You know you’ve done something right as a band if, after 25 years, you are still being compared to The Beatles.
That’s the deal with Juno Award-winning pop-rock group Sloan, which performs on Thursday, at Bo’s Bar and Grill in Red Deer.
The Halifax-born, Toronto-based band rose to success as one of Canada’s most popular bands in the 1990s on the support of a devoted fan following.
A quarter century later, not only are the band’s older listeners still massively loyal, Sloan is also connecting with younger people by putting out music that’s been described as just as good, or better, than the band’s early efforts.
Jay Ferguson, Sloan’s rhythm guitarist and occasionally bass and drum player, feels honored by such comparisons as can be found on the website PopMatters. After the band released its 11th album Commonwealth, the site ran a lengthy article comparing the four Sloan musicians to the Fab Four, citing band democracy and consistent musical quality among the similarities.
Ferguson considers Paul McCartney, in particular, to be a huge personal musical influence. “This is going to sound a little like ‘aw-shucks,’ but (The Beatles) has been one of the touch points for people in our band, so it’s very flattering to hear that, added Ferguson.
He also expressed gratitude for Sloan’s loyal fans and steady run.
Like The Beatles, he doesn’t believe his group could continue without any of the four original members. Ferguson, Chris Murphy, Patrick Pentland, and Andrew Scott all write songs for the group and take turns singing lead vocals — as was evident on the 2014 album Commonwealth. A different songwriter and singer was featured on each of the four sides of the two disc-release.
Ferguson wrote the first five songs on the release, including You’ve Got a Lot on Your Mind, which was regularly played by CBC Radio, and was inspired by his girlfriend, Liz Taylor. (He also riffed on her name in the tune Cleopatra, as well as late movie star Elizabeth Taylor.)
The song We’ve Come This Far is about the group’s own history, said Ferguson. “We’re not a political band. We tend to write about our life…”
While the music industry has changed significantly since Sloan started, the band’s members have made an effort to stay connected to fans through social media, including Twitter. More talented musicians than ever are now vying to be heard, said Ferguson, but he believes there are probably more opportunities now through YouTube, Facebook or Instagram.
“I would say, you should learn to do as much as you can on your own before you let someone else do it for you,” he advised. “Do your own recordings, set up your own shows…”
Sloan’s April tour is supporting the vinyl re-release of the group’s third album, One Chord to Another, which won a Juno for best alternative album and produced the hits The Good in Everyone and Everything You’ve Done Wrong.
Ferguson said the band will play one set of songs from this 1996 album at Bo’s, and then a second set of music from over the years that could include Underwhelmed, The Other Man, People of the Sky, The Rest of My Life and Losing California.
This is the second time Sloan has reissued an early album in vinyl. Ferguson admitted he’s among those who love the format, which allows for more artwork, band text and inserts. The reissued One Chord to Another is part of a three-LP box set, including a party record, a book and a 45-rpm record containing two early demos.
“It’s funny,” said Ferguson — the more music that’s released in a digital format, the more certain people relish a tangible product.
Tickets to the show are $29.95 from the venue or ticketfly.com. Doors open at 8 p.m.