On an early Saturday morning in a vintage guitar museum in Chattanooga, TN, the ever so talented Nashville band, Moon Taxi, was setting up for a quick interview and live jam session for a select few fans before their set at Moon River festival later that day. On the 2nd floor of Chattanooga’s own local vintage guitar museum and music venue, Songbirds, the members of the band causally took onto the stage while the radio personality, Brad, of local radio station Hits 96 introduced them and started off the morning with a few questions.
Hailing from the south and incorporating aspects of the south in lot of their music, it is evident that south means a lot to this band. When asked what about the south in particular drives them to put so much of it into their work, lead singer Trevor Terndrup answered that constantly being on the road and driving around it so much and physically being there and in “all of the in between places on the road, it just really seeps into your conscious, subconscious, and creativity.” When Brad expressed his belief in Moon Taxi as the most vocal component of Nashville and asked how the band felt about that statement, they responded with complete appreciation, love, and admiration for the city and its continued strong focus on the arts and education. They also shared about their fondness for Chattanooga through stories of past shows they have played in smaller local venues like JJ’s Bohemia, inevitably ended with one of the band members wearing cow utters and spraying beer out onto the crowd. Going from playing shows at venues like JJ’s, to one of the main stages at Bonnaroo, to being the opening act for Zac Brown would likely invoke a significant mindset and attitude change for most bands. For Moon Taxi however, that doesn’t seem to be the case.
“I mean I feel like we should act more professional, but we probably don’t… and maybe that’s why it’s fun still for us, ya know? Cause it’s just playing with your buddies.” – Trevor Terndrup
Their unbelievable growth as a band and accomplishments they’ve made can accredited to none other than the insane amounts of effort and hard work that they all collectively put in. On average they play about 150 dates a year, which is a lot. In between all of the hard work, playing so many shows that build upon each other over time creates some kind of shift in the feelings that come from playing the shows themselves. When asked when they felt that shift, the band answered, “I think that the milestone for any show that you’re playing is when there are people there that feel they can make friends and that’s comradery…”
Knowingly in a room full of excited music fans, the band paused in between songs and conversation and offered to walk through the process of how they wrote their smash hit “Two High.” Terndrup broke down the process of how the song was written beginning the explanation with how it actually started off as a funny iPhone autocorrect error from “too high” to “two high” jokingly being compared to a peace sign. While the band was in Ashville, North Carolina playing a gig during the Women’s March, a peace sign being held high in the air was a repetitive symbol that the band kept seeing everywhere and inspired the pianist to write some lyrics. The initial melody of the song was intended to have a bit of a “Manu Chao vibe” but after a little bit of collaborative work with the addition of some “James Bay like chord progression” and a pop drop in the chorus, the song just came together. Hearing the band perform that song live after being walked through the whole process of how it came to be made it feel like I was listening to a completely different song and deepened my appreciation and admiration for their musical talent all that more.
Coverage by Gabrielle Lasater
Photography by Nathan P. Gayle