Date: January 2002
Author: Kristopher Dukes www.kristopherdukes.com
Headline: TEGAN AND SARA - Sympathy for Avril Lavigne
"I totally forgot until I got my phone message this morning that I had interviews, so I was a little off guard anyway, but I have another interview in about eight minutes, so is there any way I can call you back at the end of that interview?" Polite, quick, friendly and humorous, 22-year-old Tegan Quin sounds like adjectives that come unnaturally to me on early Saturdays.
"Yeah, that would be great," I say, grateful. I hang up, hurry to my kitchen and crank up the espresso machine, ready to embrace some caffeine. Sure, it was noonish, but it seems like I’d need a little kick for a questions and answers session with Tegan, who makes up half of the indie pop-rock sister duo, Tegan and Sara.
After releasing their U.S, debut, The Business of Art——which landed them openings for Neil Young, the Pretenders, and Rufus Wainright——the twin Canadian femmes are back with a rock band for the punchier If It Was You, an LP that earned them a three-month tour with alt-country boy Ryan Adams in October of 2002.
Let’s start with asking you how Tegan and Sara got started as a band.
Tegan Quin: We both were taking piano in high school, and by that point, we were kinda getting bored of it and we started doing the teen angsty type thing when you wanna play guitar and blah blah blah. We only did it for a little while and then we got real jobs and sort of got really depressed and bored. We were like, "God, if this is the rest of our lives, this is going to be horrible," so we borrowed some money and recorded an album and then things kinda went from there. It was really accidental; it was never planned out. There’s no dramatic story of "And then we just knew it when we just looked in each other’s eyes…!" Nothing like that.
There are a lot of Ani Difranco references in your press. Do you think it’s valid?
No, I don’t. It’s such a funny thing for people to bring it up because I feel bad; I don’t wanna shoot it down. Sara and I didn’t grow up listening to Ani Difranco; I actually didn’t get an album of Ani Difranco’s until someone compared me to her, so I was like, "Oh, I wanna hear what she sounds like." I think that with this record, we’re hoping to get away from that a little more by stepping up the sound and in bringing a band. But at the same time, I would hate to be written up as someone who didn’t support who we were referenced to. I mean, I love a lot of what Ani Difranco has done. I think whether we like it or not, women always get compared to certain people, and men always get compared to other people and I feel bad for Avril Lavigne getting compared to Britney Spears.
Speaking of her, have any Avril Lavigne references started?
Actually, one time some interviewer was like, "Now that has Avril Lavigne is blowing up, do you feel like she’s opened the door for you guys?" and I was like, "Pardon? What? Who the hell is Avril Lavigne?" But I think she’s cool, I think it’s good. I think that [with] Sara and I, our aspirations are maybe a little different. We’re looking to be a band that you come see for the rest of your life. Every time we put an album out, you’re excited——we’re like family, you know? You grow up with us and hopefully get something from each of our records and respect who we are. And if by accident we sell a million records that’s great, but I certainly don't think that’s what Sara and I are aiming to do. And anyone who knows even just a little bit about that knows that’s obvious.
Tegan and Sara play the Knitting Factory in Los Angeles on January 22. Campground Effect and Jason Yates are slated to open the show.