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Tegan and Sara in Royal Oak, 5 Things to Know

By Gary Graff
ggraff@medianewsgroup.com, @GraffonMusic on Twitte

Posted: Wednesday, October 16, 2019

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Tegan and Sara are, as the song says, living in the past these days -- and it's making their present all the better.

This year the Canadian twin sisters published a revealing memoir, "High School," as well as a new album, "Hey, I'm Just Like You," that features new recordings of songs they created as teenagers. It's added some fresh context and perspective to a recording career that began 20 years ago -- supported by Neil Young and his Vapor Records label -- and includes nine albums, three Canadian Juno Awards and honors from GLAAD, the Governor General of Canada and the New York Civil Liberties Union.

This fall the Quinns are supporting both new projects with a Storytellers-style tour, offering further insights into their lives and music, and how they're intertwined...

While the Quinns only recently turned 39 (Sept. 19), Tegan says by phone that certain factors led to this being a good time to delve into their past. "We got the Canadian Governor General's Performing Arts Award, which is what they consider a mid-career award. So I definitely think we've hit that point in our career where we can look back and reflect and it doesn't feel too soon. I think we were both craving to do something creative and weren't sure what. We had been doing some storytelling in our shows and started to work on the idea of a live album and met with podcasting companies and for fun took a meeting with our book agent, who had been lightly badgering us for a few years. The booked happened to be the thing that took off and...became this origin story of us as creative, queer people."

Tegan says that in writing "High School" both she and Sara still found it easy to relate to their teenage selves. "One of the more moving parts of writing the book was realizing how much of my young self I thought I had left behind is in fact still there, alive and flourishing. Especially when I started watching some video footage I was really struck by how much of my personality, how much of me was still like the person I am today. I've changed far less than I would I have imagined. But writing the book really let me know my younger self better, and appreciate her even more."

Tegan notes that for the sisters, "a lot of our relationship that people experience today really did start in high school." But she says that by writing alternate chapters and creating a kind of literary dialogue with the book, the two learned some things about each other. "I think we were both really struck by how much of our interior worlds were known to us. I think I had a sense of who Sara was, a sense of what she'd gone through, but we didn't have the same experience. When I saw her story take place on page, I was surprised by how different it was from mine and it definitely filled in a lot of gaps for me. She really did become an independent person and strike out on her own and grapple with her sexuality earlier than I did. It was interesting to take that thread back and see how it affected us as people. I have more compassion for Sara now and understand a lot more."

Tegan and Sera began working on the "Hey, Im Just Like You" album shortly after finishing the last draft of "High School," drawing songs from two early cassette tapes. "it was clear this wasn't going to be just a case of, 'Oh, we'll pull the 10 best songs and go to the studio. There was a lot of creative work there to be done. There were six or seven that were pretty obvious but needed little tweaks here and there -- changing the key, moving the bridge. There were some other songs that needed a lot more work; 'Keep Them Close...' was a song called 'Unbelievable Yesterday,' and we did some major work to simplify it. It was an amazing creative process that allowed us to flex the muscle we've gained from 20-plus years of working in the industry."

Tegan and Sara plan to go on another, more extensive tour during 2020. and Tegan says that doing the book and current album has "really inspired us to start thinking about what's next. We've evolved to a place where we don't want to rush music out; I don't think our fans are just waiting around for random songs, you know? So we have a lot of projects on the go right now, which feels really exciting. I feel like we've uncovered the joy and kind of hunger I felt when I was a young person again. That's exciting."

Tegan and Sara perform Thursday, Oct. 17, at the Royal Oak Music Theatre, 318 W. Fourth St. Doors at 7:30 p.m. $45-$69.50. 248-399-2980 or royaloakmusictheatre.com.

Web Site: www.royaloakmusictheatre.com

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