See Tegan and Sara Explain the Birth of Two ‘Heartthrob’ Tracks
Sisters break down "Now I'm All Messed Up" and "Shock to Your System"
SPIN cover stars Tegan and Sara have made it clear that they were aiming for the pop charts when they wrote their SPIN Essential new album, Heartthrob. “It was time to shake things up,” Tegan Quin told us last year. “We were determined to make our most accessible and poppiest album.” Which explains why Tegan told twin sister Sara she needed to add a more traditional chorus to the LP’s keyboard-driven break-up lament “Now I’m All Messed Up.”
“I was furious with you,” Sara says to her sister in the above video, the newest entry in Warner Sound’s “Track by Track” video series exploring the making of the LP. The Canadian pair have already discussed several Heartthrob cuts for “Track by Track” (“I Couldn’t Be Your Friend,” “Love They Say,” and “Goodbye, Goodbye” among them), and now they’ve opened up about the album’s final two songs: “Now I’m All Messed Up” and “Shock to Your System.”
“You hit it out of the park,” Tegan tells Sara, referring to the “Stay / Go” call-and-response on “Now I’m All Messed Up.” She continues, saying, “The first night that we played it live, the whole audience, I think they were stunned. Kids were, first of all, excited to see you screaming at them, but in this very intense, emotional way.”
“I was thinking about if I was really in a relationship where I wanted someone to stay,” Sara says, “Or I really knew it was the end of the relationship, and I was in a movie, how would I act?” She adds, “I was trying to make it a melodrama, and that’s how it became a power ballad.”
In the video below, the 32-year-old twins discuss Heartthrob’s dramatic closer, “Shock to Your System.”
“I wrote the song as if it’s from the perspective of someone singing the song to me,” Sara reveals. “Almost like a mentor, or somebody, this is going to sound cheesy, but, almost like a guardian angel.”
“Apparently, your guardian angel wants you to get some,” Tegan jokes. “Because one of the lines is, ‘You should be out driving people wild.'”
Sara disagrees, though, explaining, “It’s more of a song about someone who has retreated or is depressed or has stopped engaging in life… Maybe it’s me now giving advice to myself back then.” She also admits that while they may have crafted most of their seventh album with dreams of Top 40 glory, “Shock to Your System” was the exception to that rule. “We didn’t really do a ton to it in the studio,” Sara says. “A lot of the other songs we really focused on creating more traditional arrangements or more ‘pop’ arrangements, and this song we sort of let it be what it was.”
One influence on the ’80s-infused “Shock,” according to Tegan, was the film Drive, which just ranked on SPIN’s list of 40 Movie Soundtracks That Changed Alternative Music. Watch the video below, but also be sure to delve into our extensive Tegan and Sara coverage below:
• Read our January cover feature on the band, “No Fear of Heights: Tegan and Sara Aim for the Top.”
• Watch our charming heart-to-heart with the Quins in this exclusive behind-the-photo-shoot video.
• Flip through our photo gallery, “Double Exposure: Outtakes From Tegan and Sara’s SPIN Cover Shoot.”
• Watch Tegan and Sara perform Heartthrob standout “Closer” on The Ellen DeGeneres Show.