Tennis reached a career crossroads after its last album. The Denver band had fulfilled its record contract after working with some big name producers.
Now, they had no obligations for another album. The husband-and-wife duo decided to use that freedom to pursue their other favorite activity: sailing. Their nautical travels had a big influence on their 2011 debut "Cape Dory."
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They wanted to revisit that influence because singer Alaina Moore says getting away from dry land has a remarkable effect on her creative inspiration.
"At home, being bored gives me anxiety and stress," she says. "I need constant stimulation. But on the boat, you could just sink into nothingness and stare at waves rolling and rolling."
But when they set sail this time around, the sea was more hostile. They encountered rough weather conditions as they sailed around Mexico. Moore says they couldn’t focus on music when they entered the Sea of Cortez.
"I didn't realize that it’s actually a very volatile and dangerous environment for sailing," she says. "So we were always dodging terrible weather. We didn’t write until months into the sailing trip when we found a really safe harbor."
They wrote a lot of music while stationed in that small harbor. Those songs became a large part of Tennis’ fourth album, “Yours Conditionally.”
That dangerous journey wasn't the only risk they took for the album. Instead of shopping around for a new label, guitarist Patrick Riley says they decided to self-release and self-produce the album.
"We wanted to have one album that was truly our identity," he says. "We didn’t want anyone else to help out. We didn't want a label to help out with how people perceived the album."
And like their sailing trip, that risk seems to have paid off. The band is set to play this year’s Coachella festival. They got actress Zosia Mamet from HBO’s “Girls” to appear in their promo videos.
And Moore says they’ve gotten closer to their main priority.
"It's mostly just our permanent search for autonomy," she says. "The same reason why we go sailing. We just like to be alone and self-sufficient and we want the same thing out of our music."
“Yours Conditionally” is the sound of two people who love what they do -- and doing it on their own terms.