Quin twins mark major musical career milestone
By turning 20, Tegan and Sara leave pop's teen scene behind

Sandra Sperounes

The Edmonton Journal

Tegan and Sara have reached a milestone.

Calgary's Quin twins can no longer be lumped in the same teen category as Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera. On Tuesday -- the day of our interview-- Tegan and Sara celebrated their 20th birthday.

"Our publicist from Universal called and asked, 'Can you do an interview on your birthday?' And I was like, 'You slave driver!' " Sara laughs. "But no, I don't mind at all -- just as long as you give us a good review."

No worries there, Sara. The duo's latest folk-rock disc, This Business of Art, is a four-star affair featuring six tunes from the duo's 1999 album, Under Feet Like Ours and five new ones. But all the tracks are coated with a sense of urgency -- syncopated guitars, herky jerky drums and raw, cynical lyrics about life and fame.

"It's the kind of album like you're coming out of winter into spring. You are in a negative place but you're empowered because you're just about to get out of it. Things are bad but they're going to get better," says Sara, who talks with the same rushed delivery as her vocals.

Twins are said to possess a psychic bond, but the Quins couldn't predict what would happen next. Soon after, Tegan and Sara released This Business of Art on Neil Young's own label, Vapor Records. Sara admits she didn't feel ready to sign with a label until Vapor's president allayed her fears.

"He said, 'I'll sign you and I haven't even seen you. You're imperfect and you've got talent and you can grow. And I think you'll be making your best album when you're 30,' And I thought, 'Talk about no pressure. I don't have to do any work until I'm 30,' " jokes Sara.

But the pressure was just about to begin. Thanks to the duo's deal with Vapor, Tegan and Sara landed an opening slot on Young's summer tour with The Pretenders. Sara admits she was intimidated at first, particularly when it came to meeting Chrissie Hynde of the Pretenders, and Amber Young, Neil's 16-year-old daughter, who allegedly had a major hand in signing the Quins.

"Amber is super-cool. Every night, she'd come out into the audience and watch us. She totally supported us -- I felt like she was mothering us," says Sara.

"I sort of felt bad for her, though. It's cool to be out on the road, but it's been her whole life and I got the feeling that she'd rather be busting it up at home with her 16-year-old friends rather than with her 55-year-old dad. So we sort of clicked with Amber that way -- because there was a part of me that wanted to be at home getting drunk with my friends."

But Sara is glad she and Tegan stuck it out on the two-month tour. The twins learned how to play in front of inattentive crowds and enjoy their time on stage. "We just had fun with it. All of a sudden, instead of feeling like we had to blow everybody away, we went on stage feeling like we were giving it our all. I feel a lot more confident and energized," says Sara.

"Before the tour, I felt like we were really struggling with all the business stuff and we weren't really writing anymore. But after two months on the road, I feel amazing! I want to write, I feel really lucky and excited to do my own thing. I feel like going out and conquering."

Tegan and Sara will attempt to conquer the Sidetrack tonight. Tickets are seven bucks at the door.