Chicago welcomes indie rockers Tegan and Sara for two performances
BY MATTHEW SCHWERHA For Sun-Times Media
Chicago performance: The indie rock band Tegan and Sara will be bringing their music to Chicago Dec. 19 and Dec. 21. | Photo courtesy of Lindsey Byrnes
For identical twin sisters that have been in the music business together for more than a decade, Tegan and Sara are not as indistinguishable as they were in their younger years.
“At this point, we live on opposite sides of the country,” said Tegan Quin, 32, one-half of the Grammy-nominated group Tegan and Sara. “I live in New York and Canada. We have different friends and different interests. As you get older you start to look different from one another. We live life more as siblings rather than twins.”
Sara also splits time between two countries — with places in Los Angeles and Canada.
At the beginning of their music career, even the name of the band — who performed in Chicago Dec. 19 and Dec. 21 — had a different spin to it.
“When you say ‘Sara and Tegan’ to people it kind of slurs together,” Tegan said. “After our first 1,000 copies of our record, our manager explained to us that we should be Tegan and Sara.”
One thing the Indie rock band — who signed with Neil Young’s record label after graduating high school — has not changed is their formulaic approach to their songs.
“We are still very much centered on writing about relationships and love,” Tegan said of the band’s new album “Heartthrob,” which will be released in January 2013. “They are nostalgic songs about youth.”
Once Tegan and Sara started making waves in the music industry, they began getting questions about their personal relationships, which, despite their repertoire of love songs, weren’t the traditional boy-meets-girl love stories.
“We were out before we started,” Tegan said. “When we put our first record out, we did an interview with a teeny magazine. They asked us what our boyfriends were like. I’m like, ‘I don’t have a boyfriend.’ We didn’t know if it was OK to say we were gay.”
Their manager at the time encouraged both Tegan and Sara to be who they are.
“How do you hide who you are and make people feel connected to you as a musician,” Tegan said. “There’s nothing different about gay people. We try and bring people together. There weren’t a lot of people out when we were young. If our career has been held back by the fact we are gay, it’s OK. It was worth it. We have provided support to people who needed it.”
The sisters, who are Canadian, grew up in a musical household and always were certain that their paths in the music industry would include one another.
“As we neared graduation from high school, neither of us knew what we wanted to do,” Tegan said. “We weren’t sold on university and our parents didn’t want us to be bums. We ended up getting a few gigs and got offered a bunch of record deals.”
Even with their success at such a young age, the sisters decided that being together was always going to be what was best for them. They thought why mess with something that was working for them, Tegan said.
“We have a built-in backup singer in one another for each others’ songs,” she said.
Despite sticking true to their Indie roots throughout their careers, Tegan and Sara are starting to get recognition in the mainstream.
Their DVD, “Get Along,” has been nominated for a Grammy and their music will be featured on the upcoming season of Lena Dunham’s hit HBO show “Girls.”
“We have met Lena a few times,” Tegan said. “She’s a fan of us and we are a huge fan of hers.”
Dunham asked Tegan and Sara to do a Rolling Stones cover. They were eager to oblige.
“I wish I’d accomplished as much as she has at that age,” Tegan said.
Tegan estimates that the band has been to Chicago about 27 times.
And what exactly is the best part about being in a successful, world traveling band with your identical twin sister?
“She lets me boss her around,” Tegan said.