THEY MISS THE ROAD. It's where things happen. And anytime it's mentioned, the collective mood of Morning Teleportation perks up. A vigor punches through their traditional Southern hospitality. "When I get off tour I feel this momentum like I'm still moving," explains singer/guitarist Tiger Merritt. "I get really fucking stir crazy, just wanting to go somewhere and travel. At the same time I have to remember to relax. As soon as I figure out how to relax, I start aching again to get moving and back on the road."
Morning Teleportation estimates they played somewhere near 200 shows in the past calendar year. They drove through Wyoming 18 times and put 60,000 miles on the van, they've opened for bands like Modest Mouse and the Flaming Lips, and played everywhere from backwater Southern bars to gigantic festivals like Sasquatch and Bonnaroo. Despite all the different stops, Morning Teleportation agree the best shows always happen in one place: Bowling Green, Kentucky.
Three band members grew up there. The fourth, Merritt, came to Bowling Green for college from Chicago. They met and played music a bit but were friends before bandmates. They split, then quickly reconvened in Austin, Texas, with a plan to start a band. Despite having just four songs, Morning Teleportation played a show their first month. It became a weekly affair—same time, same old Texas bar. Shortly thereafter the band met Modest Mouse frontman Isaac Brock. It happened first briefly in Chicago. Then again in Nashville. "We just kind of kicked it," Merritt says. "Ran around town. Goofed off." Once the band woke up in Brock's hotel room. He had already left.
"For the first year of knowing these dudes I didn't know they were in a band," explains Brock. It wasn't business. The third time they met, in Cincinnati, both bands were playing. After he wrapped with Modest Mouse, Brock caught Morning Teleportation and that very same night he offered to produce and release their record.
In order to do just that, Morning Teleportation relocated to Portland in December of 2008. They recorded at Audible Alchemy the following May with Brock on hand throughout the entire 12-day session, but the Modest Mouse singer was removed from the writing process. Instead he worked to keep their energy up, hoping to capture the band's frantic live experience. "Just do your show," Brock told the band.
The resulting record, Expanding Anyway, is bursting with energy. Opener "Boom Puma" was recorded on the first take and even the scratch vocals made the album. Yet at times there's little tethering Expanding together—tempos redline, as do ideas and notes—and as such, it doesn't always encapsulate the band's earnest live fury.
Although recorded here, Expanding is not a typical Portland-sounding album. Morning Teleportation gather influence from their travels, including the blues and classic rock so synonymous with their Southern roots. Expanding Anyway avoids nouveau hipster trappings. Warbled, existential, and playful, Merritt's rapid-fire vocals are similar to his mentor and label boss in that his rhythms and cadence are wholly unique.
That the finished tape for Expanding Anyway sat for almost 18 months is of little concern to the band—a fitting delay seeing how Brock's label is titled Glacial Pace Recordings. In fact, the band has been so busy touring that it took a few minutes to remember exactly what year they recorded the album. Happy-go-lucky, Morning Teleportation are just excited to get Expanding Anyway out to the masses. Really, though, they just want to get out and play.