If Karl Marx was still around, he'd probably be a fan of Canadian rock veterans, Sloan.
While one can't assume the father of communism would be hip to the power pop rock stylings of one of Canada's most enduring bands, it's safe to say he'd be aligned with the group's egalitarian approach — a refreshing turn from the narcissism infecting many a modern megastar.
The sharing of Sloan's profits, songwriting and instrumental duties is well established by now. The Toronto-based quartet made up of Chris Murphy, Jay Ferguson, Patrick Pentland and Andrew Scott split everything four ways, and have kept their original lineup intact going on 23 years.
By modern rock standards, their stability is positively boring. You'll never hear Sloan attached to any kind of internal squabble or stint in rehab or celebrity sex tape. They have enjoyed a long career marked by the kind of consistency and prolific output you don't normally expect from a rock band.
And part of that success is based squarely on that all for one, one for all philosophy they've become so known for.
"I think it's a big reason for sure," says guitarist Ferguson. "We split the money four ways, so if anybody happens to have a single that does well at radio or a song that happens to earn more money than others, everyone benefits from it.
"It's pretty democratic, and I think it's a way to keep a band together because you all share in the failure or success of a particular song or record."
It also helps that the foursome, while still enjoying relative success in Canada, the U.S. and Japan, hasn't amassed a Bieberesque fortune over the years, ensuring that egos get kept in check.
"We're successful enough that this is a good regular job, but it's not like we've all earned $10 million each and we can do whatever we want. If that happened, maybe we'd be like, 'Ah, forget it, we'll make a record in two years,'" says the 45-year-old Ferguson.
"We have to do this because it's our job and it's the way we pay our mortgages and put our kids through summer camp."
The band also gives each member the creative freedom to do whatever they want on a given record, meaning almost every single Sloan album's songwriting responsibilities are split evenly, while still making up a unified whole.
No control freaks allowed.
"You can do whatever you want on a Sloan record," Ferguson continues. "It's easy to manage... I don't know that it's ever frustrating for anybody because we're all free to do what we want."
The band is taking that strategy to a whole new level on their next album, Commonwealth, slated for a September release. Songwriting will, as always, be a team effort, except this time each member gets his own section, or "side," of the double album to call his own.
"The different mode with this record is that everybody gets their own side, so if you imagine a double LP, there's four sides, so we each get our own to do what we want. Not that we haven't been able to do exactly what we wanted in the past, but it's almost like you can segue to songs the way you want," says Ferguson, explaining it's a concept the group has talked about for years.
"This record we've made is something we've often talked about, like 'It'd be fun to make four solo records kind of like what Kiss did in the 1970s,'" he says. "This is an interesting way to do it because it's still united as one album."
So with two decades, 11 studio albums and countless tours behind them, what's left for Sloan to accomplish?
"Something I'd love to achieve is to have that longevity and still make records that are good enough to add to our body of work," Ferguson admits. "There are a lot of bands who reach a certain plateau and stop making good records and just turn into a touring vehicle, but I think we're making records that are as good as we've made over the last couple of years. I'm sure there are a lot of bands who say that, but I actually mean it."
Sloan plays the Pemberton Music Festival on Sunday, July 20. Visit www.pembertonmusicfestival.com for more.
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