Denver Pop Duo Tennis Lists Their Studio-Ready Gear on Reverb

Photo by Luca Venter

For the past decade, Tennis' Alaina Moore and Patrick Riley have been engaged in a constant process of re-invention and refinement. From 2011's Cape Dory to this year's Swimmer, the pair's classic songcraft and ear for strong hooks have traversed and drawn inspiration from eras of pop history—all while they experimented with new recording techniques and gear.

Like the rest of the world's independent artists, instead of touring behind their latest record, Tennis will instead be spending much of 2020 inside, creating new songs at their studio. So, they thought, why not get rid of a few pieces of gear and make room for the new?

"Selling and buying new gear between album cycles helps us keep the writing process fresh," Patrick says. "Now that our tour has been canceled, we decided to Marie Kondo our studio and get back to writing with a new sonic palette."

In The Official Tennis Reverb Shop, you'll find a tasteful collection of recording gear and instruments, the elements they've used to create and change their sound on previous records.

These include an API 512C 500 Series Preamp used as the group's primary drum preamp for 2014's Ritual in Repeat and Yours Conditionally, a Korg Lambda synth used throughout the group's career, and Alaina's Sennheiser MD421 II mic.

"The 421 has been my go to for years," Alaina says. She used it extensively on the group's Ritual in Repeat and an earlier EP, having thought that condenser mics—or at least those she used at the time—didn't sound great on her vocals. However, she says, "I finally found a condenser mic that works with my voice (a Telefunken 251) and it’s changing the way I write and perform in a way that feels new and innovative."

An Ampeg "Big Stud" GEB 750 played a similarly outsized role in the band's sound, having been used on all of the group's albums and throughout many tours, including a key show at Austin City Limits. Talking about the Ampeg, Patrick says, "We went through a phase in 2010 or so where we were buying up as much 'made in Japan' gear as possible. The craftsmanship is incredible on this bass, but it’s also heavy as hell (which is a good thing for tone, but a bad thing for old people). Are we old now? Sure seems like it."

Though Tennis is parting with some of their beloved gear, the goal is to continue to curate a studio that works for them—and for other artists in the Denver music scene looking to Alaina and Patrick for their production skills. The studio they have now, they told us, is something they wished they'd had access to when making their first record 10 years ago.

Tennis - "Need Your Love," from this year's Swimmer

Creating records with other producers—like Patrick Carney, Richard Swift, and Spoon's Jim Eno—gave them an opportunity to learn tricks of the trade. By working with greats and studying others, Tennis has created a "small but well-curated" setup of their own.

"We’ve taken the signal chains from our favorite producers and set them up in a really efficient way," Patrick says. "Time is maybe the best component of our studio; you can go from a really vibey chain of '50s microphones and compressors to super hi-fi gear in less than a minute. We try and capture the magic when it’s fresh... We hate when you’re at a studio and it takes 45 minutes to re-patch. Not here!"

Check out all the items for sale right now in The Official Tennis Reverb Shop.

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