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Sloan article from todays Daily Snooze (very long)
- Subject: Sloan article from todays Daily Snooze (very long)
- From: Adam S Rodenhiser <ac768\!/ccn.cs.dal.ca>
- Date: Sun, 09 Jun 1996 15:13:19 -0300
The Daily News Worldwide
Sunday, June 9, 1996
One moment to another
A revitalized Sloan releases its third record on Wednesday. After that, the
Halifax popsters are as uncertain as ever
Andy Pedersen -- The Daily News
It felt like the rumors were finally coming true when Andrew Scott
came home from Toronto this past Christmas.
He and his fellow Sloan-mates had booked some studio time, intending
to record a few final tunes and generally tie up the band's loose
Rumors of the band's breakup had been circulating for a year, and as
the four gathered they were resigned to the fact that those sessions
would likely be Sloan's last.
"We thought at the time that (the recording) would be mostly for
posterity," recalls bassist Chris Murphy. "We really weren't thinking
that we'd end up playing together much afterwards."
But together again in the studio for the first time in more than a
year, the excitement and the creative energy that launched the band
into the national spotlight three years ago - and which caused so much
disappointment with the prospect of its demise - was suddenly back.
The quiet little project turned out to be the kickstart which may very
well keep Sloan together for years.
"By the time we finished the recording we were getting along really
well together and things just seemed pretty cool," says Murphy, now on
the eve of that recording's release.
"It was exciting for me to be in the band, and it was exciting to
think we might keep on recording," the 27-year-old Halifax native
says. Guitarist Jay Ferguson, sitting beside Murphy in a downtown
coffee shop, nods in agreement.
But it's not long before they throw a cloud of doubt back over the
"Making the records is the easy part, you know," Murphy says. "We're
not planning our world tour or anything."
Sloan's latest record - One Chord to Another (in stores June 12) -
continues farther along the path they charted on Twice Removed.
Chrystal-clear guitars drive the songs, but rarely dominate. There are
few obvious hooks, yet the tunes are often surprisingly infectious.
And the lead vocals and harmonies are given plenty of room to breathe
- it's not hard to decipher their uncommonly intelligent lyrics.
Murphy and Ferguson agree that a different atmosphere surrounded this
latest recording, however.
"This one's a lot happier than the last one," says Murphy. "When we
recorded (Twice Removed) we were caught up with the label politics,
with ourselves, and with a musical style that was already getting
"This time, it wasn't so much a matter of what we didn't want it to
sound like but what we did want to do."
For one thing, the band hired Halifax's Mike Cowie to lay some trumpet
over a couple of the songs ("He's a total pro," says Ferguson). And
Andrew Scott stepped out from behind the drums to tickle the ivories.
Still, the frequent comparisons to British bands won't be laid to rest
with One Chord. Not that they mind so much.
"I've always sort of polarized British and American music," Murphy
explains. "I think of British as pop and American as rock.
"British bands tend to stay towards the feminine side, or at least
they inject some of the feminine (into their music).
"American music is so overwhelmingly masculine. I basically think
grunge was just jock rock in disguise."
It's easy to underestimate the popularity of Sloan's take on the
British sound. Just as it's easy to underestimate the excitement with
which word spread earlier this year that the band was recording One
Chord to Another.
Although the band's first two records were hardly commercial stiffs
(Smeared sold slightly more than 50,000 copies, Twice Removed slightly
less), neither did quite so well as the hype surrounding the band's
formation (remember Canada's Nirvana) originally promised.
Nonetheless, Sloan has some of the most rabidly loyal fans out there.
Their infrequent shows are routinely packed; their songs are mainstays
on campus radio play-lists; there is an Internet discussion site
dedicated almost entirely to things Sloan; and the band is the focus
of half a dozen Canadian music 'zines.
Critics adore them as well. In a recent, informal survey of music
insiders, Twice Removed was named the best Canadian album of all time.
America's Spin magazine called Twice Removed one of the 10 best
records you didn't hear in 1994.
The prospect of at least one more record full of Sloan's clever,
Brit-poppy tunes was a happy one.
"We're not a bunch of dope-smoking, selfish jammers who are only
interested in playing the music we feel like playing," says Murphy.
"We think of ourselves as music fans. We try to make the kind of music
that we'd like to hear."
Something made easier, say Murphy and Ferguson, by the band's
intensely democratic philosophy. With four song-writers there is no
discernable star, no discernable lead-singer and no creative tyranny -
a Beatles-like set-up they consciously emulated.
"At first we were accused of being too inconsistent," says Murphy.
"But we didn't want to end up in some glut ... banging out a bunch of
heavy guitar shit record after record.
"And I think we've made the right choices," he says. "Now that we're
three records in I think that everybody's character has developed into
something you can see - now all I want to do is keep on going and
Then he adds, not so obnoxiously as it may sound, "We're my own
favorite band - I think that challenges us is a good way."
Sloan will perform a short show instore at Sam The Record Man on
Barrington Street in Halifax on Wednesday, June 12 at 4 p.m.
Those cursed Sloan rumors
Two deliciously conspiratorial rumors emerged from the thick fog of
uncertainty which surrounded Sloan for the past year-and-a-half.
Briefly, they went like this: The Publicity Stunt Theory: Disappointed
by the commercial performance of its first two records - Smeared and
Twice Removed - the band purposefully spread false word of its own
breakup to whip up publicity and empathy and, ultimately, bigger
sales. The Contract-Breaking Theory: Disillusioned with their label,
David Geffen's prestigious DGC, the band spread false word of its own
breakup to escape their six-record deal after cutting only two
Both made for endlessly fascinating gossip and were common
conversation pieces at the Birdland Cabaret, amongst newspaper writers
and on Internet discussion groups.
But now, bassist Chris Murphy and gui- tarist Jay Fergu- son are doing
their earnest best to dispel them both.
"For the record, I really want to say that we didn't do it as a
publicity stunt," says Murphy. "Those rumors weren't com- pletely
unfound- ed. At that point, we were asking ourselves some questions."
Murphy is anxious not to lay blame, but says the long-distance re-
lationship with Andrew Scott (who has lived in Toronto for several
years) makes band-like things such as scheduling tours difficult.
As for the contract-breaking story, Ferguson says the antagonism
between the band and DGC was overblown.
"They were gracious enough to give us lots of room when things seemed
uncertain," he explains.
"They were basically quite nice to us. It wasn't some strategy we'd
plotted against them."
But in a strange way, Ferguson says the rumors were gratifying.
" I suppose it's nice to know that people care enough to be interested
in this stuff," he says.
"If nobody cared, I think that'd be a lot worse."
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