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sloan article in the herald

   [1][LINK] Halifax rock band Sloan releases its third album, One Chord
   to Another, on Wednesday. Members are, from left, Jay Ferguson, Chris
   Murphy, Andrew Scott and Patrick Pentland.

   By TIM ARSENAULT Entertainment Reporter
   In so many ways, the new Sloan album finally lets the Halifax rock
   group set its own agenda.
   One Chord to Another, due to arrive in stores Wednesday, was recorded
   when the four-piece band wanted, packaged the way it wanted and any
   promotional activity like interviews or touring is done - you guessed
   it - when the members want.
   After two albums released through the DGC branch of the U.S. record
   company Geffen, Sloan is calling its own shots from a tiny, cluttered
   office in downtown Halifax.
   ``If you're doing it on your own, you can set your own agenda,'' says
   guitarist-singer Jay Ferguson while having tea in a Halifax lunch spot
   a few doors down from the Barrington Street offices of murderecords,
   the company owned by the bandmembers and a few close associates.
   ``It's less stressful, knowing your situation is in your own hands. I
   think we'll put out more records sooner and more singles.''
   Which is good news for fans of the group who thought it was kaput.
   Rumors of Sloan disbanding swirled for much of 1995 and bassist-singer
   Chris Murphy even announced from a Halifax stage in July of that year
   that the crowd was witnessing a final show.
   Ferguson says Murphy believed it at the time, but has since regretted
   his honesty.
   ``Chris said that. We're putting all the blame on Chris,'' Ferguson
   Ferguson, Murphy, guitaristsinger Patrick Pentland and drummer-singer
   Andrew Scott did come to a crossroads, though.
   Smeared, the group's first album, came out in 1992. Powered by catchy
   and occasionally heavy guitar rock, it contained the classic song
   Underwhelmed, got the band lumped in with the grunge explosion and
   sold 50,000 copies in Canada. (A gold album award sits discreetly on
   top of a file cabinet in the murderecords office.)
   The follow-up, Twice Removed, came out in 1994. It showed Sloan
   quieting down and beginning a Beatles infatuation that blooms on One
   Chord to Another. It's sold about 38,000 copies in Canada, but
   Geffen's U.S. branch wasn't enthralled by the commercial prospects of
   the album.
   ``We knew what we were up against with our last record,'' Ferguson
   admitted. ``We didn't want to make a noise-guitar record.''
   The group ended up feeling let down by its U.S. label and the situ-
   ation was a strong contributing factor to the thoughts of a break-up.
   As if to buck up the group's spirit, Twice Removed was named the best
   Canadian record ever in a magazine poll, beating classics by Neil
   Young and Joni Mitchell. (A plaque for that sits even more discreetly
   in the murderecords office.)
   After all the paperwork, Sloan now records for its own company, which
   releases recordings by pals including the Super Friendz and Local
   Rabbits. In Canada, the MCA Music Entertainment company will
   distribute it, as it did the Geffen releases and as it does with most
   murderecords releases. Ferguson said negotiations are underway with
   DGC to release the album in the U.S., but there's nothing firm.
   And One Chord to Another, not to sound crass, could make more money
   for the band than an album coming out through a large company.
   ``I think in the process of deciding to continue, there was the idea
   of clawing back as much as possible,'' Ferguson said.
   Everything from picking a studio (Laurence Currie's Idea of East
   Recording in Halifax) and deciding when to record (a week in December
   and a week in January) to settling on a release date (the sooner the
   better) was settled virtually by the gang of four.
   Sloan's major-label education was perhaps a painful one. Despite some
   public expectations that signing to a big company is like winning the
   lottery, Sloan found that's not really the case - even more so in the
   ``That's not true,'' Ferguson says. ``It's total small fish, big pond.
   You have to work just as hard.''
   And illusions can be shattered. Sloan toured the U.S. for about three
   months, playing a variety of venues, after the release of Smeared.
   ``If you're not having fun and you're a thousand miles from home, it's
   not easy,'' Ferguson said.
   Fun was the operative word, however, during the recording of One Chord
   to Another. The 12 songs clock in at about 38 minutes - suspiciously
   like a '60s pop album - and range from the self-referential rock of G
   Turns To D to the Beatleesque horns of Everything You've Done Wrong.
   Ferguson figures Sloan can't get much deeper into the Fab Four than on
   this record.
   ``Is it over the top? Too gross? I think this is the extent of it,''
   Ferguson allowed good-naturedly.
   ``It's more just an appreciation of the way (the Beatles) recorded.
   Their records sound beautiful to this day.''
   That appreciation for records in general - Ferguson's current
   listening includes early Bee Gees as well as U.K. avant-gardists
   Stereolab - seems to drive Sloan.
   ``I think the thing we like most is making records and putting out
   records,'' Ferguson says. ``Touring can be O.K. At least it isn't so
   much a gamble in Canada.''
   The only big concert appearance Sloan has lined up for the summer is a
   slot on a weekend festival outside Toronto in July that involves
   sharing the stage with huge acts such as The Cure and Bush X.
   More extensive Canadian touring will likely take place in the fall,
   but Sloan is to play for a bit on Wednesday at 4 p.m. at the Sam the
   Record Man store on Barrington Street to promote the new album.
   Though the members of Sloan are all closer to 30 than 20 now, Ferguson
   still feels strongly about playing mostly all-ages shows where young
   fans can attend.
   ``I'm sure we do have fans that are half our age. But all-ages shows
   are usually more fun anyway. ... I think at all-ages shows, they're
   there for the concert. I like to be able to give the opportunity to
   people of all ages to see us.''