Tegan & Sara

NAME: Tegan & Sara
PROGRESS REPORT: Listening to mixes for their sixth studio album, Sainthood, out October 27. Recorded at Sound City in Van Nuys, CA, and Two Sticks Audio in Seattle, WA.

Tegan & Sara’s 2007 record The Con grew on me, especially when live, acoustic performances from the sisters started appearing on YouTube. Something about the roughness of live sound also added a little grit to their vocals. So it was great to find out that for their followup record Sainthood, the Quin sisters, along with returning producer Chris Walla, recorded with just five musicians and few overdubs. Sara says that the songs turned out different that she expected. Instead of tracks more intimate, they sounded bigger and more forceful. “I’m feeling like, for the first time, that this is a band record. This really sounds like a band went into a room and played music.” The changes played on some of her neuroses: Death Cab For Cutie drummer Jason McGerr had plenty of time to freak her out with his intense drum faces, (“He stares at you so seriously”), and handing the mixes off to Dave Sardy to work the songs alone messed with their perfectionist tendencies. “Tegan and I are such control freaks, so it’s such a challenge for me to just be listening to everything from my house. We really have maybe an hour to listen to things and pick on details that are sticking out and then sign off on it. It’s terrifying, but it’s a really good exercise. I’m sure my therapist would be really impressed.”

Fans will be happy to hear that Tegan and Sara’s lyrics — themselves a kind of portable therapy session — are still about relationships. “We pretty much write love songs,” she laughs. “I wish I could say we had gone out on a real lyrical limb, but I don’t think we did.” But the title, inspired by a Leonard Cohen lyric (“I practiced all my sainthood”), refers to the specific kind of love Sara and Tegan wanted to sing about: “hysterically devoted” love, the sort that often goes unrequited. “With us, we pick the most challenging people to try to date and pursue and often don’t get them. So we wanted to focus on this idea of being saintly and winning people over.”

She isn’t worried about performing the songs on Sainthood, though they won’t debut the new tracks until closer to the release date. The way they recorded means they don’t have to worry about translating 30 overdubs to a live band. Sara says taking control of each song and delegating backing parts has always been easy for them. Surprisingly, though, the sisters have never collaborated on songwriting before Sainthood. They decided to give it a shot back in November. They took a week off in New Orleans to sit down and write together. The already surreal experience was made worse because they had a photographer with them to document the process. “I felt like I was in prison or hell or purgatory. It was unreal. [I thought,] ’We’re on a bad MTV reality show,’” she says. Eventually they found a rhythm to their collaboration, but it still sometimes felt like someone looking over your shoulder while you’re writing a letter. It’s not that strange: Sara and Tegan tour and work together, but they also live and work in different cities. “I’ve never written a song when someone’s in the room or around or in the house. I’m a total weirdo!” Sara says. “It really triggered the womb. I was like, ’Get out of my space, seriously.’ But I don’t blame the dysfunction of our sister relationship. I blame the dysfunction of us as individuals.”


If there’s a band you want Progress Report to drag out of the studio, or bed, for an update, e-mail tips@stereogum.com.

Comments (29)
  1. Mike  |   Posted on Jul 31st, 2009 0

    i don’t think producing two records (this one being the second) constitutes “longtime producer”
    but i am excited for this to come out.

  2. Oops, I think longtime friend, newish producer would be more accurate.

  3. Aaron  |   Posted on Jul 31st, 2009 0

    Are people actually looking forward to this?

  4. JonT  |   Posted on Jul 31st, 2009 0

    Nice. I’m actually really looking forward to this one.

  5. luke  |   Posted on Jul 31st, 2009 0

    Like you wouldn’t believe

  6. Jessica  |   Posted on Jul 31st, 2009 0

    My most anticipated album of 2009. I really like what Chris Walla did on The Con, and Jason McGerr is fantastic. I wish they brought back Hunter Burgan of AFI and Matt Sharp of The Rental to play bass again. There’s nothing really outstanding about their current bassist or drummer.

  7. I don’t like these two…

  8. My favorite band… I’m excited to say the least.

  9. sherrycacy  |   Posted on Aug 1st, 2009 0

    im also really excited i loved what chris did on the con record

  10. jon  |   Posted on Aug 1st, 2009 0

    i saw them live and i felt so completely out of place amongst the crowd….but it was terrific nonetheless. excited for this.

  11. I have a lot of confidence in these girls. Can’t wait to hear it!

  12. jesse  |   Posted on Aug 2nd, 2009 0

    how about a progress report on Black Mountain

  13. yes!!!! definitely looking foward to this one.
    it’ll kick ass, mark my words..

  14. ainsley  |   Posted on Aug 3rd, 2009 0

    i am a huge fan but am sort of scared to hear this album. i heard it has a heavy metal influence. its not really the tegan and sara style. i guess we just have to wait.

    anxious. its released on my birthday. what a present.

  15. michelle  |   Posted on Aug 5th, 2009 0

    ive seen them live 3 times and all i can say is that they are two very talented young women and im crossing my fingers on this next album

  16. stoneywankanobi  |   Posted on Aug 6th, 2009 0

    I’m sure this will be like the majority of their albums. After the first listening you’ll think this is pretty good, but a few more times through it and you’ll think shit, this is a damn good album.
    I’m excited to hear it.

  17. Lesh  |   Posted on Aug 6th, 2009 0

    yesssssssss!!! I must admit that I’ve only been a fan since May this year but I really love Tegan and Sara. I hope this album is a success.

  18. Damian  |   Posted on Aug 6th, 2009 0

    looking forward to the new album, but after seeing both live I think the Dublin twin sister duo “Heathers” is actually better.

  19. needs more glockenspiel.

  20. jessica  |   Posted on Aug 14th, 2009 0

    can’t wait! this album and paramore’s new album..best musical investment of 2009

  21. Totally excited for Sainthood.
    It’s going to be epic.

  22. Santiago is very happy 2 hear the Thematic Elements of new album! I’m am thrilled beyond measure & am feeling very Inspired 2 continue in my Devotional Services! Please let me know if there’s anything I can do 2 help! -Santiago

  23. I am pretty excited for Sainthood. Especially since they said they are going to sound more like a conventional band on this album. Should sound great.

  24. StepH  |   Posted on Oct 3rd, 2009 0

    I love tegan and sara! They are an amazing band, duo, what ever you want to call it. I think the con was there best album yet, it may even be better than sainthood. I’m only saying this because I have heard a few songs from the new record, and I feel their sound has gone a bit more electro on some songs. Being a person who doesn’t like electro music I’m kind of freaking out because I love their music from their previous records so much I don’t want this record to be a disappointment. I hope they keep their indie rock sound, it’s what makes them Tegan And Sara (:

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post, reply to, or rate a comment.

%s1 / %s2