Volume 92, Issue 30
Wednesday, October 28, 1998
|ARTS AND ENTERTAINMENT
Everybody get Sloaned
Photo by Richard Beland
By Christina Vardanis
Canadian band Sloan is experiencing a touch of time travel.
Approaching their eighth year together and with five major releases under their belt, guitarist and vocalist Patrick Pentland insists the band's actual time together is a vague measure at best.
"Band time is not like normal time," Pentland begins. "Being on the road is almost like living in a bubble. Every single day is the exact same, waiting around for 22 hours to play a show. Then you get home for two weeks and see your friends that time is normal. So when someone talks about seven or eight years together, it's not seven or eight years in my mind."
Still, Sloan has come a long way since their debut release Smeared. Their latest album, Navy Blues, reveals a conscious transformation to the harder side of '70s anthem rock from the upbeat, lighter nature of their previous releases.
"We didn't know if [the public] would be like 'They're turning into the Cult' or 'What the hell are these guys doing? They're supposed to sound like the Beatles,'" Pentland says of the new record.
"I've written about 150,000 songs," he states. "Eventually you get little goals, like 'maybe I'll make a hard rock song.' We had an idea we'd be playing Edgefest this summer and thought it would be cool to get 25,000 people pumping their fists in the air." Edgefest proved to be the perfect venue to accomplish the band's goal.
"There comes a point when you're preaching to the converted," Pentland explains. "We wanted to reach more people than would just come out to our shows."
However, Pentland guards against paying too much attention to commercial success, citing it as a practice detrimental to the band. "When a record comes out, everybody's [concerned about] how much we shipped and how much we sold. It's self validation. But if you get obsessed with it, you start to question why 'band x' out there sells 100,000 when you think you play to more people every night. If you beat yourself up about that, it's not healthy," Pentland warns.
Part of what keeps the foursome on the upswing is the independent efforts made within the band. Pentland, joined by Chris Murphy, Andrew Scott and Jay Ferguson all write their own songs and maintain their authorship through to production. "We all have an idea of what we want the record to sound like," Pentland explains. "It's a bit of a juggling act, but it's more romantic and organic than saying, 'I've done my bit, Jay you do the rhythm, Chris you do the bass.'"
The result of producing their own songs and videos has been an in-depth understanding of record marketing. While Pentland maintains this hasn't compromised their creative integrity, it does add another layer to song-making.
"There are some bands out there which will think, 'Let's do a song that's us farting into the microphone, wouldn't that be fucking crazy? We'll dare them to release it as a single.' But we know they won't release it as a single and everyone will think, 'they're an idiot.' We make things we're happy with, but then we combine that with what's best for the record."
The success of their last CD, One Chord to Another and now Navy Blues, has pushed Sloan to the edge of the diving board which looms over mainstream success. According to Pentland, all the teetering can get a bit tiresome.
"We're always on the verge of breaking kind of big. It's exciting, but I'd like to see it pan out at some point with a nice little house in the Bahamas, a house in [my native] Halifax and a condo in Toronto," Pentland comments dreamily. "I'll fly around, do a couple of talk shows for the kids."
If Pentland says what he means, he'll be a money city manic in no time.
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