Could there be a more "Bonnaroo Band" than Moon Taxi? This week, Brad and Barry talk to Trevor from Moon Taxi about their history with the festival, what it means to them, and what to expect from their show from the farm this year!
Guest: Trevor Terndrup
Journey through the stories that define the artists playing Bonnaroo. Who are they? What are they? What will you see? The what? Which bands? This year? That matter? With Brad Steiner and Barry Courter. You know, when I think about bands that perfectly represent what Bonnaroo is, the culture, the artistry, the history, the roots of it, Moon Taxi could be at the top of the list. For me, that's why I wanted them to be a part of this. Their story is pretty compelling for the whole history of it. We'll get into that with Trevor, who was kind enough to call. But I mean, these are high school guys. When it started in 2002, they were just up the road in Nashville. So a natural sort of, they went. They liked it, dreamt of one day playing there. Took them a lot longer to do that than you might have thought a decade. And now they did it on a small stage. And then they were back at the second largest on the witch stage three years later. And now three years later. Don't break the news because Trevor breaks news today. Yeah, I'm going to say it. That even InfoRoo doesn't have. I'm just going to say they were back, that they're back. I think that's pretty cool. Plus they have a local connection. We know them because they used to play small clubs here. And Trevor spent a couple hours in Camp Nut Butter with us. I can't wait to dive into all of it with Trevor from Moon Taxi today. This is the What Podcast. That's Barry Courter from the Chattanooga Times-Free Press. I'm Brad Steiner from Hits 96, WDOD Radio in Chattanooga, Tennessee. I know that this is not necessarily a Chattanooga based podcast. It's not even necessarily a Nashville based podcast. I mean, Barry, you notice that it's now being heard in 20 different countries. We're huge in Korea. Yeah, well, I just think that's so awesome. I think it's eight downloads now in Korea. When you see us, you immediately think Korea, Japan, Sweden, Brazil. So we're international. So yes, we know that this is not a Tennessee based podcast, even though it is about Bonnaroo. But our conversation with Trevor today, very focused on Chattanooga and we are from Chattanooga. Barry's been here his entire life. I've been here 20 some odd years. The weirdness about this is that Moon Taxi is from Nashville. But man, you could have called Chattanooga home. They have been here so often. They have been in our streets, up and down our streets for years. And I have not once seen them. How is that possible? I don't know. And I was thinking about that driving over. I think it's important. They are sort of part of this part of the world, I guess, being Nashville, Chattanooga. But I think they represent Bonnaroo, you know, joking about being huge in Korea. I think anybody will like them. I think their story is representative of bands in general, festival bands specifically, Bonnaroo bands specifically. So while we do dive into some of the Chattanooga centric stuff, I don't think it matters. I think anyone will understand it. We had Bozzy last week from California by Michigan or Michigan by California. Which is an interesting way to sort of frame it. Bozzy never been to Bonnaroo, doesn't really know anything about Bonnaroo. We like Bozzy. He's a good kid. But there's something special about Moon Taxi and the way that you want to root for them because they feel like one of us. They feel like just another Bonnaroovian. No question. And we get into, and we've mentioned it before, there's just some songs that feel like a Bonnaroo song or a festival song. They take you there mentally. It was interesting to hear him say that without us sort of bringing it up. That was cool. He speaks the language. He knows every step of the farm. It was quite refreshing talking to him. A little bit later on the podcast, we're going to tell you how you can win Bonnaroo tickets. We've got announcements to make. We're going to read some of your comments that you've given to us at thewhatpodcast.com and from Twitter, thewhat underscore podcast. Let's get into it with Trevor from Moon Taxi. What do you say? Let's do it. I was reminded by Barry that our camp that we have set up at Bonnaroo each and every year, it's called Camp Nut Butter. And there's been about, there's 12 of us that camp and we've camped together for almost 10 years now. And one special, we get a lot of special guests pop through the campsite on occasion. One special guest, what, five years ago happened to be Trevor. Yeah. Trevor sat down at our camp and hung out with us for an hour or so. Was that stumbling through the camp or was this on purpose? I don't, I don't really know why. I don't. Part of it, and I wanted to ask, I think you know Mike Dewar from here, right? From Rhythm and Brews? Oh yeah. Oh man, I miss Mike. I haven't thought about that gentleman for a long time. It's good to remember him. That means the invite is open to you again to crash Camp Nut Butter in 2018. Let's do it. I gotta imagine coming back to Bonnaroo's is pretty sweet for you guys, huh? We're ready, man. We are 100% ready to, and excited to play some new material there and excited to get back to the, I think we're playing The Witch, right? Yeah. We're playing The Witch stage. That would be my guess. I think we're playing The Witch again, but we might play it under the cover of Night. So that's going to be a little more interesting and exciting for us because, you know, we pride ourselves on our light show and we're just going to pull out all the stops. That's got to be a much different show than when you popped in on a Thursday night at Bonnaroo however many years ago, huh? That was 2012, I want to say, right? This is a podcast that we started to sort of, because we've been going 26 years combined. We like the festival. It's just up the road for us. We're here in Chattanooga. So I want to take you back. You guys are from Nashville, which is even closer. It's more like 25 minutes. We're about 55. In my mind, it's like equidistant from Chattanooga. I don't know. I don't know. Maybe that's just me. Maybe my GPS is my... I actually agree with Trevor on this one. He's probably right. Geography was never my thing. I really do feel like it's more of a Chattanooga festival than it is a Nashville festival. Yeah. Ooh, those are strong words. I promise we can get there quicker than somebody can the other side of Nashville. All right. So let's go back. 2002, this crazy... No, no. 2002? 2002? Oh. This crazy never heard of festival starts down the road or up the sideways for us. You guys didn't start your band until 2006, but you obviously knew of it. So what I want to do is sort of talk about that progression of going from starting a band to having a band to when do we get to play this festival to then finally getting to play it in 2012 and then... Band, that's a long story, but I'll try to go back to the very beginning. And the beginning for me would be in high school when I started a band with Tommy, the bass player of Moon Taxi. And we had aspirations to move to Nashville and we were moving to Nashville in the fall of 2002. So during the summer of 2002, we heard about a festival, a first time festival called Bonnaroo. And we were like, what is this? Where is it? Bona what? Bona who? All we knew is that we were 18 years old and we wanted to go check out this festival. So we went, it was the first year and it was beautiful chaos and the most fun I think I've ever had in my life. And I got to experience it with my best friend and my bandmate. We went to the first one and our eyes were opened, the doors of perception were knocked down. We were just, I was convinced that I wanted to go to every single Bonnaroo. And at that time I wanted to go just as a participant, as a fan. I just wanted to be kind of wrapped up in that incredible chaos that is a music festival. We went and we got to see, I think our first show in the afternoon was, this was in 2002. We saw the band's Llama. Do you remember them? Wow. Yeah. We saw Llama. What an opening hand you got dealt. It was great. It was fantastic. And we were like, man, these guys can't be that much older than us. And look, they're playing this great festival. And we really looked up to them and got to meet a few of the guys in the band, you know, years later. So that was our first show that we caught in the 02 festival. It was hot, it was dusty, it was messy, but it was awesome. And that was my first kind of taste of Bonnaroo. You know, fast forward, you know, a whole college education later and five years later of playing, playing bars around the Southeast, touring hard and writing records together. We were offered, actually fast forward 10 years because our first time there was 2012. We were offered a slot on a Thursday night at this tent, I believe. No, sorry, it was that tent. Yeah, it was that tent. Yeah, it was that tent on it. I think it was like a 730 PM slot. So just as the sun was coming down, you know, we started playing, it was still light out. But by the end, it was just completely rowdy and a mess. And it was a huge, huge stepping stone in our career. I feel like that really put us on the national radar as far as bands to go check out that thrive in a festival setting. After the first year, did you make it a point to go back to Bonnaroo again before you eventually played it? Did you guys go every year to become like your year? Yeah, yeah. Sorry for skipping that decade in there. We went, I kind of fast forwarded really quickly. We went, I went the next three years. So I went 02 through 05, I think. And then at that point, I took on some summer jobs and I was like studying abroad. So just really focused on my kind of academic career at that point. Didn't even have a band. Well, it wasn't Moon Taxi then anyway, was it? It kind of was. I mean, we say 07 was when the band really formed because that's when our final member came on. But the band formed and was more or less Moon Taxi over like the course of three or four years from like 05 to 08. While we were kind of formulating our final crew and just writing music for our first record. But yeah, so I went to the first three Bonnaroo's, I guess, which would have been 02 through 05. And I think that's the same for Tom, the bass player, and Spencer went to the, I don't know if he was at the first one. He's our guitar player and producer. He went to like one of the first ones. I want to say it was maybe 04 and 05. The rest of the band members, they're a little younger. They're like three or four years younger. So they were still in high school at the time and didn't get to experience those first few crazy years there. But they've been, you know, subsequently. What's so refreshing, especially in 2012 when you sat down at the campsite, the reason why you sat down at the campsite is because you were there for a few days. It's refreshing that on the first time you decided to, you guys got to play Bonnaroo, you stuck it out and you were there to watch the rest of the festival. Not everybody does that. And we talked about that maybe a couple of weeks ago on this podcast, that if there's something that we were ever to tell a young artist that was able to play Bonnaroo, we'd say, stay, stay and absorb the entire experience. I would say so. I mean, especially if you haven't experienced the festival from a fan's perspective, I feel like Tommy and I have a unique perspective on Bonnaroo because we went as fans for so many years and, you know, we went to the first once, we saw what it was when it started and like the kind of ethos that it was born out of. Brad and I have talked about this in previous podcasts and we have the other fans in mind. What would be your camping tip? You have a camping tip that you picked up? Oh man. Those three years or in 2012? Yeah, just the kind of basic survival skills. You got to find a good bathroom, find an opportunity to like unplug too. I mean, it's a lot of sensory overload. So if you need a chance to like just go take a walk by yourself and find like an unoccupied corner of the festival, I think that's really important. You know, especially if you're like an introvert, kind of like I am, like I'm an introverted extrovert. Like in my sort of profession, I'm very extroverted, but I need those like moments of personal space and reflection, time for reflection. I think that's important. You go from 2012 and Bonnaroo and I got to imagine that that show was a major look for you guys. And we said it to Ashley Capps. I really think that without Bonnaroo, I don't know if a band like you guys gets as big as you do, as quickly as you do. Yeah. No, it was an incredible opportunity and definitely a milestone. We always tell people they were like, you know, several milestones in your career. For us, it was Bonnaroo was our first one. You know, then like a late night TV show appearance was the second one. But Bonnaroo is always, always mentioned in the top three things of things that have helped kind of propel the band to the next level. And that's pretty impressive considering you guys have played every festival. I mean, you guys not only play every festival, I think that you might have played every city in America. I mean, you guys could be like the hardest working band on the planet. How many live shows are you doing a year? I mean, not more than 110 to 150, I would say. You guys work. You know, we found a good kind of happy medium of time at home because now, you know, lots of us are married and have children and it's hard to balance those things and still get out there and play as often as you need to. We just took our first European tour. We played throughout Germany and Sweden and Norway and it was amazing. And I can't wait to get back over there. That's a whole new world for us. Is there a place that you haven't played yet that is still like your white night? Is this somewhere you really want to get to that you haven't gotten to yet? Oh, I mean, like that taste of playing abroad in Europe was really awesome. I'd like to go play in Spain and some festivals in Spain. Barcelona's got a good one. That's for sure. Yeah, that's exactly what I was thinking of. Primavera in Barcelona. I would love to go there. I went to Barcelona on my honeymoon and it is beautiful. It's the most beautiful city ever. You guys, because you're a Nashville based band, you're two and a half hours or so from Chattanooga. You played clubs here in Chattanooga. The people that saw you back then and then maybe saw you at Bonnaroo, a little bit different evolution with the band. I've heard people say you become more of a festival type band or even an arena, larger crowd. Was that something conscious? Are you guys even aware of it? Is that a fair comment? I guess I don't. I think it's a fair comment. And people that saw us play at J.J. Bohemia and then people that see us play at the witch stage, for some reason they want to say it's a different band. But really it's not. It's the same exact lineup. We're not necessarily playing the same songs, but I think at the core of it, our songwriting process changed. We wanted to write more and some kind of style songs that appeal to the broadest range of people. And we wanted to have songs that thousands of people could sing along to. And I think that's the one thing maybe that's changed fundamentally. But it's just two guitars, bass, drums and keys at the core. It's still the same guys. For people who don't know, J.J.'s is about 150 if everybody stands shoulder to shoulder. Oh my God. Yeah. That would be barcode violation. I don't know if I can get my family's Thanksgiving dinner in J.J.'s. It's a nice place, but just to let people know. It's great. Tell me. We played a show there with... So who's the guy? He's like the kind of chief of Chattanooga. He's got a red fro. I think his name's T.J. T.J. Griever. Yeah. He had the best hair and rock. Yeah. Best hair and rock and roll. He's amazing and great energy. What was the name of his band? I'm trying to think. Up With The Joneses. Up With The Joneses. Up With The Joneses, yes. We played some shows with them. Traded back in the day. I just love your band, bro. You guys are doing great work, bro. He's doing great. He's doing great. He's doing great. Runs the best pizza joint in the city, that's for sure. Yeah. Still singing and doing great.