I always like to ask music artists from countries outside the United States what they like and dislike about the U.S.
To set up that question, I asked Tegan Quinn, of the Canadian indie-rock band Tegan and Sara who have homes in L.A. and New York, how often she spends in the U.S. compared to her homeland.
"Are you a government official that's acting as journalist from Reno?" she said.
The clever, twin-sister duo will perform at the Knitting Factory on Saturday at 9 p.m. It's their first visit to Reno since 2006 when they played at the Grand Sierra Resort.
The group is riding high on their latest single, "Closer," which has been their most popular single to date in a career spanning back to 1995. They performed the song on late night shows, Conan O'Brien and David Letterman.
"It's getting a lot of radio play, more radio play than we've ever gotten," Tegan said.
Since debuting the song in late September. It's been their most downloaded song they've had on iTunes and the lyric video on YouTube has nearly 700,000 plays.
The lyrical video, which has random images and lyrics from the song, has some hidden meaning. The sisters are openly gay and each have girlfriends.
Some of those random images in the video include animated people kissing. The original had just men and women kissing. Tegan and Sara changed it so members of the same sex kissed as well.
"It was totally fine, I love watching straight people kiss. At times in my life, I was a straight person so I got to do lots straight kissing as well," Tegan said. "We definitely are very conscious of our LGBTQ audience. It's important to us to represent everybody and not just gay and straight people.
"I think that we create a space where people can come and be themselves."
The rise in popularity, at least in terms of downloads, could be attributed to who the group has collaborated with. In 2009, they did a song with nationally-known DJ Tiesto. Among other collaborates include Against Me, The Reason, Rachel Cantu and Augusten Burroughs.
The duo also toured with Neil Young, The Pretenders, Death Cab for Cutie, The Killers, New Found Glory, Paramore and Weezer among others.
After reassuring Tegan that I was indeed recording the conversation but I was more worried about hitting deadline than prying into her residency, she opened up and she spends 60 percent of her time in Canada, specifically Vancouver.
The duo are very interested in politics both here and in Canada, and the fact that Canada's healthcare is better than the U.S. is important to her, as well as the public school system, and she doesn't mind paying more taxes for it.
Tegan, however, loves the aggressive culture/assertiveness of Americans. If there isn't an item on a menu at a restaurant, Americans yell and demand it be on there. In Canada, that can fall on deaf ears.
Tegan said the crowd can expect a high-energy show.
"We play song from five of our records," Tegan said. "It's an enthusiastic show.
To close, I was told by the PR person my time was running out on the phone interview. I told Tegan that my last question was about tax records, since she accused me of being a government agent and all, but I was out of time so we couldn't discuss it.
Tegan chirped back, "I can't wait to meet you downtown at the tax court office."