It’s Tuesday afternoon around 3 p.m., and Tegan and Sara have just finished an in-store performance at the independently-owned Tower Records shop just off Grafton Street’”one of the few remaining Tower Records locations in the world, after the chain retailer went bankrupt in 2006. The location is an interesting point of departure for a conversation with Tegan and Sara, whose between-song stage banter covers the ‘state of the record industry’ more than once today. (They discussed declining record sales from the stage both at Tower Records and later at the Olympia Theatre, recalling bits of nostalgia about the excitement of record shopping with their father as kids.)
According to Tegan, the band sees their audiences growing with every tour– they’ve basically been on a continuous tour for 10 years–yet records sales still decline. The twins agreed that having this -realization about the state of the record industry’ was the low point of their recent tour.
‘This has become a really blue collar industry, which Sarah and I aren’t afraid of, we love to work hard, but [on tour] you have moments where you’re just like, -ugh.’ Because you can’t really take a break, or else how do you make money? And it’s not just about money, but’¦”
The endless tour seems to be why the duo are able to live in separate cities, while still functioning as a band–Tegan lives in Vancouver, Sara in Montreal. The two spend the majority of their time together, because they are almost always on tour, or re-locating to record an album together.
‘We made our last record in Los Angeles and Seattle. We made The Con in Portland,’ says Sara. “Where I keep all of my junk and my photo albums and my bed stops being relevant. You just sort of make your home wherever you’re going to make the record. It stops mattering.’
When they’re off the road, the twins need time apart in order to write, anyway.
‘I always find it really interesting when I meet bands who will relocate to live in the same city to live with other people. Im like ‘why why would you do that?’ but they’re more traditional, and they want to Jam and write music. With Tegan and I, that’s not even in our band’s vernacular,’ Sara says.
So if they’re writing so much in solitude, why not just make separate albums?
‘We talked about it,’ says Sara. ‘There’s a nice collaborative feel to the records that I worry right now in our career and our songwriting, to spin off and make a Sara record, or to make a Tegan record, I’m not sure that wouldn’t be much more than just Ego.’
‘When I think about doing the solo record I just wonder if it would be just a Tegan and Sara record without the Tegan or Sara,’ Tegan agrees.
Tegan once started a side project with Hunter Berkin from AFI, but the songs sounded too similar to Tegan and Sara, so they ended up using the songs for their latest album Sainthood instead. (‘Hell, Don’t Rush’, and ‘The Cure’.)
‘In my mind I’d like to think we’d write completely different kinds of records, but’¦’ Tegan starts.
‘One day we will probably find out,’ Sara continues, expressing that solo records are ‘absolutely’ in the future.
At the moment, though, the twins seem quite content with the way they record and tour.
‘Even on tour, every day is awesome because it ends with a show,’ Tegan says. ‘But I think an ideal day for me would be waking up and not seeing 12 other human beings the second that I wake up.’
‘In my apartment,’ continues Sara. ‘With a private jet or a teleporter, where I could just be like, -beam me to Dublin!”
‘Even if the first person I see is Sara, just being on a bus alone together… Just to be alone’¦.’
‘With some normalcy’¦’ adds Sara.
‘Some space, privacy’¦’ Tegan finishes.
Even if they ultimately plan to go separate ways, for now, they’re still finishing each other’s sentences.