Tennis: The Band Retraces A Route, And A Relationship After spending a year sailing up the Eastern Seaboard, Patrick Riley and Alaina Moore felt inspired to turn their stories into songs. The husband-and-wife buzz band's debut album is a collection of catchy pop songs that recount the journey.
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Tennis: The Band Retraces A Route, And A Relationship

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Tennis: The Band Retraces A Route, And A Relationship

Tennis: The Band Retraces A Route, And A Relationship

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  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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In the deep of winter it's nice to be taken on a journey - if only in our minds. The new album, "Cape Dory," does just that.

(Soundbite of song, "Take Me Somewhere")

TENNIS: (Singing) Sitting in the sand, waiting for you to reach the plan. Sitting in the sand, waiting for you to reach the plan. (unintelligible) take me right there...

SIMON: This retro pop-infused album was written and recorded by the husband and wife team Patrick Riley and Alaina Moore while they journeyed on the Atlantic in a 30-foot sailboat. They call their band Tennis. And they join us now from across the Atlantic at BBC studios in Glasgow. Thank you both very much for being with us.

Ms. ALAINA MOORE (Singer): Thanks for having us.

Mr. PATRICK RILEY (Singer): Yeah, thank you.

SIMON: I had read your blog of the journey and you know what is...firstly, I liked it a lot. We...

Ms. MOORE: Thank you.

SIMON: When you talk about sailing up and down of the eastern coast of the United States on the Atlantic, there's almost no mention of music.

Ms. MOORE: I know, yeah. That was definitely not something that we had on our minds at the time. It was all about sailing. We were trying to immerse ourselves into our new lifestyle and get everything we could out of the experience. It wasn't until later that we felt so inspired by the experiences that we had that we wanted to kind of invest it all into something and we decided to use music.

SIMON: But I'm guessing you just don't decide to write an album and start learning instruments. Music must have been a part of your lives before this.

Mr. RILEY: Yeah, it certainly was for both of us. Alaina kind of grew up classically trained in piano and I grew up playing guitar most of my life in various bands that were extremely unsuccessful.

SIMON: Wow. And what was there about sailing that made you decide to get your instruments out again and start making music?

Ms. MOORE: I think it was because we had so much time left to ourselves, you know, to read and write and be a part of nature. Sailing is such a simple life without a lot of distractions. And you suddenly feel more productive and more thoughtful and...

Mr. RILEY: Yeah, you feel like the rawest form of experience, like an experience devoid of judgment or opinions from other people. And I think it just yields itself to, like, more creativity or something.

Ms. MOORE: Absolutely.

SIMON: Talk a bit about the structure of this album. It begins with that song, "Take Me Somewhere," which we heard, and winds up, the penultimate song is "Baltimore" because you wind up your journey at the Port of Baltimore.

Ms. MOORE: Right.

SIMON: So, does the play of the album match your trip?

Ms. MOORE: It does...

Mr. RILEY: Yeah.

Ms. MOORE: ...chronologically and otherwise. It follows us from port to port and also from, you know, "Take Me Somewhere" was, like, the dream of going sailing.

Mr. RILEY: Yeah, I think that's when I had, like, convinced Alaina to come with me.

Ms. MOORE: Exactly.

Mr. RILEY: It was, like, OK for her to commit to that idea.

SIMON: You guys were unmarried then, right?

Ms. MOORE: Yeah. We hadn't really considered getting married although we considered ourselves life partners. But whenever we said that nobody really understood what we meant. It ended up being easier to just be married, but after we had spent so much time living in a small space together, we felt really confident in that decision.

SIMON: Yeah. Well, I mean, I've read in your blog that actually when other people would come onboard the boat you couldn't wait for them to leave.

Ms. MOORE: I know. We were really surprised. We always thought we'd be excited for the reprieve in company but actually we were just excited to just go back to our own place.

Mr. RILEY: We, like, know each other so well that it's gotten to the point where we're unbelievably codependent.

SIMON: Aw. Well, I mean, well, welcome to adulthood.

Ms. MOORE: I guess so.

SIMON: Let's listen to another song here - fun, light, pop, but it sounds a little harrowing too - "Marathon."

(Soundbite of song, "Marathon")

TENNIS: (Singing) Coconut Grove is a very small cove, separated from the sea by a shifting shoal. We didn't realize that we had arrived at high tide, high tide, barely made it out alive. Ooh...

SIMON: What are some of your musical influences?

Mr. RILEY: I feel like for the album, at least, we sought most of our influences in, like, comfort music, if you will, like music that just reminds you of a time when things were simpler, things were just easier to comprehend.

SIMON: This sounds like a '60s girl band.

Mr. RILEY: Yeah.

Ms. MOORE: Absolutely.

Mr. RILEY: I think that's a good way to put it because a lot of our influences were of that era.

(Soundbite of song, "Marathon")

SIMON: The Wall of Sound.

Mr. RILEY: Phil Spector, yeah. He...

Ms. MOORE: Absolutely. We really like that style of production. And then for me I grew up mostly watching musicals. So, you know, Judy Garland, and I mean, like, Brenda Lee and Jackie DeShannon. Those were my favorite vocalists. That's definitely what I drew on when we made our music - '40s, '50s, '60s, I love it so much.

Mr. RILEY: But for me, it kind of came later. I think I was, like, always that kid who had to be listening to the newest, coolest music in order to preserve my vanity or something.

Ms. MOORE: And I've been, like, hopelessly outdated.

Mr. RILEY: But I, like, came full circle. It was just like I felt like new music was just getting a little beyond my comprehension, whereas it's so much easier to take in, like, a pop gem from the '50s and just relax and not have to rationalize it.

SIMON: Let's listen to another cut, if we could, here. This is "South Carolina."

(Soundbite of song, "South Carolina")

TENNIS: (Singing) South Carolina really makes a man. If the South can't do it then no one can. The morning breeze is my favorite part. Carry South Carolina deep in my heart, whoa. We'll make a family in the quiet country. You and me, in simplicity. Oooh.

SIMON: Should every couple who thinks they want to get married take a trip in a small boat together?

Ms. MOORE: Absolutely.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. MOORE: I can't tell you how many couples we come across where - or actually if you look at sailing ads you'll see that a great beautiful brand new boats being sold in Hawaii 'cause the husband and wife sailed to Hawaii together and then divorced and now it's on the market.

Mr. RILEY: Yeah. We read those ads all the time. And if you...

Ms. MOORE: All the time.

SIMON: I didn't know that. Oh mercy, you guys have learned a lot already.

Mr. RILEY: Yeah.

Ms. MOORE: We have.

SIMON: Well, but something happened in the middle of that journey where you realized you were willing to make that commitment that you just couldn't relate to before - let me put it that way.

Mr. RILEY: Yeah, yeah. I think it was a pretty large hoop to jump through but once we jumped through it...

Ms. MOORE: I think we just realized we were capable of more than we thought.

SIMON: That's a wonderful thought. I mean, we should all learn that at a few stages in our lives.

Mr. RILEY: Yeah.

SIMON: Something occurs to me as we're sitting here: why on earth are you called tennis?

Ms. MOORE: Actually, it just started as a joke. You may have noticed the title of our blog: White Satin Gloves.

SIMON: Yeah.

Ms. MOORE: We've been teasing ourselves for a long time that from an outsider's perspective, we might look very WASPy. We sail; Patrick played tennis growing up and we just started to just make fun of ourselves and it became a running inside joke. So, when we started our band, I thought it would be funny to call it Tennis.

SIMON: Well, and so it is.

Ms. MOORE: So it is. We try not to overthink things.

SIMON: Any song you think we should go out on?

Ms. MOORE: "Long Boat Pass."

Mr. RILEY: Yeah, that one's a pretty heroic experience in our minds.

SIMON: Tell us a little bit about the song.

Ms. MOORE: "Long Boat Pass" is about the first time we anchored away from our marina and it was extremely challenging. And then there was a gale for a whole weekend and we had to learn how to be anchored during a gale, and it was extremely trying. And we were incredibly proud of ourselves when it was over and that's one of the first songs I wrote.

SIMON: Let's listen a little bit.

(Soundbite of song, "Long Boat Pass")

TENNIS: (Singing) Darling, you know I love you. I love you, oh. I'll stay with you, ask me to, ask me to, oh...

SIMON: So, is that the rhythm of the rocking of the storm that we hear or...

Ms. MOORE: Yeah, it is. Well, it's such a slightly optimistic music because we came through, but the lyrics just tell me telling Patrick essentially I'm going to trust you that this is not the worst idea we've ever had and hope we make it through.

Mr. RILEY: But at that point we were so confident that we were going to lose the boat by running it into a bridge at one point or lose it by getting blown into a coral reef so our spirits were low.

SIMON: You know, I must say, you managed to utter what is the credo of almost successful marriage, which is: this is not the worst mistake you've ever made.

Ms. MOORE: Yeah, absolutely.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. RILEY: It's a good way to put it.

Ms. MOORE: Our parents tease us that we went through our first year of marriage the year before we got married.

Mr. RILEY: Yeah.

SIMON: Well, good luck to you in all ways.

Ms. MOORE: Thank you.

Mr. RILEY: Thank you so much.

SIMON: Very nice talking to you.

Ms. MOORE: You as well.

SIMON: The new album, "Cape Dory." Patrick Riley and Alaina Moore speaking with us from Glasgow.

This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon.

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