What's in Your Fridge?: Jesse Gander

What’s in Your Fridge is where the Straight asks interesting Vancouverites about their life-changing concerts, favourite albums, and, most importantly, what’s sitting beside the Heinz Ketchup in their custom-made Big Chill Retropolitan 20.6 cubic-foot refrigerators.

On the grill

Jesse Gander

Who are you

If you don't know Jesse Gander from his long history of playing in local bands like d.b.s, Operation Makeout, Black Rice, and Ghost House, you have almost certainly heard some of the music he's recorded as a studio wizard. He is the former chief recording engineer at the Hive Creative Labs (where he worked with Japandroids and the Pack a.d.), and he currently holds that post at Rain City Recorders (where clients have included White Lung and Bison B.C.). By his count, Gander has made more than 400 recordings for various acts over the last two decades.

First concert

Jerry Lee Lewis and Fats Domino, Expo 86. I was in second grade at the time and had just taken up piano lessons. My parents took me to this to give me an idea of what the rock 'n' roll piano greats were like. Jerry Lee, already well into his long years, was doing "bum slides" across the piano and playing with ferocious energy. At that point in time I knew no matter how hard I practiced I would never reach his level of piano perfection. Since then I have resigned myself to a life of being a "ham-fister". Fats Domino hit the stage with the presence and grace of a living legend. Even as a child knew I was in the presence of greatness and felt fortunate to be there.

Life-changing concert

Fugazi with Sparkmarker and Mecca Normal at the Plaza Of Nations in 1993. Controversial (former) Vision Vancouver Parks Board candidate Trish Kelly took me to this show. I was 14 years old, she was probably 16. I had recently discovered the local Vancouver punk scene through a couple of small local shows in my home town of North Vancouver. Trish had been promoting punk-rock shows at the local rec centre and had befriended me and decided to "show me the ropes" of political punk rock. People were handing out fanzines and Fugazi were giving the moshers grief. "You're not fucking cattle, stop behaving this way!" shouted Ian MacKaye to about 3,000 fans on that warm evening. Previous to that my only experience with larger "alternative" shows would have been Lollapalooza or the like where everyone was moshing. At that point I realized that punk rock was a complex and wild beast—the dynamics of Jean Smith from Mecca Normal's voice, the heaviness of Sparkmarker (Vancouver's home-town hardcore heroes) and the groove of Fugazi in their prime. Three bands for six bucks! I handed out handbills for my band d.b.s.'s first show. Two dollars for six bands. The rest is history.

Top three records

1. Uprising by Bob Marley and the Wailers. In my crib as a baby I refused to go to sleep without hearing the song "Zion Train". At the age of one-and-a-half I knew very little about Zionism, but I knew I loved trains. And I loved the melody. Bob Marley's "greatest hits" have overshadowed what great albums he made. Every song on that record is great, and both sides of the LP play out with a beautiful arc. Also, best bass sound ever! I've used it as my reference for testing out speakers in my control room for years. Amazing sounding album.

2. She's So Unusual by Cyndi Lauper. The first record I even owned, on cassette! I was sitting in my parents' car in the parking lot of Shoppers Drug Mart as my mom was picking up antibiotics for my third case of pneumonia that year. I was in first grade. My mom left the radio on for me as she waited inside. "Girls Just Want to Have Fun" came on the radio as she returned and I was bobbing my head. My mom asked if I liked that song. I was shy to admit it, not knowing if it was "cool" or not. The next day she came home from work with a copy she picked up for me at the local record store and I played it 10 times in a row. I now own that record on cassette, LP, and CD.

3. ...And Justice for All by Metallica. This album for two reasons: 1) I'd never heard anything as heavy as that at the time. It was my Columbia Music Club " heavy metal selection of the month" when I was about 11 years old. It was actually frightening to me coming from listening to Mötley Crüe and other glam-metal bands. I became a super-fan. 2) The sound of the record was different. Click-y kick drums, hardly any reverb at all, and absolutely no bass whatsoever. I remember sitting in front of my ghetto blaster playing with the five-band graphic EQ and wondering how I could get the bass guitar to be heard. I was just wishing that I had a fader to turn poor Jason Newsted's bass up. I thought I could mix it better…

All-time favourite video:

"Left of the Dial" by the Replacements. The ultimate "non-video". Just a single camera shot looking at a speaker playing said song while a guy sits in his chair, smokes a cigarette and enjoys the song. Complete focus on what is a brilliant and beautiful song by one of the best rock bands of all time. Nothing to "enhance" something that is already perfection. Decades have passed since that video came out and I wonder how many of my friends sit around and smoke a cigarette and listen to that song still? Probably most of them.

What’s in your fridge?

A container of Vega One. I like to make smoothies for breakfast and this is my preferred thickener, Makes my guts feel A-OK after staying up late the night before at a show or a rehearsal.

Three half-empty bottles of soda water. Maybe I'm an alcoholic, but I love me a whisky and soda after a long day sweating over a hot mixing console.

Dozens of bottles of hot sauce. I am an addict and have different sauces for different meals. I always stock the mainstream stalwarts like Frank's, Tabasco, and Sriracha, for eggs and stir-fries, but also some exotic varieties. Lately I've been hooked on the 99-cent bottle of Trader Joe's generic jalepeño hot sauce, as well as Erica's Country Style Red Sauce. My former roommates would look to me with disgust as I would make a "hot sauce burrito". Simply a flour tortilla "nuked" in the microwave for 30 seconds with hot sauce squirted all over it. Too much is not enough!.

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