Sunday, January 23, 2011


Late last summer a husband and wife duo released a few songs via their Myspace page under the name Tennis. Through word of mouth and blog posts, this band named after the popular sport, began to become one of the most talked about unsigned bands in the music industry. No one had ever seen them play, they had no album or EP but just some really catchy fun in the sun lo-fi surf rock songs. Through some investigating, information slowly began to leak out about the duo and their story is one for the ages. This Denver duo of Patrick Riley and Alaina Moore bought a sailboat, refurbished it and took an eight month voyage with some friends down the Atlantic coastline. Inspired by the world and adventure around them, they started crafting songs to document their journey and the result is something pretty extraordinary - simple, yet very effective and fun music. After all the hype and dust settled the band embarked into the studio to refine their songs and just released a great debut, Cape Dory, last week. In one of their first interviews since the albums release, get to know Patrick and Alaina as we discuss the band's creation, their journey and working together.

What prompted you to name the band after the sport?

Alaina: Our band name isn't all that meaningful to us. It's mostly based on a long-standing joke of ours, I used to tease Patrick for playing tennis competitively growing up. I grew up in a neighborhood where you wouldn't dream of picking up a tennis racket.

You have been playing music for less than a year and already there is a major buzz about you. How do you respond to the acclaim?

Alaina: We are constantly surprised. We had no expectations for Tennis. We both had good full-time jobs and graduate school aspirations. Tennis feels like this crazy side-step from our original life plans (yes, we have life plans.) and we feel honored to have the opportunity to pursue it.

Was it a pure organic thing how you and Patrick got to playing? What made you pick up instruments one day and try it out?

Alaina: We both played our respective instruments (keys/guitar) growing up but not seriously. I was the sing in church kind of girl. After sailing, we had trouble reconnecting to the lives we had left behind, music presented itself in a new way- as an escape, a way of processing our experiences while sailing in a way that communicated its significance.

The style and sound of the band seems to be lo-fi, fun in the sun – surf rock. There are a number of bands like Best Coast, Wavves, Surfer Blood, The Drums, Soft Pack, Male Bonding and dozens of others that are emerging making the same style of music. Do you feel this is the next wave, so to speak in genres? How does Tennis stand out apart from the other acts?

Alaina: I don't know about lo-fi surf rock ever being constituted so seriously as a genre, but I think it is an important contribution, and even a sort of playful reprieve, to the independent music scene. We only ever wanted to make music that was lighthearted, and made you wish you were outside, which was the sort of music that we listened to while we sailed. I think if music like ours can be both lighthearted and dreamy without being insubstantial then it will have more of a chance at longevity.

Your inspiration behind your music and the band is an inspiration to your readers. Eight months at sea inspired your music. Did you know anything about sailing before venturing out on the high seas?

Alaina: Not at all, just like we know nothing about being in a band or writing music. Patrick doesn't believe in waiting for something you want. We bought our boat as soon as we were able and learned through experience. Granted, we did ample research beforehand. We certainly don't endorse striking out onto the ocean with no knowledge whatsoever. We had a good balance between education, preparedness and a sense of adventure. We are trying to apply the same principles to playing music. Mostly, we want to live whatever life is most fulfilling, and that seems to include adventuring.

What promoted you to spend all that time out at sea? How were financially able to do it?

Alaina: Patrick had fantasized about sailing for most of his life. He started saving when he was in high school specifically for this purpose. Sailing somehow represented freedom. He convinced me that it would be a worthwhile endeavor and he was right. We made a lot of sacrifices just like anyone would. But once you have your boat, you can live rather inexpensively and it was easy to sustain ourselves after making that big initial purchase. There were sacrifices made to achieve this endeavor, most of our time on land saving up was without cable, internet, cell phones, etc. While we were actually sailing, we often went without electricity.

Did you record while sailing or after?

Alaina:We didn't start recording until months after the sailing trip had ended. But we knew exactly what kind of music we wanted to make, we had dreamed it all up while sailing.

Where did you go on the boat that caused you to sing about your experience? What was your favorite place?

Alaina: My favorite place was South Carolina. We were stormed in for days on this beautiful river that is part of the Intra-coastal waterway. I wanted to write about it instantly. The river was lined with towering cypress trees and even though it was summer, the cold front left behind a thick layer of fog that made it impossible to navigate. That is what I remember when I think of South Carolina.

Was it just you and your husband on the sailing trip, or were you with others and the collective experience led to the music?

Alaina: It was almost always the two of us. My sister sailed with us on the very last leg of our trip, but she was mostly there to vary the company. We had a few other visitors, including Patrick's parents who helped us on our Bahamas crossing.

Will you go back out at sea for further excursions? If so, where to next?

Patrick: We are in the middle of planning a quick trip to the Chesapeake bay where our boat is docked. She needs a lot of work so I am guessing we won't be doing that much sailing. Our next big trip is planned for next years sailing season; we're hoping to explore the Bahamas more and write songs about our past situations on land. And just a couple years down the road, we are going to cross an ocean; I'm sure this will result in some interesting music.

11) When working on your full length, how was it being recording? Your 7” had such a great DIY raw sound to it.

Patrick: Originally, we wrote a batch of songs that for us represent the story of our trip and the key places that we experienced. In a way, it is a documentary of our time at sea. Some of the songs appeared on a few 7"s out of context from the story. We want to make sure this album does a good job of presenting the story but, yes, we are trying to not have it sound entirely like a bedroom recording which it originally was.

Being in a band with your wife, is it a difficult thing? Being around each other all the time and now working and touring together, does it take a toll on the relationship?

Patrick: Far from it. We talk about this all the time, we rarely ever go a day without seeing each other. For some people opposites attract, for us, it's our similarities that have held us together for long periods of time. There were months on the boat where we literally hung out with each other exclusively without wishing for someone else's company. I'm basically married to a beautiful female version of myself...

What happens after its release?

Patrick: We have plans to tour until May which means we'll probably break up soon. (I think I'm kidding)