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FYI

The Legend Of Sloan Honoured At ECMA's This Week

Sloan was definitive proof to those within and outside of the region that there was more to Atlantic Canada than just fiddle music.

The Legend Of Sloan Honoured At ECMA's This Week

By Ken Kelley

When Sloan emerged from the relatively sleepy seaside town of Halifax in the early 90’s, few could have predicted the trajectory their career would take in the 27 years that would follow.


Signed to the DGC label out of the U.S. early in their career, a feat virtually unheard of at the time for an Atlantic Canadian-based band, Sloan has not only persevered through the inevitable ups and downs of the music business, they have sustained the same lineup and remained steadfastly democratic when it comes to sharing the spotlight.

That’s no small feat.

So it’s only appropriate that as the East Coast Music Awards are celebrating its 30th anniversary in Halifax this week that Sloan would be honoured with the organization’s Directors’ Special Achievement Award.

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“The award recognizes an organization, individual or group that has demonstrated an exceptional contribution to the music industry on a national and/or international level,” says Dean Stairs, Chair of the East Coast Music Association’s Board of Directors.

“When it comes to Halifax, no other band has carried the torch for the city quite like Sloan. In the early 90s, they were harbingers of a new, and exciting music scene. In addition to being one of the region's biggest breakout successes, they also mentored other bands, started a record label to champion local music, and brought their Nova Scotian roots to audiences all over the world. They are extremely deserving of this recognition, and we're so excited to have them here in Halifax - the place where it all started - to celebrate with us on the occasion of our 30th anniversary." 

Speaking with FYI Music News earlier this week, Sloan bassist-vocalist Chris Murphy is certainly appreciative of the ECMA’s honour.

“It’s a great compliment,” Murphy says. “We’re just happy to be invited to the party. We’ve never been a band that feels we deserve any kind of accolades or special treatment when it comes to these kinds of things. We just do what we’ve always done.”

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Downplaying his group’s influence upon the region’s music scene is almost second nature to Murphy. While he’s rightfully earned a bit of a reputation for his quick wit and comedic antics, Murphy’s humility is completely genuine.

While Murphy’s previous outfits Kearney Lake Road and Black Pool were also ECMA winners, it could be argued that it was Sloan’s success that ultimately set the stage for peers like Matt Mays and Joel Plaskett.

Sloan was definitive proof to those within and outside of the region that there was more to Atlantic Canada than just fiddle music.

“In the early days of the ECMAs, I think the organization was more focused on traditional-sounding acts that, while they were good in their own right, I didn’t necessarily feel any kind of connection with,” Murphy admits. “At the outset of our career, I had always felt a little self-conscious about being involved with the ECMAs, but only because I saw us as a fish out of water. But that’s changed over the last 25 years. We come back to the ECMAs quite often and have always felt welcome by everyone in the organization.”

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Now 12 albums deep into their career, Sloan wrapped up the highly successful first leg of their Western Canadian tour behind their newest record 12 less than two weeks ago. Following their appearance at the ECMAs, the band will perform in Moncton before decamping south of the border for six shows before returning to Canada. 

There is a renewed sense of purpose within the band these days, something Murphy partially chalks up to the band’s alignment with Universal Music Canada for the release of their latest record.

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“In some ways, I felt as though as our last few records were somewhat invisible. We never expect to be on the tips of people’s tongues all the time anyway, but being back with Universal for the new record has been a positive thing.”

So what exactly has been the key to keeping the same group of guys together for almost three decades now?

“We’ve gone through great pains to keep everybody interested in the band,” Murphy says. “We share the wealth and the credit, while also allowing everyone in the band to contribute to every decision we make artistically. We’re all very conscious of contributing to the longevity of the band. It’s that being on the same page that has played a big part of it.”

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Photo by Conor Samuel on Unsplash

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