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  • Archive for November, 2012

    Who taught you to live like that?

    2012 - 11.23

    I have long said that there are only two constants in my life: my mother and Sloan. It’s a weird thing to say, and an even weirder comparison. My mother gave birth to me, worked hard, sacrificed, showed me what love was, continues to support me in any way I need and tries to understand why I do what I do even if she doesn’t agree with it. Sloan are a band – four grown men who know who I am but don’t have any personal investment in my feelings or well-being. I like to think that I have a special relationship with the band, but I’m not delusional enough to think that my love is returned to the same extent.
    It hardly seems fair to my mom, arguably the most important person in my life, that I group these four men in the same category of influence.

    Last night, Sloan played “Twice Removed” (the best Canadian album of all time) at the Phoenix. My enjoyment of their performance, and my hyperbolic love in the first paragraph, needs a bit of context:

    I have had a life full of changes – my family moved around a lot, and even though I still had all the same classmates, I shuffled around groups of friends. My popularity fluctuated in sine waves. I picked up and dropped hobbies at the same rate. My mom supported me in all of it, but I had nothing to which I could dedicate myself. I didn’t feel strongly about anything in the long term, and while my classmates learned every sports stat or horse fact I was half-heartedly trying to find something to love.

    I discovered Sloan in my formative years but without the Internet I had no way to really connect with anyone over it. I was too young to go to concerts, too unpopular to be a tastemaker and too immature to be secure in liking anything without mainstream approval.

    For a few years I considered Sloan an afterthought – I liked and claimed obsession with whatever my friends liked (as embarrassing as it is that I was a pretty big Hoobastank fan when I was 13, it’s even worse remembering that it wasn’t entirely genuine). 13 year old me liked “Let Go” by Avril Lavigne enough, but most of it was because EVERYONE my age liked that album.

    When I was fourteen, I made some friends (I’d started making some genuine connections by then) who liked Sloan’s MuchMusic-friendly cohorts – Our Lady Peace, Matthew Good Band especially. They knew of Chris, Jay, Pat and Andrew, and that was good enough. Sloan’s albums started rotating into my discman at school. I also started playing bass. My instructor scoffed at my “popular” music tastes but was happy to teach me “Snowsuit Sound” and “Everything You’ve Done Wrong.” After a year of building my confidence in my musical taste, I started to be upfront about it. Sloan were MY thing now.

    In the summer I turned 15, I met a girl from Calgary named Ruhee over livejournal. She was a year younger than me, but in the same grade. She’d just discovered Sloan, and we became very fast friends. She introduced me to the livejournal Sloan community, where everyone enjoyed the band just as much as I did.

    We all fed off of each other, and we were all pretty obsessed not long after. I was still playing bass, and I discovered that I also had a passion for writing. I started going to Sloan shows. I’d meet people at those shows, who’d introduce me to other bands. I documented all of this on my livejournal, and my new friends would comment. I’d read about their lives as well and I’d know that all across Canada (they were pretty much all canucks) there were people with whom I had more in common than just one band.

    Soon my network of Sloan friends became more important than my school friends. They didn’t understand. I’d bring a classmate along to a Sloan show and they’d look at me sideways as I’d cry and scream and make the kind of ass of myself the way twi-hards do these days.

    I got to play on stage with them once, and that was when I met Maddie. I asked Chris to prom (and he said no, but it’s still a good story). I sent Jay fan letters and collected their Japanese and American releases and learned every song off by heart. I’d debate with other fans the merits of Pretty Together. We would dissect every lyric in every song and giggle at every mondegreen (“She’s dating an albino,” anyone?)

    I was a Chris girl, through and through, but it really was about the music. I chose “The point is not the grammar, it’s the feeling” as my yearbook quote in grade 12 (the year I wanted to be a journalist). When that changed (and THAT story is for a different day), I followed it up in my fifth year of high school with “I’ve stayed in school this long but still no one will tell me why. They figure who would know better than I? I know I’m a conformer but I’m sure it doesn’t matter. My new friends are all adults and my old friends all have scattered.”

    A few weeks after my stepdad passed away, I went to see an acoustic set that Chris and Patrick were playing at a radio station and it was the first time I’d smiled in ages.

    Sloan stayed my favourite band after high school; after I stopped playing bass; after I lost my faith in my writing; after breakups and rejection; after at least six changes in career trajectory. They’ve been the soundtrack to everything I’ve experienced since puberty. Sloan, and the wonderful people I’d met through them, have helped me through it all. Was there anything before Sloan?

    We may not be the obsessive borderline fanatics we once were. We’ve all moved out of our parent’s houses. We have jobs and significant others and GROWN-ASS LIVES, but we all have that undeniable unified history.

    We reunited for the first time in forever last night. Every song has a dozen different memories attached to it. We laughed at nine-year-old inside jokes and sang our hearts out and screamed and hugged each other. It felt like coming home. These are my longest-running friendships, and I can’t imagine a life without them.

    Thank you, Sloan. Thank you for being my constant. Thank you for every friend I have. Thank you for helping me grow into myself. You have no idea how much the past 10+ years have meant to me.