The Tennis Lesson Takes on Experimental Indie Rock

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You wanted a press photo? You got it. - MARK CANGE
  • Mark Cange
  • You wanted a press photo? You got it.

In this weekly column, RFT Music gets to know local creatives, musicians and their missions. Get a slice of the local scene, complete with a snippet of sound and info about upcoming releases and shows. Stick around to see what St. Louis artists have to say whenever they Fill in in the Blank.

Save for its Bandcamp, Soundcloud and Tumblr pages, online media for the Tennis Lesson is a bit scarce. Since its debut in Summer 2012, the band has only played a handful of gigs, despite three killer digital EPs. The Tennis Lesson is the sort of gem you might stumble upon at a crowded bar in south city one Saturday night and never hear about again. Luckily, you can catch the elusive band with cohorts Humdrum and the Pat Sajak Assassins at CBGB (3163 South Grand Boulevard) later this month.

Guitarist and vocalist Mark Cange describes his group as conventional rock and pop. That might be true from a broad perspective, but the band manages to shoehorn subtlties that carry each song beyond the pop spectrum. The vocals embedded are familiar indie-rock ilk, but the approach to rhythm feels closer to progressive rock. Drummer Jeremy Brantlinger brings sharp perucssion with proper restraint, lending a distinctive feel to the band's somber set.

Its debut release, Statues Watch the Inside, feels like jazz students pulling an all-nighter, cramming for an indie-rock test the next day. The songs are those some mustachioed filmmaker might use for a dramatic car ride through the countryside. With its followup, Suitcase Full of Clones, the band went in a decidedly stranger direction.

"It's more experimental. We created loops from bits of our older songs and rewrote new songs around them. More keyboards and studio trickery on that one," Cange says.

The Tennis Lesson recently put out The Grand Prize Game, a proper sequel to its first release with a math-rock bend. Cange plans on recording a fourth EP next month before laying down ground work on a debut full-length.

We invited Mark Cange to fill in the blanks ahead of the Tennis Lesson's next show at CBGB on Halloween: Thursday, October 31. Click through to see what Mark had to say, check out more music and get info on the upcoming show.

Mark Cange, guitarist and vocalist of the Tennis Lesson:

I make music because...what else would we do?

I've learned the most from...our talented friends.

I'm most inspired by...a plan coming together.

Some of my favorite local bands/artists are...at the risk of excluding any of our friends, let's say Scott Joplin, Chuck Berry, Miles Davis, Ike and Tina Turner, and Dave Weckl.

The best post-show food in St. Louis is...at the Taproom.

Editor's Note: He means the Schlafly Tap Room (2100 Locust Street; 314-241-2337).

What I like most about St. Louis is...it's inexpensive, and Tower Grove Park.

The St. Louis music scene could use...more venues with a public-address system, and a Drum Headquarters.

Halloween with The Tennis Lesson, Pat Sajak Assassins, Humdrum October 31, 2013 CBGB (3163 South Grand Boulevard) 9 PM | free | 21+

Follow The Tennis Lesson via its Tumblr page or check out the full discography here.

Do you know a project or band that should be considered for this series? Drop a line to fillintheblank@riverfronttimes.com.

Previously from our Fill in the Blank series: - The Funs - Brothers Lazaroff - Quaere Verum - Mastermind Einstein - Sarah Bollinger - Little Big Bangs - Everything Went Black - Lions Eat Grass - Kevin Harris - Laika - Heavy Horse - Barely Free Partial Prisoners - The Defeated County - Lizzie Weber - Kenshiro's - B.E.L.L.A. - Superfun Yeah Yeah Rocketship - Humdrum - The Blind Eyes

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