Tegan and Sara get a little ‘Closer’ to fame

credit: Pamela Littky
credit: Pamela Littky

After 14 years as a musician, with seven studio albums and plenty of indie cred but surprisingly little mainstream recognition to her name, Tegan Quin now finds herself wondering “Oh my God, am I supposed to have that moment now? Am I supposed to have that moment where I say I’m so sorry to Sara, like, I’ve ruined our band?”

The sudden and rampant popularity of Tegan and Sara’s infectious, electro-driven single “Closer” (off of 2012’s “Heartthrob”) — a track that Tegan re-wrote six times, at Sara’s request — has thrust the Canadian sister act into the spotlight and onto the pop radio waves, a new trajectory for the duo’s career. Tegan remembers when their 2004 single “Walking With a Ghost” was making the rounds on the alt radio circuit and Sara (the more “indie rock” sister, Tegan says) moaned “We’re like a one-hit wonder. We’re like that band who has one song.” As it turns out, it wasn’t true then and it’s sure as hell not true now. “You know what?” says Tegan, when asked if she’s dubious about the sudden uptick in their pop celebrity. “F—ck that. I’m really excited, it’s great!”

“F—ck that” is sort of the unspoken mantra for the sisters, who have maintained a long and steadily evolving career despite all the odds against them. A lesbian identical twin sister act seems like studio-designed gimmick destined for one-hit wonderdom (remember t.A.T.u., the Russian “lesbian” outfit that captured the nation’s fascination for about five seconds back in 2002? Tegan does. “We would have been the Canadian version of that,” she says). Instead, the sisters chose to first sign with a small label (Neil Young’s Vapor Records) and take things slowly, allowing themselves time to grow as musicians and as people. And it’s good thing they did because today Tegan and Sara are touring internationally while t.A.T.u. are, well, who knows? “I’m going to go to Russia and find them,” Tegan jokes, as we speculate about their whereabouts (she’s pretty sure they both have babies now.)

“I always say this to bands when they come to us asking for advice,” Tegan says. “You have to put out a thousand leads to have one hit. I don’t expect that every person who hears ‘Closer’ is going to become a Tegan and Sara fan, but I hope that enough do that it keeps our band relevant, and it keeps us making music. And that’s part of our job right now, to go out there and tell people about all our other records.”

The twins have managed to capture and hold a unique sort of magic, fostering a creative symbiosis that a touring duo who did not share a zygote would likely have to work a whole lot harder to maintain. And, though identical, Tegan says, the sisters are “different shades of red.” She searches for an example, finally offering, “OK, like, I liked Smashing Pumpkins, I thought they were amazing, but I LOVED Nirvana and Hole. And Sara liked Nirvana and Hole, but she LOVED Smashing Pumpkins.” A subtle difference, but Tegan asserts that their differences are all about the nuances.

“It starts to get brighter and brighter and brighter the more you know us. I think that Sara is an East Coast person, she’s way more into indie rock, and obscure, avant garde kind of stuff. She tends to have the more nontraditional arrangements. I think she’s contributed more of the integrity to our music,” she says. “And I’m more kind of West Coast, more laid back. I took less time with music, I was more partial to immediate gratification. You know, I yell when I talk onstage, she talks more quietly. We’re just kind of the opposite ends of each other.”

“Heartthrob” is one of Tegan and Sara’s poppiest records to date, chock full of clubby electro-hooks and infectious beats, and has likely earned the sisters a whole new generation of fans. It’s doubtful, though, that any celebrity that comes their way will affect what seems to be a genuinely down-to-earth and slightly self-effacing take on life. “I could never get a big head, I could never be a ‘Rock Star,’” Tegan says. “Because Sara will always be there to tell me I’m not that, I’m just me.”

QUOTED: Tegan on homophobia

“It seems like there are more imminent problems to be dealing with. Like, the melting ice caps, corn shortage (laughs). Let’s just make equality for everyone and then move on to the pressing issues.”



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

Gunther from 'Friends' talks Central Perk

We spoke with Gunther (James Michael Tyler) at the preview for new pop-up Central Perk, based on the cafe in "Friends."

Local

Central Perk opens in SoHo

Central Perk, of "Friends" fame, is giving out free coffee in SoHo through Oct. 18.

National

Beer sponsor Anheuser-Busch reproaches NFL over domestic abuse

Anheuser-Busch chastised the NFL for its handling of domestic violence cases, making it the first major advertiser to put pressure on the league.

Local

Sen. Krueger dishes on prospect of legal marijuana…

New Yorkers may see the legalization of recreational marijuana use as early as 2015 if State Senator Liz Krueger (D) gets her way. The Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act will…

Music

FREEMAN makes Freeman a free man from Ween

For nearly 30 years, Aaron Freeman was known endearingly to his listeners as Gene Ween. But with "FREEMAN," he makes it clear that he's gone somewhere else.

Television

'Outlander' recap: Season 1, Episode 6: 'The Garrison…

Whipping, punching, kicking and a marriage contract. "Outlander" is not for the faint of heart this week with "The Garrison Commander."

The Word

The Word: Hey girl, it's a girl for…

It's a girl for Ryan Gosling and Eva Mendes, who reportedly welcomed a daughter last Friday, according to Us Weekly. The super-private couple managed to…

Television

TV watch list, Tuesday, Sept. 16: 'New Girl,'…

Check out the season premiere of "New Girl," as Jess competes with Jessica Biel for a guy's attentions.

MLB

5 top contenders for NL Rookie of the…

The outing rekindled award talk for deGrom, who appears to hold the top spot for NL Rookie of the Year honors. Metro breaks down a few other contenders.

College

College football Top 25 poll (AP rankings)

College football Top 25 poll (AP rankings)

NFL

Tom Coughlin says Giants 'beat themselves' against Cardinals

Head coach Tom Coughlin, who had a day to cool off and reflect, still sounded like he had a gnawing feeling in his gut.

NFL

Marty Mornhinweg accepts blame for Jets timeout fiasco

Jets fans looking for a scapegoat for Sunday’s timeout fiasco found a willing party on Monday: Marty Mornhinweg.

Style

Rachel Zoe: New York Fashion Week Spring 15

Rachel Zoe goes 'Glam bohemia' for Spring.

Food

Where to find SweeTango apples

Introduced in 2009, SweeTango — a hybrid of Honeycrisp and Zestar — is a sweet apple with plenty of crunch.

Style

London Fashion Week recap

London Fashion week gets in on the action with politics, heritage and summertime living.

Food

Padma Lakshmi's recipe for green mango curry

Padma Lakshmi shares her recipe for green mango curry in UNICEF's new book, "UNICHEF."