FROM THE TAPE DECK: TENNIS CLUB
Straight from the garage, Tennis Club is brimming with enthusiasm and youth. The recent release of their self titled debut through Spirit Goth Records weaves its way through parties and house shows and all the complications of the so called salad days. The Joplin based band composed of Justin Akin (bass), Sean O'Dell (drums), and Wilson Hernandez (guitar/vocals), create a record that sounds like a product of just hanging out.
Starting out with “Lovely Haircut” the band lays the foundation for the whole album with their slacker pop tendencies. Hernandez’s vocals flit over the feedback, ethereal against a lo-fi haze. “Rain Checks” follows suit, sweet and naive, Hernandez sings ‘I thought you liked me but you just want to smoke my weed.’ Charming but defeated, the song bounces on against the betrayal. In a little over 2 minutes, “House Show” feels like a time machine back to highschool. Pulling beers out of a backpack ‘smoking cigarettes just to turn you off’ the song feels like it should be next on the hypothetical setlist.
Saccharine and crackling with energy, “Birthday” lightens the mood with an undeniable optimism. A love song addressed to the girls he’s still holding, it’s a shaky flushed cheeks reassurance that he’s still interested in the little things, like how her day went despite the distance that’s creeping in. Awash with excitement, “Cola” buzzes with energy derived from the elastic riffs. The song staggers and sways in a drunken way appearing to encapsulate the atmosphere effortlessly.
Concluding with “Chinese Slippers,” the album ends with a new found sense of maturity. Reconciling with the changes he needs to make, Hernandez goes from staggering after her to moving out of town. Instead of the hopeful kid crossing his fingers things will change, he begins to see things without the rose tinted glasses. Not only does the album express who Tennis Club is, it shows the evolution both musically and lyrically they undergo as a band.
DID YOU GROW UP AROUND TAPES? DID THEY IMMEDIATELY SPARK YOUR INTEREST?
I was born in 92 so growing up tapes were still around. I remember using tapes to record songs I liked on the radio, the old school “mix tape.” Also growing up my Grandpa had a bunch of tape decks lying around and he actually use to record messages on tapes and send them to his relatives in Central America. So I was thought that was really interesting.
FIRST ALBUM YOU HEARD ON TAPE?
So this is really funny but when I was a kid somebody gave me this Mickey Mouse box set that had all these Disney tapes and I think those were like the first albums I heard haha.
WHAT STICKS OUT TO YOU THE MOST ABOUT THE MEDIUM?
Just the nature of how the tapes work themselves. It’s still fascinating how you can get sound out of magnetic tape encased in this like plastic rectangle...Trippy.
WHAT’S IT LIKE CREATING/RELEASING/PROMOTING TAPES IN THE 21ST CENTURY?
It’s really exciting that there's a tape resurgence and we’re stoked to be part of it. Everything happened really fast. We thought “hey it would be really cool to have tapes put out, maybe someday” So it was really exciting when we got news we were doing a release with Wallflower Records. I remember our bass player Justin last night just holding our tape and just saying “This is so cool.” We actually have something physical.
WHY DO YOU THINK THERE’S BEEN SUCH A HUGE TAPE REVIVAL MOVEMENT RECENTLY? WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THE POPULARITY OF THE MEDIUM AMASSING?
I just think we have a demographic of music lovers that appreciate physical media in a world where everything is going digital. Digital media is amazing and convenient but there's something special about holding something physical with artwork. Tapes are also very cost effective. It’s so cool to see that so many established labels are releasing tapes along with their vinyl/digital releases. Vinyl is back and now tapes are in too. It’s exciting.
HOW DO YOU THINK THE TAPE FORMAT OF TENNIS CLUB COMPARES TO THE DIGITAL RELEASE? DO YOU THINK IT’S MORE OF AN ATMOSPHERIC DIFFERENCE OR THE SOUND ITSELF?
I’m really stoked to see what Justin and our drummer Sean think, but I personally think there’s an atmospheric difference for sure. I think it sounds like the album was made to be on tape.