Date: April 4th, 2001
Author: Tim Smith
Publication: The Manitobian
Headline: But Don't Try To Label Tegan and Sara
If you've heard twin performers Tegan and Sara before, chances are you're gearing up for their upcoming show at the West End Cultural Centre. If not, this is your chance to be pleasantly surprised with this down-to-earth duo.
I had the opportunity to sit down with 20-year-old Sara last week to talk about the duo's record label, their rising success, the pains of being labeled, the horror of riding Greyhound, and a ton of other things. The two recently released their first album, This Business of Art, on Neil Young's Vapor Records in America last July (Universal Records in Canada). "We like being attached to a cool label," says Sara. "More importantly we like working with such cool people. We didn't make a huge jump. It wasn't like we were driving around in our little Jetta car in Ontario, and then all of sudden we were driving around in limousines. We just moved up to a van and began playing more."
Playing more is right - they've done almost non-stop touring ever since the album's release. "The best part about touring," says Sara, "is when you get to play, and get out of the car. Some days you'd be surprised at how relieved you are to actually do your job. Playing is so easy."
Hopefully they will be relieved to play when they get to Winnipeg: they arrive right off a five-day promotional tour in Europe. Sara warns, "Tegan and Sara will be extremely tired animals when they get to Winnipeg."
They learned a valuable touring lesson during their January tour that hit smaller markets such as Banff, Salmon Arm and Saskatoon. "We were making a lot of money, but we decided to save ourselves money, and to be safe we took the Greyhound. Big fucking mistake. I felt like we had been through a war. I think about doing that, and I'm like 'never again. Forget it, you'll have to put a gun to my head.'"
When discussing business, Sara sounds like a veteran of the music industry. She's amazingly confident. "I would love to keep (the venues) smaller, but the reality is that we are working musicians, and when you see your audience grow, you see your stability grow. Instead of worrying about paying rent, or taxes, or your doctor's bills, you actually get to see an income and feel safe doing what you're doing as a job."
One thing that has plagued Tegan and Sara throughout their relatively short career has been dealing with musical labels in the media. "Sometimes," Sara laughs, "I get tired of the labels. Not tired in an angsty way, but like tired in an oh-god-if-I-have-to-hear "twins on top" or "double trouble" one-more-time-I'm-gonna-take-out-an-Uzi-and-blow-somebody-away kind of way."
On seeing a blurb in a Vancouver paper that described the duo as "alt/folk/rock duo/twin sisters," Sara exclaims, "You might as well write 'prairie duo singing with banjos and wheat!' It's so boring."
What isn't boring is Tegan and Sara's live show. They've often been praised by the media for their interaction with the audience and their often hilarious stage banter. "I used to be like, 'oh we're funny and we're cute,' but I don't know. Are we funny? Are we cute? I think we're entertaining. I don't think you can become an entertainer, you just are one."
Tegan and Sarah play April 9 at the West End Cultural Centre. Their debut album is the excellent This Business of Art.