Sloan is a Toronto-based rock/power pop quartet from Halifax, Nova Scotia. Throughout their nearly twenty-five-year career, Sloan has released 11 LPs, two EPs, a live album, a Greatest hits album and more than thirty singles. The band has received nine Juno Award nominations, winning one. The band is known for their sharing of songwriting from each member of the group and their unaltered line-up throughout their career. Their albums' success (most notably Twice Removed) has made Sloan one of the most popular Canadian bands of all time.
Formation and Peppermint EP (1991-1992):
The band was formed in 1991 when Chris Murphy and Andrew Scott met at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design (NSCAD) in Halifax; Patrick Pentland and Jay Ferguson joined soon after. According to Sloan's official website, the band is named after the nickname of their friend, Jason Larsen. Larsen was originally called Slow One by his French-speaking boss which, with the French accent, sounded more like "Sloan". The original agreement was that they could name the band after Larsen as long as he was on the cover of their first album. As a result, it is Larsen who appears on the cover of the Peppermint EP, which was released on the band's own label, Murderecords.
Geffen Records, Smeared and Twice Removed (1992-1994):
Later in 1992, Sloan released their full-length album Smeared on Geffen Records. In 1994 Geffen did not promote their second album, Twice Removed, due to artistic disputes, although it sold well in Canada. Spin named it one of the "Best Albums You Didn't Hear" in 1994. A 1996 reader poll by Canadian music magazine Chart! ranked it as the best Canadian album of all time, only two years after its release. The same poll in 2000 ranked the album third, behind Joni Mitchell's Blue and Neil Young's Harvest. However, the 2005 poll once again ranked the album first.
Murderecords, One Chord to Another to Pretty Together (1996-2001):
After the release of Twice Removed, the band went on hiatus and were rumoured to have broken up, as they had rejected Geffen's offer for their next album. In 1996, however, they released the widely praised One Chord to Another on their own Murderecords label. Following 1998's Navy Blues album, Sloan released their first live album 4 Nights at the Palais Royale in 1999. Those albums were followed by Between the Bridges in 1999, and Pretty Together in 2001.
Seeking US success (2003-2008):
Sloan made a concerted effort to break into the US market on their 2003 release Action Pact. Songs were recorded in L.A. with Tom Rothrock producing. The glossier, radio-ready sound failed to raise Sloan's profile in the US, though they continued to be highly popular in Canada.
Sloan's first compilation album A Sides Win: Singles 1992-2005, included two new songs, "All Used Up" and "Try to Make It". The Japanese release included two additional new tracks.
Now signed to Yep Roc Records for their US releases, they put out their eighth disc, Never Hear the End of It in 2006. The album contained 30 tracks with all the members of the band contributing new songs. It was met with widespread critical acclaim and became the highest charting Sloan album in the US up to that point. In 2008, Sloan followed up their longest album with their shortest release, Parallel Play.
Hit & Run and B-Sides Win (2009-2010):
In November 2009 Sloan added a digital music store to their website. The band released an online-only EP called Hit & Run to promote the store. The EP featured two songs by Chris Murphy, and one by each of the other band members. Murphy's Take It Upon Yourself was released as a free single. In February 2010, the band released another online exclusive, the compilation album B-Sides Win: Extras, Bonus Tracks and B-Sides 1992 - 2008.
20th anniversary celebration, The Double Cross (2011-2013):
Sloan announced plans to release a 10th album in 2011, to coincide with the 20th anniversary of their first show.
On February 22, 2011, Sloan announced that their new album would be released on May 10, 2011. The album is entitled The Double Cross, a nod to their 20th (or XX) anniversary. The album is preceded by the its first single, "Unkind".
With the release of The Double Cross, Sloan has now released a catalogue of around 175 different songs.
In promotion of the new album, a special video series produced and directed by Catherine Stockhausen has been launched on YouTube to commemorate the illustrious success of the band. Interviewed in these videos are several musicians and celebrities such as Jason Schwartzman, Joel Plaskett, Stefan Brogren, Dave Foley, Kevin Drew, Buck 65, Sebastien Grainger, The Dears, Ian D'Sa and Benjamin Kowalewicz from Billy Talent, K-OS, and Dave Hamlin. Following the completion of touring for The Double Cross, Sloan reissued and toured behind Twice Removed as a three-record vinyl box set containing the original album, rarities, and demos.
On April 24, 2013, Sloan announced the release of a hardcore punk single, Jenny b/w It's In You, It's In Me. With it comes a digital download of a hardcore covers album, as well as a T-shirt portraying the band members circa 1985.
In 2013, the band revealed plans for a double album, with each of the four sides featuring a solo suite by a different band member. In May 2014, it was announced that the new album would be titled Commonwealth and would be released in September 2014. On July 14, 2014, the band announced the official release date for the album (September 9, which turned out to be accurate) and the release of the album's first single, "Keep Swinging (Downtown)".
All four members of Sloan write their own songs, and when they play live they switch instruments accordingly. Usually the band performs as follows: Murphy is on lead vocals and plays bass, Pentland is also on lead vocals and plays lead guitar, Ferguson plays rhythm guitar, and Scott plays drums. The most notable exception is when Scott picks up the guitar to play his songs; Ferguson and Murphy switch to bass and drums, respectively. Prior to 2006's Never Hear the End of It, Ferguson and Scott would also play electric piano on songs that called for it; since joining in 2006 multi-instrumentalist Gregory Macdonald has handled all keyboard duties live and in the studio.
While Murphy has written more of the band's songs than any of the other members, Pentland is nonetheless responsible for having written many of Sloan's most recognizable hits. Perhaps more noteworthy, however, is the fact that every member of the group has contributed at least two songs per album, with only the following exceptions: On 1992's debut LP, Smeared, Scott and Pentland are credited with just one song each, while on 2003's Action Pact, Scott has no songs, for according to Eye Weekly, that album's producer, Tom Rothrock, essentially randomly selected tracks out of the band's submissions in the interest of creating a more streamlined sound. Scott's songwriting output at that time may also have been somewhat diminished because he had recently become a father.