Sometimes relationships inspire us to be saint-like, martyrs even. Tegan and Sara's sixth release, Sainthood, explores the tension between who we are and how we long to be. They bring their piety to the Metro Centre on January 27.
"In relationships we act with blind faith," says Sara Quin, calling from Vancouver. "We can really deceive ourselves towards what we are creating. The pursuit is what we are looking for."
Over a decade into their career, the twins have learned the art of writing about matters of the heart, whether it's being lovelorn or heartbroken. This time around the Quins explore their own roles in their heart narratives, rather than purely the emotional aftermath.
"Tegan and I have a shared obsession with being good and likable. I think it stemmed from our parents and grandparents," Sara says. "When we would go visit our grandparents my dad would say, 'Be good or I'll break your legs.' So we were perfectly behaved kids. We were really afraid of getting in trouble.
"I feel like in a way this works for love, too. We change ourselves. I adjust my behaviour and become so obsessed and devoted that I lose sight of what I want."
As Canadian musicians it's hard not to cite Leonard Cohen as an influence---he is the lord of song. While Tegan enjoys his approach to poetics, it is Sara who adopts his lyrics to sing over a melody until she figures out her own. While the sisters were in New Orleans writing she stole a lyric from "Came So Far For Beauty." "I practiced on my sainthood, I gave to one and all, but the rumours of my virtue they moved her not at all," relays themes of desperation and strife found throughout Tegan and Sara's Sainthood. Unfortunately due to copyright complications, the actual song "Sainthood" never made the album's final cut.
"It was a romantic term, not necessarily a religious one. It's this idea of practising being perfect and devoted. It comes from a series of very intense unrequited relationships," says Tegan, in an earlier phone call. "Over the years I've gone through different phases and I felt compelled to write different things but it always comes back to relationships."
Last time the duo was in town they played two sold-out shows at St. Matthew's Church during 2007's Halifax Pop Explosion. This time around they've had to swap the cozy theatre atmosphere of the Rebecca Cohn, where their show was orginally scheduled, for an arena gig. It's not quite the intimate night lucky early-bird ticket holders were hoping for, but the twins promise a big rock 'n' roll show---lights, stage theatrics and all.
"We really wanted to do two nights at the Cohn, but it was already booked," says Sara. "We're not going to be back in Halifax for a while so we wanted to make sure everyone could come to this show."