MELBOURNE: Saturday, November 19 @ RAOBGAB with Lost Animal, New War + Free Choice Duo * SOLD OUT!

NEWCASTLE: Wednesday, November 23 @ Emma Soup Gallery (Emma Soup 1st birthday celebration) with In the Dollhouse + Stitched Vision. Tickets $15 + booking fee on sale now from Oztix. 7pm start. All ages.

SYDNEY: Thursday, November 24 @ Goodgod Small Club with Lost Animal + Kirin J. Callinan. Tickets on sale now from Moshtix.

MELBOURNE: Friday, November 25 @ St Michael’s Uniting Church, corner Collins & Russell Sts: Labels Live showcase curated by Mistletone to celebrate the label’s 5th birthday & presented by Melbourne Music Week. Featuring HTRK, Beaches, The Orbweavers, Montero & Wintercoats. Tickets on sale now from Moshtix. 7pm start. All ages.

BRISBANE: Saturday, November 26 @ The Bridge Club with Lakes, Secret Birds, Nite Fields. Doors open 7pm. Tickets $18 + booking fee on sale now from Oztix. Presented by Mistletone, The Thousands and 4ZZZ.

Mistletone proudly presents the return of Melbourne-born, London-based HTRK in their first Australian tour for over five years.

HTRK is Jonnine Standish and Nigel Yang, a two-piece live electronic/noise/avant pop/rock act known for their subtlety of gesture and stubbornly languorous performances and capable of seducing audiences through disciplined waves of sonics, crisp 808 beats and soft, calm threats.

From the mid-2000s, HTRK (pronounced “haterock”) toured Europe extensively at the personal request of Liars, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Shellac, The Horrors, The Locust and Fuck Buttons. Their defiantly underground pedigree derives from strong associations with the late, great Rowland S. Howard and UK industrial legend Paul Smith, whose label Blast First Petite (Pan Sonic, Martin Rev) has just released their acclaimed new album Work (work, work), in the UK/Europe. The album has been released locally through Mistletone Records / Inertia, and in the US on Ghostly International.

  • “Fans of raw drone will zone out in their glory” – ALL MUSIC GUIDE
  • “Awe-inspiring” – ROCK A ROLLA
  • “Extraordinarily sexy” – TIME OUT UK“Amazing, heartbreaking sound” – 20 JAZZ FUNK GREATS
  • “Obsessed.” 8/10 – NME
  • “A musical suicide pact between Swans and Mazzy Star”– PLAYLOUDER

HTRK sound like a comedown, a bad trip, a hip romance, “a motel room, a tyre print in the rain, an alibi” (Plan B). 808 beats, evocative basslines, texture on texture. Jonnine’s wry, androgynous slur melts on top – sliding the masculine into the feminine. People say it sounds like Suicide and Swans, but more beautiful.

HTRK’s vision is mainly about emotion – having just the right amount of expression versus restraint. They could unleash a sonic nightmare – how they temper their power is what makes them unique.

Introductions: bassist Sean Stewart met guitarist Nigel Yang through music school in Melbourne. Inspired by David Lynch, protopunk and noise, they dropped out and decided to start Hate Rock Trio. Art director Jonnine Standish noticed Stewart’s good looks at a bar one night and charmed her way into band rehearsal. This was 2003.

Their first release in 2004, the Nostalgia EP (self-released, reissued by Fire Records), has since been used as a soundtrack for live suspension hangings by performance artist Kareem Gnoheim, and described by Allmusic (in a four-star review) as “an agitated haze of addictive ambivalence instead of the swagger and violence of their influences, the overall feeling is of beautiful disharmony”.

Their strangely detached live shows caught the attention of post punk legend Rowland S. Howard (ex-The Birthday Party), who invited them to record their debut at Birdland Studios. The result, Marry Me Tonight, was their ‘pop’ album, designed explicitly for teenagers and described by brainwashed as “an almost purely emotional experience… a wet dream”.

They moved to Berlin in 2006 and cut their teeth touring Europe with Liars. They’ve played Glasgow’s famed Optimo club, the unfamed but equally as potent London anarchist squat party Behind Bars, and toured Ireland briefly with Shellac. They half-moved to London, signed to Blast First Petite and played with personal heroes Alan Vega, Lydia Lunch and Martin Rev. Their slick DJ sets at Dalston club ‘Faction’ further revealed their talent at creating (and sustaining) a mood; their mixing of Vangelis and Coil with choice cuts from Basic Channel, Sahko and Muzique gave hint of their new synthetik direction.

Marry Me Tonight finally got released in 2009, sans hype, but got listed in Wire magazine and NME (8/10) and somehow found its way into the hearts and bedrooms of the disaffected youths (and young at heart) they were aiming for. The Yeah Yeah Yeahs took them on tour, as did The Horrors. In January 2010, wanting to start something new, HTRK organised a “tech-noir” party at Cargo London with Factory Floor and unsung electro genius Andrea Parker.

After years of living on a slippery slope, Stewart committed suicide in March 2010. Standish and Yang’s resolve strengthened. They completed their album in the months following and played a comeback show at the ICA described by the NME as being of “purging redolent beauty”. Stewart’s death will not help HTRK shake the common description of them as dark, despite their intentions. But the new album Work (work, work) is a record of heartbreak, finding another world, with soft allusions to the future. Darkness has been overplayed; it’s too representational now. HTRK do not aim for pitch black or lights off… it’s a murkier, more mysterious, heavy space.

Work (work, work) is out now on Mistletone in Australia/New Zealand, Ghostly International in the Americas and Blast First Petite elsewhere. Deluxe vinyl with download code available now on mail order.