Tennis, Catch Them Before They Take a Little Break

About a week and a half ago I got a chance to chat with Alaina Moore, one-half of indie-popping husband-wife duo Tennis (Patrick Riley plays the role of husband and musical other-half.)  The pair had just kicked off their current tour, with a hometown show at the Ogden Theatre in Denver.  And, despite being a bit nerve-wracking, Alaina tells me that it was absolutely great: “It was amazing. I always have a little more trepidation when playing a hometown show.  I mean everyone knows you, so the stakes are higher.”

Tennis are currently about halfway through this round of dates, with a handful of sell-outs, and a number of big shows to come on the East Coast, including a January 25th stop at Union Transfer.  The band played Union Transfer back in 2012, before they were quite as big as they are now, but their last two area appearances, at MilkBoy and Underground Arts, were each sold out, and it’s a safe bet that next week’s show will be their biggest in the City of Brotherly Love and Sisterly Affection yet.  I ask Alaina if there are any cities or gigs that she’s especially excited for on this batch of dates, and she tells me that she tends to not discriminate, but that she is quite fond of our city.

“Honestly, I’m not really partial to any particular city.  I mean, I’m excited to play Brooklyn Steel and I’m really excited to play Union Transfer again.  We’ve played there once before, but it’s been a while.  It’s a really great room, though.  I always really enjoy our shows in Philadelphia.”

This current set of dates is in support of Tennis’ We Can Die Happy EP, released last November, a follow-up to Yours Conditionally, their fourth full-length, which was released in March of last year, just a week before their aforementioned sold out show at Underground Arts.  Tennis spent much of the time between releases on the road, including numerous dates with both Spoon and The Shins.  I ask Alaina what inspired the songs and sounds found on Tennis’ latest EP and she tells me it had more to do with how they’d been spending 2017 than anything else: “Well, it was more just a state of mind we were in.  There were songs that just didn’t quite make Yours Conditionally, and we had a month off between some Shins dates.  The EP really came out of the repository of our unconscious.”  (It’s also worth noting that when I ask about my favorite EP track, “Diamond Rings,” which I tell her reminds me of early Belle & Sebastian, that it was apparently actually Bruce Springsteen, and not B&S, that she and Patrick were channeling.)

Last November Tennis also released a video for their latest single, “I Miss That Feeling,” which sort of resembles what it may have looked like if John Waters or Todd Haynes ever channeled their ironic love of melodrama into the form of a music video.  I ask Alaina about what inspired the band’s latest visuals and she more or less confirms my assessment: “For visuals, I just really want them to enhance, but not distract.  For ‘I Miss That Feeling,’ I was thinking about The Cher Show and really just camp sincerity, an overly sincere performance, TV-smile the whole time, even if you’re singing about something sad.”

Although Tennis have been crisscrossing the US and kicking out new jams for the past year now, after these shows, they plan to take some time off from their own output.  I ask Alaina how she and Patrick are hoping and expecting to spend the rest of 2018 and she tells me we should expect Tennis to take at least a tiny break: “Well, immediately following tour, I’m going to do what I always do: not get out of my pajamas or get out of my house for 7-10 days [laughs].  Then we’re gonna be working on producing other people’s music, like our friend Johnny Payne from The Shilohs.  We wanna keep working and staying active, but give our own music a little break, after putting out two releases last year.”