When it comes time to write a new record, Tegan and Sara need isolation and plenty of postage. The Canadian twins live on opposite coasts, and their third album So Jealous was written separately, with the two trading tapes and suggestions via the Canadian Postal Service.
"Even when we lived in the same city, it was how we did things," says Tegan. "I'd burn a CD with new songs and be like, 'Here's my new stuff,' and Sara would be like 'Cool.' And we'd demo the songs so they had all the background parts and harmonies and all that stuff. The demos are pretty complete. I even bought an octave pedal for bass lines and a snare, so I could give everyone a blueprint of what to build from."
Since signing to Neil Young's Vapor Records in 2000, the sisters have toured with Young, Rufus Wainwright and Ryan Adams, and along the way honed their skills at what their first album described as This Business of Art. In stores today, So Jealous represents a step forward for the twins, with increasingly apparent differences in the pair's songwriting that give the album a greater dynamic and depth.
Tegan's sessions surprised her. "It all started with 'You Wouldn't Like Me,' and then all these pop songs were coming out of me," she says. "I was kinda weirded out because all the songs I wrote leading up to that were darker."
Sara opted to juggle her songwriting process, writing her melodies to match her lyrics instead of the other way around. "I was trying not to write the same way I'd written before," she says. "I made myself feel a little bit awkward and tried something different."
One pal made on tour, former Weezer bassist/Rentals frontman Matt Sharp, contributed keyboard parts for six songs, including the hypnotic outro that closes "I Know I Know I Know."
"Matt was so nervous to be there because he had a short period of time to record," Sara says. "He came in at midnight, and I was so tired because we spent maybe twelve hours recording that day. He played the parts for 'I Know I Know I Know' and 'Walking With a Ghost,' and I was like, 'That's it!'"
Tegan and Sara will tour this fall in support of So Jealous, bringing their new batch of songs to an audience that is becoming more and more diverse. "We get countless emails from people who say, 'I only listen to Megadeth,' or, 'My favorite band is Kiss,'" Tegan says. "For some reason they get us too."