By Mike Dunn
CALGARY — With the inherent challenges of touring in Canada, the long drives between destinations and the often unpredictable weather that can accompany those drives, a Canadian band that can claim an uninterrupted history of 25+ years is a rare one indeed, and as Sloan head out on an extensive Western Canada tour to celebrate the 20th anniversary of their album One Chord To Another, guitar player Jay Ferguson remarks that, while some fans have come and gone over their two-and-a-half decades, some are just finding the band now.
“Even when we were starting out, our audiences were really young. So we see some familiar faces when we’re on tour, though some people have kids or jobs really early in the morning and don’t go see shows at all anymore, but when we were supporting our last record [2014’s Commonwealth], there were these young kids, like 14, 15, coming up and telling us they’d recently heard us for the first time, and were really into seeing us play. It’s kind of cool to see the audience come around full circle like that.”
One Chord to Another, which included the hits “The Good in Everyone” and “Everything You’ve Done Wrong” is getting the deluxe reissue treatment for its 20th anniversary, a three-disc vinyl box set that includes the album, a second disc that includes studio outtakes, demos, and B-sides from the sessions, a 7” of demos, a 32-page book, and a third full-length disc Ferguson describes as “The Sloan Party Album.”
“It’s like an homage to The Beach Boys Party Album they put out in 1966. At the time, our label wanted to offer a U.S.-only bonus disc with the CD, so we had a bunch of friends come into the studio, and we played a bunch of songs we loved, some bands like The Modern Lovers, Stereolab, Roxy Music. We’re adding it to the reissue, because it was only available in the States before.”
One Chord To Another got a big part of its distinctive, White Album-like sound more out of necessity than anything. “We didn’t have a lot of money, even with the success of Twice Removed,” Ferguson recalls. “What we ended up doing was recording all the drums to a cassette four-track in our rehearsal space back in Halifax, and took those tracks to the studio to lay the rest of the parts down on them. Our producer and engineer, Lawrence Currie, specifically told us that the liner notes had to read ‘Drums recorded by Sloan’, because at the time, he wasn’t keen on that sound, and thought we should just lay them down again in the studio. I imagine he’s alright with them at this point though.”
The album features all the Sloan hallmarks: clever, idiosyncratic songwriting, tight harmonies with nods to The Everly Brothers, Jayhawks, and Beach Boys, and propulsive guitar jangle suggesting not only the strong influence of Lennon and Harrison, but some Exile-era Keith Richards, and the gritty glam lines of Mick Ronson as well.
The band plans to feature One Chord To Another from start to finish in the first set of their shows, after which they’ll take a small break before coming out for a second set featuring many of the hits from their catalogue, as well as fan favourites. “It’s interesting to have been around such a long time,” says Ferguson. “A lot of the bands we came up with are gone, and we’ve been really lucky to be able to stay together and make a living being in this band. We’ve been fortunate, and we’re grateful to have been together this long.”
Sloan makes extensive stops in Western Canada including the Pyramid Cabaret in Winnipeg on April 9th, the Broadway Theatre in Saskatoon on April 10th, the Needle Vinyl Tavern in Edmonton on April 15th, Marquee in Calgary on April 16th and the Imperial Theatre in Vancouver on April 20th. Many more dates can be found online.AB, Alberta, BC, British Columbia, Broadway Theatre, Imperial Theatre, Manitoba, Marquee Beer Market & Stage, MB, Needle Vinyl Tavern, One Chord To Another, Pyramid Cabaret, Sloan