Author: Nathalie Weinstein
Publication: The Daily Barometer Online
Headline: Tegan and Sara enlighten Eugene
Don’t let their matching glam mullets and big eyes fool you, Tegan and Sara are as different as two sisters can be. See them Oct. 18 in Eugene and Oct. 19 in Portland.
Tegan and Sara are somewhere near Wyoming when I answer my telephone. Sara introduces herself; her voice sounds a million miles away.
I try to think what Wyoming would look like rushing by a speeding tour bus window. Old Faithful spraying steam into the sky and majestic moose romping through fields come to mind. I couldn’t be more wrong.
“I’m watching the band and the crew and my girlfriend skipping rope in a big empty parking lot,” said Sara. This is what makes her feel happy, not the critical acclaim the band’s new album So Jealous has received or the sold out venues.
In case you’ve been living at a study table in the library for the past few years, Tegan and Sara are a sister rock duo from Vancouver, Canada and your new favorite band. They have played with such talented performers as The Killers, Ryan Adams, Hot Hot Heat and Neil Young. The White Stripes are even fans.
“They covered our song ‘Walking With a Ghost’,” said Sara. “I didn’t realize our songs would be good enough to cover. It’s like opening a different door in my head. Its amazing.”
The girls look like the dolls your mom put on your bed when you were little: big eyes, porcelain complexions and small quirky smiles, except that the billowing curls have been replaced with slick hipster cuts.
Don’t expect any docile melodies here, however. Sounding more like elves from an enchanted forest than your typical syrupy sweet girl band, Tegan and Sara possess some of the most unique music on the scene today.
Like stumbling upon a close friend’s diary, their lyrics keep you from detaching emotionally because of their poignancy and frankness. Their minimalist sound tingles the eardrums and, at times, cuts you to the marrow with its silvery tenacity.
Sara cites Bruce Springsteen as one of the band’s major influences, as well as ‘90s rock like The Smashing Pumpkins and The Flaming Lips.
Their live show feels intimate, even in the largest venue.
Tegan and Sara bicker, laugh and reflect on their relationship as sisters, their political views and their childhood antics. Watching Tegan and Sara perform is like sitting in their family living room, drinking cocoa and watching them play acoustic guitars. However, Sara sometimes dreams of rock star glory.
“I’m in awe of bands that freak out onstage,” said Sara. “I wonder if I have that in me. Like when the audience and the band are going crazy. I feel like we are reserved. We’re not really performance artists.”
If Tegan and Sara all of a sudden started swinging the mike around like Iggy Pop, I wouldn’t want to miss it. You shouldn’t either. Catch Tegan and Sara Oct. 18 at the McDonald Theatre in Eugene and Oct. 19 at the Crystal Ballroom in Portland.
D: What do you think about when you’re onstage?
S: Depends. Sometimes I’m just thinking about the songs. Some nights its like you’re on autopilot and it naturally happens and you can enjoy the songs without thinking about them. Other nights, things are chaotic. Other nights I’m thinking about chores I have to do, people I need to call. I think about high school.
D: Have you acquired any crazed fans/groupies?
S: We have a crazy fan on our hands right now. Last night this girl was kind of a nut. She grabbed Tegan and tried to kiss her. She was like flipping out and Tegan was like ‘if you were a guy and had just done what you did, you would be thrown out.’ But since she was a girl, its not perceived as being scary. But we were like ‘that’s f***ed up.’ That’s just ridiculous. She’s on our message boards saying it was a racial thing. That’s a crazy fan to me, taking it a step beyond reality. We’re just normal people. We’re not the second coming. We’re not unicorns who have strolled into a club. I think our culture promotes crazy fans. Like with MTV. The younger kids act like spazzes. I feel bad for them mostly.
D: What is your best road trip story?
S: I haven’t been on a lot of road trips. Back in the early days when we were touring in a Jeep, we’d camp. The fun factor seems higher now in retrospect. But when you’re trying to work and look respectable for shows and you’re starving because all you’ve eaten is soup from a can and smell like campfire, its not fun. But now it seems fun to sleep in the car. I’d never want to do it again, but it’s fun in retrospect.
D: If you could be any mythical creature, what would you be?
S: I’d be a dragon just because most people wouldn’t be a dragon cause they’re not very cuddly.
D: What really irritates you?
S: I’m a very irritated person. I’m not a sit back and let things roll off me person. In terms of the music industry, a lot of fucked-up things happen. I think we’re afraid to complain about the industry. Artists are vocal about politics, but rarely do they critique the industry. Behind closed doors bad things happen, the homophobia, the venue taking 20 percent of everything we make. I think that it’s like any job. Everyone bitches about their job. I try to be sensitive that people don’t usually want to hear it. It drives me crazy.
D: Do you have a lucky item, like a t-shirt or talisman you bring onstage with you?
S: No, I have certain things that are my fallback. Like if I’m having a bad day I’ll wear a certain outfit so I’ll feel comfortable when I’m onstage. Whenever I fly, I wear red socks, even when they’re dirty. I only have one pair. We had to fly 21 times last tour. I wore them every time.
D: What was the last book you read? S: I just finished two books: RentGirl, a graphic novel and Stiffed, which was about the portrayal of the post-WWII man. It’s a book about men and their relationships with each other. The lady who wrote it also wrote Backlash: The Undeclared War on Post-Feminism. I thought it would be interesting to read a book about men from feminist perspective. We’ve misinterpreted their behavior. I work with 90 percent men. I focus on my politics as a woman and being queer. It’s interesting hearing how men don’t have that community. It’s weird to say as a man that you need a movement. They have been made out to be the bad guy. It was really interesting.