Q&A: Sloan's Jay Ferguson on the time he accidentally trashed a hotel - InfoNews

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Q&A: Sloan's Jay Ferguson on the time he accidentally trashed a hotel

Andrew Scott, left to right, Jay Ferguson, Chris Murphy and Patrick Pentland pose in this undated handout photo. Considering that Sloan is 27 years into their power pop career it wouldn't be unthinkable that knocking out another album could feel tiresome for the band. But guitarist Jay Ferguson says it's actually what keeps him on his toes. "I like adding to the war chest that is our body of work," the Halifax native said as Sloan readies their 12th album for release on Friday. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO - Universal Music
April 06, 2018 - 7:09 AM

TORONTO - Sloan may be 27 years into a power pop career, but guitarist Jay Ferguson says making new records never gets old.

It's what keeps him on his toes.

"I like adding to the war chest that is our body of work," the Halifax native said as Sloan readies their 12th album for release on Friday.

Surviving so long together requires a certain level of diplomacy, and on "Sloan 12" the band takes that practice to another level. The 12 songs were divided evenly between Sloan's four members, giving Ferguson and bandmates Patrick Pentland, Chris Murphy and Andrew Scott equal opportunity to lean into their songwriting skills.

Ferguson wrote "Right to Roam," "Essential Services," and "The Lion's Share," which he says were inspired by songs of the Velvet Underground and mid-'70s Diana Ross he was listening to while writing them.

The band's North American tour is underway with upcoming April stops in various cities across Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia.

In an interview with The Canadian Press, Ferguson reflected on why Sloan continues to doggedly produce new music and recalls a miserable brush with a rebel rockstar moment — accidentally trashing his hotel room.

CP: You've amassed a loyal fanbase and enough familiar songs that you don't need to keep churning them out. What drives you guys to keep producing?

Ferguson: Maybe we could still maintain the same level of success... but I don't know if that's a fact, so I'd rather just keep doing what we do, which is make new music and still play our older songs. We played a show in Sudbury (earlier this month) and I talked to some fans afterwards who were like, "It's so great that you're making new music because so many bands of your era have either broken up or they don't make records and they just sort of tour on old stuff."

CP: But you're also open to playing the nostalgia angle with massive boxed sets — 1994's "Twice Removed" and 1996's "One Chord to Another" — that came out in recent years. How do you strike a balance?

Ferguson: The idea right now is playing hopscotch — do a new album, campaign (with publicity and a concert tour), then do a reissue album, campaign behind that, and then do another new album. It's a fun, creative process on both levels.

CP: You've talked about the thrill of digging through the archives to design the boxed sets. How do you approach that?

Ferguson: My basement and Chris' attic are basically like the Sloan vault. We kept everything from day one — like posters, the shirts we would make, we'd cut out all the articles from magazines and newspapers — as much as we could get. As a kid I would devour rock magazines like Trouser Press, Creem magazine or Rolling Stone. The idea of getting a record reviewed in a rock magazine was such a dream, so basically I can't turn my back on my 12-year-old self. I have to honour that and save every article.

CP: Did you write anything for "Sloan 12" that was tossed?

Ferguson: My original third song was a duet between Chris and I... but I really could not finish the lyrics. I didn't relate to them. It probably could've been released, but I didn't think it was good enough. It had a nickname of "C-Sharp Rocker," "Live It All Over Again" or something like that. We recorded the whole thing and at the last minute I basically scrapped it and recorded "Lion's Share," an older song that had been completed with full lyrics and the melody. That was an 11th hour panic for me.

CP: Is it common pull an older song off the shelf?

Ferguson: Patrick's song "All of the Voices" I think has been around since 2003. I don't know why he hadn't brought it out for any of the other albums in between then and now, but I'm glad he pursued it because it fit the new record well.

CP: What's the worst thing Sloan has done on the road?

Ferguson: On the very first tour I remember I was lying on a bed, we were... giddy being on tour. And I had my knees tucked up and Chris jumped on me and I pushed him off... and Chris went through the wall of the hotel room, left a massive hole in it. That's about the most rock 'n' roll thing I've done, and that was 27 years ago.

CP: Did you foot the bill for repairs?

Ferguson: (A guy we used to work with) went and told the front desk, and they came and looked at it and were like 'Oh don't worry about it.' I was so stressed when it happened — like, oh my god that's going to cost $300 to repair. And $300 was a mountain of money back then to any one of us. But I think we got out of there clean.

— This interview has been edited and condensed.

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News from © The Canadian Press, 2018
The Canadian Press

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