The Middle East (band)

The Middle East
Origin Townsville, Queensland, Australia
Genres Indie folk, post-rock, ambient
Years active 2005–2008, 2009–2011
Labels Spunk
Associated acts Joseph Liddy & The Skeleton Horse, The Starry Field, Jaws, The Forest, Sounds Like Chicken, Thelma Plum, R.L. Jones, Survivals, Tigertown
Past members Jordan Ireland
Rohin Jones
Bree Tranter
Joseph Ireland
Mark Myers
Jack Saltmiras
Mike Haydon
Tim Barwise
Javed Sterritt
Jarrad Jones

The Middle East was a band based in Townsville in Queensland, Australia. Forming in 2005, the group played locally and completed several East Coast tours of mainly festivals throughout Australia. The band's name has no particular significance - it was coined for a show poster of the then temporary project, after co-frontman Rohin Jones watched a documentary on Yasser Arafat.[1][2]

In early 2008 the band released an album called The Recordings of The Middle East before splitting up. Eight months after this decision was made, band members reconvened and later re-released an abridged version of the debut album, The Recordings of the Middle East as an EP in May 2009 through Spunk Records in Australia. This EP was released in North America on 27 October 2009.

The Middle East's first full album, I Want That You Are Always Happy was released in Australia and New Zealand on 8 April 2011. The band played its last show on 31 July 2011, at the Splendour in the Grass festival in Woodford, Queensland.[3]


The Middle East has received national radio airplay on Triple J[4] and slots on several major Australian festivals such as Splendour in the Grass,[5] the Big Day Out,[6] Big Sound,[7] Homebake, and the Woodford Folk Festival.[8] As well as this, the band has toured with international bands such as British group Doves[9][10] and has also achieved minor, developing interest in the United States, where The Recordings of The Middle East was released on 27 October. Much of the interest surrounding the band can be related back to the blogosphere, with indie blog I Guess I'm Floating introducing the band stateside in May 2009.[11] Thereafter, The Middle East had over one hundred blog entries from around the world writing about the band.[12] With the release of The Recordings of the Middle East, Pitchfork offered a free download of the song "The Darkest Side" as a part of its weekly "forkcast".[13] The Middle East was also nominated and won the Triple J 2009 ‘Unearthed’ Award.

In October 2009, it was announced that the band would be opening for US band Grizzly Bear in their Melbourne shows. The band was also announced as the support act for one of the band's Sydney Festival shows. On 11 November 2009, it was announced that the band would be part of the festival Big Day Out, announced as part of the second line up, in East Coast areas.

Band members announced at Splendour in the Grass festival in August 2011 that their set that night would be their "last show ever". They released a statement to fans, explaining why the band had broken up for the second time by saying: "we don't feel like playing any more for a whole lot of reasons that I won't list here and I'm afraid if we continue any longer it would just be a money grab."[14] FasterLouder reported that the band thanked all in attendance, saying "it makes it special for us."[15] Triple J presenter Dom Alessio reacted to the news on Twitter, adding that it was "an amazing band cutting it short before their time."[3]

Musical style

The Middle East has been described as playing within "a multitude of genres and styles".[16] Elements of country, blues, punk, rock, folk,[16] chamber pop, psych folk,[17] post-rock and ambience can be found throughout its music. Allmusic describes the band's sound as "lush, orchestral indie pop that blends the epic atmospherics of modern rock outfits like Múm and Sigur Rós with the earthy simplicity of modern indie folk".[18] Instruments used include guitar—both electric and acoustic, drums, hand percussion, piano, glockenspiel, banjo and trumpet. Another distinguishing feature of the band's music is the use of vocal harmony—in particular close harmony performed at times by several members. Pitchfork described some The Middle East songs as being " simple, finger-plucked acoustic affair with alternating and harmonizing vocals that lend the hushed track a sense of beleaguered hope".[13]

The band, however, has always been critical of itself and its style, believing as an entity it had yet to do anything unique and was too easy to pigeonhole.[16]

The band's song "Blood" is featured in the films It's Kind of a Funny Story (2010) and Crazy, Stupid, Love (2011), "Accidents Happen" (2009), and "Jeff, Who Lives at Home" (2011).



  1. "Best of What's Next: The Middle East". Paste Magazine. Retrieved 2012-11-16.
  2. "Interview with Mark and profile page from Slottsfjell". Slottsfjell Festival. Retrieved 2012-11-16.
  3. 1 2 "Dom Alessio on Twitter". 31 July 2011. Retrieved 12 May 2012. "This is our last show." The Middle East call it quits at Splendour In The Grass. An amazing band cutting it short before their time.
  4. "The Middle East @ J Play". Retrieved 2011-07-26.
  5. Archived 14 September 2009 at the Wayback Machine.
  6. "BIG DAY OUT 2011 - Music Festival - Auckland, Gold Coast, Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Perth". Retrieved 2011-07-26.
  7. "Big Sound 2009". Q Music. Retrieved 2011-07-26.
  8. Marcus. "Homebake Festival 2009 lineup revealed - Festivals". Retrieved 2011-07-26.
  9. "Doves, The Middle East @ Palace Theatre, Melbourne (28/07/2009) on". 29 July 2009. Retrieved 2011-07-26.
  10. "301 moved permanently". Retrieved 2011-07-26.
  11. Tweet. "Artist Tracks: The Middle East - Elbows Music Blog Aggregator". Retrieved 2011-07-26.
  12. 1 2 "Forkcast: The Middle East: "The Darkest Side"". Pitchfork. Retrieved 2011-07-26.
  13. "The Middle East release statement on break up". Triple J. ABC. 4 August 2011. Retrieved 12 May 2012.
  15. 1 2 3 Luke Grundy (17 June 2011). "Tom Waits, disillusionment and shit: The Middle East". The Line of Best Fit. Retrieved 12 May 2012. Echoes of country, blues, folk, rock and punk reverberate throughout the record, and the touchstones the pair mention – Silver Jews, Bob Dylan, Tom Waits – offer an insight into the musical diversity that makes their album so spectacular and challenging. Yet Jones and Ireland still feel the occasional pang of creative limitation too, just like the rest of us.
  16. ""The Middle East - I Want That You Are Always Happy" Album Information". 2011-06-14. Retrieved 2011-07-26.
  17. James Christopher Monger. "The Middle East | AllMusic". AllMusic. Rovi. Retrieved 15 May 2012.
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