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Interview:
Tegan and Sara at the Royal Oak, 5 Things To Know
 

By GARY GRAFF
Digital First Media, @GraffonMusic

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Tegan and Sara Quin started their musical life as hip indie rockers, and now they're as pop as they can be.

And happily so.

The identical twins from Calgary have fully bought into melodies, hooks and slick production on their last few albums, and it's paid off with three consecutive Top 5 debuts on the Billboard 200 -- including a No. 3 bow for "Love You To Death," which came out in June. They're scoring bona fide hits with songs such as "Closer," "I Was a Fool" and "Boyfriend," and they teamed with the Lonely Island for "Everything Is Awesome" for the soundtrack to "The Lego Movie."

"Love You To Death" finds the Quins working with cohort Greg Kurstin, with 10 compact and tuneful tracks flying by in just over half an hour. But Tegan had plenty of time to chat by phone from Los Angeles, where the sisters spend time residing in addition to their homeland.

The sisters have clearly grown more comfortable with their transition to pop, which Tegan, 36, feels is evident throughout the new album. "With every record I think our confidence is built up," she says. "We get more focused. I think with 'Love It To Death' we really streamlined and tried to marry the vulnerability and emotional rawness of our early music with the pop production. I think that made for a very intimate record while also still having that big production. So there's something the older, die-hard fans can connect with here."

There's never any shortage of deep emotional fare to write about, either, according to Tegan. "We're singing about death, the end of long relationships, the end of innocence -- things we've experienced," she says. "With 'Love You To Death' we're back in that place. I ended a long relationship again. We've suffered some losses. We're back to questioning our lives again."

With the "Boyfriend" single -- about seeing a woman who was exploring relationships with both genders -- Tegan and Sara have put their own sexuality in record more explicitly than ever before. "We're quick to point out we know our minority status is invisible," Tegan acknowledges. "I can pass as straight if I want to. I don't want to drag the (gay) cross behind me and make myself a martyr. We knew putting out 'Boyfriend' is progressive, still, for pop radio in America. It didn't do badly; It's not climbing the charts; I don't want to blame it on politics, but I think that has a lot to do with it. There's still plenty of misogyny and sexism, especially in our industry. It's getting better, but the world hasn't changed overnight."

In addition to changing the sound, Tegan and Sara have also switched up the way they perform on their latest tour. "Sara and I have been moving toward trying not to be as bogged down on stage," Tegan explains. "I only play guitar and keyboard on just half of the set, maybe. That leaves us lots of time to run around and act like (U2 frontman) Bono in the 80s, really work up the audience and get everybody dancing. Die hard fans are like, 'This is the most fun we've seen you having on stage,' so we're feeling very confident about it."

The sisters are, not surprisingly, supporting Hillary Clinton in this year's presidential election -- or, at the very least, NOT supporting Donald Trump. And they think they have every right to participate in the discussion. "We've heard all the "shut up and sing. You're not even from here," Tegan says with a laugh. "The thing is, we've been down here 17 years. I have a lot of family down here. We both date Americans. We both have apartment sin Los Angeles. We work here 80 percent of the year. I pay more federal taxes than Donald Trump ever has, I'll tell you that. I love this country. We follow its politics passionately. So if Donald Trump gets elected, I don't want to run from here. I want to help you fix your country."

Tegan and Sara and Torres

Wednesday, Oct. 26. Doors open at 7 p.m.

Royal Oak Music Theatre, 318 W. Fourth St.

Tickets are $36.

Call 248-399-2980 or visit royaloakmusictheatre.com.

Web Site: www.royaloakmusictheatre.com

Send your thoughts and comments to Gary Graff

 



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