I'm With The Band: Tennis
While on their recent tour with Haim, we sat down to chat with Alaina Moore and Patrick Riley, the husband and wife duo who make up the laid-back band Tennis, and we're now even more in love with them. They made us laugh, taught us a secret hair trick, and left us extremely excited to hear their upcoming fall album. Interview by Katie Gregory
Hey guys! What was it like playing with Haim?
A: It's definitely the biggest indoor crowd we’ve ever played to. We’ve played bigger ones at festivals, but it feels different all sprawled out across a field. There’s more atmosphere in here.
You guys recently played a headline show in Williamsburg, right?
A: We did, it was so great, but so different from the Haim shows. We’ve done lots of opening shows before but never one for an indie band that’s in the middle of becoming like, mainstream and full-blown. You know what I mean? It’s one thing to open for The Shins or The National but these girls have lines around the block with adoring, young fans waiting to get in. They crowd around the bus all night waiting to get a glimpse. I know that that exists, I’ve just never been on a tour where I’ve seen it. With the bigger bands, it’s different.
And it’s like a younger crowd mostly?
A: Yeah, totally! I felt compelled to give a girl power speech. This is the first time I’m not playing to a crowd of young professionals or people in college. It’s really a lot of younger girls and I want to be like “You should be doing this too!”
You guys just started touring again recently, right?
A: We started touring in the last five months after taking more than a year off to do some writing. It was crazy getting back into the swing of things and a little overwhelming. But now that we’re into it, it’s really fun and there’s always new things. We’re rising to the occasion and we have new material that we specifically wrote that would be the best live. Some songs live just don’t connect the same way, so we specifically wrote songs that would translate well.
Have people been responding well to that?
A: Yeah, which has been crazy!
P: In the past, people would be like, [sarcastically] “Alright, that was great!”
A: It’s hard for people in the live setting, if they’ve never heard it even once, to process it, but these new ones are working regardless. Maybe there’s just something more visceral that we’re trying to tap into.
Do you guys have a favorite song from the new EP [Small Sound]?
A: From the new one my favorite song is "Mean Streets" because it’s the sassiest. [laughs]
P: I think "Timothy" might be the most fun for me to play.
I like that you guys have an actual favorite and didn’t tell me that they’re all your favorites.
A: Oh, totally. They’re NOT all my favorites. [laughs] There are songs I hope to never play. I’m just like “Oh my god, why is that in the world?” I don’t know any band that doesn’t regret at least one song. [laughs]
Are you guys playing any festivals coming up?
A: Not this year, we’re hoping to catch them next time around. Our newest album will hopefully be coming out in the fall, so we’ll just hop on the bandwagon a year from now.
P: We’ll take a breather because when it does come out, that will be our life for like a year, just touring. Never getting to see home. That’s just how music works now.
Do you guys have any favorite albums that you like to play in the summer?
P: That’s a good question. Beach Boys IS summer, but we can’t say that because it’s too cliché. Everyone loves the Beach Boys.
A: But it’s fully true. We just listened to them today. You never get over it.
P: I listen to a lot of S.E. Rogie in the summer. It’s this like, island-y sound, really happy and pleasant. It’s like surf-y island music.
A: It’s really washed out and dreamy. The whole band was recorded with one mic in the studio. You hear the naturalness in it and it’s really beautiful.
P: Yeah, it makes you feel good. What’s a newer band? We like Mac DeMarco. And The Shilohs, have you heard of them? They’re so good. They’re Canadian and their album just came out. We’re going to plug the shit out of that. I hope that people connect with their music because they’re fucking great people, and they really deserve it. There’s a song called “Sisters of Blue” which is one of the best songs I’ve heard in the last five or six years.
Are you guys looking forward to anything this summer?
P: Releasing the album. [laughs] I think we’ll just be able to breathe a bit better when we can have it exist in the world. We’ve spent a year and a half writing it and we put a lot of blood, sweat and tears into it. We moved to Nashville for some reason...
A: Well, not for SOME reason.
P: We tried to go down there to write the album, but then we ended up feeling like we weren’t doing as much as we could down there.
A: We felt like lost puppies. This last year was a lot of false starts. Having the album ready to go is like having finals being over, like thank god. I’m gonna go out dancing. I’m gonna do all the things I did not do because I was saving my voice. [laughs]
So you guys moved out of Nashville?
A: Yeah, we moved back to Denver. We were in Nashville for almost a year and it was really, really glorious at first and then we just realized we took a lot of things for granted, mostly our friends. We got really lonely and named all of the bunny rabbits that lived in the bush in our front yard. We turned into an 80-year-old couple. I put up bird feeders. We named the birds and the rabbits and we’d just sit there looking out the window all day and I’d be like, “Oh look, Hazel and Basil are out.” Then one day we were just like… we are insane. We need to get the hell out of here.
But now the album is 100% done?
A: It’s done! It’s finally mixed and mastered. We’re just sorting out artwork and release date and then it will be set and ready to go.
One last question: do you have any hair tips, Alaina? Because we love your hair.
A: Thank you! I have been killing myself trying to figure out how to make curly hair cool and not poodle-ish. I decided that the ‘70s were the best for curls and I figured out that, unfortunately, it takes a lot of time. I get a curling iron that’s the same width as my own curls and go through my whole head, and then I just take my hands and shred it all apart. And then I leave it for like… ten days. This is like day five right now! I use Oscar Blandi dry shampoo. I read an interview with Annie Clark, St. Vincent, and she said 11 day old hair is the best hair and I was like WHAT? I am missing out! So that’s the trick. [laughs]