Tegan and Sara join Neil Young and The Pretenders on tour
by Suzan Alteri
Real Detroit Weekly

My guess is you haven’t heard of Tegan and Sara, not yet anyway. But the two Canadian musicians have signed a major label deal with Vapor Records (releasing their major debut This Business of Art in September) and are currently on tour with Neil Young and The Pretenders. “It’s been pretty surreal. You have to be loud and battle with the beer and the masses,” said Sara Quin of touring with such legends. The two have just woken up and they’re feeling a tad groggy and world-weary, but once we broke the ice with a brief discussion of lying, “We lie generally in life to make things sound better,” Sara laughed, their exuberant nature comes through the phone line like a refreshing blast of energy. If you need a little kick in the morning to get you going, Tegan and Sara are definitely it. They talk so fast at times that their reflective thoughts are often missed. Before you know it they’ve gone from talking about their album to their life as twins. They often would say, “I’ll get to the point eventually, I promise.”

The same could be said of their music. One critic in Canada called it spastic and Sara agreed, “We definitely know, as an album, it’s a mouthful but it’s very energetic. It’s very true to life. I think that we’ll grow into a maturity and it will come in our music as well. Right now, our music is a little spazzy.” With heady mixtures of acoustic guitars, electronic bleeps and pounding drums, Tegan and Sara have managed to breathe life into a dying genre of music. Their album nearly reinvents pop-folk music. While some might compare these two young women to Ani DiFranco, their music is surprisingly more visceral and well defined. They’ve taken their cues from both pop and folk music, merging the two into an irresistible melange of beats and razor sharp lyrics.

By definition from grade school to age 30 / We quietly become strong so early / Take it or leave it / They can’t believe it / They go from kindergarten to killing sprees / They go from heartache to inner peace.

Taken from “The First,” these lyrics, penned by Tegan Quin, the other half, could describe the life of this dynamic duo. “I walked in on a burglar and it was so creepy and it took away all of my sense of security. And then, family stuff and crappy jobs. I felt like I was starting to get fearful. (I thought) I have to get off this train and I just sat down and wrote it,” she commented after pausing. Their words often make them seem wise beyond their years, although Sara disagreed, stating that she knows more than one youth whose thoughts echo the ones they discuss on This Business of Art, “They just don’t play music,” Sara said.

I asked the two if they studied writing, since their lyrics are so clever. Although they read voraciously and were big English students in school, “I don’t think we studied or tried to do it on purpose; I think it just came out that way.” The two are more than just content with their latest album. Apparently their system of letting their work evolve naturally has paid off in spades. Tegan described This Business of Art as, “the closest and it’s made me the happiest.” Sara quickly echoes that sentiment with, “It’s very honest and raw and we think it’s very true to how we are onstage.”

Besides creating great music, the duo has another oddity about them — they are twins. It gives their music an almost psychic quality, as if the one knows exactly what the other is singing and thinking. Perhaps it is this odd, intimate connection that gives their live show its passionate energy, which is missing from many of today’s bands. Still, it’s a little weird for them. “What happens sometimes onstage or the way we can play music together is that we’re so close to one another. We’ve always been in each other’s face and we’re such good friends. It’s just an odd thing. I hate sleeping in the same bed with her. I feel that I have weirder dreams,” Sara laughed.

But recording the album wasn’t exactly what the two imagined. If you think recording your first album is all glory, parties in the studio with famous guests stopping by, forget it. “It was insane just ‘cuz we were in one room. When Hawksley Workman was doing the drum tracks, we would wrap jackets and scarves around our heads. If you could see how we did it, it was a joke,” Tegan laughed heartily.

This Business of Art is an inspiring debut to say the least. But if you’re looking to Tegan and Sara as role models, that might be OK, but they certainly aren’t setting out to influence the next group of young girls searching for anything emotional in an increasing barren society. “We’re really just trying to reinforce ourselves. We write songs as reminders to ourselves.”