Radar Band Of The Week – No. 31: Tennis

Tennis – the swooning couple getting busy at 2011’s twee-pop love-in

According to old nautical lore, a tattoo of a pig on the knee meant ‘safety at sea’; a cock somewhere on your right and you’d ‘never lose a fight’. Funnily enough, there’s no entry in The Encyclopedia Of Seafarin’ Tatts for the significance of the giraffe floating around the stars and the squirrel manning a space station found on the respective arms of Alaina Moore and Patrick Riley, the almost nauseatingly cute young marrieds that make up the aquatically inclined Tennis.

“The giraffe was what Patrick drew me when we had our first class together – he was flirting and passed me a drawing of a giraffe longboarding through the desert…” gushes Alaina.

“…and the next one, he was in outer space,” adds Patrick.

“I kept all of them, and always thought I would get it tattooed. So, when we got married, I did,” she adds. “We also have matching sheep tattoos, which are our wedding rings.”

Set compasses for Twee Island, population: two. Alaina and Patrick met at university the week after he’d sworn off womenfolk and decided to buy a boat with his life savings, escape to Australia, and finish his philosophy degree there. “But I decided to finish my degree in Denver so I could hang out with Alaina,” he admits, the two exchanging coy grins.

From there, they sacrificed having cars, internet or mobile phones, and set sail around the American coast for eight months, having taught themselves how to navigate with charts (none of that newfangled radar, thank you). When they ran out of money and returned home, they got married and started writing the charmed, winsome fuzz-pop that became their debut album, ‘Marathon’, chronicling the coastal crannies they’re encountered. The apple pie to Summer Camp’s spotted dick, Tennis are part of this oh-so-2011 trend of near-stomach-turningly twee-pop couples, following their Brit doppelgangers and Lily Allen’s debut signings Cults (see page 19). But there’s a sophistication to this duo’s charm that shall ensure they’re not lost at sea.

“Playing each night is like showing people our slideshow over and over,” ponders Alaina, “but we’re both dreamers, so it’s not too hard to recreate that nostalgia. I hope that’s part of what distinguishes us – that our nostalgia is all based on a real thing.”

From the tattoos to the adorable way they finish each other’s sentences, Tennis are totally for real.

Need To Know

• Alaina was only allowed to listen to Christian rock and musicals while growing up
• Patrick quit managing the building at the Museum Of Contemporary Art in Denver to be in Tennis full-time
• The cutesy twosome hate polished, Auto-Tuned production – there are only three overdubs on the whole of
their debut


This article originally appeared in the January 22 issue of NME

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