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Shine's CatchUp with Tennis (the band, not the game!)

Alaina Moore and Patrick Riley of Tennis
Mutually Detrimental Records
Alaina Moore and Patrick Riley of Tennis

Welcome to Shine's CatchUp, a new feature where WFPK host Laura Shine catches up with musicians about their music, new albums, or whatever they've recently been up to.

The band Tennis is husband/wife duo Patrick Riley and Alaina Moore. They've just released their 6th album titled Pollen which they recorded and produced themselves this time around. The album is full of shimmering pop, hushed vocals, and great grooves. Tennis is currently on tour and will be close to Louisville on April 11th at The Vogue in Indianapolis. We spoke with Alaina about the new album and its inspirations.

I love your new album and wanted to know how the "Pollen Song" became the title track?
The lyrics to Pollen Song were the first I wrote for the record. I felt like I had captured something fundamental about the way I experience the world. As though every beautiful moment is laced with a hard edge, something painful or bitter. I made it into a theme on the record. I "take my pain with pleasure" on Let's Make A Mistake Tonight. In Glorietta, a sunset is ruined by a naval air show. It's not that I'm incapable of noticing and inhabiting an instance of joy or beauty...it's just that it always comes with baggage.

Like other albums of your past, was Pollen also inspired while on a sailing trip, and if so, what is it about sailing on the ocean that gets your creativity going?
That's actually not the case with Pollen. We were land-locked for the entirety of the writing / recording process. I read Annie Dillard's Pilgrim at Tinker Creek while writing Pollen. I think it's common for writers to seek out remote living situations in order to remove distractions from their work. Sailing is another way of achieving this. Patrick and I like that a boat is self-contained and mobile. But after the pandemic that last thing we wanted was isolation. We needed community and I think the album benefited from that.

You seem to find lots of inspiration by the Sea yet live in landlocked Colorado. Just curious as to why? Does it provide more balance to your lives?
Switching between the two environments is a healthy paradigm shift. None of our daily concerns on land apply at sea, and vice versa. Being in a band it's easy to get caught up in things that don't actually matter. Spending any amount of time alone with the ocean reminds me of that--in fact it reminds me that I don't matter at all. I know that sounds dark but sometimes it's what I need to hear. That said, I'm not really connected to the ocean (it terrifies me). I'm connected to our boat. It is very small but cleverly designed. It's meant to be lived on without external support and survive the wildness of the sea. It gives me a powerful sense of home.

I've been listening a lot to the latest single "Let's Make a Mistake Tonight" and wanted to know how this song came about? It's got such a great groove. Did the groove come first?
The lyrics "let's make a mistake tonight / let's turn water into wine" came first. I'm a pretty buttoned up person so this is sort of wish-fulfilment, me flirting with recklessness. Later Pat and I were experimenting with a new synth and I played the chord progression and started singing these lyrics over it. Suddenly there was an identity and a mood. Pat added the drum groove next and the whole song evolved out of the verse.

Since taking excursions on the sea seems to be something you all are passionate about, what would be your dream trip of a lifetime be?
We both want to cross an ocean one day. It feels impossible but we know people who have done it. I think it would be the scariest thing imaginable. I can't explain why I want to do it, but I do.

Check out the official video for "Let's Make A Mistake Tonight" below.

Laura is the afternoon host from 3-6 pm weekdays. Email Laura at lshine@lpm.org