The Hot Seat: Tegan Quin
She shoots you through the heart with both guitar and laser gun.
Mon Oct 19 2009
Illustration: Bob Kelly
With five studio albums already under their stylish belts, it might come as a surprise to learn that Tegan Quin, 29, and her twin sister, Sara, had never written songs together—until this week's Sainthood. After all, they have so much in common: both Canadian, both with impeccable fashion sense, both Virgos; one would think they could write songs through twin telepathy. But no, the new album will be the first to feature the Quin twins' combined songwriting might. The record, their second produced by Death Cab for Cutie's Chris Walla, will be released with three supplemental photo books, titled On, In and At. Tegan, sans Sara, was all hopped up on cough medicine when TONY reached her by phone in L.A., but that didn't make it any less charming when she said things like "aboot."
RECOMMENDED: Full list of Hot Seat interviews
Happy belated birthday. To both of you, I guess.
Oh, thanks. When was your birthday?
Mine is coming up in November. I too am a child of 1980.
Oh, happy early birthday.
Thanks. Get any sweet gifts?
No, not really. We went and played laser tag, which was pretty fun. I came in third. So I guess I was given the gift of [being an] excellent shot.
Out of how many?
No way! You're a total assassin.
[Laughs] Which leads me to believe that it's not quite accurate because I've never played before, and I don't think you come in third if you're a girl that has never shot a gun.
I feel like 29 is my last chance to really go for it, you know, and do something crazy like join up with the Rebel Alliance or something. Are you getting that feeling too?
Yeah, I have moments where I feel—and Sara and I have been talking a lot about this lately, actually—that we're at the same age that my parents were when I first remember being aware of them, they were like twenty-twoish when they had us. So it makes me feel like I need to have kids really fast or something. I start feeling panicky, like I'm going to be one of those weird freaky parents, you know, that are really old and can't connect with their children. I don't know if it's the whole biological clock or that I've been in a relationship for a year and sometimes get drunk and say, "Let's make a baby," like a joke that lesbians make sometimes.
Did you go to your ten-year high-school reunion?
No, that passed, thankfully. I did not go. I'm friends with all my friends from high school still, and they were like, "C'mon, it'll be fun. Let's go." And I said, "You're crazy. You go."
Seems like a missed opportunity. Former classmates would come up and ask what you do now, and you could hit them with "Oh, my sister and I formed a band, and now we're totally famous. No big deal. You can follow us on Twitter."
Yeah, totally. I rode here on a unicorn. No, I don't want to go because it's more going to be "Oh, I'm in a band." [In snooty voice] "Oh, really? You didn't go to university? You didn't get married?" [In normal voice] "No, I'm a lesbian." [In snooty voice again] "Oh, sorry, I forgot my purse in the bathroom." I just can't deal with it. I'm friends with the people I want to remember.
This record is called Sainthood. The last was The Con. Does this confirm my suspicions that saints were the original con artists?
[Laughs] No, we were going for a more secular meaning—kind of like a romantic approach to being a saint: practicing being good, practicing being faithful and honest and devoted and not conning somebody, being a better you. We're not religious people. It was a Leonard Cohen lyric.
Deep. Do you have a few more minutes to talk? I have so many questions about morality and romance that need answering.
Well, Rick [the publicist] is coming around the corner, so you'd better pick your favorite question.
Oh, man. I'm panicking.
I believe in you.
What's your favorite Bryan Adams song to karaoke to? Shit.
[Laughs] Oh God. We do a lot of karaoke to Bon Jovi. If I had to sing to a Bryan Adams song... "Summer of '69" is kind of great. We toured with Bryan Adams, like, eight years ago in Germany. I know it sounds totally weird and random. We were doing other dates, and it just came up, and were like, "Yeah, totally." And he was playing to, like, 15,000 people! And let me tell you, it would silence anyone to hear 15,000 people, including Bryan, singing "(Everything I Do) I Do It for You." I heard that song in grade five for the first time, and it changed my life.
Sainthood will be released Tue 27. Tegan and Sara play Town Hall Oct 30 and Oct 31.