Rock n’ roll is full of stories; some of which are tragic, others enlightening. The story behind TENNIS’ formation is captivating, just ask the dozens of publications who find comfort in it’s wonder and portrayal of human nature. To songwriters Alaina Moore and Patrick Riley, their seven-month sailing adventure along the North Atlantic was an honest sacrifice to partake in something different. It wasn’t a grand scheme to put them in the spotlight. Instead, it was simply a risk worth taking.
“Two on a big ocean”; a statement defining your new career or the relationship between you two?
ALAINA MOORE: It’s actually the title of a book that means a lot to us. I wrote our bio and thought it would be neat to tie a part of it into this book about a man and his wife sailing around the Pacific Ocean with very little experience.
PATRICK RILEY: It focuses on a couple going through a moment where its them versus the world.
MOORE: We have so much in common with them. We didn’t know they existed until after our own sailing trip and I just love that statement. It sort of portrays the “us against the world” expression and is kind of like a metaphor for what we are doing right now.
Cape Dory does in a sense express the challenges and rewards couples are presented in different circumstances.
MOORE: Exactly. It’s why a lot of the songs, like “Long Boat Pass” or “Marathon”, are about more difficult experiences. It’s just sort of conveyed through a happy, poppy feeling that’s never dire despite the level of difficulty. There’s never a question as to whether we can make it through something.
Did you ever doubt re-telling your sailing trip through music?
MOORE: We never really wanted to have an audience so there wasn’t any doubt. It was just for us and then people started to listen so we let them.
RILEY: If any of the doubting were to take place, it would happen now (laughs). Luckily, we don’t feel that way.
“People always talk about the American Dream and how you can go out there and get whatever job you want, but no one ever talks about doing something bizarre..”
Why did you choose to write songs instead of documenting the experience through a film or a book?
MOORE: It’s funny that you ask that because at first we planned on doing our own documentary about it.
RILEY: Because it was such a long-term plan, like six years of sacrificing, saving every penny and cutting certain parts of our life out, it felt grandiose to begin with and we wanted to get someone to document the experience. The whole idea of it was crazy and we wanted to show that. For the longest time, we were going to have one of our friends come along and film the entire trip but that decision changed over time.
MOORE: We realized it was an extremely difficult thing to achieve. Having another person on board would have caused a few issues.
RILEY: It was also hard to go to someone and expect them to save up, buy all this camera equipment and have money for food just so they could film us and make a movie (laughs).
MOORE: That was a ridiculous goal which we threw out the window right away. I actually did want to write a book about it, but instead I wrote our blog which I pulled a lot of our lyrics from.
Would you say its worth taking chances sometimes?
RILEY: It’s the only way we operate. Alaina and I are always looking at the next big thing. The small stuff for us isn’t as important. We’d rather have one good experience than ten okay experiences. For instance, we do have another big sailing trip in mind and even further down the road, we plan to save our money and build our own house.
MOORE: Taking risks is worth it. We actually really hope people can take that from our story and our album. Hopefully it motivates them to do whatever crazy thing they want to do. People always talk about the “American Dream” and how you can go out there and get whatever job you want, but no one ever talks about doing something bizarre, like living on a boat or starting a farm. Not a lot people try to be different in that way.
Do you think Fat Possum Records added you to their roster because of the risks you’re known to take?
RILEY: Yeah, definitely. When we were talking to the owner about our contract, he wasn’t even worried about us becoming a band and putting out music because of all the risks we’ve taken in the past.
MOORE: One of the reasons we decided to work together is because instead of asking us if we wanted to put out a record, he mailed us a book saying, “You have to read it and when you’re done, call me”. He then sent us Seaworthy (written by T.R. Pearson) which was about rafting across oceans. Like rafting!
RILEY: I haven’t read a book that interesting in a long time.
MOORE: It’s like the most hardcore thing ever. That was like our connection with Matthew Johnson.
RILEY: He really likes survival situations, like mankind’s ability to push itself to an extreme without hesitation.
MOORE: He would probably like it if we toured on horseback and lived off of wild berries (laughing). That’s just the way he is.
Since experiences inspire you musically, have you done any writing while traveling around North America the past month?
RILEY: We just actually wrote three new songs the past little while and it was nice to see we didn’t have to go sailing to get inspiration to write music. It’s different, but the process has allowed us to grow as a band.
MOORE: I don’t think touring really inspired us. The fact we’re a real band, playing shows and doing this inspired us to create music and acknowledge ourselves as musicians.
Do you feel persuaded to create albums around a specific theme?
MOORE: I’m sure we will be doing it eventually, I just don’t think it will be as significant or autobiographical as our first.
RILEY: All albums are concept albums. It’s pretty hard to write one where every single song is completely separate from each other. That doesn’t mean they have to be exactly the same. If you look at our album, some of the songs are not exactly about sailing as they do mean something more.
MOORE: I don’t think so.
RILEY: I beg to differ (laughs).
MOORE: Okay (laughs). I don’t really know what we’ll end up writing about in the future. I think whatever happens will happen.
RILEY: Should we use that one expression? It’s like predicting what colour your child’s hair is going to be before it’s born (laughs).
With so many eyes on you, do you feel nervous or intimidated to move forward with this career?
MOORE: I think at first we were both, but now we are kind of use to it by now.
RILEY: If it doesn’t work, who cares. If it works, that’s great.
MOORE: We didn’t write an album or any of our songs with an audience in mind. We didn’t choose our name or choose to play our very first show in our friend’s backyard. All of it was very honest and for ourselves and it will always go back to being that. This is a very special moment for us, one we will always cherish no matter what.
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