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Sisters telling it like it is

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Who: Tegan and Sara

Where: The Garibaldi Lift Co.

When: Sunday, Jan. 12

These girls can talk. No doubt about it and Tegan and Sara’s dedicated fan base can vouch they speak pearls of wisdom. Tee & Esses, what the fans call themselves, devour the punkish poppet’s songs and spoken words on Web sites around the world and follow them across the countryside like a gaggle of groupies – a feat not many bands can claim these days.

I can also attest to their rapturous reputation after a noisy, funny phone interview from their family home during the chaos of Christmas. I confess I don’t think I got many questions in, they just kept talking. Tegan took charge and sister Sara piped in regularly from the background. Even mom got her two cents worth. But that’s okay, these girls are cool. Part of the sisterhood, if you can excuse the pun. Twins who tell it like it is. They scream, they cry, they write damn good songs and strum some ripping guitar riffs.

They get noticed, not only for their talent but for being hot too, plus they’re lesbians but who cares about sexual preference in this day and age, right?

They’ve been snapped up by some of the best in the business, namely, Neil Young, who’s taken the twins on tour. So has Rufus Wainright, the Pretenders and even Bryan and Ryan Adams. They’ve played at Lilith Fair and released two albums. Not bad for two 22-year-olds who not long ago admit they were listening to New Kids On The Block and watching the Smurfs. But then they discovered the Clash.

The Vancouver-based, Calgary-born T & S originally learned piano, but picked up their first guitars at 15, cutting their teenage teeth in a high school punk band. They became an acoustic duo a few years later, tired of losing drummers and blowing amps. But now they’re back with a full band, touring the U.S. and Canada all in one go.

Their latest album, If It Was You , is the follow-up to their 2000 debut, This Business of Art .

"We went back to our roots: punkier, poppier, and louder," said Tegan.

"I wanted to be more powerful, pretentious and in-your-face this time around. We held back a little last time, because that's where women are supposed to go in the music business: just be shy, sexy, singer-songwriters. And we are all of those things, but we're obnoxious and sarcastic, and intelligent, and, at times, downright overbearing."

The 12 tracks on If It Was You range from the bluegrass-tinged Living Room, which Tegan wrote after realizing the windows of her new apartment were too close to the neighbours’ for comfort, to the rollicking Under Water, born from Sara’s stab at writing a children’s book. She decided her rhymes were a little too tortured for tots though. The acoustic And Darling was an 11th-hour composition by Tegan, amended to the album in virtually its original demo form.

Their latest tour is the first time they’ve travelled with a full band and considering they co-manage themselves, it’s been a major learning curve for them.

"We’ve had a few bumps along the way that’s for sure," said Tegan. "We wish we had a bigger van, we’re very tired, and we need a break. We miss home, being normal."

Their Whistler stop will be a good one though. The girls will have had a good rest at home in Vancouver, they’ll have spent quality time with the family in Calgary and caught up on much-needed sleep.

"That’s probably the biggest burden of touring," said Tegan. "You get so tired. I felt so bad I was run down a couple of nights there but I’ve learned now not to ignore it, otherwise you get too sick. One night I was so ill with headaches and diarrhea that the last thing I wanted to do was meet the fans or sell merchandise after the show. A couple of fans got angry as normally we’re very personable and love hanging out but just like everyone else, we too get sick and socializing is the last thing I wanted to do. Unfortunately though when you’re the headliner your job is to go out and mingle no matter what."

After a few more West Coast concerts, Tegan and Sara are heading down to Australia and Japan in early March.

"We’re really looking forward to Australia. Dad’s family are all there and Canadian music does well there," said Tegan.

The girls call themselves a word of mouth band and like to play where their fans are.

"We get e-mails from New Zealand saying when are you coming over? That blows my mind."

Catch Tegan and Sara before they take off at the GLC Sunday night. Opening at 8 p.m. will be Way Out, a psychedelic, beatnik, folk rock band from Van City. Tickets are $12 in advance, $14 at the door. Go to Ticketweb.com or visit the GLC.

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