Interview: Tegan & Sara talk nonsense, romance on new album

10.30.09 8 years ago

Pop-rock duo Tegan & Sara kicked off this new release week with a bit of nonsense.

“Sainthood” hit shelves Tuesday, and boasts the hyper-catchy single “Hell”; the track, says Tegan Quin, is one of the more straight-forward, “lofty” songs she’s written. Which is why the duo wanted the accompanying music video to make absolutely no sense.

“We definitely did not want to do a traditional rock video,” Tegan says. So the two tapped filmmaker Jamie Travis — who also directed their clip for “Back in Your Head” — and off they went to some rabbit-hole-like hotel room set, complete with mummies, pompadours and suitcases of props. It’s ridiculous and actually pretty funny. Check out the video below.

That track, as well as “The Cure” and “Don’t Rush,” were inspired in part by Tegan’s Vancouver neigborhood. Her girlfriend lives in California, while Sara lives in Montreal. The pair worked on their songwriting during a retreat to New Orleans after “The Con.” Locale and sense of place seems to play a major role in the group’s career as they entered into crafting the album.

“[New Orleans] was a real inspiration in a way because we were all alone and didn’t know anyone,” Tegan says. “From my neighborhood [in Vancouver] — it’s had its problems with drugs — I was drawing parallels to my own relationship, on topics of love and drug addiction. Doctors talk about drug addiction and when people talk about being high, the same buttons in the brain light up as people who talk about obsession and love. That’s like an answer I needed, an excuse for how I was feeling about love.”

“Sainthood” overall is a turnabout from the sisters’ last set, “The Con,” which is their best-selling set to date. Whereas that 2007 album tackled cheating and break-ups with an overall emotional crunchiness, “Sainthood” feels more lyrically benign but lashes out instrumentally. It is their most rock-oriented effort yet, due to the live recording setup.

“We’ve always been a band, not just a duo… but this time, as a five-piece band, we stood in a room and recorded as a band,” she says, as opposed to recording tracks individually and mixing them together. Tegan & Sara tapped producer Chris Walla, who also performs in Death Cab For Cutie, to helm the set.

The band will be playing most of the new set, with some “rarer” older tracks thrown in, Tegan says. Fans have long expected and loved T&S’s onstage banter and stories, and that can be similarly expected with this round. “We tend to act different with different crowds, depending on how well they’re behaving,” Tegan laughs, “So, y’know…”

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