Moon Taxi, a five-man rising star out of the Music City, has become known over the past few years for its dynamic live performances, and the group's touch-down at multiple outdoor festivals this summer has only fueled the hype. Touring to promote the release of their newest album Cabaret, the Nashville boys will be joining Matisyahu and the Dirty Heads later this summer. They already have explosive Bonnaroo and Forecastle performances under their belt, and will be sure to turn some heads at Lollapalooza in Chicago next month. Frontman Trevor Terndrup sat down with louisville.com after their performance Saturday to discuss Moon Taxi's Forecastle experience and what the near future will bring for the band.
Q: So how did you like Forecastle?
T: Loved it. We loved it. We’re currently on tour with Matisyahu and we kind of came down here for the day. Unfortunately we didn’t get to see any of the shows last night, but I heard [My Morning] Jacket was just epic. I’ve heard so many good reviews, and I’m really digging it. We missed the years before – we weren’t as established at that point – and then they had the hiatus year. I was really curious if it was going to happen again, so I’m really excited that it did.
Q: And you just came from Bonnaroo? I imagine that was quite a different experience.
T: Oh it was great. Easily our biggest crowd to date. 15,000 people. It was kind of the culmination of all these club dates we’ve been doing for several years, you know. It felt great to have the people who we’ve played for before see us up there on the big stage and really get into it. It was almost like our fans were pushing us over the edge there. We were at the precipice – we were right near the edge – and they were pushing us the rest of the way.
Q: You’ve been touring almost relentlessly for the past few years.
T: Yeah, quite a bit.
Q: Are you planning on keeping up that pace in the near future?
T: Yeah, absolutely. I mean we took a little bit of time off to record our last record, which came out in February, and I imagine we’ll do that right before the next one. But we’re already starting to write songs and get material together. It’s hard to not focus on the future and focus on the record you just put out, because that’s kind of the formula. We have to tour on this record for a while – like a year. But I think that’s just a good sign that we’re staying creative and have new stuff that we’re working on. We’ll tour probably until the end of the year, honestly.
Q: It seems like the consumption of music happens so fast these days that you’re almost in the studio, out of the studio, touring, and right back in the studio in no time.
T: Oh, yeah. You’re in the studio, then you hit the road and tour on that record, then repeat that process every year. So hopefully the records get better and better. Otherwise the touring’s not going to be so good.
Q: Has working in the studio more changed the way you approach songwriting?
T: See, our studio approach is way different from others bands’ because we do a lot of stuff in our own homes – like, a lot of stuff on the computer, as opposed to other bands, who track live, write live. If we’re writing a studio song, we’ll write and record as we do it. It has really streamlined the process so we can put out a lot of material. And when you record, you lose that live element, but I think we gain it because we play so much live. We have both sides of the coin.
Q: I’ve been reading comparisons made between you and so many different types of people.
T: That’s the thing. We’re sort of genre-less, because we have really diverse influences.
Q: I noted during your live performance that you had kind of Santana-like guitar work at the same time as you were using the jazz piano. I thought to myself, “These guys are really coming out of left field.”
T: You know, we like that because we don’t have any preconceived notion of what we want Moon Taxi to be. We want it to be open to a reggae section, we want it to be open to a hard metal section, and we didn’t set out to be one thing. We wanted to be what we are naturally and organically. And that, for us, is all these different influences that we have. We try to touch on all of them, at least a little bit.
Q: So in the future you don’t think you’ll come to be defined by any one type of sound? You’ll keep going with this nebulous, cool, indefinable thing?
T: It’s hard to tell. There is a Moon Taxi sound. The Moon Taxi sound is aggressive, guitar-based, keyboard-based, hard-hitting, screaming vocals, intense going-for-the-jugular style. Maybe that is our style and we’re trying to create our own genre. At the same time we played a song today that was really folky – we dig the Avett Brothers, we really dig Mumford [and Sons] – so we also like the Americana stuff. And we also like electronic music. Right now we’re trying to combine those and call it “ameritronica.” That’s our new genre, I guess.
Q: I just want to say that doing a cover of “Baba O’Riley” was a very ballsy move. It was awesome.
T: And how about the [Squallis] Puppeteers? Did they look cool?
Q: Yeah, they looked great! My Morning Jacket also had them on stage for their final encore last night.
T: I heard that they only came out for Jacket and Moon Taxi, so that’s kind of a cool thing to have under our belt.
Photo courtesy of the Forecastle Festival.