Tegan Quin of Tegan & Sara: The Autostraddle Interview(s)

tegan quin 5Katrina-on-Tegan

Tegan: Hey Katrina!
Hey Tegan, how’re you doing?
Tegan: Doing well, how are you doing?
Katrina: I’m doing alright! So what are you guys up to right now, where are you?
Tegan: Well, specifically right this minute, I’m in the car with my mom. We’re going over to her house for dinner, and in general, Sara and I just finished rehearsal in Vancouver, and we’re heading out on tour on Wednesday!

Katrina: How’s that, you guys excited?
Tegan: I’m actually very excited, yeah, everything sounds really good. The next few shows are going to be really awesome. Everyone’s really excited, and life’s good.

Katrina: So what’s the setlist on this tour look like? Are you going be pretty much playing ‘Sainthood’ straight through, or are you going to be mixing in some old stuff?
Tegan: We’re playing an even amount of new and old. We’re playing about 25 songs, and so I think everyone will be very happy. We will be playing our new record, but we’re doing it in three parts, so there’ll be lots of old stuff in between.

Katrina: What do you mean by you’re doing it in three parts? How’d you split that up, and where did the decision come from?
Tegan: Well we’re doing them in three parts because we decided we wanted to break it up a little rather than doing it all in one shot. We divided them up with what we thought was best for flow with the old songs, and we kept each section running chronologically, or in sequence, I should say, and we just thought that made sense because the record, I think, we’re still thinking of it as a sequenced piece, like one big entity. So, yeah, we’ll see how that goes. Sara left today, and said she wants to make changes so… it could be completely different. I guess we’ll find out soon.

Katrina: Okay, well good luck with that! So I notice you’re playing a lot of seated venues on this tour, what’s up with that?
Tegan: What’s up with that? What’s up with that is we also play a lot of standing room venues, but we sort of like this weird grey area between clubs and arenas, and it sort of means you have to play theatres along the way. I like theatres that have some sitting and some standing, but a lot of the theatres we’re playing are just sitting, which could be a bit of a vibe-killer, but we’re hoping to bring a high-enough energy show with lots of old, slow stuff and quiet songs too, so hopefully it’ll just be like ‘An Evening with Tegan and Sara.’

Katrina: [laughs] Are you going to be marketing your next tour as ‘An Evening with Tegan and Sara?’ because I think you’d make great sales.
Tegan: [laughs]

Katrina: It could be like your next album!
Tegan: I actually thought that was pretty clever of myself, so I’m making note of it right now.


Katrina: Okay, so, even though you’re playing a lot of seated venues, am I still allowed to jump up and down to ‘Northshore?’ Is that okay?
Tegan: Oh my God, yeah totally! My hope is that people will stand up. I mean in a lot of theatres you can stand up and move forward and do what you want anyway, so you can do whatever you want.

Katrina: Okay, so if I get up and security tries to pull me back, I’m going to be like, “Hey, Tegan said. Tegan said it was okay.”
Tegan: Yeah, yeah, that’s good. Go for it.

Katrina: Alright, so, ‘Sainthood!’ You guys, of course, have talked about writing together a lot, but only one track that you worked on together made the album. Do you feel that, in writing together, you guys sort of fell into the same roles that you fell into with earlier albums, or do you feel like you’re falling into roles at all?
Tegan: Well, I felt it was really successful. We wrote a ton of songs together, just they all sort of went really well with each other, and not with some of the other stuff we had done. So if anything, we’ll definitely do it again, but maybe differently. There’s definitely a future for Tegan & Sara co-written songs. We’ll probably try some variations of it and see what happens. The fact that we were able to get so many songs, including the song that inspired the title of the record, makes us feel successful.

I definitely think that there’s an intimacy with our band; we tell stories that are real. It’s no act, it’s no schtick, and I love getting up there and telling stories.

Katrina: So basically fans don’t have to worry about you guys splitting up Outkast-style, like you guys are gonna stick together and give us more evenings with Tegan and Sara?
Tegan: Maybe one day we’ll release a double record, and it’ll all be Sara songs and Tegan songs, but I think that’s what makes our band so special, that we collaborate with each other, that we sang background on each others’ songs. I think that what the fans don’t know won’t hurt them. I mean most people thought we were writing together the whole time, and they were like, “Oh…you haven’t been writing together?” and we were like, “No!” So I think that we’ll just keep doing what we’re doing, you know?

Katrina: So I sort of noticed on this album, your sound manifests the darker ideas behind it, whereas with earlier albums, it sort of seemed like you were manifesting darker ideas with sort of a poppier sound. What allowed you to go there for this album?
Tegan: Well you know, Chris Walla from Death Cab played bass and Jason McGerr played drums, and we played as a band. We stayed in a room together for a month, and recorded as a band, and I think it just allowed the music to grow outside of even our own abilities. On past records, Sara and I demoed a lot of the bass and the drum ideas; we collaborated with each other, but not nearly as much as we did on this record. I’ll write a song, I’ll record it, and then I won’t play it until we get to the studio months and months later, and then drums and bass will get added, and we’ll be on the road, and it turns into a real song. And this time around, because we played as a real band in the studio, some of the songs really became rock songs. They really became our songs, and I’m really, really loving the record so far, but I think the more that you listen to it, the more you’re going to hear the real Tegan and Sara. It’s more like our live show, because we don’t really sing on each others’ songs on record, and we do on this record. I feel like it’s going to sound more like Tegan and Sara the more you hear it.

Katrina: Right, Tegan and Sara, like the band. Or the Tegan and Sara Experience, perhaps.
Tegan: Yeah! And I think that, ultimately, whether it’s a rock song, a pop song, or a dance song, it’s still Tegan and Sara. And I think that’s sort of the future of Tegan and Sara. It doesn’t really matter what instrument I’m holding in my hand, I am whatever I want to be. We really don’t limit ourselves. It really is just like a giant box of ideas, and we just allow our imaginations to run wild. I think that that’s ultimately what keeps Tegan and Sara interesting for us, and it will actually keep our fans happier. Fans will come up to us and be like, “I wish you still were acoustic!” and I’m always like, “Yeah, but if you’ve been listening to us for ten years, you might be over it” you know? The reason why you’re still here and loving that acoustic record is because we don’t have five other acoustic records of ours to compete with it. So everyone has their favorite, or what they want to see, and I’d like to continue being better and be more than that and change it up, you know?

Katrina: Yeah, and your fans, they’re pretty into you. They seem to be not just invested in your music but they seem to be super invested in who you are. What do you think it is about you that sort of makes them do that?
Tegan: I think it’s a combination of how personal we’ve been—you know, like via stories and staying in touch with our audience, it’s proven that there’s a line that you don’t want to cross. Like I don’t want to give anyone my home phone number, or I don’t want to go out with the crowds after a show necessarily and hang out and have a beer. But I definitely think that there’s an intimacy with our band; we tell stories that are real. It’s no act, it’s no schtick, and I love getting up there and telling stories, and it’s basically really genuine, and I think that the audience really feels like it’s real, and that’s why they feel like we’re not just some random rock band.

Katrina: So I heard that on your last tour you had a couple of really enthusiastic fans, and you may have gotten a bra thrown on stage once or twice. Can we confirm this?
Tegan: We have gotten a few bras thrown on stage over the years.

Katrina: Does that mean you guys are rock stars now? Is that what that is?

[Phone cuts out, we are reconnected.]

Tegan: Hi, sorry my phone died!

Katrina: No bigs! I think I was just asking about bras right now.
Tegan: Oh, yeah, totally! Yeah, we get lots of fun things thrown at us. The bras make me feel weird, like if it’s a big bra, then is it like their way of saying we have big boobs? Or like, if it’s a small bra, did they throw their bra? It’s always weird. [laughs]

Katrina: So if you don’t mind if I could ask, who, Tegan Quin, would you throw your bra at? Like who is your really big thing right now?
Tegan: [laughs] Who would I throw my bra at? Right now, I’m kind of obsessed with Gaslight Anthem and this band Lightning Dust. So I’d probably throw my bra at them.

Katrina: Oh wow, are you going to see Gaslight Anthem on tour since it’s their last one?
Tegan: I’m not! I’m not going to be able to catch them, no. But I do love them, and I’m campaigning hard to try to get the tour, Tegan and Sara and Gaslight Anthem together.

Katrina: This is sort of a random question that may be more for Sara, but I’m just going to throw it at you anyway. Since you did move toward a more electronic sound, I’ve heard you guys weirdly compared to Santigold. Are you guys gonna be hanging out with her anytime soon?
Tegan: Um, I don’t think so, there’s no plan at this point. I’m actually not that familiar with her music, but when we were in Australia in January, she was playing at some of the same festivals we were but on different days, and I was so bummed out!

Katrina: I feel like I’m just throwing weird questions at you now. I have a friend who needs to know—I don’t know if she’s going to bring them to you or not—she would like to know how you like your eggs in the morning. But you can also answer how you like them at night.
Tegan: How we what now?
Your eggs, how do you like them in the morning?
Tegan: How do I like my eggs, that’s so funny. I actually don’t eat eggs.
Oh, okay…
Tegan: I’m just not like a morning/breakfast person. I don’t know why, but it’s been like that since I was a kid. And being on tour you mainly just get up at lunchtime, so I’m a lunchtime person.
Okay, I’ll pass that information on.
Tegan: Yeah, pass that on.

Katrina: Alright, so finally, do you read Autostraddle.com at all?
Tegan: Yeah, of course! I absolutely have gone to the site before for sure. I will go immediately as soon as I get off the phone.

Katrina: Well, your face is going to be on there soon, so hopefully you’ll stop by! So thank you so much for your time!
Tegan: Oh my God, my pleasure. Sorry about the phone dying once again!
No problem at all! Give my regards to your mother!
Tegan: I will, I’ll tell her you say hi!

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  1. This is really exciting! ahhh, I need to figure out a way to get to a show this tour.

    also my straight boy roommate has heard me talk about t&s so much these past few days he might just punch me in the face soon

  2. Oh god. This made me really happy. And I’m supposed to be freaking out right now because I have a practical exam in and hour and I almost left my labcoat and sexy safety glasses at home and what does that say about where my head is right now?
    TWO interviews! Autostraddle spoils it’s readers! Australia in may! Yayyy.

  3. I read this while sitting in the quiet, scholarly land of the Barnard library. I laughed audibly multiple times and have a very large smile on my face. I must look absolutely ridiculous. But I don’t care because this was amazing and everyone needs to read it over and over and over again!

  4. I’ll be at the Stockholm show! I just wanted to say that the Autostraddle team is made of rock stars and that the “But you can also answer how you like them at night” part of the question killed me


  5. This made my day. Tegan and autostraddle are frikkin amazing. Only thing left to do is decide whether I want to go to the D.C. or Richmond show… Does anyone in the area know which venue is better? Not that it really matters, cause, hello it’s the Tegan and Sara Experience I’m going for.

    • The Warner Theater’s alright, but its no 9:30 club. Then again I’ve only ever seen plays there… I’d go with DC because Richmond is in VA, and that’s like 20 “con” points in Tasha and Alice’s pros and cons list.

  6. This tegan interview double whammy has just saved my head from exploding in the middle of doing statistical analysis and now all is right with the world again. Ace interviews, espesh the news about how their going to organise the setlist. Actually couldnt believe my eyes when i saw this; dont know if autostraddle could get any more awesome!

  7. I would like to lead us in prayer.
    Oh thank you, wise, benevolent, flannel bedecked and asymmetrically-coiffed Goddess of Dykedom. We are not worthy of this cornucopia of all things Tegan and Sara. We give our thanks, for your fast hands were clearly guiding the Autostraddle staff towards this feat of journalism. On the eve of October 27th, we will sacrifice a neocon asshat commenter above a pyre of Season 6 DVDs in your honor.

  8. You know how I know this is such an awesome article/interviews??? Because I really have no opinion on Tegan or Sara (don’t hurt me) and I laughed so many times in this article and read the whole thing and loved it all and it made me soo happy and smile … So proud

  9. I greatly enjoy that Tegan is digging on Gaslight Anthem, because I saw them last week in Manhattan and during one of their songs, “Old White Lincoln, there was a shout out to Nineteen. It made me very happy.

  10. Everything about this just makes me so happy! Tegan is so cute! She was in the car with her mom! She has never actually had a bad haircut in her life, I don’t think, but was willing to pretend that she has to make us feel better! Let’s all hug!

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  12. Pingback: T & essing @ Genres & Moods

  13. Pingback: Tegan & Sara “Sainthood” | Genres & Moods

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  15. hey.. did anyone see the manchester show of 2009 (on youtube or something) sara said her first crush was on christina sampson/simpson :D (it’s a funny story http://bit.ly/76BAc)
    i just wondered if tegan had a crush on the same girl ..
    great interview.. i’m really jealous :D

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