Ahead of their upcoming live set at La Sala Rossa, we had a chance to catch up with Gong Gong Gong (工工工) – an unlikely pair of musicians featuring Montreal-born bassist Joshua Frank and Hong Kong guitarist and vocalist Tom Ng.
The duo first met in 2015 in Beijing’s underground music scene (their earliest shows were in underpass tunnels and DIY spaces) and has since used its minimalistic tools and idiosyncratic playing style to strip rock n’ roll down to its bare essentials: rhythm, melody, and grit.
Tapping into a wavelength uniting musical cultures and drawing on inspirations ranging from Bo Diddley to Cantonese opera and West African desert blues, Ng’s guitar has a noticeable type of locomotive chug and banjo twang, while Frank’s thumping bass harmonics provides an aura of ghostly snare hits and timpani overtones.
Transcending “what it means to be ‘from’ a certain place”, the duo advocated that the project of Gong Gong Gong is about existing between cultures and merging different parts of their stories and experiences together. Frank, who hails from Montreal, shared his excitement in anticipation of the upcoming show:
For us to be able to finally play in Montreal is a big deal to me. It's kind of a "homecoming," because I was born here—even though I grew up in Asia.
The duo shares the hope that they can bring together an audience that shares their perspective and connects with it. “We want to make loud, weird, fun music—it's also about challenging people's ideas of what a ‘rock band’ can be,” Frank added.
Gong Gong Gong is a holistic collaboration not limited to the band’s musical output. Ng proudly sings in Cantonese—an anomaly for Mandarin-speaking Mainland China—his lyrics merging experimental storytelling and abstract poetry. Ng also designs all of Gong Gong Gong’s merchandise, from woodblock print t-shirts to a hard-cover book, cataloguing posters made by the band for every show they have performed between their formation and 2019.
Meanwhile, Frank translats of Ng’s lyrics into English, and is also trained as a documentary filmmaker. He directed, shot and edited the music video for album single Ride Your Horse and has produced lyrics videos for many of the band’s tracks. (Frank was also the cinematographer of Big Fight in Little Chinatown, a compelling documentary highlighting the fighting spirit of Chinese communities defending their heritage.)
The band is sharing the bill for its upcoming show with Andy Boay, a friend from Tonstartssbandht (who toured with with in 2016), and Molio Holi, a new Montreal friend and kindred spirit who shares their appreciation for guitar feedback and good food.
And—just to add to the hype—we snuck in this short video:
The show is scheduled for May 17 at 9:15 pm. More details (and tickets) for the show can be found on La Sala Rossa's website. Enjoy!