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sloan article in the herald
- Subject: sloan article in the herald
- From: Shant Pelley <ag344\!/ccn.cs.dal.ca>
- Date: Tue, 11 Jun 1996 13:02:13 -0300
[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.
SLOAN SETS OWN AGENDA
HALIFAX BAND MOVES FROM ONE CHORD TO ANOTHER
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
``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
``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
``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.''