The best band you’ve never listened to, Tennis (Denver), talk Yours Conditionally and the development of their sound over four albums

While at Coachella last month, I caught up with Denver husband-wife duo Tennis, who in spite of releasing four breathtaking albums (their latest, Yours Conditionally, is out now), have never made many waves down here in Australia. We here at the AU think it’s about time they made some waves, so join us as we get to know more about the band, their latest album, their developing music, and listen to a few of the tracks  along the way! And find out which Australian band they think are the “Greatest Group of Guys Ever”.

How did the set go? We caught a couple of songs. It sounded great out there.

Patrick Riley: Thank you.

Alaina Moore: Yeah, thank you. I actually felt a lot more comfortable the second time around. The first week was a little bit disorienting.

It’s kind of like you had a redo.

Alaina: Exactly. I know. It felt really good today.

It’s different to shows that you’re playing on your own or even support shows. Do you like festival sets? Does it give you a chance to win over new fans?

Patrick: Yeah.

Is it a harder show to play?

Patrick: No. I think people generally are there to have a good time. I don’t think they’re there to critique your show or sit there with a journal and write what they love or hate about it.

Alaina: There are those people, but I don’t feel them. They always feel like party sets to us. Yeah. It’s like everyone got work off and they’ve probably been drinking since noon. Even if we have some chaos with sound or whatever and it’s not an ideal controlled environment, I still have a lot of fun at festivals. I really enjoy it.

Do you enjoy being a punter as well and getting out and seeing some of the music?

Alaina: Absolutely. As soon as we’re done with all of this, I’m going to eat, and then I’m going to go sit down in the grass and watch everybody play.

Anyone you recommend from the first weekend?

Alaina: I miss all of the things. I really wanted to see The Lemon Twigs and a few other things that just didn’t work out with our schedule. But, we’re going to see Father John Misty again and obviously Radiohead, of course. Glass Animals was so good. We caught the end of that last week.

Cool. Well, all bands worth checking out as, of course, being your own sets. You’ve been on the road promoting the latest record. You’re four albums in now. Does it feel old hat now? Kind of getting on the album cycle and hitting the road? Or is it new and exciting every time?

Patrick: We made the change this time around. We self produced, self recorded. We didn’t show anyone even a demo. Because we self produced and self recorded and wrote all these songs alone, it’s fresh to us, from that perspective. This is the first album that we’ve just done completely by ourselves. It’s really fun to be able to play those songs live and just have the intimacy that we have for the songs, and we feel the way that we do.

Alaina: Yeah, absolutely. We have the newness of being our own label and striking out on our own, in that sense. But, we have the experience of the last several records. I normally have crippling anxiety at the beginning of an album cycle, and this time it was a lot of excitement. I was actually surprised. I was almost weirded out that I didn’t have crippling anxiety. I was like “What’s missing?” Oh yeah, my crippling anxiety. It’s been great.

Does it feel good to have more control over the music as well, with your label Mutually Detrimental?

Patrick: Yeah. I think we realised that when we ask ourselves the question, “Why are we doing this?” or, “What do we love about this?” It’s making music from our vantage point. Strictly our vantage point, and controlling even the aesthetic and music videos. Every little nuance to the way people perceive us.

Alaina: Yeah, we didn’t get into this to have a million bosses. We started this to just have an outlet for our own creative expression. Taking the reins back feels more true to the vision of Tennis, which is not necessarily to be a huge success, but to make ourselves happy.

What I loved about Yours Conditionally is that it felt like it was the refinement of everything you’ve been doing until now. “This is what we’ve always been trying to do, and let’s put it into this one album.”

Alaina: Well, that’s a delight to hear, because that’s what we wanted to sound like. It’s hard to know.

Because some bands go, “Okay, let’s go completely different and let’s go off the rails.” But it was just what you had been doing, but so beautifully refined.

Alaina: We kind of just like the one thing.

Yeah.     

Alaina: I don’t imagine Tennis reinventing itself and doing something really jarring like going into a new genre or something. We listen to all kinds of music, but when it comes to writing, we just know what we want to do and we’re not going to get experimental on anybody. It’s not happening.

You’ve won over tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands of fans around America and the world, but you haven’t been down to Australia yet.

Alaina: No.

Patrick: We try. It’s so tough to fly a whole crew out there and expect to make any money. I think we’re really trying to do it on this album cycle.

Alaina: It’s a life goal. We want to do a tour of Australia and of Asia. It hasn’t happened yet, but we’re putting it out there into the universe, and hopefully it all comes together and works out for us.

After Coachella, what is next for you? Is it a support tour coming up?

Patrick: We’re supporting Spoon for 12 shows-

And The Shins as well?

Patrick: Yeah. Supporting The Shins for 20 shows. We’re going to be out with them for almost two months.

Those’ll be good shows.

Patrick: Yeah.

Alaina: I can’t wait. I am so excited.

Patrick: This year, we’ve gotten a lot of support from a lot of people we never through we’d be getting support from. Getting an email from The Shins saying, “Will you go on tour with us?” is, I don’t know, very flattering.

Alaina: Yeah.

Patrick: Thank you.

Alaina: Compliment of a lifetime.

James Mercer seems like he’s in a good mood at the moment.

Alaina: I hope so. I can relate to that. I feel the vicissitudes emotionally of making art and being on the road. I am excited. I’m ready for it.

Well, those’ll be some great shows and we’ll put the dates up with this article and everyone in Australia can get your music on Spotify, and at all good digital retailers. There’s probably places you can pick up the physical copies as well. Do you know anyone selling it in Australia?

Patrick: I don’t at the moment. We should know this, because we’re our own label, at this point.

Come on, do your label job!

Patrick: If you could nudge a promoter down there to book us a show, we’ll come down there in a heartbeat.

Bring some vinyl with you.

Alaina: Absolutely.

Guys, thank you so much for your time and best of luck surviving the heat for the rest of the weekend.

Patrick: Thank you. And say “hi” to Rolling Blackouts. Do you know that band?

Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever?

Patrick: We played some shows with them. They’re the greatest group of guys ever.

Tennis‘ latest album Yours Conditionally is out now through Mutually Detrimental