Moon Taxi’s Trevor Terndrup talks jock jams, music festivals, the NHL’s All-Star Weekend and more

Moon Taxi has two high-profile gigs at this week's NHL All-Star Weekend in Tampa.
Moon Taxi. Photo: RCA.
Moon Taxi. Photo: RCA.
Published Jan. 23, 2018

Last spring, Moon Taxi got their first taste of Gasparilla season in Tampa, performing at the Gasparilla Music Festival in Curtis Hixon Park.

This year, the Nashville dance-rock band is coming back to town the same weekend as the main event, Saturday's pirate invasion. And singer Trevor Terndrup sounds like he's totally on board.

"That absolutely sounds right up my alley," Turndrup said. "I'm into it, 100 percent."

The good news for Moon Taxi is that Gasparilla shouldn't distract from their other reason from being in Tampa this weekend: The NHL All-Star Game.

On Friday, Moon Taxi will perform alongside Fitz and the Tantrums at a free fan concert in Curtis Hixon Park. Then on Sunday, they'll set up shop inside Amalie Arena, where they'll serve as the house band for the All-Star Game.

The timing for the gig worked out great for Moon Taxi, who are in the thick of promoting their new album Let the Record Play, which dropped last week. This weekend will kick off what promises to be a busy 2018, including their third performance at Bonnaroo and a European festival tour down the line.

Hailing as they do from Music City, Moon Taxi are Predators fans, though Terndrup will be the first to admit they didn't really hop on the bandwagon until the team's run to the Stanley Cup Finals last season.

"I know we're not killing it this season," he said, "but it was cool last year to see everybody come together."

Before coming to Tampa, Terndrup talked a bit about the Preds, jock jams and the enduring beauty of Bonnaroo.

Are you guys big hockey fans?

If I ever got free tickets to a hockey game, I would never pass it up. Last season, everybody in Nashville had Preds fever, from the huge country stars to Moon Taxi and everyone in between. There was a great sense of pride, a great sense of, "Wow, where did this come from?" It's fun to be swept up in that. That's the textbook definition of a fair-weather fan, but now I'm generally more aware of the Preds.

This free concert that you guys are playing, P.K. Subban is co-hosting. You ever spent any time around him?

I haven't. I look forward to maybe meeting him this weekend. I think he has a great presence, and seems like a real cool guy from the vibes he puts off. I'd love to hand him a CD of our music and tell him, "Hey man, we're big fans of yours." Maybe we can turn him into a Moon Taxi fan.

You've said your song Good as Gold was written during the Preds' run to the Stanley Cup. Can you elaborate on that?

At Preds games, they play the Black Keys song Gold on the Ceiling whenever we score a goal. I think it was during the time of the playoffs and Preds fever (that we wrote the song), so those sentiments definitely seeped into our subconscious, and I guess it came out through the writing. Our keys player, he was the musical inspiration on that, and I was like, "Oh yeah, it would be awesome if they played that at Preds game, because of the gold."

It would be cool to have a jock jam. Like at Lightning games, they play Thunderstruck by AC/DC. I'm sure it would rule to have a sports anthem in your catalog, right?

When you pick up a guitar, it's in your soul that you want to write a rock anthem. Anytime a 10-eyar-old picks up a guitar, that's generally his dream. If you're able to write something that has that lasting power of that AC/DC song, then you're doing something right. The biggest rock anthem I can think of is the White Stripes' Seven Nation Army. That transcends all sporting events. You can hear that at a World Cup game, you can hear that at a football game, you can hear that anywhere. We're all just striving for that.

I don't think of Moon Taxi as a big arena band, but you are the house band for the all-star game on Sunday. What does that entail?

You know, I'm not really sure. I think we're going to try to bring as much energy into the 30-second bumpers that we have. That's really all I'm focused on, is trying to hype people up. Of course, people are already going to be at 100 percent, because it's the All-Star Game. I'm just hoping we can turn Good as Gold into an arena rock anthem. Maybe someone will hear it and it'll catch on.

You've got the concert on Friday with Fitz and the Tantrums, and then the game on Sunday. What else are you doing this weekend?

I think we might have a free day on Saturday. I'm going to try to find P.K. Subban and see what he's doing and hang out with him.

You're playing Bonnaroo. Since they released the lineup, I've seen a handful of people kind of hating on Bonnaroo, saying it's lost its direction and gotten a little more generic. I haven't been since 2012, but what are your thoughts on the evolution of Bonnaroo over the last few years? What do you think it represents in the American festival landscape right now?

I think it's a wonderful festival. It's the first festival I ever went to — as an 18-year-old kid, I went in 2002 to the very first Bonnaroo. There's always going to be haters; especially now online, there's trolls everywhere. Every time any festival releases a lineup, there are people that are going to be freaking out in a good way, and people that are just going to be talking s—. I don't take the latter group very seriously. I think there are some awesome bands playing.

You went in 2012? That was our first year playing, on Thursday night. It was a milestone in our career. We played That Tent on Thursday night at 7:30 p.m. The sun was going down when we started, and it was nighttime by the time we got done, and it was so electrifying and energy-packed, and it really put us on the national radar. I felt like we proved ourselves, given the opportunity in a big festival slot. It's all to say that I think Bonnaroo is the flagship music festival; I will always see it as the first one I ever went to, and I just feel like they do it right. Some years have a great lineup that appeals to me, some years don't appeal to me as much. But I think through and through, Bonnaroo will be here to stay.

Who's the best festival headliner you've ever seen live?

Oooh, great question. I always think about the most immediate one, because I've seen so many great bands. But we were down at Voodoo Fest in New Orleans, and we got to see Nine Inch Nails. That was incredible. He brings so much intensity. And it's so controlled. It's like Marlon Brando's acting. It's so subtle and nuanced. It's awesome.

— Jay Cridlin