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Hong Kong Banana

It came up from the basement of the Montana House in Portland, OR. This lo-fi sound slithered up the midnight stairs like some raw, wounded animal. Johnny Mao was hanging out upstairs with a Montana Street housemate. He turned to her and said, “I want to be in a band like this.” Johnny Mao, a.k.a. Portland music scene vet John Johnson Mao (aka Johnny Buckets of Hillstomp), was hooked on the soul/garage band sound. With Chairman Mao onboard, the meat and potatoes, as the effusive Nigel Bubblesworth said, was now served as Hong Kong Banana. Sure, it would be garage, alright, but garage done right. What had originally started out as a joke, and a knee jerk reaction to musicians taking themselves far too seriously, was now growing the balls to take itself seriously.

So, the first ever HKB song, “Lonely Winter” (what other kind of winter can you have in Portland), gave birth to this Banana in a basement, where no one dared take themselves seriously. Nigel and Johnny, write the songs that Nigel and Amora Pooley sing.

Amora was trying to get on with her own band, and Johnny knew that, so she auditioned for HKB. It was love at first banana bite. She had the right growl for the meat and potatoes Nigel and Johnny were cooking up and throwing on the blue plate. Bubz will tell you Amora’s big pipes are integral to the Hong Kong sound.

Chris “Stony Buttons” Hutton is the gun-for-hire-drummer in these here parts, when a band wants a quick fill-in or reliable solution. Nigel said Chris was needed to take HKB to the next garage door opening level. “He’s a pocket drummer—always on time,” Nigel said.

Which just leaves guitarist Justin Thorpe off this map to the Hong Kong stars. Justin reminds you of Mick Taylor’s ‘70s Stones’ sound on songs like HKB’s “Get In Line.” Nigel thinks he’s one very cool banana that any band—in the garage or out—would be happy to have. He certainly seems to have the Blue Soul requirement for this Hong Kong garage experimental feeling, hooked on a lo-fi ceiling, down in the basement of your most essential dreams.

"Now but not NOW now" is their recently released EP and it’s a defiant flowering weed, growing up from the cracks in an overproduced, over-shopped, and just plain over society. Wow. Did someone really just say all that about a garage band that started out in the basement, as a joke on the whole sad scene? Yup.

Amora’s tambourine, clutched in sweaty fist, raised to the fog machine skies, we are here to rock.