For the better part of a decade, Moon Taxi had been building a cultishly loyal fan base on the strength of strenuous touring and five quality, self-released albums. As frustrating as it was for the Alabama-born, Nashville-based band, the quintet resolved to soldier on with its fifth studio album, which they again planned to release on their own label. It might have played out that way if not for one of those unpredictable lightning-in-a-bottle moments.
Vocalist/guitarist Trevor Terndrup received a text from keyboardist Wes Bailey that contained the fortuitous auto-correction “two high,” which caused the Moon Taxi frontman to envision someone defiantly throwing the two-finger peace sign in the air. Further inspiration came from the Women’s March in Washington, D.C., and suddenly Moon Taxi had a new song, which was quickly recorded and posted on Spotify. “Two High” went on to amass over 75 million streams in nine months. BMG, which distributed Moon Taxi’s 12th South label, noticed the success and signed the band to RCA for Let the Record Play, which dropped back in January.
But Moon Taxi hasn’t exactly been toiling in obscurity. The band began when Terndrup and bassist Tommy Putnam left suburban Birmingham, Ala. after high school to study at Nashville’s Belmont University and met guitarist Spencer Thomson and original drummer David Swan. They scored a variety of gigs and began performing locally and regionally as Moon Taxi. Swan left after his 2006 graduation and was replaced by Tyler Ritter, and utility keyboardist Bailey was offered permanent membership, solidifying the lineup that has endured for 12 years.
Moon Taxi’s debut, Melodica, established the quintet’s core sound, a combination of Jam’s improvisational intuition and Indie Rock’s melodic energy, sort of a mash-up of The Samples and Kings of Leon. The band’s 2008 Live Ride album became a calling card for its engaging stage show; Moon Taxi has since been invited to numerous festivals, which helped drive sales of subsequent studio albums.
Years of hard work seem to be paying off; forget Uber and Lyft, Moon Taxi’s the best ride around.