KEXP Loves PDX… and Banana Stand!

Boone Howard with DJ Sharlese / all photos by Michael Reiersgaard (view more)

All this year, KEXP has been hosting a series of unique fun events to raise money for our New Home campaign! Back in October, we hosted a two day showcase in Portland, one at Holocene and the other at Doug Fir. While there, we were fortunate to work with Louie Herr and Aaron Colter of Banana Stand Media! They donated their time and services towards the cause, documenting the bands and artists that played the show. I think these guys are pretty fucking cool and I wanted to share their love and passion of the Northwest music scene with you.

How did you two meet?

We were both in high school marching band back in Indiana together as trumpet players. We started hanging out at a comic shop and generally trying to stay out of serious trouble. We moved out to Portland together in 2007 with some other friends, who were in a band and following one of their older brothers – Adam Pike, a real swell guy who had interned with Larry Crane and now has his own studio.

What is Banana Stand and how did it come to be?

Banana Stand is a secret space, but it’s also a team of people doing our best to record great music and make cool things. We have about a dozen or so really talented and dedicated people who make it happen. Most of them volunteer their time and we do our best to share whatever money comes in with them and the bands equally. Louie and Aaron don’t take anything. It’s no one’s full-time job. We got started when those of us from Indiana moved into a house in inner SE Portland, back when that was still an affordable option. We had packed too many people in there, and Aaron was just crashing in the unfinished basement on a matress. Some friends wanted to play a NYE’s house show, and since we had some podcasting microphones, we decided to record their sets. It was, like, the coolest party either of us had ever even been invited too, what with being band nerds and all. A couple months later, we recorded a band called Lonesome Radio Heart. They liked our recordings so much they made an album out of them. After that, we figured we could make a thing of it.

Minden

How many bands have you worked with?

Over 100 now, but for various reasons we’ve only been able to release about 80 albums.

Do you guys only exclusively work with NW bands?

Pretty much. We’ve had some touring acts come through, but it’s just easier to work with people face-to-face, and there’s such a wealth of talented artists out here, we never have to look far for more people to record.

How do you select what bands and artists that you want to work with?

Louie and Aaron usually hash out what bands we want to work with over several, sometimes heated discussions. :-)

Do you plan to expand?

Ummm, maybe? We never really started out as a business; we’ve had to become more professional and that’s gotten us some great opportunities, but we’re really just interested in recording great live music. The rest is just stuff that gets in the way or lets us do more recording.

What is the weirdest event that has ever taken place during a filming?

Someone stole a bunch of money from our bartending roommate, so that sucked. But people chipped in to pay him back, and that warmed our tiny hearts. A fight broke out in the front yard between an artist and his “producer” over who owned a guitar. This couple wouldn’t stop fucking in our back yard once. That was kinda gross and we had to kick them out. Didn’t even ask for anyone to join in, the jerks.

Summer Canibals

Is there someone you would like to work with that you haven’t yet?

We’re both pretty big fans of a lot of the Seattle scene right now. Aaron loves acts like Childbirth and The Wimps, and stubbled upon Lilly’s older band, Tummy, at a Fantagraphics party. Louie really digs her new group Mommy Long Legs. We hope to do something with The Thermals at some point. Portugal. The Man has always been kind of a dream band as some of their members have been out to our recordings over the years. Dead Moon would be legendary. We love UMO and probably bother them too much about doing something. Anything! Ruban, if you’re reading this, we’re sorry, but will still probably bother you more.

Who are some of your favorite bands and artists coming out of the Portland right now?

We both really love The Woolen Men. It’s been awesome watching them grow over the years. The Last Artful, Dodgr just moved up from LA, so it’ll be exciting to see how she continues to create in this city. Divers are fucking solid. The Ghost Ease rule.

What makes the Portland music scene so special?

In years past, you could get a relatively cheap house rental and load it up with a bunch of people with minimum-wage jobs and practice, throw shows, record demos, etc. The rainy winter makes you hole up and just create. It’s a lot harder to do that now. Rents are going up. Shitty houses are being torn down for millionaire homes or over-priced apartments. But there’s still a rad community of supporters; lots of people who start different bands, join others, start up again. Plus, there’s an incredible music economy here — venues, studios, media organizations, and whatnot.

What projects do you guys have on the 2016 horizon?

We’re starting an acoustic video series pretty soon called “Unpeeled,” where we’ll go to different places to shoot one or two tracks with people. We have some bands on the horizon to make some live albums for, and we’re going to get to work with Red Bull Sound Select and Portland State University again on a few big events. Plus, we have a bunch of live albums to finalize and get out to everyone. We’re hoping to make it out to Treefort, finally. We really love what that crew is doing in Boise and want to see it first hand.

If a band / artist would like to get in touch with you, how would they do that? Do you guys accept submissions?

Oh, they can just hit us up on Facebook or Twitter or whatever. We’re pretty easy going. Schedules are tight, but we’re always down with hearing from new folks.

Minden – “Gettin’ Off”:

Boone Howard – “Satan”:

Summer Cannibals – “Make Up”:

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