An Interview with Sloan's Jay Ferguson

We've always known that music is cyclical, and now it appears we're cycling backwards. Not that that's a bad thing.

2003-2004 saw the resurgence of 80's new wave (and now we're all bloody sick of white vinyl belts), but those tides are changing. When (Belle & Sebastian's) Stuart Murdoch shed his twee-pop shell to become a Scottish Marc Bolan on The Life Pursuit, they seem to have clinched the revival of 70's glam (which some would argue never really died - kept alive & well through the 90's by bands like Redd Kross and the Super Furry Animals).

And now, perhaps the most unlikely of Canrock icons are doing it their way: Sloan. Their upcoming LP, ironically titled Never Hear the End of It, has spawned it's first single - the stomping 3-chord bluesy rocker Who Taught You To Live Like That?

Written and sung by guitarist Jay Ferguson, the single evokes Norman Greenbaum's anthemic classic Spirit In The Sky. It's a clear change from the glossy, guitar hooks-o-rama of 2003's Action Pact, but really not new ground - this is old school Sloan, with their early 90's shoegaze reverb sound being swapped out for glam-pop reverb, which shares the stage with their trademark swinging Beatles-style harmonies (ala Everything You've Done Wrong). All that might sound incongruous, but it somehow works.

The new album is expected to be some 29 songs long (perhaps a double), and will showcase all 4 member's distinctive styles and influences. Sloan's White Album? Don't quote me on that, I'm not even gonna go there.

I stalked.. errr, caught up with Jay Ferguson (yes, you may squeal but only a little bit please), and chatted him up a bit. I choose to conduct this interview Nardwuar style. Why? Because I can.

Beth: Jay Ferguson, the new single is very bluesy/glam/70's, and a departure from some of your stuff on the last 2 albums (except for perhaps Step On It Jean). What influenced you on this, and why the new direction?

JF: The song kinda came together quickly....simple chords...but i think it was a bit of a mash of listening to Bob Dylan and T-Rex. I like that it sounds heavy-ish, but it's predominantly piano - I think there's about 3 of them on there banging away.

Beth: Could that be Andrew's Rhodes we hear?! Will there be more piano/keyboard on the album, Jay Ferguson? About how many songs will each member have?

JF: On "Who Taught You..." that's actually me playing mellotron!! But yes, your dreams have come true! ... (Beth interjects - clever use of a Pretty Together song title, Jay Ferguson, you can't slip one by me!) ... Andrew definitely plays the Rhodes on some songs...there's a fair amount of piano based tracks on the LP. Songs per person, hmm. Chris has the most ... (Beth interjects again -"go figure") ... I think Andrew next, and then Patrick and I have about the same amount.

Beth: How did the LP title Never Hear the End of It come about?

JF: Chris' title. You'll have to ask him...another double sided pun-ish. I was a brat about it and kept offering other titles as I was the only one not completely sold on it. I was holding our title hostage! Anyhow, I was talking to my friend Matt from The Bicycles yesterday about the title. He liked it and got the meaning ....and then I offered up my alternates that I was pushing for, and he said..."Uhh, none of those are as good as Never Hear The End Of It. So , I was put in my place. I'll keep my mouth shut now.

Beth: You've said all 29 or 30 songs may fit on one disc, since some are short snippets or "interludes". How will that work?

JF: Yes, there are a number of short songs. Some are linked together...some are linked up to other longer songs. We'll see which ones work together the best.

Beth: The production (at least on the single) seems more real & raw, not as "slick" as Action Pact. What were you aiming for this time around?

JF: The production approach is a bit more varied....some sound very clear....and some tracks were recorded live in a room with only a few microphones for a rawer sound. I think variety was the aim this time as opposed to the unified sound of Action Pact.

Beth: I'm into it! Keep on rockin' in the free world, Jay Ferguson. Doot doola doot doo... you're a doll.

The new LP is due out September 19th, with tour dates soon to follow. In the meantime, you can sample Who Taught You To Live Like That? - RIGHT HERE, GO!

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