Photo by Lindsey Byrnes
Heartthrob, the latest album by alternative rock group Tegan and Sara, was released last week and features everything we’ve come to love from the openly lesbian identical twins. The album edges toward the pop spectrum and is the most accessible from the duo yet. Tegan, the "older" of the twins, recently spoke with us about Heartthrob, Sara’s recent illness, and the effect their coming out has had on the music industry.
Out: So now that the album is out, how are you celebrating?
Tegan: I’m very excited! This has been the longest lead up to a record we’ve ever had. I celebrated by staying in bed until 2, although I wasn’t asleep. I just ate brownies and read our Twitter feed and talked to fans, and it seems like everyone is really liking it. Everyone is making lots of Justin Bieber jokes because he got the top album, and we’re number two. Like come on Justin, you don’t need to have the number 1 spot, let another Canadian have it.
The day you released Heartthrob, you and Sara also released a YouTube video with Andy Samberg. What was that all about?
I’m a huge fan of Andy. I met him a few years ago and we showered him with accolades and told him how much we loved him, and he was like, ‘We should do something together sometime!” So this "Heartthrob" interview series came up, and we picked all these people in L.A. to work with. Andy was on our dream list. Then he pitched the idea that he would interview us about being heartthrobs, or what we liked in heartthrobs. While we answered his questions, he would cut back to him wearing all these funny outfits of all the heartthrobs we liked. It was a very basic but funny idea—and I loved it.
We know Sara’s been sick lately, so what does that mean for the tour right now?
We’ve had a very busy month. We’d both been suffering stomach-related issues: We picked up amoebas from some international travel that we did, so she’s been on antibiotics. It was really hard to make the decision to cancel shows. We’ve only done it three or four times in 13 years. We’re the type of people who are just troopers. One of us could just carry the show, but we don’t want to go up there and give people half a show, so we postponed and Sara’s been in bed for two days now. She’s laying in bed with balloons around her, eating matzo-ball soup, and the doctors came and brought her inhalers for her asthma. I always joke that she’s the weaker one, but she really is kind of the weaker one, so anyways…
So do you have any freaky wonder-twins powers?
No, I wish we did! There’s a natural instinctual connection when you spend 32 years basically living an identical life. I would compare it to what I imagine it would be like to be married to someone for 50 years. You start to just look at them and know what they’re thinking. But we have no special powers. If we did, I’d have a show in Vegas and I’d be making 10 times what I make right now
As one of the few widely known lesbian rock bands, do you get a lot of pressure from the LGBTQ+ community?
It wasn’t until we released our second record that people started to really enquire about our lives outside of music and there was this moment when I was like, Geez, everyone keeps asking us about our boyfriends and like, what do we do? The president of our record label at the time was like, "Well are you gay?" And we were like, "Yeah," so he was like, "Well, just say that you’re gay." And so we just did it.
Sometimes it is tough. It’s not just being gay, it's when some of these things overshadow the real message behind our band. As a musician, I can’t imagine singing songs about my life while hiding who I am. It just doesn’t translate to me. It was never a question for us. We’ve met so many people over the years and had so many incredible moments of meeting kids and families of kids who have heard our music and decided to come out, and I just think that’s really amazing. We were able to conquer the mainstream in so many different ways, and hopefully we’ll keep clearing a path for people to come behind us just like so many of them before us. It is important, and I’m glad we did it.
WATCH: Tegan & Sara interview Kate Moennig about being a 'Heartthrob':