I never learned how to swim.
In years of sailing, I never let the water touch me. The ocean was an abstract dread, an obliterating void as untenable as outer space.
In January 2018 we went on tour. After years of scraping by, we found our footing with our fourth record Yours Conditionally. It was a commercial success that set us up to to play the biggest rooms of our career. But three shows in, I developed a raging case of influenza. Each night I dragged myself onstage and croaked out the set in a delirium. After a particularly bad soundcheck, Patrick asked me if we should cancel the show. I couldn’t imagine giving up the thing we’d work so hard to achieve. “I’ll be on stage even if you have to mic my coffin,” I joked.
The next morning I fainted and had a seizure while grocery shopping for breakfast. Patrick carried me through the check-out lanes screaming for a doctor. I woke later in a hospital bed. Patrick leaned over me, crying. “That’s it,” he said. “I’m canceling the tour. I thought you were dead. We’re quitting the band. I’m going to be an accountant.” But I was on the mend. We missed two shows and pressed on.
During sound check at the 930 club, Patrick stepped out to take a phone call. His father had been in the hospital all week, but he had cancer and brief hospitalizations were routine. Back at the hotel that night, Patrick poured two shots of whiskey and handed me one. “I’d like to toast my dad.” He said. “The doctors offered to put him on life-support to give me a chance to fly out there, but I didn’t want him to suffer. Instead I said goodbye.”
Patrick went home to grieve with his family and rejoined us on the road two days later. I couldn’t believe how quickly our lives had unraveled in the midst of what was supposed to be a milestone in our career. As the tour continued, we found refuge in playing music together. Songwriting had always been an extension of our inner-world. Now we retreated to that world every time we stepped onstage.
After the final show of our tour in Austin, we received another phone call. Patrick’s mother Karen was in the hospital on the brink of a stroke. We got on a plane and went straight to her bedside. Her recovery took weeks. In the hospital waiting room, I wrote the opening line of “Matrimony II”: I only have certainty when you hold my hand.
On a hot July day, after Karen’s return to good health, we sailed as a family into the Pacific and scattered Edward’s ashes at sea. I marked our position on the chart with a small x. The album was already well under way. In that moment, I realized what I wanted to call it.
Swimmer is a tour of the darkest time in our lives. But it is not a dark record. Named for the feeling of suspension and upendedness that characterized this period, it is the story of deep-rooted companionship strengthened by pain and loss. These songs carried us through our grief. It is us at our most vulnerable, so we kept a small footprint, recording everything ourselves in our home studio. I set out to describe the love I have come to know after ten years of marriage, when you can no longer remember your life before that person, when the spark of early attraction has been replaced by a gravitational pull.
Swimmer is available everywhere February 14, 2020.
TENNIS RETURN WITH “RUNNER”
ACCLAIMED INDIE-POP DUO HERALDS FIFTH STUDIO ALBUM WITH NEW SINGLE
SWIMMER DUE OUT ON FEBRUARY 14, 2020
“Tennis’s dreamy, nostalgic pop laps and recedes like waves hitting the shore.”
– The New York Times
“Tennis remain devoted to a specific span of musical history, drawing on the beautifully rendered tunes that emerged between pop’s Wall of Sound era and the eruption of punk’s unkempt energies.”
Acclaimed indie-pop duo Tennis has announced today’s release of their eagerly awaited new single. “Runner” is available now via Tennis’s own Mutually Detrimental label at all DSPs and streaming services.
“The music video for Runner was made with our long-time collaborator Luca Venter, says Tennis’ Alaina Moore. “Inspired by my love for old musicals and all things Gene Kelly, Fred Astaire and Bob Fosse.”
Tennis’s first new music in almost three years, “Runner” heralds the band’s highly anticipated fifth studio album, SWIMMER, arriving at last on Valentine’s Day, February 14, 2020. Produced by Tennis and mixed by four-time GRAMMY® Award-nominee Claudius Mittendorfer (Panic! At The Disco, Parquet Courts), SWIMMER sees the Denver, CO-based husband and wife duo of Patrick Riley and Alaina Moore elevating their distinctive pop approach to heretofore unexplored new heights, experimenting with atypical instrumentation, complex time changes, and an increased focus on lyrical storytelling fueled in part by a series of life-changing experiences that only served to strengthen their already powerful personal and creative bond. As with their 2011 debut album, CAPE DORY, and their acclaimed fourth LP, 2017’s YOURS CONDITIONALLY, the new album was written largely on the sea, this time during a four-month sailing excursion in the Sea of Cortez, Mexico as well as Tennis’s own Denver, CO recording studio.
“’Runner’ is the first song we wrote for our fifth record,” says Moore. “It began as a guitar riff Patrick recorded while we were living off grid, anchored in a fisherman’s cove called San Juanico. The only instruments we had on board were an acoustic guitar and a drum sequencer, but the limitations seemed to work in our favor. Until that point we had no clear vision for our writing. The demo Patrick recorded that day outlined our future, the first contours of our next record.
“It took months to write a chorus that fit. I wanted to respond to Patrick’s ideas without altering them. I cycled through chord progressions and pages of lyrics. A year passed. The song seemed to actively resist coherence. My breakthrough came when I began to think of the song as a conversation between two songwriters, a series of questions and answers. It constituted a shift in our writing relationship from one that was solipsistic— my songs, which were distinct from Patrick’s— to one of collaboration and attunement. I often wonder if a truly equitable partnership exists anywhere between anyone, but this song feels like a testament to its possibility.”
“Runner” follows 2017’s acclaimed WE CAN DIE HAPPY EP, hailed by Atwood Magazine as “a warm, dynamic explosion of spellbinding melodies, evocative soundscapes and intimate lyrics… Tennis take a big sigh of relief, and then, with refreshed gusto, continue to dive deep into human emotions, internal and external relationships, society’s norms, and more.” The EP includes the buoyant lead single, “I Miss That Feeling,” joined by a companion video streaming via Tennis’s official YouTube channel.
Tennis will celebrate the arrival of “Runner” with a much anticipated headline performance at Atlanta, GA’s Over/Under Music Fest on Saturday, November 23. Known as a captivating and charismatic live act, the duo has spent much of its existence on the road, including sold out headline runs, festival sets, tours alongside such like-minded artists as Father John Misty, Spoon, The Decemberists, and The Shins, and most recently, a sold out summer double bill with Mumford & Sons at Englewood, CO’s Fiddler’s Green Amphitheatre. A wide-ranging tour in support of SWIMMER will be announced soon – for updates, please visit www.tennis-music.com.
Tennis’s most recent full-length LP, YOURS CONDITIONALLY, made a spectacular chart debut upon its 2016 release via Mutually Detrimental, arriving at #3 on Billboard’s “Alternative Albums” chart as well as at #2 on the “Vinyl Albums” tally, ultimately proving one of the year’s top 50 highest selling vinyl releases. Along with its popular success, YOURS CONDITIONALLY proved a critical favorite, with Paste praising it as “a collection that explores the uncertainty of one’s identity and their understanding of past experiences and current trajectory. And it’s as poppy as anything.” YOURS CONDITIONALLY “is less a product of crashing waves,” wrote W, “and more the result of Moore’s ongoing meditation on how she defines herself in relation to those around her and, as a self- professed feminist, how she navigates contemporary definitions of femininity and gender roles within a monogamous relationship.” “Filled with melodies that evoke ’70s AM radio, YOURS CONDITIONALLY sees Tennis wrestle with the conditions of love and commitment,” wrote Interview. “Their story and music remain romantic, but one’s reminded that while they’re ‘in it together,’ they’re also wholly individual.”
In addition to their frequent live activity, Tennis has made a number of high profile media appearances, spanning NPR to NBC, while also collaborating on campaigns for top brands like Gucci, Madewell, and Vinyl Me, Please.
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