In early 2020, Moon Taxi was set to begin the next chapter in the band’s burgeoning career. A new album, “Silver Dream,” was getting wrapped up and a single, “Hometown Heroes,” had been released. The group was getting in some touring to start the year ahead of the album’s planned release.

Of course, the pandemic got in the way of those plans, and touring and the release of “Silver Dream” went on hold.

“We got into the summer, we were like OK, should we go ahead and release the album? The original plan was to put the album out in the summer of 2020,” singer/guitarist Trevor Terndrup explained in a recent phone interview. “Back then we just didn’t know what was going to happen, and then we got to the fall and we were like should we put the album out or should we just set a release date? So in the fall, we were like OK, if things aren’t opened up by Christmas time, we’re just going to go ahead and go for it and put it out in early 2021, which is ultimately what happened.”


Normally, Moon Taxi would have road tested at least some of new songs before they were released, but that didn’t happen with the pandemic. So now that touring has resumed, the group has only begun to get a sense of where the new material fits in the live show, as the band assembled two different set lists (which will come in handy in cities where the group has back-to-back shows) covering Moon Taxi’s six-album career.

“The new songs, we’re just trying to figure out how to present them in the best light possible because we haven’t had a chance to play them live and gauge the reaction,” Terndrup said. “So those are sort of a work in progress. We’ll continue to hone in on what we’re going to do there.”

As it is, the time away from touring wasn’t all bad. For Terndrup in particular, the timing of the pandemic had a silver lining.

“My wife found out we were pregnant in March. I became a dad during the whole quarantine phase,” Terndrup said. “That was my big focus. I was able to give her literally whatever she wanted, wait on her hand and foot. Yeah, I felt very much connected to my life at home and very much disconnected to our fans and to the road, which is sort of a flip flop to what things normally are in my life. So it was kind of nice to have the coin flip the other way.”

Family time had been limited for Terndrup in the years leading up to the pandemic thanks to Moon Taxi’s busy touring and recording schedules.  

The group’s roots go back to 2002 when high school friends Terndrup and bassist Tommy Putnam moved to Nashville to attend Belmont University and formed Moon Taxi with guitarist Spencer Thomson and drummer David Swan.

The group didn’t really ramp up their activities until 2006. That’s when Swan left the band and was replaced by Tyler Ritter. With keyboardist Wes Bailey joining as a fifth member, Moon Taxi released their debut album, “Melodica,” in April 2007 on their own 12th South Records.

The group gradually built a following with cross-country tours and appearances at a number of major festivals. As Moon Taxi went on to release three more studio albums between 2012 and 2015, the group also enjoyed exposure through quite a few song placements in commercials (including ones for McDonald’s and BMW) and sports broadcasts, as well as appearances on late night shows like “The Conan O’Brien Show” and “Late Night with David Letterman.” 

Then in May 2017, Moon Taxi released “Two High” as a single from the band’s fifth album, “Let the Record Play,” and saw the song rack up millions of streams on Spotify and other online sources. 

Soon Moon Taxi was being courted by a number of labels, including major label RCA, which signed the group.

By 2019, Moon Taxi were in the early stages of writing for what would become “Silver Dream.” Initially, it was to be the group’s first major label album, and as part of the process, RCA suggested that Moon Taxi’s three songwriters, Terndrup, Thomson and Bailey, travel from their Nashville home base to Los Angeles to write for a week with a half dozen seasoned songwriters. Such sessions are a common practice for major labels, which hope the collaborations will produce a hit song or two.

The songwriting trip turned out to be time well spent.

“We got a lot of material. We probably wrote about half of the songs for the (“Silver Dream”) album there just in six days,” Terndrup said. “So it was fun. I definitely think it sharpened our skills as songwriters. But moving forward, I don’t know if that’s really going to be how we continue to make music. But it was definitely a good learning experience.”

Ironically, Moon Taxi and RCA parted ways, Terndrup said, due to differences in how the two parties viewed the group’s career path. But “Silver Dream,” which was released on BMG, has a bit more of a modern pop major label sound, while still fitting with Moon Taxi’s previous albums.

The group has always crafted songs with pop hooks, although they were blended in with rootsy elements and a bit of jam band feel. But songs like “Light Up,” “Palm of Your Hand,” “Say” and “Live For It” feel tailored to pop radio airplay with their buoyant melodies, perky synthesizer/synthetic instrumental backing and sonic ear candy. 

“It does feel like it is kind of geared toward that, yeah, to modern pop, rock radio-friendly,” Terndrup said of “Silver Dream.” “We have a good history of getting our music played, so that’s the idea, but not a huge departure.”

He noted that some songs sought to blend the synthetic and organic worlds.

“Like when you hear tracks like ‘Hometown Heroes,’ and the whole track is based on a mandolin, like a guitar lick, but then it’s supported by these like kind of synthy bass (lines), and it does have real drums,” Terndrup said. “So it’s a nice push-pull of real modern, slick production with some good old Tennessee strumming guitars.”

If the music feels a little more tailored for a mass audience, “Silver Dream” is actually deeper lyrically, with some songs having real life/autobiographical elements. “Hometown Heroes,” for instance, was written as a tribute to the long-term friendship between Terndrup and Putnam (although it’s general enough to also be seen as a tribute to first responders). “Take The Edge Off,” evolved from its initial intent as a fun drinking song during a Los Angeles writing session with Busbee, the hugely successful songwriter who sadly passed away in September 2019.

“I brought that idea to Busbee, and he heard it and he kind of sat and thought about it for a second and then just proceeded to like really dig real deep and talk about how life is ultimately not fair, but you kind of rely on these people to sweeten the bitterness of life,” Terndrup recalled. “That’s what take the edge off is, it’s people that you love. I’m like ‘Oh my God, Busbee, you took this like kind of stupid idea that I had and you elevated it to this beautiful level.’ Anyway, I just think that’s something I will always take with me. You can have a catchy little hook, but it has to have a deeper meaning.”


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