Interview with Tegan Quin

 
 

AE: Cool. It seems like you’ve been doing a lot of different stuff outside of
Tegan and Sara lately. Is that something you’ve always wanted to do, or have
opportunities just started coming up for you?

TQ: Yeah, I think primarily it’s that. Hunter Burgan, a couple of years ago,
who played bass in AFI and played on The
Con
, we started writing together. I spent a lot of time in L.A. working on
that project and figuring out what to do with that. I’m kind of like a yes man,
I’ll say yes to anything.

AE: Do you have a name for it yet?
TQ: No, we don’t actually. He has a side project called Hunter’s Revenge, and
Sara is not into the idea of me putting Tegan in the title obviously, so a
working title for a long time was Tegan vs. Hunter, but that doesn’t sit well
with Sara. I think part of us doesn’t really want to have a band, but wants to
just write songs for other people. We’re both so busy with our own things.

But I think the honest answer to why I do so many things outside Tegan and
Sara is that I feel like I want to explore other realms of music. I’ve toured
with Tegan and Sara for 10 years consistently. It just feels really nice to go
work with other people, especially with guy bands.

I just show up, and it’s like "Sing with us!" It’s kind of great.
I get to use a whole different part of me and a whole different part of my
brain. It’s just a completely different atmosphere. It’s also building up my
confidence to get on a plane and come to L.A. to work because I’ve been invited.

Tegan (center) with Against Me!

AE: It seems like you always have male band members. Is that something that’s
conscious?

TQ: We don’t change our band very often. We played with our original band for
almost five years… You’d
be surprised at how hard it is to find musicians. We have to find people that
live in the same city and that narrows things down a lot. The older we get, the
more difficult it is to find people, because the older they get, the more they
want to be paid. Even though we’re growing with each record, it’s not like we’re
playing to 20,000 each night, so it’s really hard. They all have families, and
our crew changes a lot more often than our band because they are a lot older
and have families, and what we pay, we pay out of our pockets so …

We work with a lot of women like our designer, Emily, to our tour manager.
For every female I meet, I meet 10 men. We get asked a lot do we feel like
there’s enough room for women in music. A lot of the time, you never meet
female engineers or record presidents, it’s hard. I also feel like Sara and I
are a lot, like, we’re enough girl for everybody. We have two girls on tour
with us right now, and so it’s four girls, four boys, and we’re so dramatic and
so emotional and we talk nonstop. It’s always one of us saying, "I’m so tired,
stop talking!"

AE: Well, you’ve both brought
girlfriends on the road at different times. Do you feel like that’s mostly a
positive thing?

TQ: I think for Sara it was a positive thing because Emy is such a big part of
Tegan and Sara. She was like the third band member. I used to tell people,
"Every idea I have gets voted down!" And they’d ask, "How do you
guys decide? It’s just two of you.” And I’m like, "Nuh-uh!" She’s so
involved. She really has a say in who we are and what we do, and is so invested
and puts us first so often and was so in it, that it’s not uncomfortable. She’s
such a part of us and what we’re doing. For me, I haven’t had that kind of
relationship yet. I don’t feel like anyone that I’ve dated has wanted to be a
part of the organization in that traditional sense. I don’t feel like I’d want
to put one of my partners on the payroll. I’m one of those people that like to
have my own thing going on, which of course, causes lots of tension and breakups
in my life. But that’s good. I try at least once in every relationship to bring
someone out so they can at least see an idea of what it means to be in a band.

We don’t party, we don’t have alcohol in the rider, we don’t bring fans
backstage. Mostly it’s really boring and long and we sit around all day so we
can play for an hour. And for the people just watching and hanging out, it’s
not that exciting because they don’t get that payoff. We do this to get the
payoff and they don’t get that. They have to be involved and I love including
my partners in what I do so I write songs about them.

AE: Do they get any say in what you’re singing about them?

TQ: [laughs] They don’t! I have a song called "When I Get Up" that I actually wrote in
bed. One day, not feeling very good and laying around, my girlfriend and I were
just hanging out, and I never played guitar in front of her, never wrote any
songs in front of her, we just weren’t like that. I pulled out my guitar and
started f—ing around, so I started writing, "When I get up" and
made up a chorus line, and she’s like, "Hey, that’s really good! Hold
on!" She got up and got a piece of paper and a pen, and she wrote it down.
I was like, "Oh my God, that’s so cute."

AE: That is cute.
TQ: In six years that was the only time we did that, but it was cool.

AE: Have you ever had a girlfriend that didn’t like your band?

TQ: Yes.

AE: You have? What did they say: "I’m
just not that into it"?

TQ: I feel like the further along I get in my career, the more girls I meet
that don’t necessarily not like my band, but say, "Oh, I’ve never heard
your band before."

AE: Oh, they’re lying. They’re totally
lying!

TQ: Honestly, it’s just what I do. It’s just my passion and my heart and who I
am, but you don’t like it? That’s cool. But the girl that I’m dating right now
likes my music.

AE: I’m sure you guys get a lot of
groupies or what have you trying to get backstage. You never hang out with any
of them?

TQ: No because most of them are 16, and I’m like, are you joking? Some of them
are like, "Tegan, will you please go out with me?" and I’m like,
"Oh my God, I don’t want to go to prison. No way!" I’ll tell you the
one thing I miss — I mean, I’m so proud and so glad about where we’ve
gotten in the past couple of years — but what I miss so much is being
able to sit at a table — me, Sara and Emy — and we would
sign things for hours. Nobody ever scared us, nobody ever got crazy, we didn’t
even have security. Then I don’t know what happened. Over the last couple of
years, I can’t even tell you how many times we’ve gotten grabbed, kicked. I
just can’t even go out anymore without security. There are teenagers grabbing
us, saying they’ve been standing outside for three hours, and it’s our job,
like a million other jobs, so we can’t just stand outside for hours, and it’s
dangerous. That’s the one thing I regret. The bigger you get, the less you can
connect with people.

AE: But you guys seem to do your fair
share of secret and smaller shows, too.

TQ: Totally, which is why we do small tours before each album comes out, not
just for promotional reasons but so we can spend more time and hang out. The
best thing is when I’m in the grocery store and two girls come up, and they’re
like, "What are you doing here? What are you buying? You live here?"

The other day, I was on the bus in sweatpants and no bra, and these girls
were staring at me and asked me, "Why are you on the bus?" I’m like,
"I don’t drive!" But I love that. It was funny.

In everyday life, it happens more and
more, but I love it because I interact with tons of people all day long who
don’t know who I am, and then randomly I’ll be at a restaurant and a girl will
walk by and ask if she can get a photo and all the people will be like,
"Who the hell is that girl?" and I’m like "Who the hell am
I?"

Get more information on Tegan and
Sara at their official website.

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