Sloan still rocking

It is somewhat hard to believe that it has been almost 20 years since Sloan helped put the Atlantic Canadian music scene on the international music map but indeed, time does fly when you’re having fun.

Formed in 1991, the group has become one of Canada’s most beloved bands, their fans attracted to the four distinct pop songwriting styles that each member of Sloan brings to the table. Those four unique voices within the group have written numerous Canadian radio staples including Money City Maniacs, Everything You’ve Done Wrong and The Good In Everyone.

Sloan will be making their first Metro Moncton appearance in more than two years on Saturday evening when they grace the stage of The Manhattan on Westmorland Street. The show is an early one, with doors opening at 6 p.m.

The last Sloan record released to stores was 2008’s Parallel Play but since that time, the group has released two exclusive digital efforts:

The five-song Hit & Run EP and the 26-track B-Sides Win compilation marked the group’s first forays into digital-only product, offering both titles for sale via the group’s website at Fans are also able to preview and buy other records from the Sloan catalogue, many of which only became available digitally over the course of the past year.

Sloan guitarist Jay Ferguson says the feedback the group has received in regards to the two releases has been positive but has also shown the band that their fans are also fairly traditional when it comes to picking up their music.

“With these two online-only releases, we have noticed that people still want and enjoy physical product as opposed to digital only,” Ferguson says from his Toronto home. “Obviously, a lot of people download music but it has been our experience that our fans want tangible product that they can take home with them.”

An avid music fan, Ferguson still enjoys heading out to music stores to buy physical product but also sees the appeal that offering music digitally holds as well.

“It is definitely nice to hold something tangible but the convenience of buying digitally is great too. What I do really like about offering music digitally is the fact that we are able to turn product around so much faster than trying to get a record out to stores.

“Our B-sides compilation was turned around in three weeks, artwork and all. So it is definitely very nice to be able to go from a thought to completed idea in that span of time and not needing to wait for anyone’s approval to do it.”

Ferguson notes the band is in the process of recording new music “in bits and pieces” and that they hope to have a new record out to fans in spring of next year.

Even after almost 20 years, the group has largely stuck to their established songwriting process that sees various Sloan members team up to come up with the finished product.

“Everyone tends to work in pairs,” he says. “Andrew (Scott, drummer) and Patrick (Pentland, guitarist) are probably the most independent in terms of writing their songs. The songs they bring to the table are probably the least known until we are actually getting set to record.”

While some of Sloan’s previous records have featured equal numbers of songs from all band members, this isn’t always the case and their new record is shaping up as such.

“At this point, I think Chris (Murphy, bass player) has the most songs on the record but everyone will be represented on there for certain.”

Prior to Sloan’s show in Moncton, the group is playing their hometown of Halifax as a part of the Halifax Pop Explosion music festival. Their performance will feature the group performing their 1994 record Twice Removed in its entirety.

Ferguson states he has been working on convincing his band mates to do something like this for a couple of years now and that Twice Removed was chosen from the group’s nine full-length studio records as it is generally seen as the fan favourite album.

“Twice Removed seems to be the one record that many people feel is our best. I think that point is debatable but it seems as though that record was a gateway to the band for so many people.”

With the group’s twentieth anniversary looming around the corner, Ferguson claims that no plans have been written in stone as of yet but mentions that more full-album shows could be a possibility to look forward to.

“I think it would be great to tour our new record and play material from that and then concentrate on performing one of our other records as a whole. It would be great to get out there and play One Chord To Another or Navy Blues in their entirety.”

Raiding the Sloan vaults might be another possibility although Ferguson sounds a little more tentative in that regard.

“We have discussed putting a reissue of Twice Removed out but it would be an expensive, time-consuming proposition for us to do it,” he says. “We have a lot of historical stuff we could look at getting out including concerts on DVD. Really though, I think a lot of the looking back will be put onto the backburner for now until we have this new record completed.”

Article published in October 22, 2010 edition of the Times & Transcript