If you’ve watched television commercials (i.e. McDonald’s, BMW, Microsoft Surface Pro) or attended a sporting event lately you may be familiar with the music of Moon Taxi.
The Nashville rock band produces motivational, uplifting songs that are tailor-made to make audiences in packed arenas raise their hands in the air. The band will be at Victory North on Aug. 29.
In fact, Moon Taxi’s biggest hit to date, “Two High,” is an inspirational call for crowds to raise two fingers up in an act of solidarity that can fire up listeners at concerts and rallies alike. Moon Taxi performed “Two High” on “The Today Show” and “Jimmy Kimmel Live,” and the song has racked up over 120 million listens on Spotify leading to a record deal with RCA records.
“‘Two High’ was a direct result of the first big Women’s March in D.C., and an autocorrected text message that changed ‘too’ to ‘two’,” said drummer Trevor Ritter. “It’s a very positive and approachable song that people who were unfamiliar with us could easily latch on to. As far as how things changed, let’s just say the song shot us up to a level of exposure that we had been trying to reach for a while, which was wonderful.”
Moon Taxi was formed in 2006 by Tyler Terndrup (vocals, guitars), Tommy Putnam (bass), and Spenser Thomson (lead guitar), with the later addition of Ritter and Wes Bailey (keyboards). “To put it in a nutshell, Tommy and Trevor had a high school band in Alabama called Apex,” Ritter explained. “They both decided to move to Nashville and attend Belmont University, where they immediately met Spencer in the dorms. The three of them started jamming together and became the backing band for a rap group. Fast forward a little bit and the trio becomes a quartet with drummer Dave Swan. Hit that fast forward button two more years and Dave joins the U.S. Air Force, leaving the drumming spot open. I meet the three of them (Tommy, Trevor, Spencer) at a house party and struck up a conversation. Keep running forward with me here... the band is a quartet once again, playing regular shows around the Southeast. About a year later, the four of us meet Wes at yet another house party. Thus, the rocking quintet that you now see before you emerges into the world around 2007.”
Their debut album, “Melodica” (2007), highlights a different, early sound for the band. Moon Taxi gained popularity on the festival circuit as a jam band in the traditional sense, with noodly guitars and groovy bass. “‘Jamming’ was much more prevalent in our sets back in the day, primarily because we didn’t have enough material to play for three-plus hours,” said Ritter. “It still happens these days, though.”
Moon Taxi’s sound evolved dramatically from jamming to crisp, pop rock anthems with massive, stadium-filling synths and choruses — think Vampire Weekend crossed with Imagine Dragons. Of course, their huge sound and ambition wasn’t always as big as the venues they played in. “It was loud, we were loud... everything was really, really loud,” said Ritter. “I think people dug that, to a certain extent, but we learned gradually how to adjust our music for different dynamic situations and crowd sizes. Before RCA came on board, our Bonnaroo set in 2015 was the biggest. We heard 30,000 were in attendance.”
Moon Taxi’s fifth and most recent album is their most polished effort yet, which is remarkable considering it was self-produced by Thomson on essentially a laptop at home. The record was almost complete when they signed to RCA and the record company is happy with the results. Does that mean they will continue to produce themselves and have complete creative control?
“In a way, most certainly,” said Ritter, “but with RCA’s resources comes this big pot of amazing producers and creatives. We’re all very excited to venture into new territory in that respect.”
Moon Taxi have been touring extensively and continue their winning streak with three new singles, “Now’s the Time,” “This World” and “Restless,” released this year. Could a new album be around the corner?
“Our release timeline has changed several times since putting out ‘Now’s The Time,’” said Ritter. “Without giving too much away, all I’ll say is we have some really incredible music in the works that we’re excited to show everyone. Whether that culminates in an album this year, or next year, it’s still up in the air because more and more songs keep coming.”