taste that people are getting is "Hallelujah" that we're premiering here. Kind of feels like a self-rediscovery anthem, and it's got that killer bluesy vibe and yet feels heavier that some of your previous work.
Yeah, well I didn't really didn't think about it that much until I decided to make that the single, but that song was actually the turning point of the process. That was the first song that I wrote after I said, "Okay, I'm just going to do this myself." I was trying to sort of ... Basically, I was being a little bitch. I was being a little bitch about it and I was trying to work with all these other people because I didn't really want to take responsibility and I didn't want to take on the workload because it was scary to think of being a solo artist. I was going to be a solo artist and it's live or die and there's no one else to blame if it doesn't work out. When you're in a band, there's a safety net of someone to turn to and go, "Well, it's okay, we'll just try something else." You have a buffer. But you're alone, as a solo artist.
I had written part of this song with someone else. I had an idea for this song and I could've written it, but this person who shall remain nameless kind of fucked me over. And I was kind of like, "Dammit, I can't even finish a fucking song without obstacles." And so I sat down and said, "I'm gonna write this song exactly how I want to hear it, exactly how it sounds in my head and I'm not going to ask for anyone's help or permission." And "Hallelujah" came out that night. I came real quick, I produced it real quick and it's all my parts and all my playing and so it really was the beginning of this turning point for me.
It's actually quite poetic now that it's the first single because this song really was the catalyst for becoming a solo artist, which goes against my nature. (laughs).
In the past with the Puppies we had talked about you paying attention to the audience response live and it factoring into your approach to music moving forward. There's the part in the song where it gets down to almost a whisper, then kicks back in again. You had to be thinking about how great that's going to sound live, right?
Yeah man, isn't that sick? I love that bit. Yeah, you know it. I remember when I was recording with the drummer on this song, and it's breaking down. And he's like, "You want me to keep playing that drum beat and just keep playing at the same level and then you're gonna fade it out later? You're gonna fade it out in Pro-Tools?" And I said, "No, play it! Break it down! Play it like you're playing it live." And it was a little bit different for him because he's a studio drummer and he's like, "Nah, people don't do that when they make records, they do that when they play live." And I said, "Yeah, that's what it needs to sound like. It needs to sound like a live fucking band."
So he actually played it that way and I told him, "Don't worry, I'm going to wide out on it and we're actually going to turn up the overhead mics and gain up the tones so the room gets really loud and it's gonna sound really vibey." It was very natural to me in my head but it was apparently a very foreign approach to recording it. But it's like that because it's gotta have that live experience and it's got to be open to interpretation when you play it live.
And I have to ask ... with this being your project, I think I'm hearing a choir. How fun was that to bring in for the track?
You know what the funny part is, mate? That's not a choir. That's me. I just stacked that shit until there was no space left on the hard drive. I would've loved to have hired a choir, but it wasn't in the budget, mate.
Is that something you might try to get together for the live show?
Yeah, as soon as we're at that point, I'm all about that. I'll Guns N' Roses this shit until the end of time. I'll bring in backing singers and cello players and saxophones and whatever sounds good. I'm all about it. But at the moment I specifically put my band together in a way so that that could be replicated well so the bass player and second guitar player in the band are doing those harmonies, but at the time I recorded it in a way that it becomes infectious and hooky so that the crowd can take that part and it won't sound flat. It'll sound just as full if not fuller than it does on the record because you're gonna have a big rock and roll crowd of people singing that part.
You mentioned a couple of band members. Do you have the live band put together and who's working with you?
I have my band put together. We have not done a gig officially. Rock on the Range is probably going to be our first show, which is fucking awesome if you ask me. But it's just these guys that I met at the clubs in L.A. I cherrypicked them. I went around town, watched these guys in different bands, went on Craig's List, took a look at some trades. One of the guys is off Craig's List, one is from a gig I saw in Santa Monica and the drummer is a friend of that guy who I saw play a couple of gigs and liked him. I basically put the band together based on what I know I need for the live show. I already know that I can handle the record, but I told them this is a band that's going to be doing ... basically I just told them you're going to be joining the best rock and roll band in the world today.
We're going to work toward becoming the best fucking rock band in the world that every band watches. I've been in that band situation where you've watched like Rage Against the Machine from the side of the stage, and if you're in a band, you say to yourself, "I need to go home and practice." And that's what this band is going to be.
Talk about a springboard for your new music -- Rock on the Range. You're not starting off small. What does it mean for you for that to be the first show? You've got not only a huge rock crowd but many of your peers will be there as well seeing what you've been up to.
It means a lot. It definitely means more than just a lot. I don't know how to say it, but on a holistic level or zen level, cause the decision to go solo was a huge decision, and I remember saying to myself, I'm gonna put this out, and if I can get back to Rock on the Range, because Rock on the Range is where it all turned the first time in my career. When my first hit, my first big hit in my career happened after we played Rock on the Range a month later, everyone at Rock on the Range came up and was like, "Hey guys, great show." It was kind of like you're in the club. It was kind of like a little pat on the back from the guys in Shinedown and Sevendust and Godsmack and they all met us and it was like, "Yeah, you guys are good. You're in."
It was Rock on the Range and it was very vivid because it was the very first big show that we were embraced in. And I said to myself if I can make it back to Rock on the Range, I'll know that this was the right decision. And Rock on the Range was the first gig we booked. So it blew my fucking mind. They called back and said, "Yeah, we know who you are. You can play." It kind of shocked me, but it was an indication that I was on the right track and it gave me a really good positive reinforcement. It also made me feel very humble that people hadn't forgotten who I was completely. Cause there's always that possibility and it's a real thing. Cause I didn't know what was going to happen, but when they called back and said, "Yeah, you're on," it was very humbling.
In terms of a set list for the show, will you be playing mostly new material? Will there be Sick Puppies music? Covers?
I'm probably going to do 50/50. It's really funny to me because everyone asks, because it really doesn't seem to be a question that needs to be asked. People say, "Are you going to play Sick Puppies songs?" and I say, "You mean my songs? Yeah, I'm going to play my songs cause that's what people want to hear and that's the stuff that they know from me."
If I went and saw my favorite singer and he didn't play any of the songs I knew I'd be pissed. And as far as I'm concerned, it's their show. The fans are the ones that get up in the morning and haul their ass to the gig and show up, so I'll play whatever they want to hear. And I'm going to put in a bunch of my songs that I know are going to fit in with the Puppies songs and introduce my new music to my fans respectfully.
Turning it back to your music, is "Hallelujah" representative of what we'll get from the rest of the album? Anything you can share on the direction?
It's really hard to answer that question. I've been thinking about that as well. It's definitely an indication of what the record sounds like in terms of the energy. And it's a great first single and it's designed to just break the fucking house down. Let's break down the walls and break down the barriers and preconceived ideas and open the floodgates for the rest of this record that's coming out.
I can't wait for you to hear the record and see what your opinion is because you know my work and I respect your opinion. But there's a lot of blood on the record, there's a lot energy and pain and sweat and everything. Basically everything I have to put in this record is in it. I remember thinking, "This is it. This is your first solo record and if this doesn't work, that's game over." It's really all or nothing. So if it's all or nothing, it's all. Every fiber of me is on this fucking record.
I think "Hallelujah" is a great beginning and a great indication of what this record's going to sound like, but I can't wait for people to hear it as a whole, when it finally comes out.
Any message you'd like to share with the fans as you prepare to start this journey and what should we be looking for over the next year?
Yeah, you should be looking for live shows and expecting the baddest rock and roll band in the world when you come to the show. And every show comes with a money-back guarantee. So if you don't feel better on the way out than you did on the way in, Shim will give you your money back.
As Shim embarks on his solo career, you can stay up to date with touring and more announcements at his website at Shimmusic.com.