About to release a series of films, three to be exact, that present a more behind the scenes and stripped back perspective on the band, touring and their music, indie duo Tegan & Sara have always been a band who reveal a lot of themselves in their art. Entitled Get Along, this DVD/CD package includes three films: States, a 30 minute mini doco following the duo through early American tours and shedding a light on their life on the road as well as their unique connection with their fanbase; India, another short doco this time chronicling the band’s first tour of India; and For The Most Part, a 70 minute stripped back in the studio concert, the package to include a 15 track audio CD of songs from the film.
In anticipation of this, we spoke to the band about the films, any new material in the works as well as their comments earlier this year about Odd Future.
MF: So, this is a pretty special release; how long has this been in the pipes? Seems like you’ve been playing with the idea of a film for a while?
T & S: We started discussing the idea of a film, or films at the beginning of 2009. As we were wrapping up the tour cycle on SAINTHOOD it started to really take shape. We knew that collective footage and having a mini documentary of life on the road was one more obvious choice, but we hoped by bringing in a really fantastic visual director we’d capture something special. STATES was that film, and it really spun a reflective narrative that in a short film managed to summarize a lot of what happened to us over the last ten years. We also wanted to film something internationally, in hopes to create a fresh and exciting story about our relationships with friends, family and travelling. That film became INDIA. And in the third film we wanted to strip down our songs to sparse arrangements that revealed just the bare bone of T & S fan favourites! It was a great experience and in the end the package really has a bookend feel to the past decade of our lives. It frees us up to start anew in our second decade as a band!
MF: With music you guys are in complete control of how and what you’re expressing, yet with a project like this you’re more at the mercy of whoever is filming: how did you find that?
T & S: Ultimately we have the final say, but it is beneficial to both parties (director and artist) to allow creative expression to take its course. I don’t have any urge to sit and micromanage on projects like these. When you have the utmost confidence in the filmmakers, it’s easier to let the project take shape before critiquing.
MF: Your music has always been very personal and these films seem to be in a similar vein, you could maybe even say a logical conclusion, to your music; would you agree?
T & S: Over the years we have been very easygoing about sharing who we are with people. But, that doesn’t mean there isn’t a private life going on for either of us. I always use the rule that if it happens ‘at work’ it’s fair game. So, if we are touring or making a record, the work related stuff that is happening around us is appropriate to share. But what is revealed in a song or a story is always in our control. We keep much of what and who we are safe and private so as to not exploit it.
MF: You are famous for your strong fan following and dedication to them; was a part of the motivation behind this project to really give them more of an insight into your lives as people and artists?
T & S: Certainly, we enjoy producing music and film that our fans will enjoy. I think about the bands I loved when I was a teenager and I was ecstatic to gain insight into their world. Even if only in an interview or a music video. It was such an exciting time before the internet, because you truly waited for ANYTHING related to a band to come out and then engulfed yourself in it full time until the next thing. Now, bands almost have to simulate that experience by releasing behind the scenes, or remix albums or or or … we’re really pushing ourselves to engage an audience that has more and more distractions!
MF: Were there any moments in the process of making the films where you were worried you were giving too much of the mystery away?
T & S: Oh no. I don’t think we would ever do that purposefully. There is a great deal that happens that we didn’t think was appropriate. Even simple stuff like … our tour bus. We tried to keep the footage to public spaces, backstage, at shows, etc. I don’t feel compelled to share anything that happens in places where I wear pajamas. I don’t feel like the audience needs to see behind the curtain of my personal life. But, at work, on stage, touring … we find ways to hopefully shed light on the other parts of our band life.
MF: It can take a lot of courage to be as open as you have been, and to give people such access to your lives etc; was that very invasive or did it ever make you feel anxious?
T & S: There is certainly a give-and-take relationship with being a public figure. When the scales are balanced and it all works, I don’t think too much about what we reveal. The natural instant gratification of an audience and the volume of creative output feels healthy and fair. Occasionally when those scales tip, if there is something big going on and you have to put a game face on, it can feel masochistic or disingenuous to pretend to be happy or confident etc. So it’s a balancing act between being yourself and being professional.
MF: Moving on from the films, have you guys been working on any new music? When can we expect a new a album?
T & S: If all goes according to plan, we’d like to have a new album out late 2012! We are currently working on material for the album now and feeling quite excited!
MF: Your music being as personal as it is, how does the writing process work, I’d guess that you can’t really force it out as a lot of it hinges on you living and experiencing things rather than just making things up?
T & S: I have always worked best under pressure or in crisis. This record will be the first of its kind for me, as I was under no pressure to write and was experiencing no crisis! Feeling quite rested and reflective, I think the material is just as engaging, but perhaps the material is more realised as there was less fog to search through.
MF: I also wanted to talk to you about some of the comments you made about Odd Future. Do you at all feel that you speaking out against them just gave them more of an opportunity to grab attention on the media?
T & S: My intended target with that message was the media, and those in the music industry I see as colleagues and peers. To consider the way in which homophobia, rape, misogyny etc is covered, endorsed by and profited on, in the hopes that change will come (before I leave this earth!) My opinions have not changed, I think the time has come that we must take responsibility for what we say, regardless of our occupation, or our intentions – hate is hate. If you say hateful things about other people, there should be repercussions and responsibility from all parties involved.
MF: Also you are an advocate for freedom of expression, and so even if expression is hateful, do you still support a person’s right to make it or do you think they should be censored?
T & S: I absolutely support the right to freedom of speech. Nowhere in my statement was there anything about revoking anyone’s rights. However, the double standards afforded to certain people and situations must be addressed. Offensive music, art, film etc can exist – it has always existed, always will – but we don’t have to support it, reward it, apologize for it, sensationalize it. I feel encouraged by what has been happening in sports of late. Penalizing and fining athletes and coaches for using hateful slurs sends a very clear message to the public. Why not in the music business?