The World According to Tegan
Tim Smith
Monday Magazine
October 31, 2002

One-half of Tegan and Sara on touring, koala bears and staying real.

Tegan calls herself self-centred . . . at least, when it comes to songwriting. One half of rockers Tegan and Sara, the Calgary native waxes philosophically through her cell phone about the hardships of songwriting; meanwhile, the band travels at 70 mph along another, seemingly endless, highway from Chicago to Minneapolis. Despite her complaints about the hassles of touring (“stuck in a van breathing everyone else’s hot air”) and her paranoia of flying (“I convince everyone to make 16-hour drives, just to avoid planes”), Tegan admits it’s all worth it for “the time that we’re on stage—that’s why we do it.”

Tegan’s narrative songwriting pays off in the lyrics of the duo’s new album, If It Was You. Their second release on Neil Young’s Vapor Records, You takes a 180-degree about-face from their previous album, This Business of Art. Faster, louder and arguably more personal, You shows uncanny maturity for the two 22-year-olds who kick off their Canadian tour this Friday at Sugar. “I go back and look at our last album and am like, what the hell was I talking about?” Tegan confesses. “Koala bears? Wading pools? We were just fucking around. And with this records’ [lyrics]—‘I cried so hard that I pushed you further away’—that’s taken right out of my heart.”

With the backing and distribution of two major record labels, you would assume that Tegan and Sara’s popularity would be propelled by the traditional flogging of listener’s senses through radio and video overkill. Instead, they’ve chosen to build a loyal and protective fan-base through extensive touring; fans are drawn by the confident and relaxed stage presence they exude. Whether fully immersed in hilarious hyper-banter or trading insults back and forth, Tegan and Sara manage to make you think they are performing in your living room as friends, not as untouchable rock stars up on a stage.

But these aren’t delicate pop princesses, protected by media escorts and image designers. Far from being cardboard cutouts, they are real women and fans relate to their honesty. Tegan finishes the interview cheerily, in a no-holds-barred fashion that leaves me with a lasting impression that there is still some reality left in the music industry.

“When I read in Rolling Stone that Avril Lavigne says she doesn’t know what a feminist is, I feel like driving a blunt object through my face,” laughs Tegan. “But on days like today I feel hopeful for the future of music and for our future in the industry.”

Tegan and Sara (with The Way Out) Friday, November 1. Sugar Tickets $16. 920-9950