Sloan Revisit One Chord To Another On Album’s 20th Anniversary

Photo by Catherine Stockhausen
Photo by Catherine Stockhausen

Although their 1996 album One Chord To Another is the third release from beloved Canadian rock band Sloan, guitarist Patrick Pentland sees the breakthrough album as their first in some ways.

“As much as I love our first two records, One Chord To Another was the first Sloan album where we really found a balance between being in a band and having lives outside of the group,” he says.

Not coincidentally, it was the lack of life-band balance, among other factors including the fact the group’s American record label refused to promote their 1994 album Twice Removed, that brought Sloan to the brink of calling it a day just a year prior.

“Between the band getting together and the release of Smeared [1992] and Twice Removed, we had never really had a break from one another. We hit a bump where we were each becoming more independent as people, but as a band, the fallout with our label had us feeling as though we had been left out in the cold in some ways. Things got rough and the consensus seemed to be that it was easier to throw it away.”

Pentland shares that it didn’t take long before the group’s individual members realized they had made a grievous decision.

“What we should have done was just take six months off from each other and then look at what we wanted to do, because the split was definitely premature. When it was all said and done, there was definitely a feeling of ‘what have we done?’ running through our minds,” Pentland says.

With that, the members of Sloan reconvened in the recording studio with a newfound respect for one another as well as the music they were making. Although they were unsure as to exactly what the future would hold for them, they were keen to deliver at least one more studio album, and set about making the record in their hometown of Halifax.

“We decided we would move forward with releasing a record independently without any other notions attached to the album. We didn’t discuss touring; we didn’t even think of going as far as Moncton to play. We just wanted to make a record because we knew the songs were good. I remember the day we recorded the horn section for ‘Everything You’ve Done Wrong’ that it dawned on me that we had come so far from the first albums.”

Pentland says that as the recording sessions drew to a close, consensus was unanimous that Sloan was a band once again and would promote what would become their third full-length album, One Chord To Another, with a tour once the record was released.

By the time that the mid-90’s arrived, Sloan’s career had enjoyed modest success. Their albums sold respectfully well and, thanks to songs like “Underwhelmed” and “Coax Me,” the group had become college radio favourites. A mainstream breakthrough had largely eschewed the band otherwise, however.

Sloan’s fortune would change with “The Good In Everyone,” the first single from One Chord To Another that was released at the dawn of summer, 1996. The guitar-driven track, less than two-and-a-half minutes long, fit neatly alongside other guitar-oriented bands of the day, including Oasis, while the video for the song, an Easy Rider-inspired vignette, was put into heavy rotation on Muchmusic. Subsequent singles “Everything You’ve Done Wrong” and “The Lines You Amend” were greeted with the same enthusiastic response.

“With the exception of college radio, we had never had much luck getting airplay with our first two albums,” Pentland recalls. “It hadn’t been smooth sailing up to that point, but with the singles on One Chord To Another, things seemed to align in a way they hadn’t necessarily had in the past.”

This past April, to help commemorate the 20th anniversary of One Chord To Another, Sloan released a limited edition box set that not only included the original album, but also featured a wealth of bonus material including demos, outtakes, a book and more.

The band has spent the better part of 2016 revisiting the album for audiences across Canada and in the U.S., performing One Chord To Another in its entirety along with another set of favourites spanning their nearly quarter-century long career.

On one hand, Pentland admits he isn’t necessarily one for nostalgia [“Jay [Ferguson] and Chris [Murphy] are the archivists of the band,” he clarifies] but he also acknowledges that One Chord To Another was an important milestone for the band and for many of their fans.

It is something that he is more than looking forward to revisiting for Sloan’s upcoming shows in New Brunswick.

“It’s an important record in the Sloan arc. It has been our biggest selling album, but also marked a level of visibility for the band that hadn’t necessarily existed before that record.”

What: Sloan
When: Tuesday Oct. 11, 7:30 p.m.
Where: Capitol Theatre, 811 Main St., Moncton
Tickets start at $36. Advance tickets are available at the Capitol Theatre Box Office, by phone (506) 856-4379 and online at capitol.nb.ca