50 Questions With Randy Gaudreau, First Lord Of The Wood At Gastown’s “Shebeen”

Chances are if you’ve ever tied one on at Gastown’s kickass Shebeen in the rear of the Irish Heather, it was veteran whisky slinger Randy Gaudreau who helped you with your laces. It’s usually his job to listen, but this time it’s yours…

Three things about your neighbourhood that make you want to live there?

Well, I live over in the Broadway-Granville or South Granville area which is pretty great in terms of getting around because its easy enough to get downtown, or over to Commercial or Main. There’s great spots around like Salade Des Fruits, Vij’s, West, The Ouisi Bistro and now Go Fish! which I”m happy about and others – which is helpful because there’s nothing really else around but shoe stores and horribly pricey – yet gourmet groceries. And because of the easy to get around aspect – I don’t have a car to do big grocery runs sadly. I love cooking!

The thing that you eat that is bad for you that you will never stop eating:

Easy. Chips and pop. Not the French Fry variety – I’m talking Ruffles, Old Dutch, Miss Vickies etc.. All about the Tim’s plain Old Fashioned right now. Plain and really crunchy is the way to go. As for pop – I flip between diet no caffeine colas. Love to have one without aspartame. That worries me.

Default drink/cocktail of choice?

Just one? Hmm. Kinda torn between the Boulevardier and variations of, as well as a good Old Fashioned. Guess I like my chips like I like my drinks. Generally, any classic whisk(e)y cocktail that involves a touch of depth and a orange twist and I’m a happy camper.

Drink/cocktail you’ll never have again?

A vodka soda. Can’t remember if I ever have had one. But if I did, I’ll never do it again. Promise.

The Vancouverite that you admire most?

Right now, Rob Brown – the CTV journalist that went out and covered the game seven riots. Watching him work his way through those people made me say – “I don’t know if I could do that without losing it.” And he didn’t. I admire that.

What is your favourite word?

“Twit.” If I ever get cranky, I’ll generally call myself or anyone else a twit and it always makes me laugh.

What is your least favourite word?

“Enjoy.” I don’t know why. I think it’s just the way it’s said, or the way the word is made up. It just seems like a really pretentious word to me. I don’t enjoy “enjoy.”

Your favourite curse word?

Curse words for me are kind of a like a random lottery. There’s many words that can result from a need to curse for me. French, English, various other languages. As far as PG ones, “Living Lord” came out one day, and I’ve been using that pretty frequently. As for rated “R” ones, nothing beats the old classics.

The cliche that you overuse?

“Fair enough.”

The wildest place you’ve ever been to?

A completely cliché watering hole bar in Missoula, Montana. I swear it was the penultimate, proto-typical Cowboy shack of a bar at three in the afternoon with a capacity of, like, 20 people max. Toothless guy playing a bucket and a string, one haggard girl working the room and the boys at the bar, another dude falling off his chair and howling laughing; all in the span of the two minutes it took me to walk in in hip waders, order a tray of six rum and cokes in styrofoam cups to-go like a drive through and leave. Crazy place that Montana. Miss it. Had a great time camping out and fly-fishing there.

What is your favourite local patio?

I’m partial to the zoo that is the Backstage Lounge’s patio on a weekend in the summer, because it was my old stomping grounds. Crazy for people watching while being by the water, and at night you can pretty much hang out there and listen to the band playing from inside from outside – which I liked better sometimes.

What trend have you followed that you now regret?

Honestly, I’m not so big on trends – generally because when I do get onto them, I’m usually too late. Either that, or the ones I do follow, I’m not so good at. Oh wait. Smoking. I guess I hopped on that train – and I want off.

The thing about whisky that most people don’t get?

There’s plenty about whisk(e)y that’s shrouded in mystery for many. But generally, I’d have to say two things. One – ordering a “whisk(e)y” doesn’t necessarily mean the bartender will know exactly what kind of whisk(e)y you want. Canadian, Irish, Scotch, Bourbon, American, Japanese, Australian, Indian etc. They’re all whisk(e)y. So if you’re looking for any info most bartenders would be happy to suggest something. Myself included. And two – not all Canadian whiskey is Rye. Ie: Canadian Club, Crown Royal – not Ryes technically. Centennial, Alberta Premium – Ryes. That being said, I’m still waiting for a really big robust Canadian Rye to knock my socks off.

The dumbest thing that you’ve ever done to your hair?

Oh man – how much space do I have here? I’ve had everything from burgundy dreadlocks to bright pink spikes to Oscar the Grouch green. Like grade 10 chem lab up there for a while. Au natural now.

What are the three things you’d like to change about Vancouver?

Affordability – number one. Two – I’d like people to be able to gather en masse downtown without having to worry about idiot brats taking advantage of the situation. Three – In an ideal world, I’d like to transfer down some of the wealth into restoring some of the city’s heart and soul in the Downtown East Side.

Is there a local bartender who could sell you anything?

Oh yeah totally. Two actually. Jay Jones and H.

Your go to, no-frills place for dinner?

Splitz Burger on Main. Free-range bison burger. Yes please. With the plastic cup full of pop.

If you could board a plane this afternoon, where would it be taking you?

Scotland. Without question. I’m a whisk(e)y, golf and fly fishing fanatic that craves a quiet house on a beautiful landscape by the ocean – yet I’ve never been. I think you’d have to pry me away from it if I ever did go.

The three books that you read that made an impact on you in your formative years?

Perfume, A Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy and Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas. Honorable Mention: A River Runs Through It.

Who’s style do you covet?

Johnny Depp for straight up style – as far as overall style – you have to dig Hunter S Thompson’s style. They broke the mold after that man. Although I’d leave out all the guns. But that was Hunter. Otherwise? Jughead Jones or Forsythe P Jones. Man eats a lot, sleeps a lot – looks after his buddy, drums.. and doesn’t care about much else to worry about. Atta boy! Make him a whisk(e)y drinker and I’ve got a hero!

Where was the last place you traveled to for work or pleasure?

Um… Mac’s Milk? Haha. I don’t get out as much as I used to with a little one running around now. Actually the last place I went to was Victoria for a day. Loved it. Traveling is a large contributor to the person I am today. And I miss it.

What is your biggest phobia?

Failure.

Where did you go to school?

I actually went through school in Ottawa, well Kanata technically. Holy Redeemer, St. Paul’s and Holy Trinity. Holy school!

What did you major in as an undergraduate?

Did the two-year Journalism Diploma program at Langara. Pretty tough deal – eight full time courses while working on the paper. Not a lot of sleep and certainly many many push button coffees after cafeteria hours. I was usually there till the janitor kicked me out.

Shoe of choice?

Adidas. Easily. Just not the cheap sole ones they re-issued over the past couple years. Made me a quality Adidas hunter. It’s actually quite a bit harder than you think.

The different career path that you could have gone on?

Well, you never know really how things will play out. I like to think that what will eventually come to pass is not yet written – so being a jack of all trades, I could’ve gone many different ways from journalist, photographer, musician, promoter, editor and more.

I’m hoping that one day soon I can parlay everything into becoming a whisk(e)y writer, which might be on the horizon and I”m working towards it. But overall – who really knows where things will go .

Your ancestry?

Total Canadian mish-mash mutt. Let’s see – French, Italian, Spanish, Scottish, Irish, the list goes on. So yeah, I always say “Canadian” because that’s the only thing I know for sure.

Your three favourite films of all time?

Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (again, I know) and I really liked Almost Famous. Waking Life was another big favorite of mine.

Your three favourite songs of all time? Impossible. I’d have to list albums. I’ll try to put up offerings that kinda shaped me over the years.

Sparta – Wiretap Scars
The National – Alligator
Tool – Aenima
Face To Face – Don’t Turn Away
Green Day – 1039 Smoothed Out Slappy Hours
Blind Melon – Soup
Alice In Chains – Unplugged
The Cure – Wild Mood Swings
The Rolling Stones – Hot Rocks

Under what circumstances would you join the army?

To back up my country, man! I love Canada through and through and I’d fight for it if I had to. Only other reason is if they’d pay me to learn how to fly helicopters. Then I’d be up for that too!

Your most regrettable purchase ever?

The Magic Bullet. Good for baby for food but I thought it’d rock for making slushy blender drinks and it did jack for that. All it did was rattle ice cubes around until the damned thing overheated.

Your major character flaw?

Indecisiveness and generally being overcautious about things. At least in my eyes anyways. I’m sure I’ve got a boatload, but I’m doing my best to pretend they’re perfectly acceptable.

The character flaw in others that you can’t abide?

Smacking. Might not be a character flaw to others, but it is to me! Otherwise, I can’t stand self-entitled, self-absorbed arrogance. That’s more of a ‘flaw package’ I guess.

How do you know when you can trust someone?

Potty humour. If you can’t laugh at a good joke about farts or poops there’s no way I can trust you.

What was the luckiest moment in your life?

I was born like two months premature so there was a good chance I wasn’t going to make it. But apparently I did thanks to some major medical miracles and having amazing parents. Otherwise – I’d say coming to the realisation that my future wife wasn’t really trying to make it to the last SkyTrain after our Queens of The Stone Age concert date.

What was the unluckiest moment in your life?

You know, I think I’m a pretty lucky guy.

What are you the most proud of?

My family.

What are you the least proud of?

Being so damned far away from my family back in Ottawa.

What frustrates you the most about your work?

Not having the same collection of whisk(e)y at home as I do at work. *sigh*

The relatively normal piece of clothing that you believe you’d look the most ridiculous in?

A kilt. My twiggy legs dropping down from one would totally disgrace that fine garment. Other than that – a tucked in shirt. Just so unnatural for me. I’m a bit of a skinny little punk rock skater brat deep down – so I try to keep it untucked if I can.

The talent that you wish you possessed?

Actually a lot of it has to do with vocal talents. I’m pretty nasal so singing isn’t a strong point of mine but it’d come in handy if I ever wanted to record my own album. Otherwise – I’d kill to be a strong public speaker – which I’m definitely not.

What are you listening to as you answer these questions?

Currently, Maps & Atlases – and it’s blowing my mind. Generally though, Indie Pop Rocks via SomaFM’s listener supported radio is always on. Amazing. Switched now to Yeah Yeah Yeahs – 10×10. Equally amazing.

What musical instrument you secretly long to play?

Nothing really – I’ve only ever really longed to play two instruments being drums and guitar and I do that. Been in a few bands in Ottawa and less in Vancouver – more so in Ottawa. I covered the music scene in Vancouver more than actually taking part in it. Though I still have a practice space. I like to think I’ll get back into it soon.

What sport did you give up and why?

Baseball – a long long time ago. Why? Well, I sucked at it number one. Number two, it sucked.

What is the game that you’re best at?

“Game” can be taken many different ways. But I’ll have to say the old NHLPA ’94 on the Super Nintendo. I swear I’ve gotta be one of the best players in the world at that game. Me and my brother lived off it, then me and my friends back in Ottawa, now here in Vancouver we have tournaments. It’s really a lasting legacy that thing.

What is the one animal that scares you the most?

Other than myself in the morning? Bears and myself don’t really understand each other. I’ve looked at a bear before and had it look at me, and well, I could tell we weren’t on the same page. So yeah – bears. Because I don’t think we’d get along – and well, I don’t think I’d win that argument.

Have you ever fired a gun? If so, what were the circumstances?

Ha! Yes. On several occasions – but no no no – not like that. It was pretty innocent every time.

I shot a magnum blank as a kid (with supervision) in suburbia Montreal and I’ll be damned if it didn’t knock me clear on my ass. I also used to drive around a fish farm on an ATV in upstate New York and I used to shoot blank guns to scare off hawks and wild dogs that were taking out ducks and other birds, and generally terrorizing the place.

Scariest situation you’ve ever been in?

Hands down – almost drowning. I mean, I’ve run outta gas in the desert before, and I’ve nearly killed myself skateboarding down the hills around here. But the possibility of drowning scares the crap outta me. Me and a buddy were fishing in Ontario and tried to swim across a bay that had a bit of an undertow due to a dam, but I was wearing huge old skateboarding shoes that had holes in them so every time I tried to kick I really wasn’t going anywhere. My buddy dragged me out though.

Other than that it was the very second after a two year road trip with said buddy, where I saw him and my other buddy drive off back to Ontario after dropping me off at SFU with $12 and a backpack. And no, I wasn’t a student at SFU. I certainly did live there though. I was “the guy on the couch.” Scary watching them drive off into the horizon. Definitely had the “what the hell have I done?” moment.

The thing of no monetary value that you own and will keep dearly until you die?

My ability to play drums. I’m so damned fidgety I’d probably die if I didn’t release my energy by tapping away on anything. I play drums on everything. Sinks, walls, tables, pop cans, glasses etc., and it keeps me sane in my worst moments.

Describe your tattoos?

None, which is amazing to me. If tattoos grew on people as a direct result from their lifestyle during the teenage years, I’d be littered! I just feel that there’s several things that have to be accomplished in life to earn tattoos, and well, my family is one of them, so a tattoo of sorts could be in the works.

Your first memory?

Looking down at my charred and burnt feet in a red bucket full of ice water in the back of my parents’ woody wagon. My brother was jumping and playing in fire embers in his heavy boots and thinking my brother was the coolest cat on earth, I jumped in too – sans boots. Sans anything – and the embers sunk themselves straight into my feet.

Next thing I’m running to jump in the lake and screaming the whole way. Then my feet ended up in that bucket of ice water in the back seat. I remember when the car took a corner on the way to the hospital, the water would shift to where I could see the likeness of my charred feet through the ice.

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One Response to “50 Questions With Randy Gaudreau, First Lord Of The Wood At Gastown’s “Shebeen””

  1. r w c on August 7th, 2011 6:20 pm

    sounds like me and randy were separated at birth. nice interview! going to grab a whiskey drink there shortly. (is it time yet?)