Sloan revisits ‘Twice Removed’ tonight

Sarah Smellie
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Sloan. — Submitted photo

It’s known as the album that almost got them booted from their record label.

With songs about love, longing, braces full of sand, and other teenage woes, Sloan’s 1994 sophomore album, “Twice Removed,” is arguably their best-known and most easily recognizable record.

To celebrate its enduring presence in the Canadian pop cannon, Sloan launched a “Twice Removed” tour this fall, and they’ll be playing the album from start to finish tonight at Club One.

The success of “Twice Removed” would have been unbelievable to Chris Murphy back in 1994, when the Halifax-based band first started recording it.

Sloan had been signed to Geffen Records, a major label in the grunge scene of the 1990s, after the success of their loud, droning 1992 debut, “Smeared.”

“Geffen signed us a certain type of band,” says Murphy. “We were supposed to be a grunge band, basically. So when we did this musical about-face with our second album, ‘Twice Removed,’ they were like, ‘Come on, guys, just make the record you were signed on for, now we’ve got to start marketing from scratch.’”

A huge departure from the distorted guitars on “Smeared,” “Twice Removed” focused on crisp, sweet riffs and warm vocal harmonies.

“When we started ‘Twice Removed,’ I felt that the expiry date for grunge was over,” says Murphy. “Even when ‘Underwhelmed’ came out, grunge was over for me. In Halifax, we were kind of copying things that these American bands like Nirvana and My Bloody Valentine were doing, and when it was put on a world stage, it just seemed really behind the times.

So we just wanted to set ourselves apart and make a pop record.”

Commercially, “Twice Removed” was a flop: “Smeared” sold 40,000 copies in its first year, and “Twice Removed” only sold 9,000, says Murphy. Geffen decided not to promote the album in the U.S., and it was originally met with negative reviews.

But a few years later, the record had been embraced by fans and critics alike. Chart magazine even voted it the No. 1 Canadian pop record of all time.

“I think that it was a kind of beacon for sensitive kids,” says Murphy. “They had Nirvana’s ‘Nevermind,’ sure, but we kind of created an alternative to the alternative with this pop record.”

It’s clear from the crowds showing up to hear them play the record now that the album still resonates, he says.

“We’ve been really enjoying playing it,” he says. “In the States, because Geffen didn’t do any marketing, the people who are coming out to the shows are these die-hard fans, so those crowds have been interesting. The response has been great in Canada, too — people know the record really well.”

The shows on this tour usually consist of two sets. In the first, the band plays the entire album, beginning to end. In the second, they play songs from their more recent albums.

“The people coming out to these shows are people who dropped off with our band around 2000,” says Murphy. “So we play that second set, with more recent material, to hopefully bring them back to the band.”

“But, of course,” he says, “it’s awfully hard to compete with nostalgia.”

Sloan will play their seminal album, “Twice Removed,” tonight at Club One. Doors open at 8 p.m.. Tickets are $30 and are available at the door, at the Sundance or at Big Ben’s.

Organizations: Club One.The, Geffen Records

Geographic location: Halifax, U.S., Canada Big Ben

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