Sloan to Play Classic Album in Full at Arboretum Festival
Sloan is back again for a little mid-90’s time traveling. In 2012 the band revisited their classic album Twice Removed with a triple-LP rerelease as well as playing it in full on tour. This year, the Juno winning One Chord to Another is getting the same treatment.
Formed in 1991 on the East Coast, band members Chris Murphy, Andrew Scott, Patrick Pentland and Jay Ferguson named themselves Sloan after a friend’s boss gave him the nickname “Slow One”. In his thick French accent it came out as Sloan. The name stuck but the band would be far from sluggish.
The now Toronto-based group launched murderecords shortly after forming and were soon signed to Geffen where they released Smeared. The album, which only cost $1,200 to record, went gold. Twice Removed followed and is considered one of the best Canadian albums of all time. The band saw quick success but problems with Geffen not promoting their releases saw them taking a break amid rumours of a break up.
The band rebounded from this tumultuous period with One Chord to Another. Not only did Sloan not miss any steps but they added a few new ones to their repertoire. One Chord to Another, with its Beatles inspired pop sound, added some trumpets to the mix. Singles “The Good in Everyone” and “Everything You’ve Done Wrong” became college campus staples with the band’s videos seeing heavier rotation on MuchMusic.
To guitarist Jay Ferguson, this was the beginning of the modern Sloan format. 20 years later, the band continues with its original line-up and they are just fine with reliving some of their glory days on this tour. They are set to headline the Concert Village Main Stage at the Arboretum Music Festival on Friday night. Tickets can be purchased online.
Furguson chatted with Ottawa Life about the keys to the band’s success over the years, why One Chord to Another remains his personal favourite of the group’s releases as well as his memories of recording the album.
Ottawa Life: It's been 25 years, 12 albums and hundreds of shows. What do you think accounts for the band's longevity?
Jay Ferguson: It could be any number of things: Fun, joy in the work one does, an artistic outlet for everyone in the band (as everyone writes and sings), splitting the money four ways so we are all in the same boat, moderate success so that you make money to continue but not so much that you can easily rest on your laurels though laurel resting would be nice from time to time.
You guys are out touring for the anniversary of One Chord to Another. This has become a popular practice in recent years for many bands. What went into the process/choice of putting together this particular tour for the album?
We did a 3 LP box set reissue in 2012 of our Twice Removed album, and that item, along with the subsequent tour of playing the LP in full, was a successful endeavour. So, the next logical choice was to do the same for One Chord to Another, our most popular album sales-wise. Chris and I have kept an extensive Sloan audio/ephemera/posters/etc. archive over the years, so creating these box sets is a great outlet to make useful all the things we've stored over the years. So far the box and tour have been successful so hopefully we can continue pursuing as many further sets and tours as our audience can stand!
Can you share with me a particular memory or two that sticks out from recording One Chord to Another?
My favourite memory is playing the piano on “Junior Panthers”. We recorded all the drums for the album on a 4-track cassette machine in our rehearsal space in Halifax. The studio we then moved to in order to rack the rest didn't have a piano, so we had to record the piano at Chris' parent’s house. A lovely place, but not exactly a high end recording facility. So in order to record piano, we had to us the 4-track machine again, choose the two tracks of drums to keep and two to use to record the piano. Since I was such a poor piano player, Chris and I had to sit side by side on the piano ("Ebony and Ivory", anyone?) and form the chords to “Junior Panthers”. Low fidelity amateur hour to say the least!
I read that this one is your personal favourite. Out of all your releases, why this one?
After the difficulty in promoting and touring Twice Removed and subsequent time-off/beak up, we reconvened to record OCTA for our own murderecords label that we had been running concurrently to our tenure on Geffen. We recorded the album at home in Halifax, inexpensively and with little pressure. The fact that it became our bestselling record, and we had more of a handle on ownership, touring, marketing, etc., and that it was on our own label makes it a fairly special LP in our catalogue to me. It was sort of a beginning of the modern day Sloan. The music was pretty good too.
How do you feel the band has evolved since One Chord to Another?
I like to think that I've gotten better as a songwriter.
What was it like approaching some of these songs again for this tour and revisiting the release?
It's fun to play the LP front to back, and I think the fans enjoy it as there are a number of songs on the LP that we don't play with any regularity. For us, a number of the songs still feature heavily in our set but it was fun re-learning the handful that we have not played in a long while. Took a little bit of homework.
The tour has been going on since April. How has it been received?
It's been sold out so it seems like a great reaction. We've noticed that on this tour –and the Twice Removed tour from 2012– that these types of shows often bring back a fan base that may have dropped off at a certain point. I talk to fans who say they loved the LP in college or whatever and then got a real job, got married, had kids, etc. and kind of didn't keep up with music after a while but they really wanted to see this show. Then they say how much they enjoyed it and then you see them again next time. So it seems like this type of show re-interests or reinvigorates a portion of the audience that may have dropped off. And we still get new fans too.
What's been one of your favourite moments on the tour so far?
We've been hiring real horn players in each town (as talent allows) to play the horn parts on the LP, so that really adds to the shows. Ivana Santilli on trumpet in Toronto was pretty stellar.
After this, what's next for Sloan?
We may have a little something released before the holiday season in November, but after that I'm not sure. We still have a lot more OCTA shows to play and we could make new music after that or pursue more reissues. We'll see.
Ottawa Life’s Festival City Series will provide a unique look at some of your favourite summer events.We’ll go beyond the music with artist interviews, volunteer profiles, concert reviews and spotlights on the tastes, sights and sounds of the festival season. Your city! Your festivals! Your summer! Like a good sunscreen, Ottawa Life has you covered.