The story behind Tennis is very charming. The Denver-based band, made up of husband and wife duo Patrick Riley and Alaina Moore, was born out of wanderlust. Sailing down the Atlantic coast, the pair embarked on their first attempt at making music together and created their premier album, “Cape Dory”.
Seven years later and now a “proper band”, they have come full circle: to create their fourth album, “Yours Conditionally” they sailed around the Pacific. Swooning love songs framed by dreamy melodies echo their romantic story but it’s evident that Tennis goes deeper this time around. Working out the complexities that define love, identity, and feminism, the latest album sees the band at their best yet, pairing their back-to-basics approach with a worldly confidence.
Twin catches up with Alaina to find out how it’s done.
Tell us more about the album title, “Yours Conditionally”.
It was about boundaries with regards to my relationship with the world. It included my marriage, my friendships. Over the years, I feel like I was unintentionally conforming to certain things and expectations and ideals of like how a woman should be, whether it’s a writer and a performer or a wife. I thought of how unromantic it would be if I signed a letter to Patrick, “Yours Conditionally”. And we were laughing about it but then he was kind of like, no, but that means so much.
So was it about a more mature and sensible love?
Exactly. I’m a little cynical towards romance and forever and all those things and yet here I am in this long term, straight, monogamous marriage. I try to challenge myself to do better. If I’m going to write a love song, I try to do something different. I want to write a love song that’s sincere and smart and not identity erasing or self-effacing, which love songs tend to be.
How conditional do you think the record turned out to be?
I’ve actually made a conscious decision with this record to be a lot more open, taking more emotional risks, because I noticed that whenever I did do that with the song, I feel like people responded more, even if they didn’t exactly know what I was referring to within my own life. It’s like a symbiotic relationship. So I set that goal for myself, to do more work and be a little less guarded.
In terms of your process, were you looking to get back to the simplicity of the beginning?
That’s exactly what we were looking for. And I don’t think it had to be the sailing trip so much as it was eliminating the ways in which we were trying to prop up the expectations of the industry. We gave ourselves permission to undo everything we’d ever done for the sake of making whatever we wanted with the same sincerity and goal of just pleasing ourselves, as we had with the first record.
What was that like?
It just felt so good, I can’t explain it. It brought back the joy of writing, the freedom of the first record but with some measure of skill and ability of having made several albums.
Listening back to “Yours Conditionally”, how do you think your music has changed?
I definitely hear maturity. When I listen back to our previous records I hear all the ways in which we were experimenting and growing and trying new things. I hear that sort of transformation throughout all our records and this record is really a pleasure to sing because I was able to write myself in mind instead of pretending I was somebody else.
What are you and Patrick looking forward to as Tennis?
I am definitely looking forward to Coachella. That’s going to be a very surreal experience, especially having grown up going to the festival. I was nineteen when I went to see Radiohead, and now we are going to be playing on the same day as Radiohead!
That’s incredible, congratulations!
Isn’t it? It’s almost like a life achievement that I didn’t even know I would want. If someone asked me, make a list of life goals, I couldn’t have even thought of this one, so I am very pleased (laughs).
And in your personal lives?
I think we want to sail across an ocean….
Yours Conditionally is out 10th March, pre-order here.