The Nashville-based Moon Taxi has been around for ten years since the members got together in college. In that time they’ve built up quite the live performance and fan base. Now with the release of their latest studio album, Daybreaker, the band is starting to break out into the mainstream .
I had a chance to sit down with drummer Tyler Ritter before their live show at Promowest Fest 2016.
The Indie Sound (TIS): How did Moon Taxi come together?
Tyler: We all met in college, in Nashville. We all went to Belmont University, it’s a big music school, three of us, including myself, were music majors. There was already a Moon Taxi formed. The drummer left and I kind of weaseled my way in, then we found Wes, the keyboard player, and it’s been the same five guys for ten years now.
TIS: You guys released your third album last year, right?
Tyler: Third studio album, yeah. We have three studio albums and two live albums. I have to think about that every time I’m asked that question. We actually just released a live album from New Year’s Eve in Nashville a couple weeks ago.
TIS: Live shows are a big part of the band’s persona, right?
Tyler: Yeah. It’s a big part of the overall, encompassing the “what is Moon Taxi?” We have our songs obviously, but we also have the experience that we put on.
TIS: I was just listening to Daybreaker, and you can really tell that it was meant to be heard live.
Tyler: Oh yeah.
TIS: That’s a pretty neat approach in this day and age, where you’d maybe want something that can be streamed online over and over.
Tyler: Well, we want people to keep coming back. We always do something a little bit different, you know. Festival show to festival show, or even club date to club date, we try to not do anything that’s gonna break the bank but push the envelope a little bit. Like we’ll have a cool lighting rig that we bring.
“Yesterday at Forecastle we had two big ass beach balls, nine feet in diameter, that we just threw out in the crowd Like the kind of thing you’d see Wayne Coyne walking around in. Just stuff like that to make it interesting.”
TIS: How would you describe your guys’ sound?
Tyler: I would say the best way to put it is we’re like a very explosive alternative rock band. I don’t know if we’re necessarily indie, I don’t know if we’re necessarily more straight ahead. I always just like to say alt-rock.
TIS: What would you say are your major influences?
Tyler: The five of us all come from pretty diverse musical backgrounds, but I think the one thing we all agree on is our love for classic rock. Like the early sixties to the mid-eighties, we’re all really into. I mean, The Beatles, all the Clapton projects, Zeppelin, Allman Brothers, stuff like that we’re all really into.
TIS: You guys have been doing a lot of festival shows lately. How long have you been touring?
Tyler: We have basically been touring for ten years.
TIS: Ten years? No breaks or anything?
Tyler: Yeah. There’s never really any breaks. I mean we never really did like, “alright, we’re going on the Cabaret tour.” Back in the day, it was just we would play two or three shows a week and go back to class because we were all still in school.
“When all of us graduated from college it became the same sort of thing, but instead of being Friday and Saturday, it was Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. So we’re never really out for a long time, but we’re playing just about every week. It’s just kind of a continuing thing. Since Daybreaker has come out, we’ve changed that a little bit.”
We’re still on the Daybreaker tour right now. We’re on a bus now. We’re doing longer runs when we go out, so it’s two weeks at a time. Then we come home, have a week off, see our families, and do it again. This summer, though, has been all festivals, which has been really nice and easy. We’ve had kind of a summer vacation because festivals are just fun to play. There’s no real stress involved, for us, at least. So it’s been nice.
TIS: So what would your writing process be like?
Tyler: Well it’s changed over the years. It used to be all five of us in a room together –kind of like what the Chili Peppers do– just jamming and hashing some stuff out. We still do that sometimes, but usually it’s after someone comes up with a demo at home and brings it in. Then we start to pick apart or piece together, you know, add certain things. Sometimes, someone will write a complete song and demo it and we’ll go into the studio to record it just as it is, and we’ll realize as we’re recording it we should tweak certain things. It’s kind of all across the board now.
TIS: That all happens while you guys are touring?
Tyler: As far as when the songs are actually written, some of the guys like to write on the road. Some of the guys like to write at home in their own space. It just kind of happens when it happens.
TIS: Are you guys bringing out the volleyballs for your show today?
Tyler: I don’t think we have those with us today. We’re only playing thirty minutes today, so I’m not sure that we have any tricks like that, but we’re gonna bring the heat for sure.
(They did for sure bring the heat.)
You can stream Daybreakers on Spotify below.