Ingram Hill’s Justin Moore talks new album, label change, best band name ever, and reveals his Milli Vanilli-loving days

Ingram Hill is a pop rock trio based in Memphis, TN, excited to release their third album, Look Your Best, on September 28. Look Your Best is their first record on the Rock Ridge Music label, following 2004’s June’s Picture Show, which yielded the hits “Will I Ever Make it Home” and “Almost Perfect”, and 2007’s excellent, but underrated, Cold In California. We had the honor to ask Ingram Hill’s Justin Moore about the band’s new record and recent label change, and discover his secret Milli Vanilli-loving days.

Q: Thank for taking the time for the interview. I understand you and [guitarist] Phil have been friends since kindergarten, so I would guess that by now you almost read each other’s minds – How has your lifelong friendship factored into the songwriting for Ingram Hill?

A: Thanks for interviewing us! I think at this point, we just try to impress each other with our songwriting. Since we’ve known each other for so long, it takes a lot to get a compliment out of one another, so we really just try to get a reaction. Half the time I already know what one of his songs is going to sound like, as he does mine, so if we can get a “wow” out of each other, it’s a good thing.

Q: I think your new record is another example of the third time being the charm. While I loved June’s Picture Show and Cold In California, I think Look Your Best just nails it – do you feel the band is at its best?

A: First of all, thanks! And I definitely think this is our best record. I know all bands say that, but I really mean it. I love our first record, June’s Picture Show, and it’s near and dear to my heart, and I think Cold In California was really good, too. I’m proud of both of those, but I really think we hit our stride and had a definite direction with Look Your Best.

Q: The new album also finds the band on a new label – how has that transition been and how has it affected the sound of Look Your Best?

A: It’s been really good. We were in a weird spot in our career after Hollywood, but I think we found a perfect home with Rock Ridge. We have so many friends on the label and after talking to them, it just seems to make perfect sense to pursue a relationship with them.

Q: Who would you say are some of the greatest musical influences that have guided your sound?

A: Well, I’d like to say Tom Petty and The Black Crowes because that’s who we wanted to write songs like, but somehow we ended up as a pop rock band with just a few hints of those bands. Maybe it’s because I listened to Milli Vanilli as a kid. Wait, did I just admit that in print?!

Q: One of the highlights for me on Look Your Best is the song “Hey Girl” – could you tell us more about what inspired that song?

A: You know, we just kinda thought no one had really conquered the argument against the self-conscious “I’m fat and ugly, and my hair looks terrible” sentiment that beautiful women seem to frequently have, so we gave it a shot. And hopefully it positively affects some girls.

Q: Another one of my favorites is “Burn Out Your Flame” – tell us about that song…

A: That’s actually one of the first songs I wrote after our deal with Hollywood ended. It just kinda hung around in the vault for a little while and I pretty much assumed no one liked it, but I played it for [producer] Rick Beato and he thought it was a great, and a must-have on the record. I happily obliged.

Q: What has been your biggest high and biggest low in your ten years together?

A: I don’t think I’ve ever been asked this question. Tough to nail them down, so maybe I’ll just name a few that come to mind. Highs: Playing on Jimmy Kimmel, headlining a stage at Summerfest in Milwaukee, getting our first bus. Lows: I don’t know if there’s an actual low, but usually every time we do something cool, we usually follow it up with five crummy things. I think that’s just the natural ebb and flow of being in a band.

Q: I was curious why there are two bonus tracks available only on iTunes – why weren’t they included on the CD?

A: iTunes likes to have exclusives; They’re selfish that way.

Q: What is the main thing you want people to experience when hearing Ingram Hill?

A: I want them to experience some sort of emotion, preferably positive. Whether it’s a song that they can totally relate to, or if it just puts them in a good mood. I guess that’s what I would want. Disgust and hate are definitely not the emotions I want anyone to feel.

Q: Now, just for fun, describe your first…

Guitar: Yamaha acoustic. I think it cost $90.

Record owned: Live’s “Throwing Copper” was the first album I bought with my own money. On cassette.

Rock concert attended: Tim McGraw, Indian Outlaw days, and Little Texas at The Pyramid in Memphis in 1994.

Band: The Bamboozlers; Maybe the best band name ever.

Recording experience: At Easley Studio in the ghetto in Memphis. Cool studio, scary parking lot.

Live show as Ingram Hill: Oxford, MS, The Library, around 500 people in the room. It was awesome. Of course, we followed that by playing a pool party the next day for about 11 people.

For all the latest on Ingram Hill: www.ingramhillmusic.com

Look Your Best