Tennis recently got one of our coveted Top Star rankings, for the sublime Cape Dory. Keyboardist/vocalist Alaina Moore and husband/guitarist Patrick Moore returned went on an eight-month sailing journey, crafting the album upon their return to shore, eventually garnering quite the wave of buzz from bloggers across the world. The Denver-based outfit’s highly personal pop takes as much influence from Phil Spector as it does the coves along the East coast. After a tour across Europe, Tennis has returned to the U.S. for a second leg. Moore recently took a couple of minutes to go over the group’s meteoric rise, their back story, and their next album.
Hey. How’s it going?
Good. I’m sorry I missed your call. We’re driving through Utah right now, and we go through stretches of perfect service to zero service.
So, how is the road?
It’s good; we’re finally getting used to it. We’re really new to touring. This’ll be like our fourth time out on the road together, so we’re finally getting our groove down.
I know you guys just got in from Europe; how was that?
It was really, really fun, actually. We were pleasantly surprised with how it went. It was our first time out there, so we had no idea what to expect. It was definitely a lot of work, and it made us really appreciate touring in the U.S. It’s just so much more convenient, being in home territory, knowing where diners are and stuff like that. (Laughs) Small comfort.
Were the crowds very different?
Totally different. I actually think the weirdest thing was, you know, going essentially from country to country, there would be a different country, a different language, and it was definitely a very different experience. But it was overall very positive.
I guess I wanted to touch on the mythic origin story of your band. Is that something you expected to be as grand as it’s turned out to be? It’s made such a big deal in every piece of press you guys get.
That’s a funny way of putting it, but you’re totally right. We do laugh about it, it has become this big origin story. It’s funny how interested people are in those sort of things. But I think it’s just because we’re a new band, and people want to know where we came from. But it is true; it is like the sailing trip was the complete inspiration for all of this music, and the reason we even formed this band. So it’s definitely as significant as it’s played out to be. It is funny, though, that that’s the thing that most people want to hear about.
Does it ever worry you, that you’ll get pigeon-holed as “that sailing band” or something like that?
It bothered us a little bit at first, but we’ve realized now that no band can escape, you know, a few particular…monikers. Somebody will latch onto something for every single band. And at least this thing is very close and personal and true to our music, so…I think we’re coming to terms with it. We’re okay with it.
So it’s definitely clear that the lyrics were influenced by your sailing trip. Was the music equally influenced?
It was, but in a different way. While we were out sailing, we didn’t listen to music all that often. But when we did, we had very particular tastes. I mean, I definitely listen to music that I’m in the mood for, in whatever place I’m in in my life at that moment. And when we were out on the boat, it was like the Shirelles, Paul Simon, and just, like, sunny pop. And that was just, like, the aesthetic of our trip, and it’s why we chose that style when we started to make music.
What about fitting into that sort of sunny pop scene that seems to have just exploded?
I actually think it’s just…this weird sort of synchronicity, because while we were sailing, we were completely out of touch with everything going on in contemporary culture and the music industry for well over a year. And that’s when this whole style burst into the scene. When we came back, we were totally ignorant about what was going on. We’d already made our demos, which were released last year, and then we found Surfer Blood, and Best Coast, and all these other bands, and we were like, “Oh my gosh.” It’s like the time was right; I just think it was a weird thing where everybody was suddenly in a place where they wanted to hear music like that. It’s really awesome that we were prompted simultaneously to make music that way.
Would you say there are any big differences between you and the other bands in the scene?
I think all of them are different. I think when you’re a musician, you can’t help but notice all of the subtle differences in your composition from somebody else’s. I think people wrongfully lump bands together into this sunny pop, or surf rock, or whatever, like fuzzy keywords that people use to describe it. I think it definitely short-changes some of the differences in every band, but I think that it’s okay, because I think categorizing helps people understand a style of music, and I think it’s just something that people have to do.