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transcript: SLOAN profile from *Ear To The Ground* CBC-TV

EAR TO THE GROUND -- CBC TV national rebroadcast June 29, 1993, 11 PM

KG:     Hi, I'm Karen Gordon, and this is *Ear To The Ground*.
        If you associate Halifax with Celtic-sounding groups, then be
prepared to be surprised.  There isn't a hint of Celtic anywhere in the
music Sloan makes.  In fact, they describe their sound as American
grunge rock meeting with British pop, and that's a pretty good
description.  Now, a lot of bands have difficulty describing their
sound, but not Sloan.  They worked hard at hitting on something they
liked before they ever played live, and that strategy paid off well.
Their first demo gave them a hit record called "Underwhelmed", which was
an alternative hit in both Halifax and Toronto, and ultimately that demo
led them to a record deal with the prestigious California-based Geffen
Records, where their labelmates include Neil Young and Joni Mitchell.
This is quite a phenomenon considering Sloan have only been together for
two years.  Here are Sloan on *Ear To The Ground*.

[Following are sound bites from Pat Murphy and Diane Scott, Chris' and
Andrew's moms, intercut with flashing-strobe scenes of Sloan playing
accompanied by the LP version of "Two-Seater".]

PM:     I think my husband is very straight, and I think it was his
greatest nightmare that his son would become a rock star.

DS:     When this all happened of course that was the end of school.

PM:     To tell you the truth, I found it noisy.

DS:     I hear that noise happening downstairs, and I wonder, oh my

PM:     But the more I listen to it, I ah, the more I, the more I like
it, as a matter of fact, I'm becoming sort of addicted to it.

Chris Murphy:   My father's a professor, and uh, I did my time in school
and got my English degree so he was happy, and uh, my mom, my dad is
the, not to polarize them but my dad is the prof and my mom is really
into music, and I'm totally living her dream.  She wants to be on our
records, she wants to be involved in every way.  And we're, I think,
gonna do a song for a Joni Mitchell compilation record, and she totally
wants to be on it, and I don't know, I haven't asked everybody, but I
don't think she's gonna be able to be on it.  So, uh... [turns to ask
Andrew Scott] can my mom be on the record?

Andrew Scott:  Of course, man.  [puts his arm around Chris]

CM:     Cool.  Anyway, so, uh...

[scene of Sloan playing Joni Mitchell's "A Case Of You" live]

AS:     We're all very middle-class kids.  You know.  Well-adjusted,
together.  You know.  We're just kids, man!  We're just kids!
[snickers from band members]

Jay Ferguson:   Do one for the kids.

CM:     This is Jay.  Jay is from a downtown, grew up downtown, grew up
without ever having gone through an awkward adolescent phase.  He was
into the Ramones in Grade 7.  This is Patrick [Pentland].  He's from
Sackville which is a total, way out there, like near the paved road type
place, which he can hitchhike to the bus.  When he grew up, he was into
AC/DC and Iron Maiden.  Andrew grew up in, uh, Dartmouth, which is, um,
it's on the other side of the bridge, and it's also sort of skiv, um,
high top sneakers, big tongues on your shoes, baseball hat up high, and
he was into "Tigers of Pantang" (?).

AS:     Chris is from Fairview, and he used to wear, uh, Chinese kicking
sneakers [Chris laughs], and took Tai Kwon Do, you know, he grew up
north end, sort of, out in Rockingham, Halifax, and you know, God bless

[cut to footage of Sloan hanging out downtown]

AS:     Cops!  Act normal!

[cruiser drives by, Chris starts nonchalantly dancing]

CM:     Nothing to see!  Just move along!

[500 Up plays as Sloan goof around in slo mo]

AS:     It's kind of funny for a band that likes their own music a lot,
but if you ask us all individually what kind of music we listen to, man,
we are so divided.  Chris and I, we have physical fights over what we
like to listen to.  In the van -- that's the only, that's the only real
place that we, that we don't get along.

[Sloan jumping around on stage making lots of noise]

CM:     The songs that I write are, if you know me, or if you know the
people that I hang around with then you can probably, um, identify all
the players in the songs.  They're all fairly real and fairly literal,
although there, there's a certain cryptic quality to all of them too,
but, um, they're all based on real situations, and ah, if you're from
Halifax, a lot of times I get people coming up to me and saying "Oh I
know who that's about" or "leave that person alone, that's not fair,"
you know, but I totally take advantage of the fact that I, I have a,
a venue to air my frustrations and totally -- I'll rip you apart if you
cross me.

[a few seconds of Sloan playing "Marcus Said" live]

CM:     They're all pretty catchy tunes, too, I think.  But we sort of
um, pervert them with noise and stuff, just because that's usually what
makes something interesting is, like, a little bit of double-sided -- a
sweetness and a sourness, like the Velvet Underground or something,
sweet songs and sort of perverse lyrics, or the other way around, sort
of really coming at ya, [repeats silly phrase "comin' atcha" with
self-deprecating snicker], really in your face, like noise and uh, and
um, sweet lyrics, sappy...

["I Am The Cancer" starts to play in the background and continues]

CM:     As a foursome we write amazing songs, really tight, excellent
pop songs.

JF:     Basically what I've wanted to do since I was little.  I started,
I bought *Destroyer* by KISS in, what, 1977, when did that come out or
whatever, and I've just wanted to make records ever since I was little
and play on stage.

CM:     Meanwhile, I was, I got *Destroyer* in 1976, and so I, so, it
was happening all over the place, everybody was getting *Destroyer*,
and uh, and we were looking for each other since then.  Now we found
each other.

JF:     All right!

AS:     For our solo albums, he's Peter, I'm Ace, that's Gene, and Jay's

JF:     I thought *I* was Ace.

AS:     Oh!  Jay's -- that's Ace.  This [points to Patrick] is Paul.
I'm Peter, sorry, and this [points to Chris] is Gene.

PM:     This past year he's been saying to me, "Oh, mom, this,
uh, band I'm with now called Sloan, we're really doing some great
things," I said, "Oh that's good, that's very nice," but I hadn't really
heard them, and I couldn't believe all that's happened in these past few

[as she speaks subtitles appear:  "Pat Murphy", "addicted to Sloan"]

["Underwhelmed" plays with slomo shots of Sloan outside Toulanys market]

AS:     Halifax has always had a pretty good, rich, music scene; I mean,
this, the one we're part of now is like, I don't know, the eighth
generation.  Most people from, you know, Central Canada or even the West
Coast who have never been here imagine it as a little fishing village
with some cod drying on a rack or something.  But it's, you know, it's
got a pretty strong muscial sensibility out here.  And it's not just all
traditional down-home maritime roots either.

[more "Underwhelmed" slomo sidewalk stroll footage]

CM:     Well, we've been playing for a year.  Uh, if we can get, if we
can get all this record deal stuff, and if we're successful, then I
would think that the answer would be that you don't have to move
anymore.  I would like to make it so that you don't have to move.

AS:     Yeah.

CM:     I would like to whip the A&R people or record labels, into,
like, be, be courageous or be daring...

AS:     Yeah, I really don't --

CM:     ... go to a small town and see how vibrant it is.

AS:     You know, I don't want to be the self-appointed vigilante for
the Halifax music scene being known, but, you know, I really hope
something happens where there's more attention drawn out here.

["Sugartune" plays with slomo footage of Sloan on a veranda]

PP:     The first time we played outside of Halifax, uh, we did
something like seventeen dates.

[the band sit on a lawn in a row on a bench seat from the tour van]

AS:     It was kind of -- U-Haul, um, take one seat out of the minivan,
stick everything in the U-Haul.  Jay would hog the floor the whole time.
I would always get this whole seat, just because I'd stay on it when we
were all so tired until the other person just got so fed up waiting for
me to get off the seat and go on the floor that they'd actually go down
on the floor, and I'd usually get to lie in the back.  You, know, might
is right, I mean, I'm the biggest in the band.

DS:     He used to be very, quite, quite a shy young fellow, and his
friends and, [laughing] his friends would probably contradict me on
that. but he always appeared shy around home.  And, uh, in the last few
years he's, he's just, he's come right out of his shell.

[subtitles appear as she speaks, "Diane Scott", "rookie rock mom"]

[more slomo footage, this time accompanied by "Left of Centre"]

CM:     I'm interested in the commercial or radio-playability or
whatever.  I like writing pop songs.  But I'd like to introduce
something that doesn't make them as, just, easy targets for radio, like,
just try and maybe challenge radio, make something that's, slightly
accessible so it, it's possible to play on the radio, but, that's a
little more challenging, maybe, for a programmer to accept on the radio

AS:     And subversive at the same time.  [louder] Subversive at the
same time.

CM:     And subversive at the same time.

JF:     Either that or make like a couple really super-sweet pop
records, then we'll get top ten and then make a total third complete
noise record with no, no lyrics on it, just all white noise.

PP:     The plan is we're gonna make our million bucks each and then
just do whatever the hell we feel like for the rest of our contract.

[live footage of Sloan doing excessively noisy rendition of "Torn"]

AS:     It's a lot of fun.

PP:     Yeah.

AS:     I mean we're...

PP:     It's the best job in the world!  I mean...

AS:     So many people wish they could get to do something like this, I
mean, I consider myself totally lucky.  And I think luck plays a major
part in it too, which, you know, for what happened to us, and, you
know, it's a job that hundreds and hundreds of kids would just dream of
of doing, and, you know, a lot of them won't a chance to do it, so it's
so fun.

CM:     We just got back from playing the stadium show, we had to come
over and be on TV, it's pretty rough.

[More slomo footage of the band, this time with "Pretty Voice"]

AS:     Our parents were all, you know, at first, I'm sure they were
probably like, "I don't know if I like this rock and roll stuff.  I
think you should get your degree and, you know, go on and get a good

CM:     [with effeminate lisp]  "Well, I'm not buying you that amp.
It's just too expensive, and uh, well, I think you're frankly you're
just getting obsessed, your school marks have dropped, um..."

AS:     "And Jesus Christ, you know you look like pigs!"
        "I wish, I just wish you'd dress a little smart -- I mean, what
do you wear when you play?  Do you wear those pants when you play?
Nobody in LA is going to want to talk to people who stink!"

CM:     [laughs, starts lisping again]  "Just, um, well, twenty, twenty
days out of, out of, you know, I, I can go without saying anything to
him, but on that twenty-first day, you know,  I just have to say, 'Will
you comb that hair?'"

AS:     [laughs]  God love 'em.  I love you Mom.  I love ya.

[end credits roll as "Pretty Voice" continues to play]

PM:     Is that it?

DS:     That's it?

PM:     The whole thing?

[they both laugh]

James R. Covey         <JRCOVEY\!/ac.dal.ca>        What syllable are you seeking,
..........................................        Vocalissimus,
Department of English                             In the distances of sleep?
Dalhousie University  Halifax, NS  B3H 3H5        Speak it.