Greater recognition around the globe, for starters, appears to be on their to-do list. "One of our major goals with The Con," said Tegan, "is to be able to tour more internationally. It’s not about conquering the United States and Canada, it’s about spreading the Tegan and Sara music everywhere."
The next round of evangelization begins in mid-July with some intimate shows that run midway through August and hit major cities on both U.S. coasts. Tegan and Sara will return to the States for a good portion of October and November as part of a more extensive fall tour.
When global acclaim arrives â€” and intelligent bets suggest it will â€” Tegan and Sara will likely have to revisit questions about being openly gay that they have already fielded for North American audiences. They seem to understand the power of their position as prominent, young lesbian rockers, even if they harbor mixed emotions about the emphasis on their sexual orientation instead of their music.
"When it comes to sexuality," Tegan offered, "Sara and I have seen points in our career when it’s been extremely relevant for us to talk a lot about being gay, and then there’s been other points where it hasn’t seemed as relevant."
That utilitarian perspective raises objections from Sara. "I just want to get my opinion in there because I don’t always totally agree with you," she said.
"I know," Tegan retorted. "You will."
Sara, having wrested control of the discussion, continued: "I think it’s so important that people know we’re gay. But as a heterosexual person, you don’t run around saying, ‘You better know that I’m straight.’"
Here she cites the New York Times article about So Jealous as evidence. "I didn’t understand why they had to talk about us being gay so much," she said. "I just didn’t get it. But then I think to myself: There are just not that many other people out there in the mainstream that are doing what we do. People have to write about somebody first."
The daughters of a therapist mother who encouraged their teenage interest in the Pacific Northwest’s riot grrl and grunge scenes, Tegan and Sara seem more eager to talk about women in the music world. "It’s extremely political for us just to be us, to just be women in the industry," Tegan enthused.
Some of the hurdles for women in rock include, according to the pair, uncooperative soundmen and internalized sexism and competition among women themselves. "We can be the worst," Sara lamented. "The things that we say about ourselves and about our community."
The issue is aggravated by the fact that there are simply so few slots allotted to female acts. Once Tegan prodded Sara, a Sleater-Kinney fan, to introduce herself to the band at a festival where the two groups were practically the only female performers on the bill.
Tegan and Sara strongly believe, however, that being out lesbians makes it easier for them in the rough-and-tumble boys’ club of rock music.
"I feel like we’re in the best industry to be lesbians because we’re entertainers," Tegan said. "In music, it’s probably the least stressful thing to be. I think it’d be worse to be a gay man. With rock it is such a testosterone thing."
Still, Sara thoughtfully added, "It would be really interesting from a heterosexual woman’s perspective how things have changed over the last eight years." Noting how her reputation allows her to avoid girlie clothing at a fashion shoot, she asked, "What if you are the girl from Rilo Kiley and you show up at a photo shoot and they want you to wear underwear and a teddy? Do you feel as comfortable?"
You can almost hear Sara ruminating over the matter while answering fan mail. She and Tegan get tons of it. "We try to give as much advice as we can," Tegan explained, "because I remember that 17-year-old me wishing there was someone that I could have called, that there was some kind of hotline network where a girl would have answered the phone."
Although they may be sought after as role models, neither Tegan nor Sara will admit to anything more than a minimal sense of celebrity. "I am absolutely, legitimately surprised when people come up to me in Montreal," Sara said.
She moved there because she wanted the challenge of being around French speakers, and she felt drawn to the gritty toughness of the East Coast. Tegan, for her part, confessed to being star-struck by brushes with celebrities such as Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell, who live in her area of Vancouver.
Their low profile could be subject to change depending on the success of The Con and their future releases together.
Yes, that’s right.
"Contractually, we’re obligated to do two more records," Sara noted.
"So we’ll see how it goes," said Tegan.
Watch Chapter III of The Con here: