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
Who are you
I'm Ford Pier. I’ve been in a lot of bands and I’ve made a lot of records and toured the world with some of my best friends and people I most admire. Aside from my contributions to those undertakings, I’ve made seven or eight albums under my own name, and with my band the Vengeance Trio. The record I finished most recently is of a group I have with a string quartet called Strength of Materials. That is to say: me plus this string quartet, playing this music that I wrote for string quartet with vocalist, but which I stubbornly hew to the conceit of thinking of as a rock band, equals Strength of Materials. Am I being understood? We’re a rock band for string quartet. Our new record is called Inclusive Fitness and it’s not going too too far to say that it’s the music I’ve always wanted to make.
There are a lot of answers to this question and they’re all equally true. D.O.A., Chocolate Bunnies From Hell, Personality Crisis, various recitals and chamber performances, stage bands and symphony concerts… To make many long stories short: 1) Concert-going was a big part of family life for us when I was growing up. 2) In the early 1980s there were no bars in Edmonton that would book punk bands, so most all shows took place at rented community halls, were all-ages, and finished relatively early. 3) The social director of the student’s council at my elementary–jr. high school had ties to the independent/underground rock scene. 4) Big Country at the Circus Krone in Munich, autumn of 1984.
Once again, many occasions could legitimately vie for this distinction, but I think the only really smart, honest answer would be early April of 1986, seeing NoMeansNo at the Dinwoodie after interviewing them for CJSR radio. I was 15 and had just broken up for the first time with my first-ever girlfriend; everything in the world was new and intense. I liked two songs off their recent EP and cautiously respected their album and had no expectations of them whatsoever as people. I was dazzled by their friendliness, intelligence, and humour, and I was chuffed to be treated as a grownup whose conversation was taken seriously.
Then they played, and that was it for me. I’ll keep it brief by saying only that this performance set a standard for commitment and ferocity and fun and…well, I guess VERVE that I never saw them fail to meet over the next let’s say 250 times I saw them. A standard that I struggle pointlessly to hold myself to, and unfairly to impose on just about any other band I’ve seen. None of this will come as news to anybody who's ever seen them play—there's never been a better live band.
But! If we’re talking about life-changing, let’s just set all that aside for a minute and look at things like remaining close with them to this day and being exposed to the community of their friends that I attached myself to when I moved to B.C., and the jobs, sartorial choices, and life decisions which followed that association. Or Rob [Wright] suggesting I read James Joyce. Or John [Wright] instilling an appreciation that cooking is something you do on purpose. Or meeting the volatile rascal who would serve as best man at my wedding…just about every significant event in my next 30 years proceeds in some way from that night.
Top three records
Sides 1 though 6 of Wagner’s Das Rheingold under the baton of Herbert Von Karajan with the peerless Berlin Philharmonic on the Deutsche Grammophon label from 1967, featuring a stunt-cast Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau as Wotan, the mighty Finn Matti Talvela as a Fasolt to make you weep, Zoltán Kelemen (not the figure skater) in an eyebrow-liftingly nuanced reading of the dwarf king Alberich, and the outrageous Gerhard Stolze’s highly controversial Loge! Pure nitro!
All-time favourite video
I’ll say Tommy. Fuck you it doesn’t count.
What’s in your fridge
Various exotic juices and nectars. I hit one out of the park last year when, for her birthday, I gave my ravishing and hilarious wife one of those instant popsicle-making doohickeys that you keep in your freezer. Since then, juice has become a big part of our lives. Not your run-of-the-mill quotidian ho-hum nourishing/refreshing fruit/vegetable drink, but those bizarro outlier ones that come in boxes that look like flyers for karaoke night at a Serbian bistro. Flavours like “sapodilla” or “guarana” or “pear” which exhibit disturbing specific gravity and boast hues unmet-with in nature. Non-potable on their own to anybody but a kid or a nut or an insect. But freeze them to a stick? On a hot afternoon or a late night? Now we’re in business. Combine them! Astound your friends! So delicious! We have many of these.
The two last jars of antipasto from the batch my friend Darcy and I whipped up at Christmastime. I feel the sweet pickles loom a little menacingly over the comprehensive flavour profile of this vintage, but in no way do I put that down to the brace of us having put away six bottles of good wine over the course of its concoction. It could happen to a bishop. Menacing sweet pickles or no, those last couple of jars are gonna get used yet. “Expiration” is not a word we use in our house.
A powdered nutritional substance in a severe-looking plastic jar, emblazoned with commands, warnings, and admonishments in a no-nonsense medical-type font. It’s been here as long as we have, I think, and to my eye it has remained, throughout its lonely term in that back corner of the top shelf, hermetically undisturbed. Still, I am forbidden to chuck it.