Tegan and Sara Just Dropped an Album With Sara Bareilles, Ryan Adams, and Cyndi Lauper
Ten years ago, the first iPhone debuted, The Sopranos ended, the final installment of the Harry Potter series was released, and Canadian pop duo Tegan and Sara dropped their breakthrough album, The Con, a note-perfect collection of 14 songs about heartbreak that was the pair's first entry on the Billboard 200 charts. To celebrate its 10th anniversary, Tegan and Sara will be performing the album from top to bottom on tour, starting tonight in San Diego, and have released The Con X: Covers, featuring artists like Ryan Adams, Hayley Williams of Paramore, Bleachers, Sara Bareilles, Cyndi Lauper, and Chvrches putting their own spins on the album's tracks.
Even better? Warner Bros. Records will be donating net album proceeds to the Tegan and Sara Foundation, which fights for economic justice, health, and representation for LGBTQ girls and women. (A portion of the proceeds from Tegan and Sara’s The Con X: Tour will also benefit the foundation.)
Right before the tour kickoff, we got the sisters on the phone to talk about The Con, their 2007 style, and what's different about performing these songs today versus when they were first written.
What has it been like looking back at The Con while working on this reissue project?
Tegan Quin: It’s so interesting, revisiting all the content we made—all the photos, the behind the scenes, the movies. When I watch it, I’m like, I’m such a baby, why didn't I appreciate how young and baby-skinned I was? I feel very nostalgic for the simplicity of it all. We cared, I’m not gonna pretend we didn’t care, but we didn’t care as much about clothing and about fashion then, so there’s an ease to us, a simplicity. The album was where we really hit peak Tegan and Sara—we really obsessed over every detail and wanted to play every instrument and prove ourselves, not only as producers and writers, but also as musicians.
Sara Quin: Going back was totally interesting. It’s weird, I don’t remember feeling very confident back then. I remember being very self-conscious, but now when I go back and look at the pictures and think: For someone who was self conscious I sure drew a lot of attention to myself by getting such a severe haircut.
What was life in 2007 like for you?
SQ: The time around writing and performing that album was the hardest time in my life. So much was falling apart. I was dealing with death and the death of a relationship, and Tegan and I were having a tough time. We were in three bus crashes on our tour for The Con. I’ve been touring for 20 years and have only been in three crashes and they were all on that run. It was literally the hardest time of my life. I’d come off stage and just go into the fetal position.
What's it like playing those songs now that chronicle that really difficult time 10 years ago?
SQ: At the time of The Con's release, all of the songs I wrote were so hard to perform. Now things feel so much better, so I have that perspective. Also, the past two years we've been out playing a pop record, which was really weird with everything that's been happening culturally and politically. I mean I think people enjoyed themselves and we've had fun, but it's felt like there was so much going on in the world and it didn't always track. In some ways, it's more natural to go out right now and play something that's so sad and hard.
How has being a touring musician changed in the past 10 years?
TQ: Now, everyone has a smart phone. In 2007, they didn’t. Now there are hundreds of photos taken of us every night instead of a couple that people would develop and then put on the Internet. So I think The Con was probably the last era of us being a little more carefree. I think that was the last record where creating an image was really exciting and then that image just went online. It wasn’t really living and breathing. It wasn’t this constant updating on social media. I feel very nostalgic for the simplicity of that.
How did you go about connecting with other musicians for The Con: X Covers album?
SQ: We went to some of our friends like Chvrches and Hayley from Paramore because we knew them and we knew that they loved The Con. And from there we went song by song and came up with lists of artists that we thought would be good for each and went out to them to see if they wanted to take part. The whole process took about four months. But when the songs came in, it was like It’s like holy sh-t someone’s covering our songs!
Which track is your favorite at the moment?
SQ: My favorite changes every day but right now I’m loving Sara Bareilles cover of "Floorplan." She’s got such a rich voice. It feels like my voice sounds like a rabid chipmunk compared to hers. (laughs)
Order The Con X: Covers and get tickets to The Con X tour at teganandsara.com