The group will also play a string of West Coast performances. The run sees the group performing in Los Angeles, San Francisco and San Diego. See below for full dates.
Ahead of the release, Tennis System’s Matty Taylor spoke to Alternative Press about the new project. During the interview, Taylor unpacked the themes at play on “Dizzy” as well as the accompanying visual. “Dizzy” offers a look into the artist’s feelings during the COVID-19 shutdown, and the visual further showcases the highs and lows of life as a touring musician.
Taylor also detailed his forthcoming record, due out Aug. 13. Autophobia takes its name from the fear of being alone, and the album offers a deep dive into the experience of solitude. Taylor frames the concept in a doubled sense. It’s a timely theme in light of the pandemic, which saw millions of people forced into lengthy periods of isolation.
However, it’s an idea that endures beyond the shutdown. Many of us still have to face our fear of being alone. That’s not a bad thing. Taylor sees self-reliance as the other side of loneliness, an opportunity to find ourselves and stand confidently on our own.
Let’s start by talking about “Dizzy” as a song. What were you trying to say with the track?
Basically, “Dizzy” is about being isolated during COVID. Sort of questioning everything and diving within myself, hashing things out and really trying to figure out what it is I’m doing and what’s going on. Questioning all the choices I’ve made in my life and reflecting on them and deciding where I’m going to go from here. I had a lot of time to reflect. I think a lot of us did during the pandemic. Not to be cliche or be one of those people that’s like, “I used this time to really better myself,” but I actually did. Prior to the pandemic, it was just nonstop, go, go, go with everything. I never really took a minute to take some time for myself. It was always hustling Tennis System, and I had a minute to do that. That’s what this song is about.
What is the story you were telling with the visual for the track?
The concept of the video was just to show what it’s like to be in a band and what my day-to-day is. I feel like most artists can relate. Typically, you’ll wake up with a barrage of text messages, people asking to be on the list. I was lucky enough to get my friends to be in the video with me, which is cool. The idea was to show [that] sometimes no one comes. Sometimes, there’s that contrast of the excitement of going, and you put in all this hard work. And sometimes, it’s to no one. It’s how you react to that and what you do in the end. I can’t tell you the number of times where I’ve gone on tour, and we’ve pulled up to a city and played to no one. That’s a humbling realization because you can go from a sold-out show to a show to no one. Regardless of that, the idea is that no matter what the turnout is, you play a hell of a show.
Can you talk about the album as a whole? Ever since I heard the title track, this concept of “autophobia” has been really intriguing to me.
This is the first time I’ve ever done an album by myself. I’ve never not had a band, and I’ve also never spent that much time alone. The whole idea was not only what everyone else has gone through with COVID but also the idea of, are you actually OK with being alone? I know a lot of people struggle with that. They’ll be in a relationship with someone that they’re not actually 100% in. A lot of it has to do with the fear of being alone or needing intimacy. My main focus was to home in on that because I feel a lot of people can relate to it outside of the pandemic. I think it’s something that people should be more comfortable with. Too many people depend on other people and sometimes less themselves. It’s important that you’re comfortable with yourself and [that] you are OK with being alone. I just wanted to focus on what that feels like and the negatives and the positives of that.
What was it like working on a record by yourself, in the midst of the quarantine on top of that?
Typically when I make a record, one, I have a band, and two, we have written, rehearsed and just really got everything down to a T [when] we go in there. For this album, the first song I wrote was “Truth Hurts.” The second song was “Summer Sweater.” Those songs I recorded here in L.A. When I went into the studio with Chadwick [Johnson], I had one song that was a foundation but didn’t have lyrics. That was “Dusted.” The other song was “Up For It,” where I had a general idea but hadn’t really fleshed it out. Every other song on the record was written on the spot in the studio. I was there for two weeks, and in those two weeks, we did all of this. It’s a completely new experience for me. To be entirely honest, I really enjoyed it. The downside of that is when getting ready to go on tour, I have to reteach myself these songs and relearn these parts. My mindset going into it was, “I don’t even know when we’re going to be able to tour again. So, I’ll worry about that when I have to.”
The sound of this record is really unique. I’d say it’s bigger than your last record, but it also feels very intimate and personal in a way. Can you talk about that aspect of the album?
I wanted it to be bigger, but the main focus here was to capture and transcend the emotion that I was feeling. I think you can feel that. That was my goal here. I really wanted to be as minimal as possible but as big as possible, if that makes sense. A lot of people that have heard the record so far have just been like, “Who hurt you?” I feel like 90%, maybe 95% of the world was feeling the same way that I was feeling. There’s no real art that could capture that feeling other than people going on to Instagram Live and talking about what they’re going through and stuff like that. I really wanted to create something that people could not only connect with but give this idea of like, “I’m alone, but I’m not alone.”
Given those goals, how did you approach the specific composition of the record?
Every one of these songs is a song that I wanted to make. It was like a no-holds-barred thing, so I could experiment and do whatever I wanted. At this point, it’s just me. To be entirely honest, [it] was extremely nerve-wracking. Maybe it’s a selfish way of thinking, but it’s like all of the weight of this comes down on me. There are some songs on here [where] I definitely step outside of my comfort zone. In particular, the track “Dusted.” It’s in the vein of “Truth Hurts,” where it’s that Suicide beat with hints of My Bloody Valentine or Chapterhouse, stuff like that. It’s very different for me. It’s more like electropop-ish with those shoegaze-y or post-punk styles. I was nervous about the song itself, and a lot of people that have previewed the album said that was their favorite. That was the song I was most concerned about putting on the record.
Does it feel different to make a record solo? Did you ultimately enjoy that experience of being alone?
A lot of the reason I wanted to do this record is because I started this project myself. I had written a couple of songs and then got a band back in D.C. We started writing together, and then we made albums and have continued that process. Every time somebody would have to leave the band for whatever reason, it was always this extreme like, “OK, that’s the end of the band.” For this particular record, the idea was like, “Hang on a second, I’m not going to end the band because people are no longer in it.” If I’m going to end this band, it’s going to be because I’m done and I don’t want to do it anymore, not because I don’t have a live band or backing band. The main idea was to make things on my terms. Through doing so, I found a new process that I really enjoy. I have the freedom to do exactly what I want. I don’t in any way want to add any negative connotation to any past band members because everything that we did was extremely magical. But the idea of having complete control over everything has been really nice, and I’ve been able to do things that maybe somebody else may not have been too stoked on. The result is Autophobia.
Tennis System performances:
12/06 – San Francisco, CA @ Bottom Of The Hill
12/11 – Los Angeles, CA @ The Echo
12/12 – San Diego, CA @ Soda Bar