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Canadian duo Tegan and Sara are, in a way, icons. Female-fronted groups are by no means a new revolution, but the surge they’ve created since beginning in 1995 has wound up patching cracked hearts most teenagers didn’t know were torn in the first place – and getting Grammy nominations because of it.
As identical twins, Tegan and Sara Quin have been through almost everything together; being in a band hasn’t changed that. “We’ve been touring so long that it’s literally become a part of my day where we take a minute to reflect and remember how much work it was, how hard it was, how many times we almost stopped because it was just so difficult,” explained Tegan. “The average person out there probably thinks you apply to be on The Voice and you get on and you win and become a superstar; for the majority of bands, you’re out on the road, slugging your stuff, playing shows, building your fan base literally one fan at a time. Sometimes you feel like, ‘Ugh, I don’t want to do this,’ but I try to flick that switch inside of myself and have a slideshow of our first couple tours flash through my mind. I’m like ‘Right, right, right, we could be on the Greyhound, just Sara and I, with hockey bags of merch and just one guitar.’”
Dressed in sweaters to keep Boston’s cool winter rain off them, Tegan and Sara started off with “Back In Your Head”, a song that worked just as well stripped-down as the full version does on 2007’s The Con. The song featured Sara on lead vocals and guitar, Tegan on xylophone, and Ted Gowans also on acoustic guitar. With a little bit of reverb and slightly pursed vocals, it was perfect for the rainy weather, especially when Tegan’s shaker and her sister’s drawn-out last note faded into the foggy air.
Next up was the second single from 2009’s Sainthood, “Alligator”. John Spence joined them on piano to bring a backing beat to the track. The duo’s vocals were equally staccato as they were melodic, with Sara belting her lead part without ever losing the graceful sound it carries.
“This year is really going to be about the making of the record,” Sara said, in reference to 2013’s upcoming Heartthrob. “I feel like a lot of times record cycles get toured a lot with marketing and branding… but for me it’s all informed by the time we’re actually in the studio. That sets a tone for the record,” said Sara. “I just had such a positive experience recording and being in the studio that I already knew the rest of the year would be really great.”
Heartthrob, which will be released January 29th of 2013 and is self-described as “our most ambitious”, will join their catalogue as the seventh release. Heartthrob is produced by Greg Kurstin, a person whose name should ring a bell. Kurstin has received multiple Grammys after working with P!nk, Lily Allen, Kelly Clarkson, Ke$ha, and other hard-hitting female vocalists. Plus he’s one half of the WERS favorite The Bird and the Bee. His pop experience will add a new flavor to their sound without losing the “quintessential Tegan and Sara sound.”
Tegan and Sara ended with “Closer”, the lead single off Heartthrob. At minimum, the glockenspiel added a quaint spark that picked you up regardless of your mood. “All I wanna get is a little bit closer,” they sang, dragging up on the last word like a giddy Cindy Lauper. It was their harmonies halfway through the track though that made the song as charming as it is.
Smaller acts like Fences, Astronautalis, and Kaki King have all gotten help from Tegan and Sara recently, bringing more attention to their work. “We go out of our way to try and find obscure, interesting, awesome stuff that might go unheard; we’ve definitely gravitated towards unsigned bands,” Tegan said when asked about helping these musicians. “And also just stuff that we want to listen to,” added Sara. “In terms of the production and lending our voices to certain projects, that’s just plain old luck on our part that we get to be asked,” said Tegan. “Anytime someone reaches out, it’s really exciting. I feel like they’re helping us out cause we get to be on cool tracks with great artists.”
From writing their own songs to adding notes in here and there to up-and-coming artists, Tegan and Sara are undoubtedly a band to keep your eye on if you haven’t been already. Catch them opening for The Killers tonight at Agganis Arena, or stop by the WERS Video page and YouTube page to see exclusive videos from their in-studio session.