For years, Niko Moon had been building a reputation for himself as a songwriter for some of country’s biggest stars – Dierks Bentley, Zac Brown Band and Rascal Flatts to name but a few. But last year, he started to experience success in a different way.
After his song ‘Good Time’ was pitched around several other artists to no avail, getting turned down time and time again, Moon decided to take a leap of faith and record it himself. In doing so, he kicked off his career as an artist in his own right.
‘Good Time’ – now a platinum-certified song - has become the title track to his debut album, released last week via RCA Nashville. The 14-track project, which includes two of his latest singles, ‘No Sad Songs’ and ‘Small Town State of Mind’, showcases Moon’s signature, uplifting sound.
“When people want something that makes them feel good, they can put this record on and there are no sad songs, no songs that are too heavy,” Moon explained. “I’m the first guy to tell you - it’s not my goal in life to try and write the most complex music in the world. It’s more important to me that it makes you feel good.”
Niko Moon joined Holler to reflect on the music that has greatly influenced his career, particularly his debut record - including a cover of Travis Tritt’s ‘It’s A Great Day To Be Alive’, the last track on Good Time. Sat in front of the famous guitar wall seen in his Home Concert series on social media, he sported a contagiously shining smile – and, of course, his iconic hat and palm tree shirt.
Growing up, my dad was like the biggest John Prine fan. He’s a major influence on me because of how much I listened to him growing up as a kid. To me, John is the king of clever, but he’s conversational too, and that’s such a hard thing to do. There’s a deep cut called ‘One Red Rose’. It wasn’t a big hit but it’s always been my dad’s favorite song of his. It played 24/7 in our house, so when I think of Prine, that’s typically the first one that comes to mind.
I wrote ‘Way Back’ about my three best friends. Every year we still get together and do a road trip and it’s like we’re kids all over again every time, like no time has passed. That’s why I wanted to write a song for them. I remember when we were seniors in high school and went down to Florida for our senior trip. We rocked out to that big Garth Brooks album, No Fences, which featured the single ‘Friends In Low Places’ on it. We wore that record out the whole trip like nobody’s business. So, whenever I hear that record, it makes me think of them.
Marley’s Legend album is a big one for me because there’s so much positivity in it. If I had three desert island albums, that’s one of them. It’s had such a big impact on me, and it leads me to want to make feel-good, uplifting, glass-half-full music - but in my world, which is country music. It’s got to be the album that’s really inspired me, as far as the mentality of the music. Honestly, when I’m feeling down and I need a pick me up, I go to Legend. I really want Good Time to be that for people in the country music space.
With Eagles’ Their Greatest Hits, it’s banger after banger. Sometimes we forget how many iconic songs they had, and they walked such a cool line between country, rock and pop. They were in some weird middle ground between all of it and it’s just really good music. I could play that record all day.
I grew up in the country, but I also grew up an hour outside of Atlanta. Atlanta had a major impact on me and that’s why my drums and bass sound the way they do. I’ve always believed that if you just do you, you won’t sound like anybody else, because there’s only one you. So just be yourself and you’ll be original.
I grew up about 15 minutes down the road from Travis Tritt, and he’s a huge influence on me. He was the guy who made the dream real because he was somebody that was from where I’m from and did it in a big way. ‘It’s a Great Day to Be Alive’ was my favorite song growing up as a kid. There’s so much celebration in it.
Since featuring my cover of it on the record, I think it may be a trend that I'll continue. Put one song that I really love and connect with on every release, just for fun, and reimagine it in my own way.
Niko Moon's debut album Good Time is out now via RCA Nashville.