NEW YORK — From the Andrews Sisters to the Jackson Five to the Pointer Sisters, a talented set of siblings is nothing new to the music industry. Now, Canadian rockers Tegan and Sara are getting in on the sister act.
The 22-year-old identical twins — whose last name is Quin, although they don’t use it professionally — packed Mercury Lounge last week with a swarm of fans and look-alikes, not to mention an MTV News camera crew. Having drawn comparisons to everyone from the Pixies to the Go-Go’s, the duo hit the city before heading to Austin, Tex., in their 15-seat van to South by Southwest, one of America’s biggest and best-known music festivals, where they will play Thursday, opening for fellow punks the Sahara Hotnights. Then, in April they’ll hit the road again, touring as Ben Folds’ opening act.
But at the New York show, they focus on providing a little entertainment. As Tegan fiddles with her guitar between songs, Sara kills time on stage bantering with the crowd. She rambles on about how “uncool” she feels in New York and her love for the movie “Best in Show.”
“What else do I like?” she asks her rapt audience.
“Soup!” shouts back a groupie, to which Sara nods before growling at Tegan, “Holy God! Are you almost ready?”
Earlier in the evening, the pair sounded off backstage about their life as twin rock stars. “We don’t care so much about being big superstars,” insists Tegan, the talkative one with the spiky haircut and chin ring. Sara, for the record, sports the more feminine feathered ’do. “We care more about people liking us and our music.”
The sisters arrived on the music scene by way of Calgary, where they played in high school rock bands and were signed by Neil Young’s record label, Vapor Records, at 19. Instead of going to college, they toured around Canada and the States, promoting their first album “This Business of Art.” They’ve since toured with everyone from Young himself, to Ryan Adams and Rufus Wainwright. Last year they released their second album, “If It Was You” deemed “one of the best albums of the year” by Billboard.
But the twins aren’t in sync about everything. Although they share songwriting duties, they compose them separately and even live in different cities — Tegan in Vancouver, Sara in Montreal. Plus, they are still fleshing out the details of their budding fame — their fears of “selling out,” and how to handle the press and their sexual orientation. Both Tegan and Sara are gay.
“It’s kind of intrusive,” Tegan says of the focus on their personal life. “I’m learning that getting better at interviews means not giving too much of yourself away.”
They favor vintage clothing on and off the stage, but there is one contemporary luxury they can’t do without. “Expensive jeans,” insists Tegan, who wears Diesel, Miss Sixty and Levi’s. “You gotta make your ass look good.”