Toronto alt rockers Sloan are taking their fans back in time with the re-release of their 1994 break-out album Twice Removed.
When the quartet stops in Nelson this Sunday, they’ll perform every songs from that album in the order they appear. It’s a new experiment for the band and something they’ve been wanting to do for years.
“It’s a comeback tour for us, except we never went away,” jokes guitarist Jay Ferguson, speaking with the Star from his home in Toronto before the band set out on a month-and-a-half long tour through North America.
Sloan has been together 21 years and released 10 full-length albums in that time, as well as a couple EPs, a live album, and a best of collection.
With so much material to draw from for their live shows, there’s songs from Twice Removed that haven’t been on a Sloan set list for more than a decade. Ferguson admits there’s a couple tracks — like “Loosens” and “Before I do” — that he had to relearn how to play.
“It’s a funny thing having to sit down with your own albums to learn how to play something you knew 18 years ago,” he said. “Even songs we still play a lot, when I go back to listen to how they were recorded, I notice there’s parts I’ve been missing.”
The goal of the tour will be to play the songs meticulously, exactly how they sound on the album. Then, once they’ve run through the songs from Twice Removed, the band will take an intermission and return with a second set that draws from more recent material.
“All of this — playing two sets, playing a record the way it was recorded – it’s totally new for us, so we don’t know how it will go over with the fans,” Ferguson said. “It’s something we’ve wanted do for a long time, and because we didn’t have a new album coming out this year, it seemed like a good time to try it.”
Ferguson and bandmate Chris Murphy spent the first half of this year immersed in Sloan memorabilia, sifting through material for new deluxe box set of Twice Removed.
“Since Sloan started, Chris and I kinda had a competition going to see who could build up the largest Sloan museum in our basements because we’re nerds like that,” Ferguson said. “We kept all our old recordings and demo recordings, and all the old articles and photos and things like that.”
The collection came in handy. They had enough previously recorded material to include three vinyl records, one 7″ vinyl and 32 page colour booklet in the box set.
They digitized old demo tapes (yes, that’s tape, as in cassette tape) of song demos recorded at their jam space before the final versions were produced in studio — or, in a few cases, before deciding to scrap the song all together. They scanned negatives of old photographs and artwork that didn’t make it into liner notes. They even copied the original hand written letter that inspired the lyrics for “Penpals,” the lead track on Twice Removed.
“It’s something for the hardcore Sloan fan,” Ferguson said.
If the current box set and tour are well received, there’s talk of them doing the same thing for One Chord to Another in a couple of years.
“I think it could become a good pattern for us to alternate between releasing new albums and releasing deluxe editions of our older stuff,” Ferguson said, noting the band will be back in studio recording a new album this winter. “It all depends on how this on goes over with the fans.”
Sloan plays The Royal, September 9. Show starts at 8 p.m. Tickets $30 at the door or $25 in advance at Urban Legends, The Music Store or liveattheroyal.com.