Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Interview: Tennis

Indie’s cutest couple Alaina Moore and Patrick Riley have our favourite rock back story. Better than Mick and Keef meeting on Dartford train station and bonding over Chuck Berry records. Better than the time Paul McCartney cleared his throat and went over to shake hands with the infinitely cooler John Lennon.

The Denver natives clapped eyes on each other, fell in love, married and undertook a seven-month sailing expedition that inspired them to record an album of wistful sepia-tinged pop. We caught up with them to talk sea shanties, navigating and throwing each other overboard…

Your back story is like something out of a fairytale. How did you first get together?

We met as philosophy majors, which tends to be an isolating discipline so we both appreciated the ability to share that side of ourselves with each other. That, and most philosophy majors I met had a bad sense of didn't hurt that I thought Patrick was well dressed.

And you then decided to take to the waves. Do you feel you would have made the same kind of album without having done this?

Never. We’d never have written music if we hadn't lived at sea first.

What was the most important thing you discovered about yourselves while out at sea?

This will sound silly, but that we can do anything we commit to doing. There was one occasion where we were about to make landfall in the Bahamas, and the seas were huge and Patrick was too sick to navigate, so I found myself plotting our course into a foreign inlet, on a paper chart with no one to check my work. I never saw myself doing something like that, but there I was, leading us safely in from sea. That was the first time I realised that I had a tendency to underestimate myself.

Did you learn any good shanties?

Not really, no sailors we met were very musically inclined. We made up our own though, especially when we were scared.

Didn't being together all the time make you want to kill each other?

Not kill each other, but maybe shove each other overboard. Only for a moment though, and then we forget what we were mad about. Luckily he'll never kick me overboard, because I can't swim.

How did you keep the romance alive?

Just taking care of each other. Nothing is more romantic than going to sleep at sea knowing that the person you love will watch over you.

Has it inspired you to do another trip?

We've just decided to do a sailing trip around the Caribbean. We want to go to Cuba, and also attempt some longer ocean passages.

You've been lumped into the whole 'surf pop’ scene but you don't seem to exactly be a comfortable fit there. How would you describe your sound?

We describe our music as "vintage pop” but it's always hard to categorise your own music. You never know how self-aware you actually are when it comes to your own art.

Why do you feel there has been such a raft of joyful pop being produced over the last few years?

We can only really speak for ourselves but I guess that a lot of our time at sea was really hard, or terrifying. That was why we wanted to listen to happy, poppy love songs. We wanted to be uplifted, and take our mind off of things. Choosing the style of music we did probably had a lot to do with escapism.

Finally, promise us you're not going to get divorced and record a bitter 'Rumours' type album about the break-up...

Haha, not a chance. We already tested our relationship before we started Tennis. It would take a lot more than touring to break us up!

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