Choose Your City
Change City

Sloan bassist Chris Murphy talks about nearly dying in hit and run

TORONTO - With a young son, Sloan bassist Chris Murphy says he doesn't really get out too much.

TORONTO - With a young son, Sloan bassist Chris Murphy says he doesn't really get out too much.

So it was somewhat of a rare occurrence on July 25 when, having just completed his second of two songs for the Halifax band's new five-song EP, Murphy decided to venture out on his bicycle to Toronto bar Magpie, where bandmate Jay Ferguson was DJing.

A few hours later, his life nearly came to a sudden halt.

Having just left the bar, Murphy pulled onto Dundas Street, where a careening driver smashed into him. He flipped up onto the car's windshield, while his bike went underneath, completely destroyed.

The driver hastily fled the scene. Ferguson called 911, not realizing then that it was his bandmate of nearly two decades who was lying unconscious on the ground.

Murphy suffered a broken collarbone and concussion-like symptoms, but, in a way, got off lucky.

"I definitely could've been killed," Murphy told The Canadian Press in a telephone interview. "The car went over my bike. My bike was completely destroyed. If I had gone under, I'd be dead or paralyzed.

"Or disfigured, which would be the worst thing of all," he adds slyly, with a laugh.

But months later and Murphy says he now feels pretty good, which is important since the band has announced a 15-date tour that will begin Saturday in Detroit. The trek will wrap Dec. 15 at Vancouver's Commodore Ballroom after Sloan plays dates in Winnipeg, Saskatoon, Calgary, Edmonton and Whistler, B.C.

The tour is in support of "Hit & Run EP," a taut collection of characteristically pristine pop tunes that will be released through Sloan's website on Monday.

While the title was obviously drawn from Murphy's summer ordeal, the songs weren't - they were written long before, in fact.

Murphy's gorgeous "Oh Dear Diary" is a late-night cruise that calls to mind Spoon's most rain-slicked masterpieces, with whispering organs colouring a slippery bassline and driving percussion.

Ferguson's "Midnight Mass" brings to mind Love with its textured finger-picking and floating, reverb-drenched vocal, while Patrick Pentland's rocker "It Is Never" ends with a thumping, psychedelic coda.

The whole thing flies by in just over 13 minutes, thus continuing in the vein of 2008's concise full-length "Parallel Play."

"Well, we did the bloated, sprawling thing a couple years ago," Murphy said, referring to 2006's 30-song, 76-minute "Never Hear the End of It."

"That's like my favourite of all our records - I loved the indulgence of it. ... But yeah, it's better to give people something a little more digestible for sure."

The record's opening track, "Take It Upon Yourself," juxtaposes a scrappy guitar riff with rollicking piano plinks, while Murphy - a devoted Atheist - sings of the importance of being self-reliant when "it's clear no one will intervene."

It's a fitting message coming from a band that has taken to operating, in a way, apart from the industry machine ("we're a small business," Murphy says.)

He says the band is "testing the waters" by releasing the EP solely through their website.

"I'd love for it to work out, but we don't know if it's going to work out," he said. "Because our visibility in record stores and stuff like that will be low, or non-existent."

Murphy says his ideal situation would be that "Hit & Run" is a success and the band can continue "to make music sporadically."

"Every once in a while, (we'll) just say we did another EP ... then package those together," he said.

He's reluctant, however, to give up on the album in its physical form.

"Because that's how I know music," he explained. "That's how I grew up listening to music. But I have to conceive that the model will change and I just have to deal with it."

Murphy is also still dealing with the residual effects of the accident.

While Murphy says he feels better, he notices the injury most when performing, because he has to hang his bass strap across the plate that's been embedded in his collarbone, which he says "snapped in half" during the accident.

The driver who hit him still hasn't been found.

But for the record, Murphy says he is back on his bicycle.

"I am, but I've yet to buy a baby seat, which I had just bought, and the baby seat was destroyed (in the accident)," he said.

"I don't know if I can bring myself to do that again."

You Might Also Like