17 years later, Sloan still rocking
September 28, 2008 by Zoe Tarlow
Itâ€™s been 15 years since Sloanâ€™s first album went gold in Canada and, 10 albums later, Sloan is still rocking like itâ€™s 1993.
Two years after the Canadian band from Halifax formed in 1991, Sloan debuted its first full-length album, Smeared. Their 10 albums include such hits as If it Feels Good Do it, The Good in Everyone, Underwhelmed, All Used Up, The Rest of My Life and Money City Maniacs.
On Sept. 26, Sloan was the headliner at the Kwantlen Student Association’s Cram Jam, one of the many stops on the tour to promote the band’s latest album, Parallel Play. By Oct. 1, Sloan will have done shows in Portland, Seattle, San Francisco and Los Angeles.
Jay Ferguson, vocalist and guitarist, said that over the years itâ€™s gotten easier for the band to get along on the road. â€œItâ€™s like a family; you have to learn not to get on anybodyâ€™s nerves.â€
Today Sloan has the Internet on the tour bus, â€œso we donâ€™t talk to each other that much any more,â€ he jokes.
The Internet isnâ€™t the only addition to the bus. Ferguson said, â€œKids seem to be the main difference,â€ between touring now and a decade ago. â€œEveryone has kids or a home,â€ he said. The band members miss their kids a lot while theyâ€™re touring.
Sloan has traveled the world, making stops in Australia, Japan, Europe, Spain and the U.S. One of the band’s favourite destinations is Japan. Ferguson said the band loved the culture shock of Japan, and the fans that waited for them at their hotel. The fans gave them presents and sang along to their songs word for word. He said, â€œIt was like a mini-version of Beatles mania.â€
Sloanâ€™s sound is unique, with a mixture of The Beatles sound and some harder rock and roll. Theyâ€™re â€œa do-it-yourself kind of group,â€ said Ferguson. On each record, each of the members of the band has written three or four of their own songs.
It may have been hard for a Canadian band from Nova Scotia to make it internationally in the ’90s but itâ€™s getting less difficult. â€œThereâ€™s so many Canadian bands that have done well internationally,â€ said Ferguson, largely because of touring and then word-of-mouth through the Internet. â€œI mean you still have to be good, make good records, put on a good show.â€
â€œItâ€™s not like weâ€™re the new, hot band on the block,â€ said Ferguson, â€œso it is a little more difficult. We make good records and have an awesome fan base. Thereâ€™s no records Iâ€™m not proud of.â€
The ’90s was a decade of one-hit-wonders and grunge. â€œMany of our peers from the early ’90s broke up,â€ said Ferguson. â€œThe fact that we exist is our greatest accomplishment.â€
Before Ferguson gets off of the red velvet couch, he said, â€œI hear the fries at the venue are fantastic!â€ While Ferguson looks forward to the fries, the fans in the audience look forward to a taste of Sloan.
At one point, a pumped-up fan begins crowd surfing, shoving himself towards the front. Patrick Pentland, guitarist and vocalist, says, in true rock-star style, â€œIf you come over here, youâ€™re out, okay?â€
As the band plays, Ferguson dodges a flying shirt, thrown up by a female fan, and condom balloons bounce from person to person inside the CloverdaleÂ Agridome. Seventeen years later, and Sloanâ€™s still got it.