Day Jobs - Debunking Tennis' Uber-Precious Creation MythBy Kristen Yoonsoo Kim
Alaina Moore and Patrick Riley – married couple and members of Tennis.
I only sat down with Patrick for this interview because Alaina was tackling, like, seven others before the show.
There’s a well-known story behind Tennis and any band bio you find on them will probably mention it: a romanticized tale of how the two sold all their material possessions, bought a sailboat, and lived on the high seas (just check out this bio I found on Bowery Presents). It’s a lovely story and all, but I thought, "Hey it couldn’t have been that easy. There’s definitely another story here." Jeez, this column is turning me into a nosy writer.
I sat down with Tennis’ hubby-half Patrick Riley to dig up some dirt on the unromantic side of living on a boat and the jobs they had to juggle to make that happen, which includes kicking religious screamo bands out of coffee shops.
NOISEY: Hey Patrick! Do you currently have a day job?
Patrick: No, but I think Tennis is more than a day job at this point. It’s like 80 hours a week. Even when we’re home, we’re constantly thinking about writing music or doing music business-type things.
You guys are married, right?
Yes we are.
What were you doing before Tennis then?
Directly before, I was working at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Denver doing installation work. It was a pretty cool job so it was actually hard to quit it and pursue music.
The famous story behind your band is that you and Alaina left your material possessions behind to sail and live on a boat for a while. How did you provide for yourself during the time?
That was an accumulation of saving up for about seven years. Ever since high school I had the idea of taking a trip and I was working overtime since sophomore year of high school until a year after college, working over 40 hours a week, saving every dollar I could.
Did you guys know each other since high school, or was this your dream that she jumped in on?
We didn’t know each other until junior year of college. She helped me save for about two years. Once we sold all our possessions, it was enough money to buy a small sailboat and live off of our savings for eight months.
When you mentioned this plan to her, was she on board right away? She didn’t think you were crazy, right?
Yeah, she was planning on traveling the world anyway – like every college graduate – so when I told her my plan, she thought it was really interesting. I sold her on the idea because I was attracted to her and I wanted her to come with me. Eventually she changed her life and started saving with me and reading sailing textbooks and watching sailing videos.
Were you guys dating back then?
Backstage at Music Hall of Williamsburg
I know all the band bios on you guys really romanticize that whole sailing experience. What were some of the grueling parts of that?
Yeah no one really talks about that. You’re actually the first person that I can think of who has asked that question. I think it’s so easily romanticized because it’s so palatable but if people saw what we actually went through, maybe it wouldn’t be so glamorous. We were living off $200 a month so our diet was pretty horrible.
How’d you get your food?
We went to grocery stores but stretching $200 for two people was tough. We ate a lot of rice and beans.
Did you ever go fishing and eat that?
We never caught anything, actually. Because we were learning how to sail, we weren’t comfortable with navigation. We ran aground a couple times and that was enough to scare us from trying not to sink. We would go crazy with navigation because if the boat sank, that would have been every penny we owned.
So it wasn’t as leisurely as one might think.
No. We also met a lot of like-minded individuals out there in the sailing community. We had a couple friends who helped us out when we were really broke by buying us groceries. There’s a lot of camaraderie. I really understood the phrase “we’re all on the same boat.”
Did you guys hit rock bottom by the end of that?
Yeah we really ran out of money. I don’t think we could have ever prepared for how expensive living on a sailboat could be. We didn’t spend much money but occasionally something would break and it was really difficult to fix but totally necessary. We ended our trip in Baltimore and we thought we could find jobs since we both had college degrees but that’s when the recession was happening so college degrees – especially in philosophy and English – were useless. We moved back to Denver and started the band a little bit later.
What did you do to save up for this boating adventure?
I did a lot of stuff growing up. I actually taught tennis for a long time, and that’s where the band name comes from. I taught for five years, so most of the money came from that. I also had funny low-paying jobs from time to time when I was in between work.
What was the oddest job of them all?
I worked at this coffee shop called JC’s. I went in there and got hired, and while I was working I noticed that there was religious music playing the whole time.
Let me guess – JC’s stands for Jesus Christ?
Yeah, I noticed two weeks later it was called Jesus Christ Coffee Shop. I was hired to do sound there too because it was also a music venue. The first band I mixed was a screamo band but I started hearing some of the lyrics and they were religious.
Yeah, those bands are so weird! They sound so angry but they’re all “I love God.”
Yes, most of them are very, very religious. The funniest thing about it was the owner hated curse words and it just so happened that all these screamo bands, even though they were Christian, often used curse words. And he wanted me to kick them off if any of them slipped up. One day he said, “You need to prove to me you have the authority to kick a band offstage. There’s a band coming tomorrow night and I know a few of their songs have curse words in them.” The bands all know the strict no cursing rule but because they’re usually like 15 or 16, they think it’s really cool to sneak in a curse word.
Of course. But you don’t seem like the bad cop type at all!
I know! I’m not good at it. So anyway, they did end up cursing so I had to take the microphone and yell, “I heard ‘pussy’! You have to get off the stage!”
Ha! Did you ever get into the religious screamo thing yourself?
No, unfortunately that job was a stepping stone for me that led to nowhere.
Really? It didn’t influence Tennis’ music? Just kidding.
Maybe we’ll dive down that trail for album four.
What does Alaina do – or what did she used to do?
She just works on music with me now but I met her when she was working at American Apparel. I saw her and thought she was pretty and then we ended up in the same class.
How long have you guys been married?
For three years now. Tennis kind of gets in the way of our marriage because it’s hard to turn off the band. We’re both so passionate about the band that it’s hard to just go home and be like “let’s go see a movie.” All we want to do is figure out the next step for Tennis.
I remember at the last Tennis show I was at, you mentioned you were from Scottsdale, Arizona. I used to live there too! I was the only one who cheered in the crowd.
Yeah. My family moved away when it started getting rich.
I know, all my friends were loaded.
Yeah it’s definitely a funny place to grow up.
But you know the city motto is “most livable city.”
Hmm, I think I’d beg to differ.
Going from Arizona life to boat life is a drastic change. Did you two ever fight on the boat?
No, we understood the circumstance so we talked to each other about everything. We weren’t even married at that point but it helped that we’re both very direct with our communication.
That’s good. If you didn’t get along with that other person, that would’ve been a nightmare to be stuck on that boat.
Yeah, definitely. We met a few people who couldn’t take it after a while.
Speaking of being stuck on a boat, did you have any bosses or co-workers at your past jobs you needed to get away from?
Besides the JC’s owner, no. I knew a really incredible lesbian tennis coach though. I ended up going out to a lot of lesbian clubs with her for a while.
You had a lesbian phase!
Yeah, I don’t know why but I have very fond memories of that.
Let’s not tell Alaina that.
Previously - Getting High Off Paint With Javelin
Ace of Base's Secret Nazi Past
Before he founded Ace of Base, Ulf Ekberg was a member of Commit Suiside, a Nazi punk band.
Parquet Courts - "Light Up Gold Road Trip" (Full Documentary)
In this new documentary, Noisey follows rising indie rockers Parquet Courts from Mexico to Texas and London as they tour to support their debut LP, 'Light Up Gold.'
Yung Lean Doer Is the Weirdest 16-Year-Old White Swedish Rapper You'll Hear This Week
Yung Lean raps over pillow-fluffy beats and raps about glory holes and Arizona Iced Tea. Who the fuck is this kid? And why is he like this?
Adam Ant - The British Masters, Chapter 6
Noisey's John Doran talks with the great post-punk pop star Adam Ant about tribal body mods and layering tape.
Photos: Taking Acid at Coachella
When Paley sent these photos in, she included a nice little caveat over email that we've decided to reprint here in full, not only because it's too good to edit, but because her photographs of her and her weird buddies riding the snake are some of the best
R.I.P. Storm Thorgerson (1944-2013)
On Thursday, the hyper-talented graphic designer, artist, and famed album cover creator Storm Thorgerson passed away after a battle with cancer. He was 69 years old.
The Internet Is Scary
As of six months ago, my Facebook fanpage is like a dojo where hormonal teenagers hone their technique. Here is a heartfelt poem from some kid who wants to rape, kill, and marry me.
I Accidentally Touched Little Richard's Butt One Time
It was in the Detroit airport. After it happened Little Richard said, "He graze my derriere."
Listen to St. Lucia's Remix of The Colourist's "Little Games"
Last month, Cali quartet the Colourist released "Little Games," and St. Lucia just pulled a warm Balearic blanket over the whole thing, sanding away its rough edges with bright synths and lightly gated percussion.
Aaron Montaigne, Godfather of Screamo, is More Interesting Than You Can Ever Hope to Be - Part Two
On surviving combat in Iraq and Afghanistan with the help of magic, 'Bladerunner,' and everything in between.