Brought together at Belmont University, Moon Taxi has evolved from a dorm jam band to hometown heroes. Formed in 2006, the band has gone from playing background to a local rap group to headlining talent. The band’s debut studio effort “Melodia” was dropped in 2007 and they recorded a live album at Nashville’s 12th and Porter in August 2008. Guitarist Spencer Thomsen sustained an injury at the show, and put the band on hold until 2009. The next two years were a series of good time shows and festival tour dates, drawing more attention to Moon Taxi. Their anticipated second album, “Cabaret,” dropped in 2012 to much acclaim. Moon Taxi won Lightning 100’s first Music City Mayhem and later went on to play grandiose stages such as Bonnaroo and Live On the Green. We caught up with the guys backstage after their set at hangout.
L100: So let’s talk about your first show in Nashville.
MT: Our first show ever was at Windows on the Cumberland, the old one, which is downtown. It’s no longer there anymore but the funny story was, we got our first gig before we had the name of the band, so it was kind of an immediacy factor from naming the group Moon Taxi. It’s been all uphill from there.
L100: What does it feel like playing your hometown shows?
MT: We love the rowdiness of the hometown crowd, and the feeling that people want us to succeed here like we have friends and family that have watched the band grow exponentially and you just get that sense of community and people encouraging you here in town, that’s what’s so great about playing here in town.
L100: How do those hardcore Moon Taxi fans help you get from the Basement to the beach, or festivals in general?
MT: Yeah, a die hard moon taxi fan screams every lyric louder than I’m singing them, right in front of me. You know they tend to be college-aged kids, dudes, chicks that like to have fun at shows, that like to let loose, that like to unplug. A moon taxi fan likes to come out and forget about school or work and have a good time with us together and we share that with them.
They’re usually pretty open-minded so they’ll let us get away with a wide variety of different things and generally be ok with that. And it allows us to feel like we can do and try crazy things and that’s kind of a comfortable relationship we have with them.
Yeah, that’s why they keep coming back too, because they allow us to do crazy things so it’s not the same show night after night. It’s kind of a give and take. They’re beautiful.
L100: Can you describe the biggest show you guys have done?
MT: The biggest show we’ve probably done is Bonnaroo 2012. We played Thursday night and the crowd was just massive- way bigger than we were expecting. It was crazy. And it was a totally exhilarating show. And still kind of surreal to think about. And ever since then, our reputation has grown a lot from doing that and we’re able to go to a lot of different places and see people that saw us there [Roo’12] that are coming out to the show because of Bonnaroo.
L100: And do you guys have any stories from the Basement or even a festival – any crazy – like, what’s been one of your highlights that you’ve just been like wow, we got away with that.
MT: Probably when we made our first light suit experience, it was our first New Years Eve in Nashville at the Exit/in and we wanted to do something just kind of completely cosmic and out of the box. Out of this realm. So we made these light suits- it’s pretty much just like LED tubing on sweat pants. But if you turn the lights off it looks pretty surreal. I forgot the question.
Moon Taxi has always been a creative band to work with. If you don’t believe us, check out their Bonnaroo performance. The band gave us a little preview off their upcoming release in September with a ferris wheel performance of the song “Young Journey”.
Click here to see other performances backstage at Hangout Music Fest.
Video by Make It Pop
Photos by Brian Waters
Written by Lierin Pena