Interview by: Joseph Hett
Moon Taxi drummer Tyler Ritter recently spoke with Music Recall Magazine. Check out MRM’s exclusive interview with Ritter below.
See Moon Taxi, SUSTO and Sleepwalkers this Thursday, August 20 in Augusta, GA at the Jessye Norman Amphitheater. Tickets are still available and can be purchased HERE!
MRM: What is the origin of the name “Moon Taxi”?
Moon Taxi: It’s a pretty simple, yet very non-interstellar story. Some of us were trying to hail a cab while out and about visiting the various watering holes of Nashville, and not one cabbie would accept our pleas for transportation. Long story short, pants were dropped, asses were held in the air towards the oncoming cab drivers, and surprisingly (or not at all) not one car stopped. That’s how you get “Moon Taxi”.
MRM: Coming out of Nashville, how did you separate yourself from all of the cookie-cutter country music that’s going on there?
Moon Taxi: Well, that task was relatively easy at first because we were not a country band. We certainly have our southern roots, but that aspect of our sound more so resembled our love for classic rock and roll bands, a la The Allman Brothers Band. We found ourselves separating from other rock groups in Nashville because of our early days of experimentation and improvisation. Eventually our focus gravitated toward improving our craft as songwriters as well as live performers. I believe that if one characteristic of Moon Taxi separates us from the hundreds of killer bands residing in our home town, it is hands down our live show.
MRM: When did you first realize you that had something special going on with Moon Taxi?
Moon Taxi: I think that something special was happening from the beginning. I can recall the several times that I watched Moon Taxi as a fan (back in 2004 and 2005), before Wes and I ever came into the picture, feeling pretty amazed at what they were playing. When Wes and I joined in 2007, the sound definitely changed, but the writing and recording of Cabaret propelled us into the right direction as far as finding our own identifiable sound.
MRM: Since you have sort of a home base here in the South, do your songs contain southern influences?
Moon Taxi: Certainly.
MRM: Do you take pride in being classified as a “jam band”?
Moon Taxi: I wouldn’t classify us a “jam band”. I take pride that as a band we are able to keep one foot in the improvisational world and another in the more straight ahead rock and roll realm. I would say that a perfect example of a band that emits those same qualities, and a group that we admire so incredibly much, is My Morning Jacket.
MRM: Do you have any crazy stories from out on the road? The more outrageous the better.
Moon Taxi: Being on the road can be extremely boring, so sometimes you pay your keyboard player forty dollars to drink a 4 oz cup of the spiciest Bavarian mustard in the world, and laugh until the point of exhaustion as he writhes in pain. But you can’t blame somebody for wanting to make that skrilla, can you?
MRM: If you could jam with any musician/band past or present who would it be?
Moon Taxi: Paul McCartney, but a close second would be The Mattoid.
MRM: How thrilling was it to play on national TV for “Letterman” and “Conan”?
Moon Taxi: Unbelievable. Both were such incredible experiences. To be able to say that we have performed on the same stage that introduced the world to The Beatles, made the roster of artists in Letterman’s 33 year career, and to have met our late night hero (Conan), is something that we will never get tired of.
MRM: Do you prefer being an opening band in front of a larger crowd or the headliner at a more intimate venue?
Moon Taxi: Headliner, always. Being an opener for a huge act is great, but it’s always more fun to run our own show.
MRM: What’s up with the new yet-to-be-released “Daybreaker” album? What can we expect when it finally comes out?
Moon Taxi: Daybreaker drops October 2 of this year, and it is our best record to date. We recorded the album live, which is a first, but in doing so the finished product sounds infinitely more mature and complex than our previous records. I think fans of the band, whether new or old, will really dig it. It’s our favorite as a band, hands down.
MRM: What kind of set can fans expect from you here in Augusta, GA at the Jessye Norman Amphitheatre on August 20?
Moon Taxi: The wonderful citizens of Augusta should expect us to bring the HEAT, because that’s what we always do!
MRM: Anything else you’d like to tell the fans coming out to the show?
Moon Taxi. Get there early and check out The Sleepwalkers and SUSTO, both great bands. Thanks to the Friends With Benefits boys and to Uncle Dickie.