Sloan excited to open for Stones
HALIFAX – It’s a big deal when guitar pop quartet Sloan returns home to Halifax to play a show, but opening for The Rolling Stones on the Halifax Common has to be the biggest deal yet.
Not only is it exciting, but there’s something poetic about the event and the locale for guitarist Jay Ferguson, who began his musical career 20 years ago with his first band Deluxe Boys just, if you’ll excuse the pun, a stone’s throw away.
“I got an e-mail from Walter Kemp the other day, who was the first drummer for the Deluxe Boys,” Ferguson explains over the phone from Toronto. “He couldn’t believe we’re playing with The Rolling Stones, because kitty-corner to the Commons is Walter’s house, where we had our very first practice in the living room, right behind the Holiday Inn on Pepperell.
“It was John Gould, Walter and myself, with Walter’s grandfather sitting in the dining room very disgruntled while we plowed through
Route 66. So it’s kind of come full circle, from covering the Stones in Walter’s living room to opening for them across the street.”
Saturday’s show won’t be Sloan’s first encounter with the Stones the band was asked to open for them for two nights in Boston in January — but playing in front of tens of thousands of fellow Maritimers is still not the sort of experience you take lightly.
“It’s surreal for me, for sure, but pretty exciting. My joke is, ‘Yeah, the Stones, we already played with them, whatever,’ ” laughs Ferguson. “But those two shows in Boston were fantastic. We got to meet them, and it was outrageous seeing them face to face, it’s a pretty big thing. Obviously to them it’s “Yeah, whatever.’ But to me, who’s been a Stones fan for the better part of 25 years or something like that, it’s pretty exciting. I mean, they were lovely, and they were gentlemen, and it was very thoughtful that we got on the Halifax lineup.
“I’m sure it’s not like Mick Jagger’s pounding the table saying, “We must have Sloan back! They were such lovely lads!’ It has more to do with promoters and all that. But I think our band was easy to deal with, and we got along with their crew, and it was more like, “Hey, it’s Sloan’s hometown, let’s have them back.’ So it’s a very nice feeling being invited back to play with The Rolling Stones.”
The other big news for Sloan this week is the release on Tuesday of its first CD of new material in three years, the mammoth 30-song collection Never Hear the End of It.
The album sees the return of drummer Andrew Scott to the songwriting fold and bears a cornucopia of styles ranging from pop to psychedelia, in a broader display of the members’ personal tastes than the power-chord packed Action Pact, released in 2003.
After having a couple of years to write new songs, Sloan started making the record in February in its warehouse rehearsal space with live soundman Nick Detoro taking over production duties. Recording continued over the summer, with new songs being added all the time, and then it was time to take care of the artwork and photos, followed by rehearsing for the upcoming shows.
“I’m actually looking forward to touring, because it’ll be like a vacation,” says Ferguson. ” I’m just going to zone out and watch movies and relax when we’re not playing. I have to get out of town to relax, basically.”
The first taste of Never Hear the End of It was Ferguson’s catchy single Who Taught You to Live Like That, which he describes as a cross between T-Rex and Instant Karma. But the record also veers from the pure aggression of Patrick Pentland’s Hardcore (“Patrick was wondering if we should do it, and we said, “Yeah!’ “) to Scott’s trippy Golden Eyes. “It might take longer to get into, but that doesn’t bother me,” says Ferguson of the record whose title is a sly wink at its 72-minute length. “I think it’ll have a longer life because of that.
“I like the idea that on the White Album, The Beatles did things that were really outside of the box, like Honey Pie, which sounded like something from the ’20s. So doing something like Hardcore is the other extreme. I was really into the idea of making an album that is all over the place, changing from song to song, with really short songs, and some longer songs, and having it all connected up.
“I think we wanted to do something new, for fun, and it made sense because there were so many songs to choose from. And Chris and I had both fantasized about doing a double album at some point.”
So this week Sloan fans get two fantasies at the same time.
Sloan excited to open for Stones