The operative word when discussing the music of Alabama’s Moon Taxi is “big.” The band makes large-scale pop-rock music meant to reach the very back row of whatever venue they’re playing, in the same way that groups like Coldplay or Muse or even Maroon 5 do. The rhythms are meant to make a crowd sway, the hooks are huge, the choruses are immediately catchy; the band aims for the mainstream in the best possible way.
And on their newest album, “Let The Record Play,” the band proves they aren’t averse to throwing in a beat that people can dance to. Songs like “Good As Gold” and “Two High,” which was a No. 1 hit on Adult Alternative, or “AAA” radio, work propulsive beats into their arrangements right alongside the ringing guitars, icy keyboards and singer/guitarist Trevor Terndrup’s emotional vocals.
Interestingly enough, up until “Let The Record Play,” Moon Taxi made their music independently. They released five albums themselves and built a devoted fan base before signing with RCA Records in 2017.
“RCA saw what we’d built on our own and they respected that,” Terndrup says, “and they saw that we were doing it independently. There was a mutual respect because they saw our relationship with our fans, and I think they just wanted to take that and make it even bigger.”
It’s worth noting, though, that after more than a decade of doing things themselves, the band wasn’t sure they even wanted to sign with a major label.
“We were hesitant,” Terndrup says, “but we’ve had songs in the past that we thought were wonderful, and we wanted more people to hear them. That was our mindset: We wanted to spread our music as far and wide as possible.”
Perhaps predictably, when “Let The Record Play” came out there were some reviewers who saw the album as a slick, commercially driven departure from Moon Taxi’s prior sound, though Terndrup says the band didn’t see it that way.
“But we had a song that went to number one on AAA radio, so I think some people thought, ‘Well, they must have changed something.’ But I didn’t feel like we’d changed anything. I think it was a continuation of our story,” he says.
Whatever sounds Moon Taxi incorporates into its sound, though, Terndrup says the main goal is to write songs that will connect with their audience on the road, which is why the band has a sterling reputation as a live act.
“We’ve always taken the live performance of the song into account while we’re writing,” he says. “And our fans dictate that direction. We see the reaction these songs get live, and we want to amplify it.”
The band is particularly satisfied with their recent string of stand-alone singles, “Restless,” (a pulsing mid-tempo tune with a hybrid electronic-reggae style groove) “Now’s The Time,” (a bouncing, guitar-driven rocker) and “This World,” (an aching, acoustic-electric ballad). It’s a diverse batch of tunes that they wrote after the “Let The Record Play” sessions.
“We’ve always been an album-focused band,” Terndrup says,” but we got the impression from our fans that they wanted to hear new material, so we thought, ‘Why not put these out and see how they do?’ And it’s been great. ‘Now’s The Time’ in particular is great to play live, and ‘Restless’ has been a great song to do at summer festivals because it’s got this sunny, bright vibe.”
Terndrup says that those songs will probably be in the mix when the band plays their headlining show at Fall For Greenville this Sunday night, along with lots of other recent material.
“I think the last time we played (Greenville was) somewhere between 2013-2015,” he says, “and we’ve put out three albums since then. So we have a plethora of new material, and we’re looking forward to playing in Greenville again.”
If you go
What: Moon Taxi @ Carolina Chevy Stage, Fall For Greenville
When: 5:30 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 13