From the get-go (whatever that is), the concept of identical female Canadian twins is appealing on multiple levels, but Tegan and Sara Quin would prefer not to be pigeon-holed as any one thing, including lesbians.
It’s a fair request, because for more than a decade, the sisters Quin -- who are on the brink of turning 30 -- worked tirelessly to create more than an image, rather innovative pop punk music that incorporates hard-earned talent with raw emotion.
"I’m a twin, a lesbian, in a band, but I’m an independent person. It’s so important to have that," says Tegan.
Tegan and Sara play the Riverside Theater, 116 W. Wisconsin Ave., on Thursday, March 25 at 8 p.m. Tickets are $29.50.
Since 2000, the sisters toured extensively, sharing bills with Neil Young, The Pretenders, Ryan Adams, Ben Folds, The Killers, Hot Hot Heat, Cake, Death Cab for Cutie and more. Their most recent record, "Sainthood," is their sixth studio album and a tighter, more mature follow-up to 2007’s "anti-studio" release and fan favorite, "The Con."
Recently, OnMilwaukee.com chatted with Tegan about her music, her new relationship, turning 30 and her guilty love for the "Twilight" series.
OnMilwaukee.com: Where are you right now?
Tegan Quin: Vancouver. I have the week off before we hit the road.
OMC: Does Sara still live in Montreal?
TQ: Yes, Sara lives in Montreal, but she comes here quite a bit for rehearsals and to visit family.
OMC: Is this tour any different from the others?
TQ: We have a lot of touring ahead of us this year, but will still get our usual two-week breaks. We’re looking forward to three weeks in Australia and touring Europe.
OMC: Are you writing any new material?
TQ: I’m always writing, but right now, not with any intention. We’re thinking about a new album, and starting the collaboration process, but we’re focusing on touring.
OMC: You wrote my all-time favorite Tegan and Sara song, "19." What was going on then, now exactly a decade ago, that inspired you?
TQ: I wrote "19" when I was 25 because I was starting to make big decisions again, like I did at 19. I was feeling 19, meaning at 19, I truly felt like my life got going. I made huge decisions and huge mistakes about love.
OMC: Since we’re talking age, you’re about to turn 30. Any thoughts on that?
TS: For the most part, I feel pretty good. It’s fun having a birthday. Sara and I spent the last two years building a career and working really hard. We’ve spent the first part of our adulthood working as musicians. So, I’m looking back, yes, but it’s less about turning 30 and more about being really proud and satisfied with what we’ve accomplished so far. I have a great job and a great relationship, so I’m not too panic-y.
OMC: "Sainthood" got good reviews, but some critics say it was similar to your previous album, "The Con." Do you agree?
TQ: The two records were created in totally different ways. "Sainthood" is a pop rock record, featuring a five-piece (band) and got a lot of studio time. We played some of the songs 45 times in a row until we got it right. We really imagined what it was going to be like playing this record live for the next two years.
"The Con" was an anti-studio record. We recorded it piecemeal and we played all of the instruments. It was an exploration of The End. Both Sara and I were getting over five-year relationships and the loss of our grandma. But "Sainthood" is about the beginning of relationships. It’s much more upbeat thematically.
OMC: Tell me about your collaboration with (Goth cabaret star and Dresden Dolls front girl) Amanda Palmer?
TS: We contributed backing vocals on "Evelyn, Evelyn" (her latest album and collaboration with gypsy punk Jason Webley) along with "Weird" Al Yankovic, Andrew W.K., Gerard Way (My Chemical Romance) and Frances Bean Cobain (daughter of Kurt Cobain and Courtney Love).
OMC: What’s great about working with Chris Walla? (Producer and guitarist for Death Cab for Cutie, who produced "The Con" and "Sainthood.")
TS: He’s awesome. Very interesting and sweet. Probably the most passionate musician I have ever met. He has worked on four or five records since working with us. He put down some bass on "Sainthood" and created a very different vibe.
OMC: Is it true you’re a fan of the "Twilight" series? Is it a guilty pleasure, like it is for me?
TS: I read the series, actually, on my breaks while working with Chris on "Sainthood." And yes, I had this guilty feeling at times while reading, but I just had to keep going. These books really tapped into the part of me that still wants to be a teen and have those intense longings to have sex.
OMC: So, are you willing to talk about your new relationship?
TQ: We started dating in the middle of recording "The Con." She is very real, which isn’t always the case. As a lesbian, I would go to clubs and meet hot girls, but so many of them would think they know who I am or start shaking and want a photo with me. I’m a twin, a lesbian, in a band, but I’m an independent person. It’s so important to have that. My current relationship allows that. My current partner is about five years older than me and it’s a really good fit.
OMC: Are you more pop-oriented than Sara?
TS: Sara is quirky and darker, but we can both play either side of the coin. She’s definitely more meticulous than I am. She’ll spend an entire day on her guitar and I move through stuff much quicker. For me, it’s about getting the hook out of my head.
Molly Snyder started writing and publishing her work at the age 10, when her community newspaper printed her poem, "The Unicorn.” Since then, she's expanded beyond the subject of mythical creatures and written in many different mediums but, nearest and dearest to her heart, thousands of articles for OnMilwaukee.
Molly is a regular contributor to FOX6 News and numerous radio stations as well as the co-host of "Dandelions: A Podcast For Women.” She's received five Milwaukee Press Club Awards, served as the Pfister Narrator and is the Wisconsin State Fair’s Celebrity Cream Puff Eating Champion of 2019.