One of Canada's most prolific power-pop groups, Sloan, is once again hard at work on a new album, which the band hopes to have in stores next May.
After releasing two studio albums ("Navy Blues" and "Between The Bridges") and a double-live album ("4 Nights At The Palais Royale") in a span of less than two years, the group has decided to alter its recording pace. As Sloan guitarist Jay Ferguson recently told MTV News, the band is currently experimenting with a new studio approach.
"We're starting just by jamming, which we have never done before," Ferguson said. "[We'll] take a riff and play it for five minutes or 10 minutes. Ideally we'll take parts of these jams and maybe create songs like that: by playing together rather than writing on your own."
With all four Sloan members (Ferguson, guitarist Patrick Pentland, bassist Chris Murphy, and drummer Andrew Scott) living in Toronto, the band now has the time and flexibility to take a more relaxed approach
"In the past, we've been in studios paying by the hour," Ferguson explained, "so the records generally had to be done in four to six weeks.
"For this record, Brenndan McGuire, who is our sound engineer, has all his recording equipment, Logic [recording software], and all that stuff set up in our practice space," Ferguson said. "We are recording directly to computer, and we can take it home in Logic and play with it.
"We really wanted to start early this time and record quite a bit of stuff so we can put together a record that really flows together well," he said. "Having the luxury of time should help us to do that."
According to Ferguson, the songs the band has developed through jamming are not as pop-driven as Sloan songs past.
"Some of them are less poppy," said Ferguson, "but they probably have a bit more of a rhythm to them... more of a groove. They come about from more intuitive playing. They're kind of loose structures,
but I think they will still have strong melodic content.
"The whole jamming aspect of the record might come out, and it might not," Ferguson offered. "It sort of remains to be seen. We are trying to go for -- it sounds corny to say -- different textures and different sounds. Sometimes it's hard to change the songwriting, but you can always change the production.
"It's not going to sound like a different band or something. It will sound like us."
As on previous albums, Ferguson said the bandmembers have been swapping instruments in the studio, which is part of the Sloan tradition.
"There are some where Chris will play drums, and I think there's even a few where I play drums!" Ferguson offered. "Andrew played keyboards, and Patrick mostly played guitar, but sometimes played bass. Pretty much everyone [is] revolving around."
According to Ferguson, Sloan still has its long-standing four-songwriter approach to rely on if the jamming doesn't
bring satisfying results.
"Everybody has started to record everybody's own songs that they had anyway," Ferguson revealed. "We have just started doing that: tracking all the regular songs. That's kind of where it's at right now.
"We're going to aim to put out the new record next May," he said. "I think we can have the bulk or the meat of the record recorded quite soon, like in the next couple months. After that, it remains to be seen.
"Maybe we will start experimenting again with jamming and try and create some songs that way," he concluded, "with, in the back of our mind, knowing that we already have some concrete stuff already finished."
Along with work on the new record, Sloan has lined up a number of college dates in its home country for the end of the summer.
"It's basically our 'raise money to go back to Europe' tour," Ferguson said with a laugh. "We want to go back to Europe in the fall, so we are going to play some back-to-school
Sloan's college tour kicks off September 1 in Montreal at McGill University and runs through September 29 at the University of Waterloo in Waterloo, Ontario, with 13 stops currently confirmed. The band has also lined up DV8 Festival dates in Ottawa, Ontario, on September 9 and in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, on September 16.