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
Matthew David Layzell of the Matinée.
Who are you
A 30-something bearded dog owner, born and raised in Vancouver (Coquitlam actually) with a short stint in Toronto (truthfully it was Burlington); lover of both fresh mountain air and sand in my hair (hater of the suburbs); continually trying to slow down time (doesn’t wear a watch); still plays beer league hockey with NHL dreams (not gonna happen); a black sheep in a family of pilots (went to film school instead); lover of sushi, The Naam, and meatless Monday’s (not really vegetarian); lover, not a fighter; National Geographic subscriber; rhymer of words, weaver of tales, twister of truths, and storytelling vocalist for roots-rock band the Matinée.
U2, with Public Enemy and the Sugarcubes—BC Place, 1992. My aunt in England knew I was really starting to get into music and so for my birthday sent me two tickets for the ZOO TV tour. I took along my friend Greg. Thinking back, I can’t actually believe that my folks felt comfortable dropping off two little kids amongst the masses. We were so short we must have disappeared instantly. Our seats were great, something like 10th row on the floor just to the right of the grand cat walk from which Bono would later cast a shadow over us. U2 were a spectacle live—but it wasn’t the music I remember. The elaborate stage show was definitely a sensory overload for me. All the lights, the screens, bellydancers, the giant mechanical lemon, the cars, and costume changes—not to mention the foreign, earthy “smells” emanating from the clouds—all had me wide-eyed from the get go.
Plus, I saw Public Enemy! My folks must have had no clue who they were. Sure, Flavor Flav wasn’t there on account of issues crossing the border, and my socio-political leanings were far from formed, so I couldn’t have truly weighed how impactful this rap group was at the time. Opening the show was a little-known group called the Sugarcubes. I distinctly recall that I was overly confused and irritated by them. Greg and I made fun of the band, hurling all sorts of insults, and this continued as their lead singer came and sat just a few seats over in the row ahead of us to catch U2 take the stage. If only I could have known that this strange, screeching woman would soon go on to become Björk, and an artist I admire and enjoy to this day. I’m sorry Björk!
It’s an oft overlooked fact that many tours either start or end in Vancouver, so this means you are seeing the band full of fresh energy and excitement as they kick off a run of dates, or as they celebrate the end of it all. Take this advice, life is short, buy the concert tickets! Anyhow, up until last year I would have said the one show that left the deepest imprint in my mind was Rage Against The Machine at the old Plaza of nations in 1996. It felt like a riot could happen at any moment. The energy of a band that was at the height of their game was something that still shakes me to this day. However, that all changed on July 24, 2016 when Gord Downie and the Tragically Hip came to town for possibly the last time.
We had just played the Symphony of Fire in English Bay the previous night, and in our set we did a rendition of “Grace, Too”, that had the whole of Vancouver singing along down on the beach. After we finished, we were told by the organizers that Gord had been watching from the VIP cabanas next to the stage, and I remember saying to myself, “Damn we just played his own song for him, I hope he liked it!” The very next day I was invited to the show and somehow scored 10th row seats—must be my lucky number. I’ve never been to a concert like this one. I mean, I live for music and for that connection a fan has with the musicians, for that raw intangible that comes only from knowing you are experiencing something special the minute the lights go dark and the band takes the stage. Like many, I grew up with the Hip’s records, because my folks loved them. I even took my parents to their stop in 2000 at the Pacific Coliseum and I will forever remember my mom saying she felt she could roll her shirt up and smoke it, because the cloud was so thick around us. Gord’s unique storytelling and the bands ability to remain human and accessible while retaining their rock ’n’ roll cred has always been a source of inspiration for me, and at this concert it was on full display.
There were moments throughout the show where I stood and stared at Gord in awe, others where I spun around and took in the heartbeat of the crowd, and still others where I simply closed my eyes and listened to 20,000 people sing in unison. “Gordie baby I know exactly what you mean.” I know I wasn’t the only one who shed tears that night, but not because I was sad. No, these were the genuine tears of feeling alive, of feeling present and connected with each and every person in the room, of being distracted from everyday life and singing your heart out to words that have followed you for 30 years. I left the show and strolled down to the Portside Pub in Gastown. The bar manager there, Avi, used to play in a band that we took on tour with us way back in the day—he put on Phantom Power for me and played it front to back and we drank whiskey and reminisced about some of the amazing times we’ve had. The concert, and that tour, brought together an entire country, and a national dialogue that far surpassed just simple drinking stories. That is the power of music, and in a perfect world, more shows would leave you feeling this way.
Top three records
Led Zeppelin Physical Graffiti The first time I heard Led Zeppelin was in ’93 on cassette in my friends parents’ Jeep. I was mainly into the Beatles and would practice all their intricate harmonies for hours on end, while studying the lyrics to each song as my English grandparents had neatly written them all out for me. Then I heard the first few bars of “Custard Pie” and felt the heavy groove that was missing from a lot of the Fab Four’s repertoire. I was discovering real rock ’n’ roll. There are so many interesting sounds and textures on these songs, which were recorded in an old English manor, with Ronnie Lane’s famous mobile recording studio. “Kashmir”, “Ten Years Gone”, and my personal favourite “In The Light”! If only it was suitable to tell you about the times I’ve had to that song. This double-record perfectly encapsulates all that made Led Zep so great, and serves as proof to my bandmates and I that it’s okay to be diverse in your sound and follow up an 8-minute rocker with a country hoedown.
Ryan Adams Cold Roses This double-album was my introduction to Adams. I had just discovered a whole cast of roots artists that wrote like poets, but could still crank the amps and rock out, and my friend and future bandmate Matt Rose and I really bonded over this record. It’s full of beautiful imperfections, and taught me that singing with your own true voice is how you connect to a song and the listener. I think I can safely credit this album for shaping the sound we started off trying to achieve in the Matinée. We’ve covered “Let It Ride” so many times that it feels like our own tune, and it’s still a soundchecker for us.
The War On Drugs Lost In the Dream Kurt Vile was a name I’d heard for a while, but I had never gotten into his stuff. I’m not sure why. Then I heard “Red Eyes” on the radio of all places, and I Shazam’d it right away. There was a soothing, dream-like quality to it that did wonders to make my commute that day tolerable. I downloaded the record when I got home and really did get lost in the dream. Somehow the time just seemed to pass effortlessly as each song melted into the next, and I felt so calm. This is an album that suits so many moods for me, my Sunday morning jam, my late-night comedown jam, and my hitting the road highway adventure jam, all in one.
All-time favourite video
Beastie Boys “Sabotage” I went through a very real Beastie Boys phase. I had a ’79 Monte Carlo SuperSport with subwoofers in the trunk, and we would crank Ill Communication as we ripped around town, which usually didn’t last long as she was a real gas-guzzler. I’m pretty sure we felt like we were living out the Spike Jonze-directed ’70s’ cop spoof as we tried to get all four tires airborne. I seem to recall even dressing up as Adam Yauch, complete with dress-shirt, tie, and wig for Hallowe’en one year. The video came out at a time when MTV was king, and despite being deliberately way over the top and cheeseball, suits the song perfectly.
What’s in your fridge
Hot sauce. I have a really small fridge in my apartment, which forces one to shop fresh and local so I guess that’s a good thing. But as a result, I don’t have anything really strange in there. I do have a hot sauce collection though. Of course I have the standard Sriracha, Frank’s, and Tobasco, but then there’s the bottles of Sneaky Dee’s Habanero (from the famous dive bar in Toronto), the unbearable El Yucateco Jalapeño, and the surprisingly tasty Pain Is Good Reaper-Acha.
An empty beer bottle. I also have an empty bottle of Whistler Brewing Winter Dunkel that my girlfriend bought me that is possibly the best beer I’ve tasted all year. I don’t want her to put it out for recycling as I can’t find another one anywhere and I want to remember the bottle, so I keep it safely hidden in there. Note to Whistler Brewing… if you have any more of them, my address is XXXX XXth Ave, Van, BC.
A vintage vegetable. Oh, and I have a brussel sprout from Christmas dinner, 1995. Long story. I guess that one’s kind of weird……
The Matinée's new album Dancing On Your Grave is out now. Go here to buy it.