Throwback Tunesday: Tegan and Sara Get Nostalgic
Welcome to Throwback Tunesday, where Mashable amplifies the echoes of music past. From genre trends of former years (’90s boy bands, anyone?), to throwbacks from current artists (c’mon … who doesn’t regret that Myspace-y haircut?), we synthesize music and nostalgia.
For our first installment, we caught up with Canadian indie pop duo Tegan and Sara, who are extraordinarily busy ladies. The sisters are about midway through their ‘Let’s Make Things Physical’ tour, celebrating Heartthrob, their 2013 studio effort. Upcoming tour dates span the U.S. and Canada, and include several festival appearances — Firefly Festival and World Pride Toronto, to name a few biggies.
And that’s not all, folks. Come September, the Quin twins will support Katy Perry on her Prismatic World Tour. This upcoming September also marks 10 years since the release of Tegan and Sara’s much celebrated fourth album, So Jealous. Songs from So Jealous were featured on shows like Grey’s Anatomy, single “Walking With A Ghost” became a U.S. radio hit — and was later covered by the White Stripes. That record’s success spurred Tegan and Sara’s 2004 North American tour, opening for The Killers.
We peeked into Tegan and Sara’s past, starting with this gem of a photo of the twins at age 7. In the Q&A below, Tegan shares “aww-inspiring” details, from the twin’s favorite childhood game to their humble beginnings in the music world.
1. Tell me a bit about this amazing photo.
This is a photo of Sara and I when we were 7 years old. It was Christmas and we had likely been bribed into wearing dresses. Sara is wearing the pink dress, and I am wearing the green dress. We appear to be standing in my mom’s living room!
Sara and I were quite the clowns. We loved to act and sing and be silly for our friends and parents. I think in general we were happy, easy-going kids. Our mom worked full time and went back to school around this time, so we were going to the babysitter’s before and after school, which made us a bit shy. In general though, I like to think we were fairly happy and affable.
We didn’t dress alike that often. And when we did, it was totally our doing. Our parents let us pick our own clothes, cut our hair how we liked, etc. from probably age 4 on. Which is horrifying, since we had terrible taste and my mom was a babe and very stylish.
We loved to hang with each other. Our favorite games were mainly made-up. Shockingly, one of our favorite things to do was play “office job.” This consisted of us taking turns being the boss and ordering stacks of “notes” we’d taken during “meetings” and stapling stuff.
We were not particularly musical as small kids. We loved listening to music and singing along. Our mom says that we ordered the kids in the neighborhood to sing in pageants with us on the front lawn or the basement. At age 7, we started piano lessons — mainly classical teachings. At 15, guitar came into our orbit. We were into grunge music and going to local punk gigs and started a band immediately!
2. You started playing music together at age 15 — what inspired you to start writing songs? Who did you listen to in the early days? Who were some of your favorite artists and what were your early influences?
Everyone was in a band. It was the ’90s. I think playing guitar was freeing for us after so many years of taking classic piano and theory. Our favorite bands ranged from Smashing Pumpkins, Ani DiFranco, Cyndi Lauper, Bruce Springsteen, Hole, etc.
3. You began touring in 1998. Any particularly funny early tour memories? If you had to name a single favorite show you played these first few years, what would it be?
Our first few years as a “band” were tough. Mainly we played the two of us. Coffee shops, pubs, some festivals. In 1998, we had just graduated high school so we were making a name for ourselves, but very slowly. In ’99 we made a record, and found a manager. Within a year we’d signed a record deal and were on tour with Neil Young. It was terrifying. But really fun.
I think we were really lonely. Often it was just the two of us, or a tour manager would join us. I think we were scared and in over our heads. But we grew up fast, learned as much as we could every time we shared a stage with someone amazing and got our footing by the mid-2000s.
4. This year marks the 10th anniversary of So Jealous. If you could go back and give yourselves one piece of advice while you were recording the album, what would it be? Are there any major decisions you made that you think back on as crucial?
I actually wouldn’t change much about the So Jealous period of time. The record is great. I think it was our first attempt at really exploring our interests musically. We were confident in the studio and had worked with the band and producers before, so we were really comfortable taking risks. I think it’s a raw record, and I really hear us finding our voices on that one!
5. Are there any songs that make you instantly nostalgic — songs that bring you back to specific moments in time when you hear them? These don’t have to be limited to songs of yours.
I’m nostalgic for music from the ’90s. I think I fell out of listening to a lot of that music in the 2000s, and so when I listened back now I can really feel what I felt when I was a teenager. A lot of that music made a huge impact on me as a musician!