HTRK Discuss New Remix & BFI Rowland S Howard Event

HTRK release video to accompany Mika Vainio remix and discuss forthcoming Rowland S Howard tribute event at the BFI in London

The last time HTRK played London, at the Garage in October 2011, that unremarkable venue shook with monumental yet minimalist bass, the dry ice crackled with static. It was a deeply impressive performance by the Melbourne-based duo, part of their brave return after the suicide of founder member Sean Stewart in March 2010.

This autumn, they come back to the UK after a two year absence to play two very different live dates. The first, on Friday November 15th, is for an event at the BFI in tribute to the late guitarist Rowland S Howard. The night (details and tickets here) will feature a screening of Rowland S Howard documentary Autoluminescent, alongside live performances by HTRK and Savages.

The second HTRK gig at Corsica Studios on Wednesday November 20th will see the band play material from their much-anticipated third album, the follow-up to Work, Work, Work, an album that, for me at least, has just got better and better since it was released back in 2011.

To coincide with their live dates, HTRK have a new video (watch above) made to go with Mika Vainio’s excellent remix of their track ‘Poison’ that features on this 10" from the Ghostly International label. As you might expect from the Finnish master, all HTRK’s brittle, skeletal core is teased out of the track, creating something stark, greyscale and beautiful. The video was made by Turner Prize-nominated artist Laure Prouvost, whose work rather suits the close atmosphere and dread of HTRK’s work. As Prouvost said in a recent interview, "Claustrophobia is a subject I constantly go back to. It connects to this idea of being somewhere you can’t escape, where there is only one direction. The idea of norms and following one direction is something I struggle with or I want to get hold of. "

We dropped HTRK a line to find out a little more about their new material, and why they’re involved in the Rowland S Howard tribute. They say that the new material has been inspired by summer, psychic energy and American film director Abel Ferrara, and "is about love (modern love)".

How did the Mika Vainio remix come about? Were you long-time fans? What Pan Sonic or Vainio would you recommend?

HTRK: Sean met Mika whilst he was living in Berlin. We sent him a vinyl copy of Work. We have been huge fans of Pan Sonic and Ø. We would start at Ø – Metri (1994). Oleva from 2008 is also great. Also Pan Sonic – Kesto.

Can you tell us about the video?

HTRK: We first saw Laure’s work at the ICA in 2010, we were both part of a live weekend called Against Gravity. Laure’s words on the video: repeating forgetting repeating, cut, forgetting, repeating forgetting repeating, cut, forgetting, repeating forgetting repeating, cut, forgetting, repeating forgetting repeating, cut, forgetting, repeating forgetting repeating, cut, forgetting, repeating forgetting repeating, cut, forgetting, repeating forgetting repeating, cut, forgetting…

What did you know of Rowland S. Howard when you were starting out as musicians in Melbourne?

HTRK: Rowland had an almost mythical status in Melbourne. It was a huge thrill when we found out he wanted to work with us.

How did you end up getting to know him personally?

HTRK: He became a friend to the band and a dear friend to Jonn. Jonn and Rowland shared a playfulness and really liked each other so much. They wrote ‘(I Know) A Girl called Jonny’ together in cafes around St Kilda, Melbourne.

What was it about his music that you most engaged with?

HTRK: His fallibility, his ferocity. His phrasing and timing. "Rowland time is Jamaica time" said his brother Harry Howard this week, while rehearsing with the Pop Crimes (The songs of Rowland S. Howard) band for ATP. His lyrical imagery and imagination.

How has he inspired HTRK?

HTRK: In a songwriting sense, capturing the essence of initial intent. To make a conscious effort not to overwork the idea and risk losing connection. To create albums as thick with imagery as a book or a film. Lyrics that contain a deep personal reflection that still hold a subtle sense of mischief. Influenced by his view on lyrics – "If you can’t understand them, then what’s the point". And every now and then it’s good to throw people’s preconceptions about your sense of style, (e.g. Rowland chilling in a cool tracksuit )

Which is your top Rowland S. Howard song?

Have to give you three:

‘Dead Radio’ from Teenage Snuff Film’

‘Autoluminescent’ from Teenage Snuff Film

‘Avé Maria’ from Pop Crimes

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