Besides terminal unhipness, the band Tennis has a practical reason to regret taking its name from an inside joke between founding couple Alaina Moore and Patrick Riley.
“It’s hard to have a name that no one can Google,” said Riley, who has his own search engine problems sharing a name with a multi-ringed pro basketball coach.
Here’s what a search might turn up: Colorado-based indie rock band generating buzz for an airy, organic sound centered on Moore’s voice and Riley’s guitar. New disc with three producers who carry serious cred — the Black Keys‘ Patrick Carney, Jim Eno (who worked with Spoon) and Richard Swift (worked with The Shins). Toured with the band Haim and shares their classic melodic sense. Hooks that won’t quit on songs like “Origins,” “Mean Streets” and the new “I’m Callin’.”
The couple, who met at the University of Colorado, began a musical career after essentially giving up on one.
Riley, 28, had played in local bands and tried but failed to get work at record companies before taking a job at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Denver. Moore, 29, had studied music but was exploring law school. They were married in 2009.
The couple bought a sailboat and meandered along the East Coast for months, writing songs for fun along the way. They shared the music with friends, and one posted the song “Baltimore” on a music blog. Word spread online, and they were offered a recording contract. The songs they wrote while sailing made up their first album.
Tennis’ sound is often described as retro. They prefer “timeless.”
“Our guiding principle is to make choices that don’t specifically tie us to any particular moment or trend in time,” Moore said. “That means we draw from the past because it has already proven its value. We have great respect for artists who take bigger risks and actually pioneer styles and innovate genres. I’m jealous of people who do that, but I know myself and I know my gift.”
Riley and Moore have an easy rapport, and he gently picks out stray strands that go awry from his wife’s mop of curls as she talks.
“When we were married we made no formal vows,” she said. “Instead, we promised to never be a hindrance to each other’s goals, and to always help each other become our best selves even if it means growing apart. Leading a life of discovery and fulfillment is all we’ve ever wanted for each other, so when we stumbled upon the chance to make music together, it felt like a natural extension of that promise.”