By Justin Penney
VANCOUVER — Jesse Gander’s career is built on a foundation of punk rock. Punk is the common thread that weaves through his impressive career as a vocalist, songwriter, musician, recording engineer, producer, and studio owner, and it figures prominently in the DNA of The Easy Company, the third full-length from Gander’s “part band, part recording project,” Ghost House.
Punk probably isn’t the first word that comes to mind when listening to the band’s piano-heavy, suite-like compositions, but Gander is quick to make the connection:
“It’s like Johnny Marr’s guitar playing in The Smiths. He was really influenced by the Sex Pistols, and he just took those chords and progressions and arpeggiated them. The songs definitely have a punk edge, but the melodies and arpeggios are pure pop. With Ghost House I wanted to see if I could do that, but with piano.”
The Easy Company was recorded over two years ago, and the name references the strong friendship between band members. Gander, Katie Lapi, Steve Matheson, Paul Patko, and Sarah Jane Truman have known each other for years and their collective influence on Vancouver’s music scene cannot be understated. The record’s long incubation process reflects the busy lives led by the members, and also the time-consuming mixing process.
“Mixing these songs takes hours,” explains Gander, “plus my priority over the last two years has been producing other peoples’ records. There are lots of layers on this record I wanted to use some ridiculous effects to achieve this sense of selective dominance.”
The attention to detail is easy to hear on The Easy Company, with instruments moving in and out of the mix as each song progresses, highlighting the strong points of each performance and keeping the listener guessing on the direction of each subsequent verse, chorus, or bridge. “Usually a song will start with piano and drums or something but by the end it’s all guitars. Everybody’s playing on the whole song, but if you take out a part for a few bars or shift the focus to a really interesting guitar riff for a while it makes the songs sound more dynamic.” We asked how his bandmates feel when he plays God with their performances, Gander smiles and replies modestly, “If anyone gets buried in the mix it’s usually me.”
The Easy Company is available as a pay-what-you-can download on Ghost House’s Bandcamp page (listen below). At the moment Gander is also working through the band’s back catalogue and hopes to have their entire discography available for download by the end of April.
You can visit Ghost House’s Bandcamp page here.BC, British Columbia, Ghost House, The Easy Company