You’ll never love any band like the band you loved at 15. For me, that band is Sloan. They’re still together today, the same four guys they were 25 years ago.
They started in 1992, but I wasn’t 15 until One Chord To Another in 1996. I can’t be sure which song was the first I heard. I listened to the radio constantly back then, even when I slept. LG73, then Z95, Vancouver’s local pop, then alternative stations. We didn’t have cable at home, so I didn’t have MuchMusic or MTV. For me, music was radio.
Sloan is special to Canadians in the same way The Tragically Hip are special. They belong to us. Sloan had many chances to become famous in the States, but it never quite happened. They never seemed to grow past the college radio fans.
In the liner notes of their double live album, 4 Nights at the Palais Royale, Chris Murphy says of their first single, “Underwhelmed”:
This is the song that could have made us rich but luckily it didn’t.
It’s probably a lot easier to be famous in Canada than in the United States. Here, they remain one of the biggest, most famous, oldest bands still playing, still recording, still touring.
I’ve seen them live more than a dozen times. I’ve met them through radio contests, on side streets outside the venue, and I once watched Chris chase after a man who stole Narduwar’s famous plaid tam. Their songs are connected to moments of my teens, twenties, and thirties.
This year, Sloan released their twelfth studio album, titled 12, of course. I haven’t heard it yet, not because I fell out of love, but because I don’t listen to as much new music as I did when I was 15. The great joy of being 36 is you don’t have to pretend to be with it anymore, whatever it is.
But these last few years have desperately called for joy, and I’m finding mine in my childhood toys, hobbies, food. I’m rediscovering those years when I fell asleep listening to the radio instead of staring at a screen.