Back in 2010, Tegan and Sara drafted an underachieving band called Steel Train to open their biggest tour yet in support of their sixth album, Sainthood. Steel Train’s guitarist, Jack Antonoff, went on to form another band, fun. (Maybe you’ve heard of them?)
And now he’s returning the favor, tapping Canada’s preeminent lesbian twin singer-songwriter pair to warm up crowds for his band starting July 6. The Quin sisters, 32, are one of many reasons to arrive at the venue early this season (see next page), as their latest album, Heartthrob, provides giddy, electro-infused pop highs similar to their headliners’. For those ”We Are Young” fans coming to Tegan and Sara for the first time, here’s a crash course on the ladies.
THE FIRST ”REAL” GIG
Though technically formed at birth, the duo began playing music together when they were in high school. ”Our first real show was a birthday party for a friend in grade 11,” Sara explains. ”Even though it was a birthday party in a living room, there were other bands playing, and somebody made a gig poster. It was the first time our name was on a poster. We didn’t really play a professional gig until we got out of high school, but still consider that birthday party our first real show as Tegan and Sara because of that poster.”
Tegan and Sara self-released their first album, Under Feet Like Ours, in 1999 and have been on the road ever since. But even after playing thousands of live shows, the sisters still haven’t turned into cocky rock stars. ”We’re nervous Nellies,” confesses Sara. ”We still have a sort of bewildered, we-can’t-believe-this-is-really-happening attitude. It’s not fake humility, and it has kept us grounded.”
Heartthrob dives headfirst into the kind of frothy female pop they remember from their youth. ”We grew up listening to Cyndi Lauper,” says Tegan. ”I have a very strong memory of watching The Goonies a thousand times, and we’d always play the Cyndi Lauper scene over and over again.” Their love for Lauper came full circle in 2008, when they coheadlined her LGBT-supporting True Colors tour. ”Touring with her was incredible,” says Tegan. ”She’s a huge idol for us.”
”When we first started out at the end of the ’90s, people would tease me because ‘Blame Canada’ from the South Park movie was really popular,” Sara laments. ”So we’d come down to the States and people would be like, ‘Blame Canada, eh?”’ Still, she had the last laugh. ”Growing up in Canada and having access to government funding for the arts,” she says, ”they made us feel like we were doing something a little more legitimate and weren’t bums who were just playing music for the rest of our lives.”