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Hello, My Name Is Alaina

| January 31, 2012

Q&A with Tennis’ Alaina Moore

IE: Was the hype for your debut thrilling or scary?
Alaina Moore
: It was definitely more scary. Obviously, we appreciated it and were going to take the opportunity, but we didn’t know what we were doing. Our way of handling that was forcing things to stay as small as possible. We ended up saying “no” to lots of things: no producer, no management. We said “no” to support tours because we weren’t sure if we could tour for very long.

IE: So another force was pushing you along?
: This time the momentum behind us is more sustained and created by us, and we feel more in control. Anyone who, at some stage in their career, has been considered a buzz band understands it’s like riding a tidal wave. You have no say, it’s just happening. It’s really amazing, but you keep finding yourself with decisions that you don’t want. I remember the first time we got a publicist, they asked us about doing late [TV] shows and they could push for that, and we were like, “No. Not at all.” I shut it down immediately. “I do not want to be on TV – it sounds horrible.”

IE: Are you ready for your tag to be, “Patrick Carney produced their album; they’re the band the Black Keys guy is involved with.”
: It’s funny, maybe nihilistic, but I’d be relieved if people thought that than the dismissive stereotype of us as the wedding-couple-sailing band. [Tennis’ first album was inspired by a boat trip.]

IE: What inspired Young And Old?
: I immersed myself in Todd Rundgren; I wanted to write things on piano. I listened to a lot of Elton John and Rundgren. Patrick [Riley, guitarist/husband] switched to playing baritone guitar instead of wall-of-sound surf guitar, so that brought out a lot of differences in songwriting.

IE: Rundgren’s one of those guys who I get why people enjoy him, but I can’t stand his music.
: [Laughs.] When I first started dating Patrick he played me Todd Rundgren and I totally hated it. Three-years later we were at someone’s house and Something/Anything was playing and I was like, what is this? And I ended up delving into his catalog.

IE: In what sense is the Tennis name a metaphor for the dynamic?
: Sometimes I see me and Patrick in those classic matches, where the competition is fierce but then they hug afterwards. But I cannot emphasize enough the complete, flippant lark [it was]. If we’d thought about it, we probably wouldn’t have picked it.

Tennis’ Young And Old arrives Valentine’s Day through Fat Possum. They play Lincoln Hall on February 26th. Q&A by Steve Forstneger.

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