Date: August 18, 2008
Author: Jenny Eliscu
Headline: Rock'n'Rikk Diary: The Backstage Blog: Phone Call From The Road: Tegan Quin of Tegan and Sara
One of my favorite rock & roll escapades last summer was a trip I took to Victoria, British Columbia, to interview indie rock duo Tegan & Sara. The twin sisters and I walked around Victoria, ate some lunch, hung out at the apartment they were temporarily sharing while recording The Con. But mostly, they chatted and bickered, their conversation musical in an entirely different way than the beguilingly acrid love songs they've been writing for more than a decade now. Point is, I loved them off the bat. So I was delighted this afternoon to get a phone call from Tegan Quin, who, it's worth noting, had already impressed me as one of the most adorably neurotic artists I'd ever interviewed. She was in Los Angeles filming her appearance in the video for Against Me's "Borne on the Waves of FM Radio," which features her backing vocals.
How're you doing?
I'm good. My back hurts, though. I shot a video a week ago for our band and had to stand for sixteen hours straight. The concept is I'm being wrapped up in phone cords, and they were big heavy winding cords, the first time they unwound me after two hours of standing, when they were unwrapping the cords from me, they ripped it off really fast. It's gonna look beautiful and amazing, but I'm convinced that's why my back hurts now. Angela Kendall, who did the documentary on the making of The Con -- she actually shot the video. Sara made the suggestion we do phone cords, because a lot of the songs were about me being on the phone with the person I wanted to be with all the time.
How did you first hook up with Against Me?
When their first record came out, I loved them and when they put out the next record, I interviewed them for Much Music during the Warped Tour. I gushed about how much I loved them and I think they thought that I was really weird. Then they told me they were making a record with Butch Vig and I was like, 'You should have me on the record! I'll play guitar.' And then a month later they called and said they had a song they wanted me to sing on. He was giving me a rundown of why he wrote the song: It's about a long distance relationship, and it basically summed up everything I was trying to say on The Con.
How was it different from what it's like recording with Sara?
Well, they had been in a really amazing studio and were joking they hadn't seen a girl in months, so they were really nice to me. I'm used to just being in a ghetto studio with Sara going, 'Get away from me!' But I was at Warped Tour in LA yesterday, and I saw the Against Me guys, and they were all sweaty and stinky. So I hope they smell better when I see them to make the video. I ran into my friend Hunter Burgan from AFI -- we have a side-project together. I was saying to him that I'd only been to Warped Tour when I was a teenager in high school, but yesterday I was like, 'Why is it so hot? Why did I wear black?'
Have you and Sara ever played on Warped Tour?
No. We haven't. And a friend of mine who knows me pretty well and has been out on the Warped Tour told me, 'Don't ever do Warped Tour. You'd hate it.' And I'm sure I would, because the three things I hate most in the world are outdoor shows, camping and camp -- hanging out with a bunch of people you don't know all the time and you have to do activities together. Then the whole not-knowing-what-time-you're-playing-every-day thing? Sounds awful!
What's the deal with this Hunter Burgan side-project?
We met like three years ago after he emailed me when we were on tour with So Jealous. I sent him a lot of B-sides and things and he started redoing the instrumentation and turning it into a dance electro thing. Sometimes it sounds like Kelly Clarkson, actually. I think it could make us both really rich. Sara and I just did a tour with Cyndi Lauper, and she co-writes on every song. That's my retirement plan, to sit and write with really cool artists. It was funny writing with Hunter, though. Like, actually being in the same room. I've never written with anyone, because Sara and I don't write together. He's like, 'Write lyrics,' and I'm like, 'With you watching?'
But you've got a lot of collaborations going, eh? You're also appearing at a Housing Works benefit in New York with Augusten Burroughs?
I got an email awhile ago saying his plans for the audio book for A Wolf at the Table was to score it with original music and then the songs would be released on iTunes. I'm a huge fan of his and have every book. They Fed Exed me a book and I read it, and I was like, 'Oh no! I'm a narcisssist, I've never written about anyone about me.' So I started writing a letter to him, asking questions, like 'What should I write about?' I got very emotional and weepy as I was writing it, and direct quotes from the letter ending being what make up the song. It took ten days to write the song, which is nine and half days longer than I apply to anything I do. But then he wrote me back the most intense email I've ever gotten. It made me cry. I saved it, and I never save anything, even from girls that I like. The event is on September 4th, and Housing Works is a really good cause benefiting people with HIV and AIDS. Living in Vancouver, which is the number one city for intravenous drug use in Canada, HIV plagues our city, and it's a cause that hits home with me.