Creative people get their ideas in different ways: some are born with it, others practice it, some sacrifice themselves for it, others flock to the deserts of LA or the hills of Thailand – a band called Tennis get it from sailing on the sea. Thus the topic of interest in this article; Tennis, the founding members of the band made up of husband and wife Alaina Moore and Patrick Riley. They are a very interesting duo (their weird but confidently simple name supposedly a joke initially) of creative juices and their story of where they start their musical engine is one in its own, also inspiring.
Both from Denver, Colorado and going to the same college, researching in the library is where Alaina noticed sailing books. Once college was complete, the pair sold everything they had to buy and move onto a boat in Florida and start a travelling quest beginning at the Eastern Atlantic Seaboard – all the while no notion of a music career was at the forefront. Only until they were on the sea the recipe for music began inspired by a Shirelles song on the radio. To summarise Tennis’ success to date reflects their attitude: decision and action, they weren’t afraid to cut all ties and GO when they moved onto he sea, a trait all successful people have – and mixed with creativity is a wicked treat.
Their sound echoes girl group 60s pop with mature lyrics about their experiences on the sea. Distinctly so with their successful debut album Cape Dory, the landscapes they see and encounters they meet stand out on the title track and another song, Marathon. Other than the sea, the band write beautiful songs on the theme of love; being husband and wife, Alaina and Patrick share their relationship with us perfectly on the special, simple structured and short worded song Pigeon – which could find itself sitting comfortably in any old fashioned Hollywood movie.
Cape Dory cemented Tennis’ style. Alaina’s soothing wooing voice and charming chords on the keyboard along with Patricks talented light touches on guitar cooked a new take on the doo-wap era. Their approach is all about light touches. With their second album, Young and Old, the songs were just as strong as the first album, if not better. Stand outs include the classically mature My Better Self, about the importance of hearing ones voice. The uplifting lead single Origins, and its B-side, Deep in the Woods, which is an understated genius of a track; dark and brooding with a haunting keyboard note – the song is based on a horror novel.
Young and Old kept up Tennis’ good form which continued onto their third album, Ritual in Repeat. Still staying within the arc of the first two album themes of love, exterior experiences and listening to the inner voice, they were able to expend these interests onto new topics: their working profession and religion (probably inspired by Alaina’s chore singing upbringing); especially heard in songs Never Work For Free and I’m Calling. Ritual in Repeat was by far their most highly produced record to date, working with the The Black Keys, so offering a more ‘complete’ package: a larger band backed with higher production value.
As of now Tennis have just arrived back from their latest sailing extravaganza, and they have announced a fourth LP is on the way. So far their material have escalated with each record and have always offered an inviting approach to its listeners, so you’d expect the same with their new album most likely. Their style tailor make themselves onto film soundtracks, you get the feel for this from their music videos; most are made in the style of a film, their eye for their craft draws pictures of situations happening within scenes.
As a band which remain more of an independent asset than a mainstream one suits them like ducks in water. Working with independent labels and releasing music to an audience of core followers, this is how they have grown their status, and most importantly how it should remain. The guarded and precious way of creating their music deserves the success of being justly that and not changing for any major label if they ever come knocking. What happens on the sea should stay on the sea.