Shimon Moore never wanted to be a solo artist. But it’s been more than three years since the guitarist-singer-songwriter split from Sick Puppies, and he finally decided it was the only way for him to release new music on his own terms. So last month at the Rock on the Range festival in Columbus, Ohio, he gave his debut performance under the name “Shim,” mixing new material, including the single “Hallelujah,” with songs familiar to any Sick Puppies fan. (View our photo gallery here.) Judging from the crowd reaction, that show was a success, but Shim knows his work has begun as he seeks to reintroduce himself to audiences and send his new music out into the world. Live Metal’s Greg Maki caught up with Shim at Rock on the Range and later in a follow-up phone interview to discuss that first performance, going solo and more.
LIVE METAL: This wasn’t your first Rock on the Range, but I’m guessing this one was a little extra special for you.
SHIM: It was definitely the first time as a solo artist, and it felt like the first time in a lot of ways. It’s really weird because in a lot of ways, it wasn’t. Obviously, I played it with the Puppies a bunch of times. I got a feeling before I went on stage at this gig that I never had before. Normally, with any show I’ve done before, I get really nervous, and I get really anxious, and I have too much energy, and I kind of go out and screw up the first couple of songs, because I scream too much or whatever. And I had a different reaction. (laughs)
It was really weird. I got really sleepy. It was really not normal. Five minutes before I was supposed to walk on, suddenly I just got hit with this extreme tiredness, and I was like, “Come on! Snap out of it!” And I had to get myself juiced up. It was strange. I still don’t know exactly what it meant or why I suddenly went there, but it was weird.
There was a lot riding on it being the first solo show. When people say, “The Puppies did a great show,” that’s one thing. But when you say, “Shim did a good show” or “Shim did a bad show,” it’s a lot more pressure. There’s a lot more on it. So I don’t think I was handling the pressure well. I think I went narcoleptic for a minute.
I saw the show and thought it was a lot of fun, but how do you think it went, personally, for you?
I think it went good for a first show. I think there’s stacks of room for improvement. We only had a week or two of rehearsal beforehand. The band was fresh. I hadn’t done a show with them proper yet. So it was all very exciting. I kind of screwed up the first song, because I was half asleep and too nervous. But the band is sick. The band is great.
By the time the Puppies played Rock on the Range, we’d done 500 shows. So we were there. This was literally the first show. I had a couple of people at the show who were people I can trust, and I said, “How did it compare? What did you think?” They kind of stopped and said, “Dude, you can’t compare this to what you’ve done before, because this was the first show. Give it 50 shows. Get the shows down and get seasoned.”
So basically, it was great for a first show. It was fantastic. We played on the biggest stage the country has to offer. But for me, I’m never satisfied. We could’ve beat Tool (that day’s headliner), and I’d still be unsatisfied. It’s never gonna be enough for me.
Putting together the set list, was there any hesitation about playing the Sick Puppies songs?
No, no hesitation. Like I’ve said before, it’s for the fans. I think they would’ve been disappointed if they hadn’t heard some Puppies songs, and I think they would’ve been disappointed if they hadn’t heard some new songs. If I had gone out and just played my old material, they’d be like, “Well, we’ve heard this.” So you’ve gotta give them what they want, which is a little bit of the old stuff and a little bit of the new stuff. That’s why I put in three old songs and four new songs. Gave them exactly what they wanted.
One thing you did that I don’t remember seeing you do before is that on at least one song, you were singing and not playing guitar, which you couldn’t do before because you were the only guitar player. What was that like for you?
Yeah. It was weird, man. I still don’t have my moves down yet. I’ve gotta get my moves down. (laughs) Because when you’ve got the guitar, your moves are pretty much playing the fucking guitar. There’s no moves; you just play the guitar and sing.
It was one of those things where the whole set was like a big swinging dick. The whole thing. The first show is at Rock on the Range. I’ve never played with the band before. I’m playing new songs that I’ve never played live before for a solo project that I didn’t really want to do. I wanted to start a band. And then it’s like yeah, fuck it, sing one of the songs without a guitar. Let’s just go all in. Penny for a pound. Then I was like it’s hot, I’m sweating, my in-ears are coming out, and normally I wouldn’t take my shirt off, but I was like, “Fuck it, I’m uncomfortable. I need to be comfortable.” Took my shirt off—all that shit. I just can’t give a fuck on this gig. I have to just lean into. So I just leaned into it.
So you said you had wanted to start a band. When did you decide to go the solo route?
It was the third time someone tried to fuck me over. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, and the third time I was really pissed. I kept trying to work with people, and it kept falling apart. I just got sick of being held back. I’m not gonna get into details, but I was trying to start a situation with other people, and for whatever reason, they didn’t want to do what I wanted to do, or they wanted to do it and take advantage of me, or they wanted to do it and get a leg up and move on, or whatever the fuck it was. And it kept stopping me. I’d get a few feet forward and then 10 feet back. And I was like, I’ve gotta go. It’s been three fucking years since I released a song. It’s too long.
I had planned to put stuff out the first year. As soon as the Puppies split, it took awhile to get over it. I had to get my shit together, because it kind of broke my heart. But then once I got past that initial thing, I was like alright, you’ve gotta to get back into it. And then I couldn’t get my shit together. I couldn’t get a situation together.
So eventually, I just said, “Alright, I can’t wait for a record label to feel like signing me to the deal that I want, and I can’t wait around for a band to eventually form with the right players that are in the right age bracket and the right mentality that want to do the same kind of music.” I was like, “Fuck all this shit. I just have to get home.”
You’re at the beginning of this, but so far, what are the challenges of being a solo artist versus being in a band?
There’s pros and cons. The one good thing is it’s not a democracy. So I don’t have to ask permission from anyone for anything. On the flipside of that, it’s not a dictatorship either. You don’t get to just say, “Well, I want to do it this way, and that’s it.” You’re in charge of all the decisions—the buck stops with me—but I have to make the right decisions, because there’s no one to blame if it doesn’t work out. And I’ve made bad decisions already. I’ve made a few mistakes in the last few months while I’m getting ready to release this, and it’s cost me money, it’s cost me a little bit of pride because I’ve looked around at people and they’ve gone, “Yeah, you shouldn’t have done it that way.” And I’m like, “Why didn’t someone tell me?” They said, “You didn’t ask anyone’s opinion. You just went and did what you wanted to do.” And I’m like, “Fuck. Alright, I gotta slow down and ask people’s opinions and take a breath, and be a bossman.”
That’s why I didn’t want to do it, man, because it’s not in my nature to be the boss. I write fuckin’ songs, and I play guitar. It’s not what I’m built for. But at the same time, I’m not gonna stop doing what I’m supposed to do. So I have to learn how to run a record label and how to fuckin’ do all this business bullshit on top of putting a band together and book shows and organize flights and rehearse and write new songs. When you’re in a band, you can defer responsibility to other people. I don’t have that luxury anymore.
The new single that came out a couple weeks ago, “Hallelujah,” I think it’s a great way to kind of reintroduce yourself. It’s like you’re saying, “I’m here, I’m back.” Was that the intent of that song?
Yeah, absolutely 100 percent the intention. That was one of the decisions I was going back and forth on, and I asked a few people their opinions, because there’s a couple of songs on the record you wouldn’t have heard yet—’cause it’s not out—that might be technically more commercially viable that I thought would be good for a first single. Everyone who I spoke to was like, “Man, you’ve gotta come out with a rock song first. You’ve gotta give the fans what they want to get started and then bring them along for the ride.”
And that became my whole blueprint for what I’m doing, which is give the fans a song they want. This is a great rock song; it sounds good on the radio in the car. Make a video that you want to watch over and over again that’s a bit of fun—it’s not taking itself seriously. Get everyone interested in the project. At the same time, it’s saying, “Yeah, I’m back.” A lot of people think when the singer goes solo, it’s gonna be some acoustic project with strings and shit. And I was like, “No, it’s not gonna be that. It’s gonna be rock ‘n’ roll.” It’s something to sort of kick them in the teeth and say, “Yeah, I’m back.”
I was like I’m gonna get a bunch of gear, I’m gonna set up a studio in my bedroom, I’m gonna make my record, because I couldn’t get anyone else to really help me. And “Hallelujah” came out of it. It was kind of a stream of consciousness song. I didn’t plan it to be about that. It just had that energy, the urgency of we’ve gotta get going. As I sing it now—and I realize as I talk about it—I’m kind of asking the crowd, “Are you gonna come back and support me? Am I still worth anything?” It would be kind of silly to think that way at the time, but doing your own thing is kind of scary. I was scared, yeah.
The video is a lot of fun. How did you come up with that idea?
I just came up with that ‘cause I had to do something different, man. I would research, like what are other bands doing? And you see a bunch of bands that we’ve all seen, they’re playing in a room or they’re playing on a mountain or they’re playing on a stage or whatever. I was like, I’ve played on a mountain, I’ve played on a street, I’ve played on a stage. I’ve done that. Everyone’s done that. I haven’t done sock puppets. Maybe I should try that. And I thought if I pull it off, it could be like (Foo Fighters’) “Learn to Fly”—like that video, which is now iconic—because you would think that a rock band would take itself a little more seriously. I was like well, I never took myself that seriously, so let’s put that out there and see how it goes.
How were your co-stars to work with?
They were great. They work for cheap. You don’t have to feed them. They’re great. They don’t talk back. (laughs)
When will the album come out, and do you plan to release another single before it’s released?
The album’s being mixed right now. It really depends on how this single goes and what the next single’s gonna be. I consciously decided not to choose the second single until I go on tour for a little while and show the fans and get some feedback, because already they’re responding to one song over a different one that I would’ve thought would be the single. So I think having that perspective will really help guide me.
I’m going on a little radio promo tour next month. I’m gonna get it up on the radio, I’m gonna book a bunch of shows, then we’re gonna find a tour to jump on. I’m trying to find the right tour to get on, like a Shinedown or Thirty Seconds to Mars—some band that I’ve toured with before that wants to have me out—to sort of reintroduce it to everyone. I’ve been waiting to get to Rock on the Range, but I want to be on tour yesterday. So we’re just waiting to find the right tour—me and my agent and team.
I want to tour with the new songs and feel out the reaction from the audience, because my best choices are usually made based on what the fans think. When we’ve chosen a single based on what the fans want the single to be, it’s usually gone well. So I’m gonna let them kind of direct me on what the next single should be. We’ll probably give the first single three or four months to work and then do another one, and then drop the record right after the second single and hit the road for a couple years.
Is there an album title you can share now?
I’m probably just gonna call the record “Shim.” One of the drawbacks with the situation with the Puppies was everyone knew me as the guy from Sick Puppies. Not that many people knew my name. (laughs) They’re like, “Oh, I know that song. What’s that band? Oh, I’ve heard of Sick Puppies. The one with the chick bass player, right?” That’s why I put “SHIM” in huge, fuck-off flashing letters at the back of my video. It’s like, “Hey, this is my name, Don’t forget it. This is how you Google me. This is how you find me. It’s my fuckin’ name.” (laughs)
I can’t use the name Sick Puppies anymore. You can. You can say I’m the singer from Sick Puppies, but I don’t get to put that on the marquee or anything, ‘cause I’m not in the band. I’ve gotta get people to know my name, so the band’s called Shim, the album’s called “Shim,” and if I could call every song “Shim,” I fuckin’ would. (laughs)
Are there any solo artists you’ve looked to for inspiration as you’ve started on this path? Anyone whose career you’d be like, “If I could do that, I would be happy?”
No. I’ve thought about that. The general story you hear about people who do this is they fail. So you hear about singers going solo, and there’s a lot of singers that do it, and it just doesn’t work out as well as the original band. At the same time, a lot of those bands were more collaborative than what the Puppies were. I wrote all the songs for the Puppies, and was the lead singer and guitar player; it was a three-piece. That’s why I find it funny when people say “Hallelujah” sounds like Sick Puppies.
Of course it does.
Yeah, it was written by me, motherfucker. (laughs) So hopefully, I’ve got that working in my favor.
I’m kind of walking down a very—it’s not a very beaten path to do what I’m doing. This is a whole new thing. I’m throwing 100 percent of myself into it. It’s a whole new brand. It’s a whole new record. And it’s not a band, and it’s not on a label. It’s me independently.
I’ve tried to talk to people, and they’re like, “When I did it, I tried to hook up with a bigger band, and then it kind of fell over, because the label forgot about me.” Or some other guy was like, “Yeah, I found a new band, but I did one of those supergroup projects where I got some guys from other bands, and we did it as a side project.”
In terms of like a George Michael vibe, that doesn’t happen in rock ‘n’ roll very much. George Michael would be a good one. If I could be as big as George Michael, bring that shit on, man. (laughs)
I think that’s about all the questions I have. I don’t want to take up a lot of your time. I’m a Sick Puppies fan from way back, so I’m excited that you’re back and putting out some new music.
Is there anything else you’d like to say right now?
No. Just thanks, man. Thanks for the opportunity to get the word out, ‘cause I need all the help I can get.