Rifflandia: 117 bands on 9 stages over 4 days

Brace yourself, Victoria, for four days of music that will make going back to work Monday morning even more painful than usual.

  • Sep. 12, 2012 6:00 p.m.

Chris Vickers, moustachioed host of Rifflandia TV, attempts to interview a chalk alien drawn by Liam Hanna Lloyd with lettering by Nick Picard. We didn't ask why.

SLOAN

Epic Canadian rock band Sloan recorded 10 albums in two decades, but don’t expect the four piece’s Saturday evening set to be a greatest-hits concert. Instead, the Money-city maniacs are going to hit Royal Athletic Park with their sophomore album Twice Removed in its entirety. That’s right — we’re going back to 1994.

Twice Removed is arguably Sloan’s best record. After all, it was voted the best Canadian album of all time in Chart magazine’s reader poll. Twice (1996, 2005). It’s also considered to be a bit of a dark horse fan favourite. Especially since it was their follow-up album One Chord to Another that really put them on the map.

But Twice Removed is the album that really defines Sloan’s career. It was the band’s second album on Geffen Records — and its last. In the days of Smashing Pumpkins and Pearl Jam, Sloan’s pop sensibilities didn’t match with what Geffen wanted to be selling.

“Twice Removed wasn’t an aggressive record and they asked us to re-record it. We said no. … If you start going down that rabbit hole you never know … I’m happy we stuck to our guns,” says Jay Ferguson (guitar/bass/keys).

In fact, the band broke up after touring the album and decided to focus solely on their collectively-owned label, murderecords, which they started in 1992.

Sloan“We released one EP on murderecords and then we were on Geffen immediately,” says Ferguson. “We continued to put out records on murderecords like Eric’s Trip and Thrush Hermit, which was Joel Plaskett’s band, so it was fun to play record label and have the label in Canada, although it was always a little frustrating that we weren’t on our own label. It was our manager Chip Sutherland’s good advice to keep murderecords afloat and keep putting out things by other bands to make it a credible label, then if something happens with Geffen, we already have a label set up. And basically, he predicted the future.”

Not only is the label credible, it was one of the biggest Canadian indie labels of the ’90s, turning Halifax into a mini Seattle. Eventually, the idea was tossed around to record one, and only one, Sloan album on murderecords to help finance the budding small business.

“We didn’t have big expectations for [One Chord to Another]. I don’t think we were even going to tour for it. . . . Then we thought we should probably make a video, then we thought maybe we should play a few shows, and then it just snowballed,” says Ferguson.

The band went on to record and release eight more studio albums, their latest being Juno-nominated The Double Cross in 2011, a string of singles and an EP.

“I think [owning our music] has affected everything,” says Ferguson. “I’m so grateful that we managed to retain the ownership and most of the publishing for our career … it’s given us freedom to do what we want.”

Sloan recently released the Twice Removed deluxe edition three-vinyl LP box-set, complete with demo versions in sequential order, outtakes, a booklet of photos and a bunch of other goodies that Ferguson says he and fellow bandmate Chris Murphy have kept in their basements and attics — 40 random orders even come with an original tour poster.

“It’s a new world for bands, owning your music and licensing it. The fact that we’ve owned our whole catalogue means we can license “The Good in Everyone” to the George Stroumboulopoulos show, and that helps fund making a new record or this reissue we’ve done.

“The fact that we own everything and we don’t have to ask anybody about what we want to do with it, that’s a great freedom. It’s basically just owning your own business.”

Sloan’s complete discography is available to purchase, or to stream, in its entirety on the band’s website, sloanmusic.com, so take the few hours you have left to get familiar with Twice Removed if you’re not already. M

Sloan – RAP side stage – 6:45pm – Sat., Sept. 15

OTHER RIFFLANDIA STORIES:

Mother Mother, Reggie Watts, The Head and the Heart, The Antlers

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