Or at least it was by the behemoth of alt rock record labels, Geffen, when the Halifax quartet delivered the glimmering LP, a thoughtful collection of brightly lit guitar pop.
"I think I was probably the most nervous about it," Murphy said. "I think a lot of times when we tell the story it's the David and Goliath story. 'Geffen was mean to us' or something like that. But for the most part, what I was feeling was . Geffen thought this democratic breakdown of duties was a marketing challenge.
So, it was a natural decision for Geffen to pay for Sloan's sophomore record up front. But for a band in the midst of an adolescent transformation, the cash seemed to just make the task ahead even more daunting.
"They heard it and it was like: 'We can't work with this,"' Ferguson said. "It seemed like to them it wasn't of the time."
Back when Geffen first rejected it, when they asked the band to re record the entire thing, the band certainly never imagined they would one day warm to the album.
"We were kind of running from grunge and this sort of house of cards that it seemed to be all that 'poor man's Nirvana' (stuff)," Murphy said.
Geffen, certainly, was less interested in swimming against the current. To hear Murphy and Ferguson tell it, the label was primarily frustrated because they had promoted Sloan one way and now the band had made a drastic change, thus undoing whatever gains they had made.
"Self doubt is my default setting but I was the most torn up about it," said bassist and co frontman Chris Murphy in a recent interview from their cluttered Toronto rehearsal space.
"We were like, 'Let's make the Plastic Ono Band record, or Fleetwood Mac's 'Rumours' what's wrong with those records?"' Murphy recalled.
Well, the music was apparently moreso. Sloan dug deeper into their influences including the Velvet Underground, Slint, '80s hardcore and, of course, some classic British pop while penning the songs that would form "Twice Removed." There was certainly a degree of defiance as they rejected the direction most of the rock world was drifting.
"Twice Removed" was an admitted left turn from the group's distortion contorted debut "Smeared," and at a time when the modern rock charts were dominated by sludge slinging Nirvana imitators, their sophomore album was not what the label wanted to hear. It was clean, back when "clean" was a dirty word.
Sloan celebrate album once deemed failure
That album, of course, is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year. But the band didn't really savour the idea of playing "Smeared" front to back every night.
"There'd be a bunch of songs where we'd be like: 'Ugh. Skip that one,"' laughed Murphy.
Added guitarist Jay Ferguson: "It was a reaction to not wanting to jump the bandwagon. There were so many bands out there playing melodic pop songs with distorted guitars. It kind of got a little played out."
TORONTO Now that it's a fixture on lists of the greatest Canadian rock albums of all time, it's easy to forget that Sloan's "Twice Removed" was once reviled.
"It's ironic that we were referencing . a record that sold 25 million copies, and then it's like: 'What is THIS? My ears!"' he said, mimicking the response of the label. "It wasn't like we were referencing Can or (Einsturzende) Neubauten or whatever."
But there weren't many bands making polished, intelligent guitar pop at the time. The band agrees that Nike Long Sleeve Top Womens
was so excited to be on Geffen. 'Oh, they're asking us to record the whole thing again? I guess that's what you do. I guess that's what we should do.'
1992 "Peppermint EP," and followed it with their messy but charming full length "Smeared" later that year.
It's not as though they were making the album in secret the A rep who signed them, Todd Sullivan, was present for the sessions and was generally supportive of the direction the band was pursuing.
That debut was a moderate chart success in Canada, but was most notable for the seemingly rosy future it forecasted. In truth, "Smeared" was a dissonant pastiche of various indie rock influences, one which both belied the band's inexperience and hinted at real songwriting skill submerged under the layers of fashionable fuzz.
The record simply brims with giddy hooks. There's the unexpectedly gorgeous chorus carved like a skylight into Ferguson's "I Hate My Generation," the "ba ba bada ba" chanting in drummer Andrew Scott's transcendent "People of the Sky," or the delicate boy girl harmonies buoying Patrick Pentland's "I Can Feel It." (Also worth mentioning is Murphy's brilliant "Coax Me," which features what he says is their most celebrated lyric of all time: "It's not the band I hate, it's their fans." It was inspired by a pretentious Kate Bush fan Ferguson knew in high school.)
the closest comparison in 1994 was Pavement's masterful "Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain," which provided the beloved California quintet their most successful record (although it came out on indie imprint Matador).
The album killed the golden goose. It broke up the band. But now they're celebrating it, in the form of a deluxe vinyl re issue and a cross country tour during which Sloan will play the record in its entirety.
Geffen asked Sloan to record the album again. The band refused. So the label put the record out without promotional support, essentially hiding it in plain view.
"I probably would have done anything, I Nike Windrunner Women
Sloan wasn't the only band to endure a process like this. Washington power pop outfit the Posies were Nike Black Jacket With Hood also asked by Geffen to re record the album that became "Frosting on the Beater," and they consented (the well reviewed album still wasn't a hit). And Weezer, who were coincidentally also signed to Geffen by Sullivan, saw their now classic "Blue Album" released with similarly non existent fanfare by the label until radio stations and MTV sensed a hit and lifted the record up.
But to rich record labels eager to mine the continent's underground for grunge gold, "Smeared" indicated a band with the potential to combine pop prowess (check the wit of single "Underwhelmed") with the noisy rage that was all the rage on the charts in the grimy wake of Nirvana's success.
But they didn't really exist back in 1994. Sure, Sloan did have fans. A couple years prior, they had inked a deal with Geffen the home of Nirvana, Beck and Sonic Youth on the strength of their Nike Grey Jacket Womens
Looking back, it's difficult to understand how such an accessible album could ever have been considered somehow radical.
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