Morning Teleportation might look like your average band of Portlanders, but the minute the members open their mouths, you can tell they aren’t from around here.
Morning Teleportation might look like your average band of Portlanders, but the minute the members open their mouths, you can tell they aren’t from around here. Regardless, this band of boys from Bowling Green, Ky., has made a name for itself in Portland in the year and a half since its members moved here.
The group, which consists of drummer Trey Coker, singer and guitarist Tiger Merritt, multi-instrumentalist Travis Goodwin, trumpet and guitar player Chris Lively and Paul Wilkerson on bass, keyboards and vocals, has been playing music together far longer than its members have been in Oregon.
“We started playing music together in Bowling Green, Ky., initially,” Merritt said. “Not as this band in particular. I mean we’d all jam around and play with everybody…we were all living down there, so we just jammed out.”
The band made its way to Portland slowly, with many of its members first leaving Kentucky for the musical pastures of Austin, only to return to Bowling Green later on.
“Paul moved to Portland and we all moved out of Kentucky,” Goodwin said. “Tiger flew to Portland and [he] and Paul drove from Portland to Austin…That’s where we started writing actual Morning Teleportation songs together and then we left Austin and went back to Bowling Green.”
Morning Teleportation’s current lineup was solidified when Lively decided to visit his friends in Austin while he was living in San Antonio.
“I went and saw them one night,” Lively said. “Last I had seen of them they were like, ‘We’re going to Austin to start a band!’ and I was like, ‘Yeah, OK. Good luck man. I hope it turns out alright.’ I didn’t think I’d ever see them again, to be honest…They came back [to Bowling Green] and I thought they were just like, ‘Hey, friend of ours that is sort of in town you should come jam with us’ and then all of a sudden they were like, ‘You should play this show with us’ and all of a sudden they were paying me for playing shows with them and I was just like, ‘Wait a minute, what happened here?'”
This move into the group forced Lively to pick up trumpet again, an instrument he said he hadn’t touched in “half a decade.” What truly put Morning Teleportation in the position in which it currently is, though, was a chance meeting and eventually friendship with Modest Mouse front-man Isaac Brock.
“The first time [we hung out with Isaac] was actually in Chicago,” Merritt said. “We met him in Chicago and then hung out with him in Nashville after he got done playing the Ryman [Auditorium] and then went out with them that night.”
After that, Morning Teleportation would occasionally run into Brock at other Modest Mouse shows in the area.
“We ran into him all across the country,” Merritt said. “If he was in a decent distance or if there was a Mouse show we’d just be like, ‘Hey what’s up man’ and just give him a ring and kick it.”
As their friendship developed, Brock and the boys spent most of their time together hanging out and very little of it talking about business. It wasn’t until Brock went to see the band play that he offered the group a spot on his label, Glacial Pace.
“He came to a show in Cincinnati,” Goodwin said. “We were doing like a little mini-tour and he was playing in Cincinnati that night…so he came to our show after his show and kind of started talking about Glacial Pace.”
The move to Brock’s label meant a move to Portland for the entire band, as well as some changes in how it did business and, to a degree, how it was making music. With a label behind the band and support from an indie music legend, Morning Teleportation now had the tools to get serious with its music and up the caliber of its production.
“It definitely created more of a focus,” Goodwin said. “As far as just being professional with everything.”
Currently, Morning Teleportation is in the process of mixing its first full-length album, Expanding Anyway, which includes tracks from the band’s previous EP and new material that has been rerecorded and mixed at Audible Alchemy here in Portland. Under the guidance of Brock and renowned sound engineer Clay Jones, this new album promises to wrap the group’s eclectic sound into a neat, well-produced package.
The band’s sound has been enough to garner them a lot of attention since its move to Portland, winning it a solid group of dedicated fans and garnering much praise locally and nationally. Each member of the band brings to the table their own sounds and influences, combining together to produce a varied and diverse range of music with hints of the psychedelic, grunge rock and even a bit of funk.
“It’s kind of like a Venn diagram,” Lively said. “Everyone’s kind of got their own thing and somewhere where all these circles overlap is actually what happens with [our] music…In a given day of hanging out with anybody, you might hear Tiger play something that’s like Nashville chicken-pickin’ and then you hang out with Trey and its dub-step on the radio and then [at] my house it’s Cuban records. Everyone’s got their own tastes and then it sort of turns into this other thing.”
Morning Teleportation truly comes alive during performances, with aggressive guitar and punchy vocals intermingling smoothly with a level of energy only to be rivaled by the enthusiasm of its audience.
In addition to finishing up its forthcoming album, the band is slated to appear at Sasquatch! Music Festival in May and Bonaroo in June. The band also has plans to tour this summer and is continuing to work on new material. For the time being however, its members are just trying to enjoy the ride and the local music community, which has accepted them with open arms.
“There are some really enthusiastic friends that we’ve made while being here,” Merritt said. “It’s been an honor to know everybody since we moved here.”