Moon Taxi dive into the depths of their sixth LP ‘Silver Dream’, working remotely, being inspired by the occasional unreliability of memory, and the adrenaline rush of performing.
Stream: “Say” – Moon Taxi
We want to know if everybody feels the same way about all this stuff that we do. That’s why we make music.
While creating their latest album, the act of remembering fueled five-piece band Moon Taxi.
The Nashville based indie/alternative group infused their twelve-track album with a healthy dose of nostalgia and introspection. As a result, January 2021’s sixth LP release Silver Dream is equal parts forward thinking and pensive for the past.
In an album that the group’s drummer Tyler Ritter described as both “shimmering” and “dynamic” – and rightfully so – there’s a brightness and energy that moves each song along. The album is as easily and enjoyably digested in one sitting as it is piecemeal, as effectively listened to cover-to-cover as it is track-by-track. While the album is classic Moon Taxi in ways, it’s also entirely fresh in others. Some songs are vaguely reminiscent of the group’s earlier days, and others feel like a brand new iteration. There’s one consistency between all the tracks: sonic cohesion, and a vivacity that’s distinctly Moon Taxi.
Atwood Magazine sat down with Moon Taxi’s drummer, Tyler Ritter on the album’s release day to talk all things Silver Dream, working remotely, being inspired by the occasional unreliability of memory, and the adrenaline rush of performing.
Stream: ‘Silver Dream’ – Moon Taxi
A CONVERSATION WITH MOON TAXI
Atwood Magazine: So first of all, congratulations on the release of your new album!
MOON TAXI: Thank you so much!
It must be such an exciting thing to release and finally have, you know, the world able to hear this thing that you’ve been working on for so long. I would love to know how it feels - what is your initial reaction now that the album is out in the world and people can listen to it?
MOON TAXI: I can tell you what I always feel on day one record release, ridiculous amount of stress. But in like the best way possible. This album in particular, we’ve kind of had in our back pocket for a while – it was originally supposed to come out [in] April. And obviously the whole pandemic changed that. So this is just, this is like a really, really, really amazing release right now. Like emotional release, you know, to have it finally come out. I’ve been up since six just doing stuff. One, because I couldn’t sleep any longer. And two, it’s just like, there’s a lot of stuff to do today.
Totally. Wow. So this album has been, like you said, in the back pocket since April. That's really interesting. Because it's had a little bit of time to sit. I would love to hear about the creative process behind making this album. In what ways was it similar to past albums? In which way was it, you know, different? I'd love to hear more about that.
MOON TAXI: Let’s start with the similarities first. It’s interesting, I was actually talking about this with someone else recently. Before the pandemic started and before all of this remote exchange of information, ideas, you know, became the norm, we were kind of already doing that for the past several records. We were sort of doing remote demoing between each other’s personal home studios and then would get together, say, a couple guys would get together at Spencer’s place and fine tune some stuff. You know, Spencer’s still at the producer’s helm for everything. It’s still a pretty collaborative process. You know, Tommy and I, me being the drummer and Tommy being the bass player, our parts are usually the last to be – definitely recorded, but sometimes the last to be like actually kind of written as far as the way that they’re going to work with everything else. So a lot of times there’s some fun studio magic that happens with that. And that definitely happened with this record as it has in the past. I think some of the cool differences with this one though, where we actually got to work with some outside songwriters and producers this time.
We worked with Busbee, who unfortunately passed away early this year or late last year. And we worked with a great guy named Drew Folk who produced our big single that debuts called “Say.” So we sent Tommy and Trevor and Wes out to Los Angeles to kind of do some writing sessions and meet some people and see if some ideas gelled. I’m not really sure that we had much of an idea or much of an expectation of what would happen one way or the other, but turned out to be, you know, very fruitful. That was a cool, different thing to happen on this one.
Yeah! I think the thing that's cool about being creative, and making any kind of art is that you know, the art you make on your own, and then the art you make with other people is often really different. So I think that that's definitely something that's a really unique difference to this album, like you said, that's going to be exciting for people to get to listen and hear those differences, and also hear the similarities. So yeah, that's a really awesome answer to that question. My next one is what inspired this album?
MOON TAXI: Let’s see. So I think the best way to answer this is to say that with each new album cycle, each new writing cycle that we go through, we’re trying to sort of find that next new iteration of Moon Taxi, like what is Moon Taxi going to become in the next phase of our career? And I think that’s kind of the motivation behind each record that we do. Definitely the motivation behind this one. The inspiration behind this one, I think the best way to answer that is sort of what Trevor has said about why we call the album Silver Dream. It’s sort of how you look back on certain memories, like us specifically looking back on our past and how we started the five of us together, and where we are now and like looking back and remembering certain things and sort of wondering if that’s exactly how it happened? And it’s been like 15 years almost, I wonder if that actually did happen that way. But it’s this kind of really cool, fond memory. And I think that kind of inspired sort of the vibe of the album as a whole.
With each new album cycle, each new writing cycle that we go through, we’re trying to sort of find that next new iteration of Moon Taxi.
That's really interesting. And I think that’s something that is going to be a really big asset to this album, because everyone has experienced that. Everyone has experienced their own version of a memory and then you reflect on it and it’s different or you’re not sure if that’s exactly how it happened. It’s a really universal idea, and one that’s also really niche. I think it’s going to be fun to watch people connect to these new songs. Do you have a favorite track or one that you're really excited for people to hear?
MOON TAXI: I love “Say,” the single that hits today. I absolutely love that song. I’m really excited, because we get to play a lot of these songs tonight. We’re doing a live stream set here from Nashville and three of the new songs that we’re going to play we have never played before — haven’t rehearsed them. So I’m excited to play a couple of those. And one of those, to get to the point, is the song “The Beginning.” I’m a big, big fan of that one. That was a very challenging song to record and it’s going to be a fun one to play. That one has some old school Moon Taxi sauce on it, so I like that one.
That's really exciting. What is your favorite part about playing live?
MOON TAXI: It’s dangerous! I mean, playing live for people… you have one chance to get it right. It’s an adrenaline rush. And when people are there, it’s obviously this energy that you feed off of. With the live stream sets, it’s almost sort of like being in the studio and just, you have to do it in one take. It’s another kind of adrenaline rush. It’s just as fun. It’s just a little different.
What a great way to put it - performing is for sure an adrenaline rush. I would love to hear how you’d describe this album in just one word, or a couple words.
MOON TAXI: Let’s see…how about two words? How about ‘shimmering’ and ‘dynamic’? The ‘shimmering’ part is because I think a lot of the new aspects of our sound on this record are, are kind of these cool synth sounds that we haven’t necessarily used before that are more in kind of the modern pop world, which is something we all love, like, top 40 music. We’re not always going to admit that we love to listen to top 40 music, but you know, we love to listen to pop music.
We’ve been trying to sort of capture cool moments and cool sounds from you know, from those types of groups and artists to kind of utilize for us. And I think the shimmering kind of comes from all these cool, sort of new wave-y, like modern keyboard sounds and guitar tones and like electronic percussion stuff. The ‘dynamic’ thing is just that there’s like, there’s so much up and down with this record. It’s a great front to back listen. And even though I mean, a lot of people don’t really do that much these days, it really is a fantastic, just put it on, hit play, front to back, you know, it’ll take you on a journey.
Yes! I like how it was sonically cohesive. It felt like there was a common thread through all these songs. So whether people listen to it, you know, one song at a time, or the whole thing at once from cover to cover, they'll enjoy it no matter what. And so that kind of brings me to my next question. You said this was done in April, it obviously got pushed back a little bit. What have you guys been doing with your quarantine time? Have you guys been working on mainly putting the finishing touches on this one or promoting this album? Or have you guys been writing again?
MOON TAXI: All of the above with the addition of raising a bunch of kids. [Laughs] My wife and I had our first child back in April. And Trevor and his wife just had their first baby, maybe about a month ago, a month and a half ago. It’s been very odd, as far as anyone would say. You know, there’s definitely been times where it’s been extremely frustrating. To not be working, that is. But I think all of us have been able to take advantage of the great moments of not being on tour and being with our families and totally enjoying home life for once.
Totally. What musical are you looking most forward to after the pandemic? Like when there are crowds again and live shows.
MOON TAXI: Exactly that. Live shows. People. That is absolutely 100% what I’m looking forward to.
It’s a different experience, getting to hear music live. And that’s why I think it’s really cool you guys are doing a live stream. Is there anything else you'd like to add about the group, about the album, about songs on the album?
MOON TAXI: That we’re all incredibly proud of this record, we’re all extremely excited and relieved that it’s finally out. We’re just excited to see what happens. We’ve already had some great traction with a few songs being on television. Like, I think “The Beginning” was in the opening episode of ‘Shameless’ for this new season, which was really cool. We’ve got to do a lot of stuff with the NFL this season with the new songs, and I think we’re just, you know, we’re just excited for people to hear it. We want to hear everybody’s thoughts on it. We want to know if everybody feels the same way about all this stuff that we do. That’s why we make music.
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📸 © Don VanCleave
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