It’s likely every single musician has written a song, if not a whole album, about love. So after five records it was about time Tegan and Sara delved into the time-honoured subject. But these tunes aren’t coming from a happy place.
“After we finished the last record we realized we were right around the age when our parents got divorced,” says Calgary-raised Tegan Quin. “We were five and they were 27 — both of us at 27 ended long relationships. It was very similar to our parents.”
Most people would find their parents’ divorce difficult to discuss, but Quin’s surprisingly candid about that part of her of her life, and her own relationship troubles.
“It’s almost like a death,” she says of her break up. “There’s also the disappointment in the idea of the societal implications around a failure of a relationship. When do you become a weird spinster?”
Some of these thoughts wind up on the duo’s new disc of infectious power pop tunes, but most of the tracks deal with the pain of a dissolving relationship — lies, deception, questioning and despair. It’s not very upbeat stuff.
Still, Quin’s optimistic about her chances for ever lasting love. “Anyone can stay in one relationship. With practice and time you can spend whole life with someone and be satisfied,” she says. “Maybe it’s less that there is the one or is this the one. We’re wired and chemically driven to find that again and again.”
Even when a relationship sours, though, Tegan has her twin sister to fall back on and vice versa. They seem to play up a sibling rivalry in the press, but you can’t hole up in a New Orleans rehearsal space with someone and write music if you’re not extremely fond of them.
“We just rented a space, just the two of us. We were literally in one room together for five days,” Quin recalls. “It was good, but boring. It was like, your guitar sounds good, it’s my turn.”
Those songs didn’t wind up on Sainthood, though Quin expects them to be released at some point down the road. It did mark the first time, she says, that her and her sister wrote together. They kept that up when they started to lay down tracks for the new disc.
“We’ve always done variations of what some people consider writing,” she explains. “But this record we actually sat down and wrote songs together. We also wrote music that we sent to each other over e-mail to finish.”
Clearly, the sometimes-clashing sisters got a long well during Sainthood’s writing process. But, like any couple they fought. The difference between them and the relationships they write about, though, is that Tegan and Sara always get back together.
“Two or three times a year we scream at each other hysterically,” she says. “It feels safer when Sara and I are doing it though. No matter what happens one of us will have to come back.”