MUSIC: Canada’s power-pop icons Sloan turn 20Seeing the Tragically Hip, Blue Rodeo or Sloan has become as much a Canadian rite of passage as catching Stanley Cup fever or throwing one’s first curling rock. With the release of their reliably catchy, earworm-ridden tenth album, The Double Cross, Sloan celebrates a rock rarity: 20 years together as a band. The former young pups of power-pop have moved gracefully, even defiantly, into their forties, surviving the industry’s tumultuous changes, evolving tastes and pop culture fickleness. Jay Ferguson spoke with WE over the phone about how Sloan has beaten the odds.
WE: Congratulations on two decades! How does it feel?
Jay Ferguson: It’s funny when you say two decades. Like, 20 years isn’t bad, but two decades is like, “Oh my god, that is a long time.” It doesn’t seem like it, I guess. I don’t feel totally old and decrepit. I feel grateful that our band is still intact and we can still make music and hopefully make a living doing what we like and hopefully continue to make good records.
There’s a presumption that, since you guys have been together for 20 years, of course you would make a living as a band. Is that still a question?
To be honest, sometimes it is. You never know. Like, what if we put this album out and nobody cared and we couldn’t get any shows and nobody wanted to book our band? Then you have to question, well, how are we going to make money? ‘Cause it’s a realistic thing. Everyone in our band is in our 40s and everybody has kids or a mortgage or both, so you have to look at it realistically. The thing about Sloan is we do, thankfully, we can earn a living by being in Sloan, but by the nature of our band, we don’t tour 360 days a year, so there’s often a lot of downtime or we can organize our own lives to go and do other things. Everybody has extracurricular activities. I did a show at CBC Radio3 for four months and Andrew, our drummer, is a painter but he also produced the new Luke Doucette record. Chris worked on a film set [Scott Pilgrim vs The World] for a while, teaching the band to make it look like they were realistically playing their instruments, and Patrick writes a blog for Simpatico or something like that. There’s all sort of things we can do to make ends meet if we need to. They’re not necessary, but why not take advantage of it? But certainly it’s on our minds. Our band was never a million-selling band or anything. We’ve had a very horizontal progress over the years. (Laughs) It’s not like, “Wow, we were millionaires and now we’re broke.” It’s just a very straight line, but I’m also grateful for that, because I know most of the bands we started out with are no longer here.
You’ve lasted longer than most marriages. How do you guys make it work?
We share all the household chores, it’s a different person’s turn to get up in the middle of the night to sit with the kids when they’re not feeling well. Basically that’s how we make it happen. (Laughs) Oh, and by the way, split the money four ways.
Yeah. Also, our band is kind of an outlet for everybody in the band. There’s nobody who’s disgruntled, like, “I have a song that I wrote!” and we’re like “No” and then they go make a solo record because you don’t have a voice in the band. Everybody in our band sings and writes and our albums are a forum for everybody in our band to express themselves, without sounding cheesy. Everybody has an outlet in the band to do what they want and I think that keeps a band together as well.
Sloan plays Friday, June 3 at Commodore (881 Granville), 8pm. Tickets $25 (RC, Z, H, Ticketmaster.ca).