Track-by-Track: Tegan and Sara’s Heartthrob Part Two
Tegan Quin on "I Was a Fool" and "I'm Not Your Hero"
Jan 22, 2013
For our new feature Track-by-Track we go in-depth with an artist about each song on their new album. This week we are featuring Tegan and Sara's Heartthrob and each day this week we'll post commentary by Tegan Quin on two of the album's songs.
Heartthrob, the seventh studio album from Tegan and Sara, comes out next week, on January 29th. For their newest record, the twin sisters (Tegan and Sara Quin) sent demos to a variety of producers as a way of choosing which ones they would collaborate with on the album. Based on their reactions to the songs, Tegan and Sara narrowed the selection down to producers Greg Kurstin, Justin Meldal-Johnsen, and Mike Elizondo, and the resulting Heartthrob is easily their slickest, poppiest record yet.
In advance of its release, Tegan Quin walked Under the Radar through all 10 tracks of the new album with a full behind-the-scenes commentary on each song's approach, inspiration, and production techniques. Please continue to check back throughout the week as we post Tegan's notes on the full album.
Today, we're posting Tegan's commentary on "I Was a Fool" and "I'm Not Your Hero."
"I Was a Fool"
Tegan Quin: "I Was a Fool" was a track that I ended up sharing with six producers, and that was how we decided who we wanted to work on the record with. When Greg Kurstin heard the demo, which was just a piano part off the top, an acoustic guitar, and some synths, basically, very stripped-down, he was the only producer out of all of the producers we talked to who was like, "This is a pop song, a huge pop single ballad." I was like, "What?" It's awesome that he heard that. When I wrote the song, I wanted to write something like Rihanna's "Umbrella." Something really sad and kind of fucked, but something that everybody would relate to. So that's how we decided to work with Greg, because I felt like he really got me and got what I was trying to go for.
Sara wrote on that one, as well; she wrote the bridge. There were eight or 16 bars of silence in the song—I can't remember what the number was—that I'd just left for her. She called me and was like, "That is impossible! You need to put a guitar or something in there." So I ended up just using the same chords from the chorus, and she sang overtop of it. That was cool.
"I'm Not Your Hero"
This is a Sara track. When Sara originally sent the track out to all of us, it was much more acoustic and very slow. I was haunted by it almost immediately. I found the verses to be quintessential Sara. The line about standing in the shadow of a damaged heart, I was just like, "Are you fucking kidding me?" She's so good. She has this way of creating this devastating imagery.
In the past, where it was a love song, "I'm Not Your Hero" is much more about feeling alienated and lost and lonely amongst your peers. There have been times especially in the last few years where Sara and I, but mainly Sara, have felt very alone. Not only because we're so political and so outspoken, but also because we can fit into a lot of different places. Specifically, we've been embraced and accepted in a lot of mainstream ways, and sometimes I think that makes us feel alienated from our gay community or the indie rock community. So, I think it's a really powerful song about feeling alienated amongst your people.
(Check back tomorrow for commentary on "Drove Me Wild" and "How Come You Don't Want Me.")
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