Teenagers, was chock full of shoegaze and noise rock goodness. The stuff I fall for every time. Let’s be honest though, there’s a lot of bands attempting to cash in on that late 80s to early 90s sound bands like My Bloody Valentine and Jesus and Mary Chain perfected. They’re not all diamonds in the rough. Some are pretty much posers. But The Tennis System? They’re the real deal. They play a mix of shoegaze dreaminess, mixed with the best noise rock has to offer. Their track “Snowden” recalls the best of Deerhunter; mixed with a West Coast sleaze that replaces Bradford Cox’s downright queasiness and bloodied gauze uncomfortable vibes. After listening to all of The Tennis System’s albums and singles I was shocked they weren’t signed to Captured Tracks, or at the very least Sacred Bones. This is a band that deserves some label love.
I started keeping track of these guys and found out they were in the process of recording a follow-up to Teenagers called Kiss Like Crazy. With SXSW under their belt, a Kickstarter campaign in progress now, The Tennis System’s Matty T took the time to answer a few questions about the band, SXSW, the new record, and the future of The Tennis System.
JH: So how did the Tennis System come together?
Matty T: Tennis System started in D.C. back in 2009. Misha Bullock [our drummer] and I moved to L.A. in 2011 to raise the band’s profile, and we were incredibly lucky: We met Christopher via Craigslist and Marcus and I worked in a warehouse workspace together in downtown LA. They bring so much to Tennis System.
JH: You guys just finished up at SXSW. How was the SXSW experience? Did the Tennis System make any valuable connections?
Matty T: SXSW was pretty rad. I went to as many shows as possible and spent a lot of time with our friends Dead Leaf Echo and Nightmare Air. The shows were fun and we’ve met some amazing people here. I think we made some pretty good connections, nothing major, but definitely had a blast!
JH: Do you guys agree at all with Zachary Cole Smith(of Diiv) and his scathing comments regarding SWSW?
Matty T: I do and I don’t. SXSW is very commercial. Has the musical element totally been overlooked for bright shining dollar signs? Sure, but at the same time, these things cost money. In order to get all of these amazing bands together in one place, sponsors (corporations) are brought in to increase the budget. So while, yes, there isn’t much time to set up or sound check, it’s pretty awesome to be here and get as many showcases as they did. They should look at the positive side: getting to play so many packed shows. Tennis System didn’t have an official showcase and came here on a whim with only two shows. We ended up getting added onto 2 other shows and are having a blast seeing shows and “networking.”
JH: ‘Teenagers’ was one of my great finds last year. It’s such a great record (especially ‘Lovers and Fake Friends’). When the band went to record that album, was there a consensus that you guys wanted to do something different from ‘The Future of Our History’? Or was it more of a natural progression in your sound?
Matty T: Thanks for the kind words! When we went to record “Teenagers” I had already written most of the songs. It wasn’t really a consensus or conscious decision. Misha and I tweaked them a little more and jotted down ideas before getting into the studio. When we were in the studio, we didn’t want to limit ourselves in anyway. Ryan Van Kriedt [Dead Skeletons] really had us try everything. We used tons of different instruments and got super-experimental with it. No boundaries. We were extremely happy with the end result. “Lovers and Fake Friends” is one of my favorites off of “Teenagers” as well; it’s one of the songs I wrote when I was still in D.C., and that song kind of touches on some of the reasons I left. I was there because of a girl, but ultimately I left because of the people who I considered fake.
JH: I’m assuming with the Tennis System playing Part Time Punk’s My Bloody Valentine Night that you’re fans of Kevin Shields. Who else has helped shape the sound of The Tennis System?
Matty T: Hahaha, yeah totally. We love music, a lot and draw from tons of different artists. A few who have helped shape our sound include seBADoh, Dinosaur Jr., The Zombies, Moose, Jesus and Mary Chain, Versus, Black Tambourine, Broadcast, Adorable, Swervedriver, Velocity Girl, Ride, The Ropers, Lilys, Chapterhouse, and the Cure.
JH: So talk a little about the new album, ‘Such A Drag’. How has the recording process gone? Where are you recording? How’s it sound? Any song details? Titles? How many songs are on the album? Is this The Tennis System’s masterpiece? When will it be released? Too many questions?
Matty T: The new album is actually going to be called Kiss Like Crazy, which comes from a line in the first single, “Such A Drag,” which will be out in April. The recording process has been pretty intense. I feel like we’re going through a similar process as MBV did with “Loveless.” The work has been amazing, but it’s taking a long time and it’s hard not to lose momentum as a band. We’re super-excited now to be working with Drew Fisher, who’s worked with the Melvins, Darker My Love and many others.
The record, sound-wise, is fucking great! As a songwriter, moving away from loved ones and the act of trying to “make it” has really transformed what I do. We are very excited with all of the new songs and are pretty confident that listeners will be, too. The album will have 9 or 10 songs, we haven’t decided yet. In no particular order, the songs that will definitely be on it will are:
Memories & Broken Dreams
Such A Drag
Call It Home
Try To Hide
My Life In
We’re hoping to release it this June.
JH: Is The Tennis System signed to a label? Or is the band still an independent artist? I think The Tennis System would be a perfect fit for Captured Tracks, personally.
Matty T: Unfortunately, we’re still waiting for that special someone. We fucking love Captured Tracks and it’d be a dream to be on that label. The new record would fit really well with most of what they are releasing these days. Some of our favorite artists today are on the label.
JH: Will Kiss Like Crazy be available on vinyl? Great album title, btw.
Matty T: Yes will be on vinyl! Also going to do it on cassette and CDs this time around.
JH: How is the summer tour looking? Are tours for The Tennis System still throwing some gear in the back of a van and hitting the road?
Matty T: We’re going to be playing some amazing shows with some amazing bands, Dead Leaf Echo (BK,NYC) will be joining us for the West Coast/Midwest portion and Nightmare Air (LA) for some of the East Coast dates. Most of our tours involve us renting a trailer because we usually have to sleep in our van. Money is tight and unless we have a place to crash in town, we sleep in the van.
JH: Where do you see The Tennis System in five years?
Matty T: Hopefully, in everyone’s record collection and touring, hahaha. We love playing live shows and being in other cities. We want to be on the road as much as possible.
I think they may well be on their way. You listening Captured Tracks?
One way my fellow readers could help this amazing band is by going to this page and contributing to The Tennis System’s Kickstarter campaign. Making records, pressing vinyl, designing t-shirts and cereal bowl caddies isn’t cheap business. Add a full-on national tour(even if it’s traveling in a van and sleeping in said van) and you’re looking at a small fortune. But these guys are serious about what they do. A contribution to The Tennis System’s Kickstarter isn’t like doling out your hard-earned cash to Pastor What’s-His-Name on Sunday morning. You see, you actually get something in return. You’re investing. You get goodies for your much appreciated generosity. Check out the link above to find out what sort of goodies you get. Hell, $5 gets you a download of the new album. Make sure you give their excellent album Teenagers a spin below.
Editors Note: At press time The Tennis System’s Kickstarter has since ended. But you can still help them out…BUY THEIR MUSIC!!