NEW RELEASES: The Sloan PARTY ALBUM -- By Patrick Pentland (March 1997)
Is it live, is it Memorex, or is it an incredible hoax? Hoax would be too strong a word, but I hate to break your bubble if you think that the packaging is legit. The record is not "live" as the copy on the sleeve suggests. At least its not live as in recorded all at once. The "live" recording was actually done in several stages over a weekend in Halifax in November of 1996. In Sloan terms, however, it was more live than we usually record.
Rest assured an actual party did occur. That was when we recorded the crowd noise, and had the photos with the equipment taken. The even took place at local hot spot, The Ultrabar, coincidentally the same place that served as the first Murderecords office and a Sloan practice space. We also used to have after hours gigs there, when we were all young enough to stay up that late. It was a combination of a Sloan party to thank our friends and families for their support, and Chris’s birthday. It was a whole lot of fun. Too much fun for some.
We recorded the music the next day at Idea of East, the same place were we did One Chord to Another. Lawrence Currie was once again at the board, and with lyrics and chords scribbled on pieces of paper we set about whipping things into shape.
For the most part all of the guitars and drums were recorded live, in the same room at the same time. This is a method that some bands always use, whereas other bands build a recording from the drums up, in much the same way that a house is built, piece by piece. An interesting side bar: while recording Def Leppard’s Pyromania, producer Mutt Lange had the band record bass first (to a click track) and then twenty two tracks of vocals, bouncing everything down to two tracks, and only then did the rest of the band play, with the drums going on last. We usually start with the drums in our practice space and then move to a studio to do the rest. This is done partly because our drummer does all his tracks in one day and then splits for Toronto, and partly because it allows the time to experiment with sounds and make mistakes, without making everyone do everything over and over again. Some of us make a lot of mistakes.
Chris actually played the drums on most of the songs, while Andrew only played on one or two. The guitars were played by everyone, depending on who knew the song in question. Matt Grimson actually played along with me on his own song, "Stood Up", making him the first non-Sloan to play guitar on a tune. There was some bad electronic ivory tinkling by myself courtesy of Inbred technology. The bass was recorded after everything else, Paul style. The vocals were the next step, and the most fun. The leads were done relatively fast since there was no double tracking and we wanted to keep it as loose as possible. For the backing vocals we had a room full of friends: Joel Plaskett, Ian McGettigan, Jennifer Pierce, Matt Grimson, Catherine Stockhausen, Fiona Highet, and the four of us. It was the first time that we have done "gang vocals" with everyone singing the chorus into one or two mics. It was a lot of fun and something that we will be doing more of in the future. Percussive instruments were handed out and used sparingly. There were glasses to clink and party "chat" added to enhance the party feel. Pizza was ordered in and then we added the band talking to each other, which was pretty lame but it had to be done.
The dead give away to the whole scam is in the "On the Road Again/Transona Five" scene that plays over the transition between the two songs. If you didn’t figure it out by this point then I can’t feel sorry for you. Call it relieving our guilt, but we felt that we had to do something to let people in on the joke.
The point of the record wasn’t really to have us playing live, which we are certainly capable of pulling off, but to give something extra for our American friends who had been so patiently waiting while the record was out in Canada, but not in the US. Its release in Canada was due to the subsequent griping by some people about having to buy the whole thing again. It’s a "damned if you do or don’t" scenario for us. We were against releasing it in Canada for that reason, but we were also aware of the fact that some people would buy it through import, which would cost them more than it should (and which was something some Americans had to do when OCTA was released in Canada.) Therefore, it was released in a limited quantity domestically. If certain people have a problem with the whole thing, be my guest and don’t buy it. For those of you who bought it, we hope you enjoy listening to it as much as we enjoyed making it.
© 2013 Sloan. All Rights Reserved.