Sloan Bring the Indy Rock to Grey Cup Fest Tonight!
Photos by Lisa Mark
With over 25 years under their belts, Sloan really don't seem to be slowing down at all. Knocking out 11 records so far, the band's hit record One Chord To Another itself turned 20 last year, earning a hefty tour between their newest recordings. Always democratic, the band's ability to maintain equal writing and singing credits between the four of them has kept them a strong unit as they near three decades together.
We caught up with member Jay Ferguson before the band's show tonight for the Grey Cup Festival.
Ottawa Life: Considering the unique song writing democracy you guys have as a band, has anything gotten easier over all this time between you guys?
Jay Ferguson: Everybody writes and sings, and everybody usually has more than enough songs. So if everyone has more than enough, and we're putting out the record ourselves, then usually it just gets carved up that everyone gets three songs each. We have worked with a producer a few times, l remember Action Pact which we made with Tom Rothrock, and it was around the time that Andrew had his first kid. Andrew didn't have many songs, and Tom wanted to make a much more streamlined record, so it was heavily weighted towards Chris and Patrick's songs, and there weren't any of Andrew's songs. It was one of the most unbalanced Sloan records for better or for worse, not that I don't like it, it's just very unique in that way. Everyone always have enough songs that if someone only had a few then someone else could have a fourth, that happened on the Double Cross though. The last time we released a studio record was 2014 so three years to write three songs isn't too hard.
What's been the biggest change in this time?
If you looked at an early video of us, we're playing noisy guitars and rolling around on the stage in a giddy, "I can't believe we're doing this for a living kind of way." I think we're better, but Andrew's always been an amazing drummer. It took us five or six years before we got good on stage. We were thrust into the world after getting signed with Geffen in the United States, going on long tours after having only played sixteen shows. We weren't a seasoned rock band, we were spoiled in a Cinderella kind of story. It was hard to because we hadn't gone on tour, and we went out for ten weeks, so it was a grueling wake-up call. I'm glad that we chose to continue because it's 25 years later and a great way to make a living.
Speaking to this what made you guys decide to have writer-focused sides to Commonwealth and was it something you really wanted to do this fragmented again?
I don't know if we would do it again in the future but we did it in the first place because it was our eleventh album and we wanted an interesting way to approach a record. We're one of the few bands where we could basically make four solo records and it would be good, because everyone sings and writes. Everyone had their own side, if you bought the LP that is. It was making four solo albums in one, and everyone got their own way. Andrew went to the most extreme by writing a 17-minute-long song, which would've been harder to do. The record we're doing now, which is almost done, is a lot more collaborative. Sometimes it's really hard for us to all get together to make a record, so the process can be fragmented as well.
What was the most interesting part of touring One Chord To Another in full again 20 years later, considering there are probably songs on it you've virtually forgotten to play?
It's probably trunkfuls of songs that we don't know how to play anymore. It would be impossible if people just yelled out random songs to be able to play them all. We have over 200 songs, but I'm sure there's some artists who are great at it. Looking to One Chord To Another, we're already playing some songs regularly. But there's some that we haven't played in ages like "400 Metres" and there's a song of mine called "Junior Panthers" that's hard to sing because it's really quiet and has a big range. I was dreading that song, and I really had to relearn it to play properly. It was also about not playing it lazily, and learning them properly, so it was an exercise in recreating a record for the fan experience.
What's next album and tour wise, I know you've started giving peeks towards a twelfth record?
We've been busy making the new record, and we're under the gun to finish it this month, so hopefully it will be out in April. It will be twelve songs, and I would tell you more but we honestly don't know yet.
Sloan is back again for a little mid-90’s time traveling. In 2012 the band revisited their...
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