Together, Patrick Riley and Alaina Moore, a husband-wife duo based out of Denver, Colorado, make up Tennis. The band released its first album Cape Dory following an eight-month long sailing expedition. Now, nearly seven years later, Tennis has released their fourth studio album titled Yours, Conditionally, and fittingly, to make this album, the band took to the seas once again.
“For this album, we decided to go back to the way making music was in the beginning. It wasn’t overwrought. It was natural, spontaneous and joyful,” vocalist Moore says of the decision to take a sailing trip in order to make the new record.
After touring with the new record for a few weeks, she says, “I can’t help but reflect on the tour we were on a year ago compared to now. I always expect nothing. I am a zero expectations person. I’m not expecting something horrible but I have zero expectations. When we have a sold-out show it makes it that much more rewarding and unbelievable. It’s been amazing.”
When we caught up with Moore on a rare day off, she spilled about her unique pre-show rituals and the writing process.
How do you think you’ve evolved from your first tour to now?
We’re much better now. On our very first tour, we played a show in Mississippi. We met the people who run our label, Fat Possum Records. After the show one of the guys told us that we weren’t too great live but we’ll get there. So, I think we are better now.
How do you like the live performance aspect of making music?
I’m starting to feel a little bit more at-home on the stage now. It’s becoming my zone. I used to feel so vulnerable on stage. I’d have so much anxiety before shows and it’s taken a long time for me to feel safe up there.
Do you have any pre-show rituals?
I have so many that take about two hours before I get on stage. They’re very trivial. I make a cup of tea, plug in my humidifier, put on makeup, write the set list, warm up, do my hair, finish warming up and then perform. If any of it gets interrupted I get very panicky. Patrick [my husband] thinks it’s really weird, but I need the routine. It’s the only thing that gives me any sense of control. I’m always in a new place and a foreign environment and this is something that is repeatable and predictable.
What was the experience like when making Yours, Conditionally?
When we made our first album as Tennis, we were mostly alone. We then felt like we needed to collaborate with different writers and producers who were further along in their career. For this album, we decided to go back to making music as we wish, without any goals for it. We weren’t trying to write video singles or anything specific.
We took a very long sailing trip together. We hadn’t been sailing in about seven years and we felt we needed very physical and psychological distance in order to free ourselves up to work the way we had on our first record. I wanted the experience to be as free as it had been that first time. I don’t know if we’ll ever have that again but just being alone I the middle of no where on a little boat where nobody sees what you’re doing except for each other, made it very easy to write.
Is it difficult to write otherwise?
Before that trip, if I wrote a bad song or didn’t love something, it would just ruin me. I would fall apart. For me, those moments can be pretty paralyzing. This environment made it so much easier to push through those feelings.
What is a band or an artist that you listen to that fans would be surprised to hear?
I don’t believe in guilty pleasures in music. There’s nothing that I enjoy listening to that I would be embarrassed to divulge. Different music does different things to people.