- August 2015 -
HAVE A BEER WITH MOON TAXI
Earlier this month, Moon Taxi announced plans to release their third studio album, Daybreaker. Recorded at Blackbird Studios in Nashville, Daybreaker was produced by Jacquire King (Kings of Leon, Modest Mouse, Tom Waits, James Bay) and is comprised of 11 tracks that showcase exactly why Moon Taxi have become known as THE live band. After having spent endless hours on the road in support of their sophomore release, Mountains Beaches Cities (2013), the band, who all split songwriting duties, found themselves sharing personal experiences with one another, opening up about relationships, and becoming very aware of how powerful the human bond can truly be. This realization is heard throughout their third and most relatable album to date.
Moon Taxi are no strangers to the stage. Hailing from Nashville, the five-piece formed in 2006 and set out to conquer the southeast with their unforgettable live set. With a rabid fan base under their belts, they’ve upped the ante this year to become a festival favorite with recent performances at Bonnaroo, Governor’s Ball, Wakarusa, Houston Free Press and Chicago’s own Lollapalooza, where we caught up with the guys before their set.
The Gig: Moon Taxi at Lollapalooza // Sunday, August 2, 2015 // Bud Light Stage
Drinks of Choice: Trevor Terndrup (guitar/vocals), Bud Light Lime; Wes Bailey (keyboard), an Old Fashioned with Bulleit; Spencer Thomson (guitar), straight bourbon or scotch; Tommy Putnam (bass), Bulleit on the rocks with a splash of water
Kristen from A Beer with the Band:Welcome to Lollapalooza, guys. You’re playing the festival tomorrow, so you’ve got some time to feel out the vibe and check things out. Who are you looking forward to seeing?
Tommy: We saw Paul McCartney last night. I think pretty much everybody did. We got to see a little bit of Django Django today. And I really want to see Metallica just because it's a bucket list thing.
Wes: Yeah, I saw Paul last night … I don't think I'm going to catch anything else today.
Spencer: I want to see Tame Impala … And I'm going to run as fast as I possibly can away from Metallica.
Kristen: You won't be hanging with the band for that one?
Spencer: Yeah, tell Lars to go fuck himself.
Kristen: Moon Taxi versus Metallica in a fight, who do you think would win?
Spencer: They'd win.
Kristen: They’re old dudes now, though.
Spencer: I'm sure their crew is like really strong.
Tommy: That bass player, what's his name? That guy's huge.
Kristen: I don't know guys; I'm going Moon Taxi on this one. I think you could take them.
Spencer: Thank you.
Kristen: You’re living in Nashville now, but none of you are originally from there, right?
Tommy: Right. Three of us grew up in Birmingham — Trevor, myself and Tyler, who’s going to be here later. Wes is from Knoxville, Tennessee, and Spencer is from Bowling Green, Kentucky. But we've all lived in Nashville for almost 13 years now.
Kristen: How do you feel about the changing landscape of the city — in terms of the growth that’s happening?
Tommy: They're starting to call it “Construction City.” And it’s great for the city. I mean, the city is awesome. You drive through some other towns and you see large buildings — 20-story buildings — that have no one living there. All the windows are busted out and there are no people inside. But in Nashville, that’s unheard of. There’s not enough space for everyone. They say 92 people are moving there a day. But traffic is starting to get bad, and we don't want to be Atlanta.
Kristen: You guys don't really have a public transit situation either. I remember visiting and I asked, “So, where do I catch a train?” Whoever I asked was like, “No.” What part of the city are you in?
Tommy: Wes and I both live in East Nashville. It's great for us. Nashville in general is a great city for us.
Kristen: What about Chicago? What’s your favorite venue or show memory from playing here?
Trevor: We've played a few spots here: Subterranean, Bottom Lounge, House of Blues…We had this epic after party at a hotel. It was just 20 people, loud as hell…
Wes: Darth Vader showed up.
Trevor: Darth Vader showed up with bottles of booze. Actual Darth Vader.
Wes: Yeah. He lives here.
Tommy: Raging alcoholic.
Wes: He is a big fan of the band.
Kristen: That's what I've heard. Sounds pretty awesome. Did you get busted?
Trevor: There's a few pending lawsuits. We can't really say that.
Wes: We're being sued by Motel 6.
Kristen: Do you guys stay at a lot of Motel 6s?
Tommy: We exclusively stay at Motel 6.
Trevor: Motel 6s are the way to go.
Kristen: You’re coming out with a new record — Daybreaker — in the fall. Creatively speaking, how is this record different from what you’ve put out in the past?
Tommy: Well, we worked with an outside producer this time. So, there was that variable that paid off. We really enjoyed working with Jacquire King. He's awesome and working with him kind of started a new studio process for us that we hadn't done before.
Kristen: Was it hard having an outside perspective come into the mix when you weren’t used to it?
Tommy: We talked to him beforehand and met with him one day to feel him out. He really impressed us when we were talking to him and we knew were going to vibe with him really well.
Kristen: I feel like that's a lot of it — meeting in-person and “vibing” it out.
Tommy: Yeah. He’s really smart, and he has a way of making everybody happy. We're all very, very happy with every song on the record — and with the five of us being from different musical backgrounds to be happy with everything we’ve got — that’s pretty impressive. He played a big part in that.
Kristen: Were there any major surprises on the record?
Tommy: A couple of them were surprises in really good ways. There's a song “Savannah,” that we were playing one way and when we got into the studio we changed it up. It ended up becoming a really cool dance song.
Kristen: What is the least rock-‘n’-roll thing you've done in the past week?
Spencer: Everything I do is pretty un-rock-‘n’-roll.
Tommy: Yeah, Spencer's got a baby.
Kristen: That'll do it.
Tommy: He's changing a lot of diapers these days.
Spencer: I just found the baby and decided to keep it.
[Laughs] Wes: I went shopping for shutters the other day. Shutter colors and paint. That was pretty un- cool.
Kristen: That sounds terrible.
Tommy: I went to see the new Minions movie. It wasn’t that good.
Kristen: I haven’t seen any of them.
Tommy: I thought the first two were hysterical. And the trailer to this one looked really funny, too. But what they show in the trailer are the only funny parts of the movie. Nothing else was funny. Literally nothing else.
Kristen: That’s the worst — when they put only the best parts in the previews. What is the best advice you've ever received?
Wes: I was working in New York at the Rice-A-Roni Headquarters and Gene Simmons came in and told me, “Just keep doing what you're doing.”
Kristen: Wait, is any part of that true? Where did you come up with that?
Wes: No. And they’re the San Francisco treat anyway, so I wouldn't have been in New York.
Tommy: I saw My Morning Jacket about 10 years ago when they were first starting to gain some traction. They were playing a set and I was able to talk to the guitar player, Paul, after the show. I said, “How do you go from selling 500 tickets in your hometown to doing that everywhere?” And he gave me really good advice. He said, “There are so many baby steps that need to happen between where you are and where you want to be.” And now I totally see that. I’ve learned that along the way, and we’re getting to that point now where the baby steps are starting to add up.
Kristen: So in that sense, you feel like it’s kind of a slow grind?
Tommy: Yeah, so many little things can turn into bigger things that you don't understand at the time. Or that, at the time, still seem like smaller things…
Kristen: Does that ever get frustrating?
Tommy: No, you just keep going. It's exciting.
Kristen: Yeah, and I'm sure being on the road too keeps you motivated.
Tommy: Yeah. If we have a really good show in front of a packed house, yeah.
Spencer: I have one last question for Wes. Wes: When did you get fired from Rice-A-Roni?
Wes: About '78.
Kristen: Do you still keep in touch with Gene Simmons?
Wes: Yeah. We just text. He's here somewhere at Lollapalooza. Asleep in a hammock.