By Sarah Petersen
Canadian twins Sara (left) and Tegan Quin recently stopped in Minneapolis as part of their tour to promote their second CD, This Business of Art.
Tegan and Sara Quin might be all of 19, but they talk like seasoned pros.
This summer, the Canadian twins released their second CD on Vapor Records (which is run by Neil Young and his manager), thereby scoring an opening spot on tour with Young and the Pretenders. Professional musician or not, any 19-year-old's head might understandably be turned by playing to huge audiences and spending quality time with rock legends. But the Quins seem appreciative yet nonchalant as they tuck into a meal of chicken and potatoes at a Minneapolis restaurant.
"I don't want to downplay it," says Tegan. "It's exciting, it's awesome... we've had the best month of our life. But, on the other hand, it's not. It's like, 'You're Neil, and you're Chrissie [Hynde].' Like, normal. Everyone's really, really low-key. And everyone's incredibly nice. After a month, you're like, 'Wow, you're exactly the same as you were yesterday! I am, too.'
"It'll be interesting in three years to look back and be, like, 'Oh, my God, we did that.' It's something to look back on, and be really proud and humble that we did."
Tegan, as they state at the beginning of the conversation, is the more outspoken of the two ("the louder one," pronounces Sara, as Tegan grins cheerfully), prone to leaning across the table, ignoring her meals, launching into detailed explanations, and talking so fast that she can scarcely keep up with herself. Sara lets her twin talk, occasionally interjecting and taking the floor when Tegan settles back to eat. They bicker from time to time, amiably and without self-consciousness; each has a different brand of intensity she's long since learned to channel.
"The crowds have been amazing, and it's nice to be in a proper vehicle," says Tegan, who recalls the times she and her sister have conducted entire tours via Greyhound-type buses.
"And dressing rooms that don't look like they were torture chambers!" Sara chimes in.
They're looking forward to the next leg of the tour, which will take them back into Canada. Weary of selling themselves to audiences that haven't heard of them, they'll go back and play to listeners they've "already won over," as Tegan puts it.
But Tegan has her eyes on the big time, and when the conversation turns to MTV's Total Request Live, she's all for it: "I'd love to host TRL, man. I think it would be hilarious."
"Well, Tegan can do TRL alone, then," murmurs Sara, with a sidelong glance at her sister.
Tegan recalls the time they played a Canadian "forum for new bands" on a bill that included Christina Aguilera and Eve 6. "And we were in the middle of it all, playing acoustic guitar. I have no idea how we got that--no idea why they thought it would go over--but it did. There's nothing wrong with trying to appeal to those kids because they don't have a lot of good music to listen to.
"They went 'Woo, woo!' to us, and I was, like, 'This is weird.'"
They don't generally play to the "woo woo" crowd, but Tegan and Sara know exactly how they can get the word out on their music--after all, they did title their latest CD This Business of Art. They explain that, while most record companies "push" records at retail and radio outlets, releases like This Business have to be "pulled through"--that is, their work will become known only if people request the music at record stores and radio stations. "It's going to have to be a people's album," Tegan sums up. "People are going to have to get into it."
Pretty heady stuff, for a pair of 19-year-old twins from Calgary. In the near future, Sara says, they plan to continue touring in support of the CD. "We talk about going to Europe, 'cause we're going to release our album in Australia, Japan, and Europe. But our schedule's pretty full. I don't suspect we'll be going on a two-month hiatus anytime soon."
"But we don't know for sure," Tegan says.
"We could be on the countdown on MTV tomorrow," Sara deadpans, "and touring with Britney Spears in a month. You never know."
"I assume we'd probably last a day," Tegan speculates. "Pick a fight with Britney backstage." Sara predicts that Britney would go down. "Christina Aguilera--that might be a fair fight."
But they aren't all business. Sara, ever the romantic, would rather talk about how she'd spend "a perfect day": "My perfect day will be--what day do we go home? Saturday?--My perfect day will be Sunday when I get to wake up and be home." Sara explains that she just moved into an apartment in Vancouver with her girlfriend of two years, and hasn't actually lived in their home yet. She speaks wistfully of missing all of the firsts, like spending the first night with her girlfriend in the new place and getting library cards together.
Tegan, too, recently moved to Vancouver with her girlfriend of five months, but is characteristically pragmatic about the idea of cohabitation. "I'm never there," she says dismissively, speculating that things would be different if she were living there, "like, adult: getting a job, being at my own place. But I'm never home, so it's all good. It's like a honeymoon every time I come home, then I go away, and I don't have to deal with all the normal things." One gets the sense that she's only partly kidding.