“It doesn’t matter if people have already paid their 30 bucks to come and see us play,” Tegan says. “I still assume that I have to come onstage and work really hard from start to finish. The whole thing, from the music we play before we come onstage to the opening bands to the merch we sell to our set list—it’s all superimportant to us. I’m obsessed with making sure that people have a good time. Unless someone is being an asshole—then I’m the first one to say ‘Fuck you, get out!’ ”

Also difficult for the band has been dealing with the pressures of increased—and very often misdirected—media scrutiny. Rather than focusing on the group’s rather remarkable transformation from strummy folksters to new-wavin’, indie-pop daredevils, the bulk of Tegan and Sara’s collected press could essentially be summed up in two words: gay twins. Only within the past couple of years have journalists gotten past the women’s twinergy and never-a-secret lesbianism and started to discuss what ace songwriters the two have become.

“It’s so funny,” Sara says. “For the first half of our career, people rarely ever actually talked about our music. Things were so focused on who we were and what we looked like and what we did or didn’t represent that we were sort of allowed to develop as songwriters without too much input on that front. I wonder if people had been focused solely on our music back then if it would have affected our work, or if we would have gotten discouraged and just given up. We just always thought that if we kept going long enough, maybe eventually people would want to talk to us about our songs and maybe someone would acknowledge the fact that we can actually write melodies that are poppy and smart. In a way it’s great that we never felt the pressure to sound like anything other than ourselves…mostly because no one else seemed to care!”

“I could go on and on about being young and being women and being twins and being gay,” Tegan adds, “but those were also the things that people often used to discredit our abilities and our songwriting. At least now even the naysayers will at least give us credit for being persistent. Twelve years! We don’t give up!”

While gay fans have always embraced the band, both sisters have struggled with how they are perceived. While the women have always talked freely and openly about their sexuality, it is rarely the subject of their work, which might explain why the gay press has not paid as much attention to the duo as one might guess. “My art is not gay,” Tegan says. “But I am. Still, there’s this feeling I get sometimes, like, we’re just not gay enough.”

Tags: Music