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FW: LIVE EYE: Sloan
for the benefit of those who don't visit alt.music.canada...
eye WEEKLY September 19, 1996
Toronto's arts newspaper .....free every Thursday
LIVE EYE LIVE EYE
Friday, Sept. 20. The Concert Hall, 888 Yonge St. Sold out. Second
show: Thursday, Oct. 3. $15 at Record Peddler, Vortex, Rotate This,
Sonic Temple, Ticketmaster, 870-8000.
You'd have to be either really old or really, really young not to like
Sloan -- someone who doesn't remember puberty or is far enough away
from it on the preschool end not to care. For anyone remotely in
between, what's not to like, love or become totally obsessed with?
Smart, clean pop songs with hooks and clever references galore don't
make you happy? Never been a fan of sparkling melody? Four distinctly
talented songwriters with boyish good looks not your thing?
And after a rumored breakup and the end of one record deal, Canadians
have embraced their favorite homegrown moptops again and thrown them
under the microscope to find out what the heck's going on -- our own
special way of saying, "Welcome back!"
The process of rehashing and debunking the Sloan myths that goes on in
places like Sloan.net is just part of the healing process, I figure.
They officially returned with the release of One Chord To Another on
their Murderecords label, but the trauma of the threatened loss left
us with issues that we share in a sort of group-healing process.
(Reminds me of similarly obsessed fans some 30 years ago... and all I
have to say about that is, is Paul dead? Who is the Walrus? What about
the licence plate, 28IF?! But I digress.) The usual Sloan topics run
as follows: Were they really going to break up? Was it just a scam to
get out of their Geffen deal? Was it to generate hype for their second
album, Twice Removed, which was loved by most but didn't sell as well
On the phone from Halifax, guitarist Patrick Pentland says it was a
case of bad timing and a rumor gone wild. No, they didn't necessarily
intend to break up. Yes, they did intend to take a break, a truthful
answer that only managed to feed the breakup rumor.
The Sloan stuff people like to talk about now is who wrote what song
and to what degree labelling all the band's songs as "written by
Sloan" indicates real group collaboration, especially three CDs into
their career. Pentland says credit is given to the group basically so
that one person can't corner the Sloan market on potentially lucrative
royalties, but songwriting is only partially a group effort. "In terms
of lyrics, we certainly don't really deal with each other's songs that
much. But it just depends on the person. It depends on the songs.
Sometimes a full song will be written but there won't be any
interesting guitar hook, so someone else will add their piece."
For One Chord, Patrick says they were more independent than ever.
"Everybody basically produced their own songs and asked for help
occasionally. But we were all, well, three of us were there for most
of the recording. And Andrew actually recorded and produced all the
stuff by himself in Toronto," says Patrick, referring to drummer
Andrew Scott, who lives in Toronto and recorded his songs with the
help of Brenndan McGuire. "So we didn't even hear those songs until
they showed up, like, 'Here's my stuff for the record.' "
Maturing as songwriters means sharpening skills, but it also means
defining priorities: what to worry about and what not to. "One example
is we've kind of decided to stop worrying about chord progressions
being kind of cliched. There are specific chord progressions that
could be several different songs. And it really comes down to what you
put on top of those that makes the song, not so much whether it's E-A-
D, E-A-D over and over again."
On top of their E-A-D, Sloan poured on heaps of what they do best:
sweet melodies and vocals. They also threw in the occasional horn
section and enough oldie goldie rock references to challenge even the
geekiest listener. In other interviews, the band has said the lengthy
list of references were largely subconscious choices, though Pentland
talked to me about going out and looking for material for specific
songs. The horns in "Take The Bench" were "kind of ripped off" from
the Stones' "Rocks Off," and Pentland listened to his father's stack
of Blood, Sweat And Tears and Chicago LPs "trying to find references"
for "Everything You've Done Wrong."
Sloan share more than a few riffs and some horn sections -- and a
lyric or two -- with the popsters they consciously or unconsciously
allude to. They've also got that which may be the truest indicator of
pop infamy: packs of adoring young girls. "I call them the 'Can I have
a hug?' girls. I mean, I would never be comfortable going up to Alanis
Morissette and saying, 'Can I have a hug?' It's got nothing to do with
the music and we didn't promote it at all," says Patrick, who quickly
corrects himself after remembering the fabulous videos and cute-boy
"Well, I guess we did at one time," he admits, saying he likes young
fans and doesn't mind them buying his records. He just doesn't want to
hug them -- "it's become a monster."
BONUS PATRICK TRIVIA!
Patrick Pentland is Sloan's guitar player and vocalist. He's got brown
eyes and he's 5-foot-9. His birthday is tomorrow! (Sept. 20, 1969.)
Patrick likes shooting pool and says his favorite place to go on a
date is McDonald's! Sorry, girls, he has a girlfriend. Pad Thai
noodles is Patrick's favorite meal (no, silly, not at McDonald's!) and
beer is his favorite drink. He describes himself as being kind of
grumpy, but I bet none of you fans believe that! Patrick's got an old
pair of black jeans which he loves best and he likes Star Trek: The
Next Generation but is so busy playing guitar there's not a lot of
time for TV! Patrick is really looking forward to the Toronto shows
and sends a firm handshake to all his fans! -- C.McG.
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