By Rae Porter
Monday Magazine contributor
Jesse Roper, the free-wheelin’ spirit hailing from the meadows of Metchosin, has been the Island’s golden boy for many a-year. But it seems like the rest of the country are waking up to the tunes of Victoria’s favourite troubadour.
I caught up with Roper fresh from Skookum Festival’s After Dark series at the Railway Stage in Vancouver; where the venue’s lineup snaked the block.
“Vancouver can be a hard crowd for me to conjure up, so I was surprised how many people came out. It felt like a Victoria show – everyone was singing,” he said. It’s not hard to see how this magnetic performer can win over a too-cool-for-school Vancouver crowd. Charismatic and witty, Roper has a smile that can charm a room. Plus, he’s damn talented.
This October, Roper and his band hit the road with Access to Infinity, his third and most ambitious album to date. Building on the rootsy, rock ‘n’ roll downhome vibe of his previous album, Red Bird, Roper describes the album as having “an evolved sound,” a culmination of numerous influences that have lent a richer, psych-rock edge to his work.
“It was a huge learning experience, but I feel proud of what we’ve done,” said Roper, who recorded the album at the Warehouse in Vancouver with Ian Davenport (Band of Skulls, July Talk).
Spring was spent touring North America’s West Coast with seasoned road dogs Big Wreck and summer was full of festival commitments, but that hasn’t dulled Roper’s passion for the pavement. “It’s all I ever want to do!” he exclaims, “I want to be on the road and sleeping in my van, meeting new people and seeing amazing new places. I love the whole process of being on the road.”
The western leg of the tour sees Blue Heron Music stablemates Band of Rascals join, making this a rocking, raucous family affair.
Though he has a busy autumn ahead, Roper is already onto his next project. He’s back in the studio, working at Fader Mountain with famed producer Ben Kaplan (Mother Mother, Biffy Clyro) on tracks for a possible new EP.
Roper and Kaplan connected well, each recognizing one another’s vision and how it would work with the new material. “It felt so good in the studio: Ben is so in tune, Roper said. “The guitar sound is so punchy, so dirty, so raw.”
When the black-top beckons, Roper will always go; the venues will be bigger and the tours longer. At the time of writing there were tickets left for his McPherson Playhouse dates Oct. 12 and Nov. 17. Snap them up and let’s celebrate our hometown hero.