Tegan & Sara have a lot on their plates of late. From the release of their newest album, Sainthood (QRO review), to three books between them, producing duties for char2d2 and fences both Tegan and Sara, respectively, this sister due has a lot going. It seems these days in the age of connectivity some people take it to the next level with fan support. A musician could go either way from the shunning of fans or to integrate their art into the collective as such. This is one of those groups. If you are a fan of Tegan & Sara you can all but expect to be part of a close knit family, with updates through videos, blogs and a general sense that what you thin matters to them. They have massive tour plans through the new year that will bring them across countries and really give you a chance to hear the new music. Having worked with Chris Walla of Death Cab For Cutie (QRO album review) fame on their latest album, Tegan Quin gives us a chat about what that was like and all manner of what’s going on in this Canadian duo’s world.
QRO: All right so you just finished up a new album that will be released this month.
Tegan Quin: Yeah! It’s a really awesome recording session. We were there for about two months recording. And I definitely had days, I think the last week I cried three times before work, ‘cause I was like, “I don’t want to go there anymore,” but ultimately I’d say it was an eight out of ten.
I loved working with Chris. It was really fun. Chris [Walla] played bass and Jason [McGerr, also of Death Cab] played drums and it was kinda like ‘Death Cab For Tegan & Sara’. All over the place and I definitely have gotten tired of making band records, and so when we got to la-la it was just Sara and I and Chris. I like being, you know back in the studio. It felt really good. And the songs turned out I think really awesome. So yeah it was great. It was awesome.
QRO: So you enjoyed working with Chris Walla (QRO solo album review)?
TQ: I did, you know Chris is such a funny guy. And he is so interesting, and he has such interesting views on music. He really just gets the way that Sara and I work. They are so supportive of us, to the extent of demos. We spend a lot of time worrying and wondering and working on music before we ever get in the studio, and they are very respectful of that. I very much enjoyed playing with Chris too. Obviously with him in the producer capacity and he played all the bass on the record. It was just inspiring to watch him. He is just so committed to what he does; his performances are so strong. It really inspired me to work harder at coming up with either better ideas, because it’s easy to take the first you do and make that your part. But to keep perfecting your part that it just made our guitar parts ever more though. It was really cool working with him in that way.
QRO: On top of the album you are releasing three books as a companion [ON, IN, AT]. How was it writing your first book?
TQ: The books were really fun. They were very hard. I didn’t expect it to be so hard to do books. There was only supposed to be one book and ended up being three. But the box set when it was complete, it made it all worth it. I mean it’s just so beautiful. So much better than I thought that it would be. I was like, ‘Oh yeah, it will be nice,’ but I was like, ‘Wow! We did this! We made this!’
It was harder than making a record for sure, because, I mean it was the first time we’ve ever attempted to make a book. They’re beautiful, they’re mainly photos but there’s tons of writing. The first book has a lot of stuff like essays, stories, and all the captions were written by Sara and I so it’s very personal. I think that fans of Tegan & Sara will really like it because it will feel like you are getting another view into our world. So yeah I think people who love Tegan & Sara will love the books. They’re really cool.
We’ve certainly talked about it (writing more books); Sara and I both love to write. So we’ve talked before about writing a book about Sara and I and we can go back forth each writing a chapter. We’ve talked about nonfiction and fiction because we both really love to write. I think right now our priorities are to really finish up the music stuff, maybe there will be a point later on in life where we will want to stay home and write novels, but for the time we might be done with books. It was a lot of work. I was like I’m supposed to be on holiday, this is really hard!
Chris [Walla] played bass and Jason [McGerr, also of Death Cab] played drums and it was kinda like ‘Death Cab For Tegan & Sara’.
QRO: [laughs] That’s awesome, your fans are going to go wacko with everything you are putting out right now?
TQ: There’s a lot…
QRO: You make music on your own, you collaborate with people, you collaborate with your sister – what is your preference?
TQ: When I first started writing with Hunter Burgon, I loved it because it was long distance. I think there was always this pressure for Sara and I to sit in a room together and we tried it and it worked. But it wasn’t as pleasurable as just being alone. I always compared it to when you’re working on a project and five hours goes by and you are like, ‘Oh wow, I’ve just been working for five hours and didn’t even think about it!’ You add one person to the mix and it’s like every second feels like it’s going by in slow motion so I really like working alone. But I do like collaborating and writing with other people. I think I definitely will be more of that in the future. I just think right now that the only way I can imagine doing it is if I’m alone at home. The internet has made it so easy to share files, and share music sessions. So I really like sending music that way and then getting it back that way. I don’t really have any desire to sit in a room and watch somebody labor over a guitar part for two hours. It just makes me feel like I am losing hours of my life.
QRO: [laughs] Yeah that makes sense, so on top of the writing and recordings you’ve also been producing too. You produced char2d2’s Small Vampires EP. What was that like?
TQ: I did! Yeah it was really fun. I mean I love Char and I loved the songs. I mean ultimately that’s why I chose to do it. I’ve known her for years. I knew her when she was playing in her other project, Stella, and she kept sending me these songs. And I was finally like, ‘What are you going to do with these, they are just so good!’ Like let me produce them, and she said ok!
So it’s terrifying to get involved with someone else’s music and project, just ‘cause I was nervous that I would screw it up, but it was really fun and a great first attempt at doing an EP. Char seems happy with it, it was fun and I think I’ll do it again. It’s a lot of work, though, and I realize what a commitment it is. Even though it’s not your music, you are putting your name on it. Someone is putting their trust in you and so you really have to be very committed. It gave me a whole new understanding of being a producer.
QRO: Do you have any new post-Sainthood songs?
TQ: We are going to announce some more new updates and some Australian updates, a new music video. There’s a lot flying around right now. We are going to have a tour with a video camera with us. We will be posting videos and blogging and staying in touch the way we did in the studio. Once again, if you love Tegan & Sara it’s probably a good thing. If you don’t you are probably like, ‘God, more of their weird videos! Why!?!’
Tegan & Sara’s new video for “Hell”, from Sainthood:
QRO: You guys aren’t doing too many tour dates before 2010. Is there any reason to wait?
TQ: Well, we didn’t really want to tour too much before the record came out and when we get back from Europe it’s kinda Christmas season, December. We are doing a couple of dates but we have a lot of preparation, a lot of touring in the new year. So we decided not to exhaust ourselves too much and it will give people time to get into the record.
I think this record is awesome but I also think it is a grower. I think people who love Tegan & Sara will hear it and be like, ‘I love it!’ But I think it’s a lot of music and it’s a lot to take in. I think that for us personally we love playing the new songs so we want to play all of them. We didn’t want inundate people with new music before they’ve heard it. I know it’s a bit of a wait but we will stay in touch and putting up new videos. We will have lots of stuff for people to sink their teeth into before we head out to tour the states.
QRO: It looks like one of your last US dates will be in NY for Halloween; do you think you will dress up?
TQ: Um… no. Probably not. But you never know; I mean we might. I’m bringing a pretty full suitcase because we are going to Europe to tour for a month and I don’t like having a big suitcase there because usually the hotels are really far from the bus. I usually have to drag my bag, too, and from the hotel and I have daydreams about throwing it into traffic, so unless something fun comes up at the venue and I decide to put on an outfit of someone’s then I will just be dressed up as me.