Tennis – Tickets – Cat’s Cradle – Carrboro, NC – September 24th, 2014

Tennis

Tennis

Pure Bathing Culture, Luke Temple

Wed, September 24, 2014

Doors: 8:00 pm / Show: 9:00 pm

Cat's Cradle

Carrboro, NC

$13.00 - $15.00

Tennis
Tennis
Last year Tennis released the EP Small Sound, and it was a big change for the group. Patrick Riley and Alaina Moore had gained no small amount of acclaim for the bright, sunshiny pop found on their albums Cape Dory and Young & Old, but Small Sound revealed that there was even more to the duo than had been suspected, and it was clear to Riley and Moore that they had to continue to explore the grittiness and groove revealed on Small Sound. The pair spent more than a year and a half writing and recording, working with producer Richard Swift, who helmed Small Sound, as well as with Spoon’s Jim Eno and The Black Keys’ Patrick Carney. The end result of that hard work is Ritual in Repeat, their first full length for Communion, and an album that retains the sweetness Tennis became known for, especially on the Brill Building -Worthy “This Isn’t My Song,” but finds Tennis sounding looser and more soulful than ever before. It took a while to complete this Ritual, though, and here’s Moore and Riley on pairing the right producer with the right song, learning to sing in character and the importance of Vashti Bunyan.

So for this album you worked with three different producers: Patrick Carney, Jim Eno and Richard Swift. What made you decide to break it up like this? Was it a situation where you did a session with one, waited a bit then did another session with someone else and so on until you felt the album was finished?
P: Our dream for Ritual in Repeat was to write an album's worth of demos and then pair small batches of songs with the producer we thought was best suited to bring them to life. Our three recording sessions were spread out over the course of the long year that it took to write the album. Our first five demos were recorded with Jim Eno, who besides producing Alaina's very best vocal performances, influenced the rest of our writing more than he could ever know by introducing us to Shuggie Otis. Five months later we recorded 10 songs with Richard Swift, seeking him out for his mastery of an iconic studio sound. Some of those songs were released as the Small Sound EP, and the others were saved for Ritual In Repeat. Releasing Small Sound helped us get a handle on the still un-finished full length. It became clear what the album was missing, so we booked studio time with Patrick Carney and wrote five songs specifically for him to work on. Having worked together before really enhanced our time together in the studio. He was able to push us harder because we trusted him in a way that doesn't come easily for us. The best thing about being a self-made, DIY band is autonomy, but the downside to that is never having to learn how to collaborate. Carney has been really instrumental in helping us navigate this internal conflict and provided that final push we needed to make our best record yet.
This is the longest you’ve ever spent working on an album: a year and a half. I’m sure it felt like a luxury to be able to take your time. How do you think the extended gestation period affected the final product? Did you write everything at once and just have multiple sessions, or were you writing throughout?
P: This was easily the hardest year and a half of our lives. Copious amounts of time turned out to be more of a hindrance than a help. We would finish a song only to revise and scrutinize it until we lost perspective on it entirely and scrapped it. We wanted to write something deliberate and powerful; something we could look back on and admire. The pain of this expectation pushed us to our limits at times, but we have never been more proud of our work.
To my ears, this album sounds like a continuation of the Mean Streets EP. I feel like you’re taking the ideas you had there, and your interest in soul and R&B, and just going all the way with it, especially on the opener “Night Vision,” which has a very slinky feel. Looking back, was that EP a dry run for where you wanted to take Tennis?
P: We wanted the EP to act as a precursor to the album. To our ears the new songs are drastically different than the days of Cape Dory/Young & Old. The EP felt like a transition between old and new.
So you have a song on here called “Never Work For Free.” What, you’ve never had an internship? But seriously, this one, to my ears, has a bit of an early Joe Jackson feel, especially on the drums. New Wave-y, but soulful. Was that era a bit of a touchstone?
A: This song is a perfect example of Patrick and I seeking out common ground in the midst of our increasingly disparate musical tastes. Initially, I intended "Never Work For Free" to be a '70s soul piano ballad. We liked it, but it felt a little too reserved. Patrick had just written this swelling guitar-driven thing he was looking to use, and suggested that we reimagine "Never Work For Free" with this arrangement. Our combined efforts resulted in something much better than what either of us had written on our own.
Alaina, throughout this album we hear you belting it out like never before, especially on “Bad Girls.” How do you feel that you’ve grown as a vocalist? Did it take a while for you to feel comfortable with taking such a forceful approach?
A: When I first started singing in Tennis I didn't want to manipulate my voice at all because I wanted to discover its true character. I grew up singing other people's songs and mimicking their voices so carefully I had no idea how I really sounded. I felt like any contrivance of manner would be a false representation of myself a self I didn't know. Fortunately, about a year ago I heard a PJ Harvey interview in which she talks about purposefully altering her voice in order to service a song, its mood, or lyrics. The idea of privileging the song over my vocal identity was epiphanic for me. Since then I've allowed myself to channel different voices for each song and it's completely transformed the way I sing.
And in that song, you talk about losing your peace of mind. Is that true? It seems that trying to stay sane and grounded while grinding it out is one the reoccurring themes of the album. Where do you think that comes from?
A: The peace of mind I'm talking about in "Bad Girls" is more philosophical than psychological. The chorus, "If it were physical it would show/if it were spiritual I would know" refers to my own lack of spiritual certainty. I come from a traditional background that was religious, binary, and absolute. Breaking from that and embracing the ambiguity of my own belief is kind of the story of my adult life and a recurring theme in my writing.
“This Isn’t My Song” is such an interesting outlier for the album. It feels, to me, almost like something reminiscent of a 1950s prom song, just a very classic, throwback style. Could you tell me a little bit about the making of it?
A: Patrick and I wrote “This Isn't My Song" stream of conscious style over the course of a day. That rarely happens for us. We usually toil over a song for weeks or months ‘til its completion. This is probably why it stands out from the rest of the record it came from a spontaneous, unself-conscious place.
While there’s a lot of soul music here, “Wounded Heart” has an English folk feel. How did that one come about?
A: I initially wrote "Wounded Heart" as a little exercise for myself. I was going through this phase where I would wake up early every morning and listen to Vashti Bunyan. Her songs felt very close to me, and I wanted to turn a poem I had written into something reminiscent of her style. I wrote the whole song one morning after breakfast. Patrick was very supportive about including it on the record, despite its being so different from anything else on the album.
So what does the phrase Ritual In Repeat mean? What makes it a good summary of the album?
A: The story of this record is a story of false starts and indecision. We had no idea how the next Tennis release should sound. We knew we had outgrown our previous writing style, but were unsure of how to supplant it. After several difficult months without results, we finally hit our stride by establishing a schedule of writing and living that consumed every waking moment and rigidly adhering to it. Our devotion to this process felt at times desperate, but the results it yielded made the routine sacred. It's strange to say that our best work yet came out of a mindless routine, but it's the truth. This record is the product of ritual in repeat.
Last time we talked, you mentioned that you were hoping to get people to focus less on your sweet backstory and more on your music. Do you feel that you’re accomplishing that? It does seem like Mean Streets changed some peoples’s perceptions of you.
A: This isn't something that worries me so much anymore. As we shift focus from the origin of our work to the work itself, our audience has done the same. Our sailing trip and the first album it inspired is an important part of our past, but is definitely in the past.
Pure Bathing Culture
Pure Bathing Culture
It's a rare and beautiful thing when a band emerges fully formed, but it makes perfect sense in the case of guitarist Daniel Hindman and keyboardist Sarah Versprille's Pure Bathing Culture. Having backed folk rock revisionist Andy Cabic in Vetiver, the New Yorkers partnered up and moved West in 2011, settling in Portland, Oregon. Building off their past experiences as musical collaborators, in a short time the duo
have created a sound that is undeniably their own: soaring synths, chiming keyboards, and shimmering electric guitars move in lockstep with bouncing drum machines. Sarah's crystalline voice floats on top of it all with divine purpose. It's a sound that looks back momentarily for inspiration — Talk Talk, Prefab Sprout, Cocteau Twins — but then fixes its gaze firmly on the present.

Further developing the sound of their acclaimed four song, self-titled 2012 EP, at the start of 2013 they set out to record Moon Tides, their first full length album. Again, they chose to work with producer Richard Swift at his National Freedom studio in rural Cottage Grove, Oregon. Throughout 2012 Swift had called on the duo to help him with other studio projects (Versprille sings on Foxygen's latest LP and Hindman adds his sprawling guitar work to Damien Jurado's excellent Marqopa) which only helped to cement the threesome's musical partnership. For Moon Tides they continued where the previous EP left off, bolstered by Swift's belief in the duo's artistic vision and their unique sound, "From very early on, Richard was the person telling us that what we were hearing and wanting to do musically (which at times could feel a little strange or embarrassing to us) was ok and valid and that we should pursue it."

Like the earlier sessions for the EP, they worked quickly in the studio and improvised parts around the basic song structures that they'd carefully composed up in Portland. Dan explains, "Pretty much all tracks (vocals and instruments) are all first or very early takes. Richard is kind of a stickler about this and I actually don't go in with a clean, pristine idea of what I'm going to play on guitar or any other instrument for that matter, so there's actually a lot of improvisation as far as performances in the studio go." The results, like the earlier EP, are astounding: the arrangements feel fresh and imaginative, the melodies are unforgettable and the finished songs, most importantly, feel intensely human and deeply spiritual.

It's this compassion and warmth in Pure Bathing Culture that set them apart. The music is uplifting. It invites self-reflection. It never feels alienating. This, confirms the band, is no accident: "Concepts of spirituality, self actualization, mysticism, new age symbolism and pretty much anything that has to do with humans making sense of why we're all here are all deep, deep muses for us." To that point, even the album title Moon Tides alludes to self-discovery: "We are deeply inspired by the relationship between the moon and the tides. Particularly in the sense that the tides and the ocean are comprised of water and the element water is often associated with human emotion." While these heady themes can be difficult to explore in a pop song, Pure Bathing Culture makes it feel effortless. "Pendulum" is a perfect mid-tempo album opener that pulses and shines. Other standout tracks from the album — "Dream The Dare", "Twins", "Scotty" and "Golden Girl" — are slices of reverb-drenched, soulful, danceable electro-pop, that musically and lyrically tap into an introspective worship of the natural and psychic mysteries that surround us. Pure Bathing Culture's debut album Moon Tides is optimistic modern music for souls who seek to explore the infinite.
Luke Temple
Luke Temple
In the winter Luke Temple moved into a cottage, a small one, in upstate New York. The snow fell quietly. He had frozen blueberries and bread and eggs and Coors Original. He sang and drank and played and drank and ate and shoveled snow and when the snow melted and the roads cleared he had his friends. Eliot Krimsky of Glass Ghost (keyboards) and Mike Johnson of Dirty Projectors (drums) dug into Luke's hut and together they built a fire. Luke called it Good Mood Fool.

Originally from Cape Anne, Massachusetts, Luke moved to the North West, sleeping rough in the woods, working in a candy store and as a janitor at a suburban mall. While in Seattle Luke met some people headed down the coast. All of his aimlessness lasted a year and half before Luke had had enough. He enrolled in school of the Museum of Fine Arts and spent five years painting portraits, after which Luke moved to New York and worked as a muralist and plasterer. As painting drifted from the foreground little songs started to emerge. He tried them out at the famous Sidewalk Café Monday open mic and the people there liked it.

After recording two critically acclaimed albums for Mill Pond, to little commercial reception, Luke was at the point of quitting a career in music. In 2008, feeling free in his new state, he made what would become the first Here We Go Magic album, forming the band and releasing the self-titled debut in 2009. Positive critical and commercial response to the record kept Luke busy through touring and recording two more full lengths and an EP. Since Here We Go Magic's 2012 release, the Nigel Gordich-produced A Different Ship, Luke has returned to his original solo ideas.

In a sense Good Mood Fool is an extension of the first self-titled Here We Go Magic record. It was recorded with the same sense of freedom and joy. The meat of the record finds Luke taking a sharp turn in order to keep himself interested. First single "Katie" is a prime slice of mid-80s intelligent pop, almost So-era Peter Gabriel in its rhythms and sound. Meanwhile, "Florida" is a blue-eyed soul hit, a lazy sunny evening of summer beauty. Good Mood Fool draws from myriad influences, from the hushed soulful wail of Curtis Mayfield to the dense harmonies of Gill Evans and the Bulgarian Women's Choir. It is meant to be clear in production and in content, hiding nothing.
Venue Information:
Cat's Cradle
300 East Main St.
Carrboro, NC, 27510
http://catscradle.com/