Billy Corgan might prefer to make new, shitty, irrelevant music, but he should reconsider running an “oldies business,” as he recently described the reunions of bands like Soundgarden and Pavement. For many acts 20 years and older, retreading old ground has become a lucrative concept. As the All Tomorrow’s Parties “Don’t Look Back” series has proven over the last seven years, seeing a favourite long-standing or cult artist (i.e. Teenage Fanclub) perform a classic or acclaimed album (i.e. Bandwagonesque) is good for both the fans and the artist (be it for money, relevance or even just happiness).
In the case of Canrock heroes Sloan, some bands can have their dreamcake and eat it too. (Billy, you’re only a Siamese Dream reunion tour away!) After celebrating their 20th anniversary last year with a brand new album, Jay, Chris, Patrick and Andrew are now beginning the victory lap in their career with a reissue campaign for their most beloved record, 1994’s Twice Removed.
The album Chart Magazine twice voted the Best Canadian Album of All Time has been re-released as a three-record vinyl box set featuring an extra LP of the album in demo form, as well as another LP of outtakes, a 7-inch single, and a 32-page booklet of photos, recollections and album commentary by the fab four. On top of that, Sloan are touring North America, playing the album in full. It’s like 1994 all over again!
“We’ve been talking about doing something like this for a few years,” says guitarist-vocalist Jay Ferguson over the phone from his house in Toronto, where he’d just finished pruning tree branches on his rooftop. “The reason why we’re putting Twice Removed out now is because it’s a little more popular than Smeared. And people think it’s Sloan’s ‘underdog record,’ and a cherished record that’s shown up on ‘best Canadian albums’ lists. Also, it was the one that we had the most material for in the vault. We had so much stuff to work with, we thought this might be the best foot forward.”
For those in need of a history lesson, Twice Removed was a second album few expected from Sloan, after they established East Coast Canada as a grunge mecca in 1992 with their debut, Smeared. Famously unwanted by their American label Geffen for its ’60s pop lean, Twice Removed launched Sloan as Canadian alt-rock darlings and mainstream wonders. Ironically enough, it was also the album that broke them up a year after its release.
“At the end of 1994, when we had a phone meeting and decided to break up, that was the low point because Patrick and I didn’t know why,” explains Ferguson. “We continued to do some shows we had agreed to and continued doing festivals that offered good money.”
After rumours circulated that Sloan had played their last show in the summer of 1995, they returned unannounced a year later, like Michael Jordan after his baseball experiment, with One Chord to Another. “We started talking about making one more record, just to have it on our own label (Murderecords) instead of Geffen,” Ferguson adds. “That became One Chord to Another, which ended up being the bestselling album we ever had.”
The plan is to keep the reissues coming — both albums and tours — if the demand is there.
“If this goes well, we will continue to do them,” Ferguson says. “It’d be nice to do one of these every other year because in 2013 we’re hoping to do a new Sloan album. It’s just a way to basically taffy pull or extend our career by doing a new album and then a reissue.”