The Middle East (band) – Wikipedia

Australian indie folk band

The Middle East

Origin Townsville, Queensland, Australia
Years active
  • 2005–2008
  • 2009–2011
  • 2019
Labels Spunk
Past members
  • Jordan Ireland
  • Rohin Jones
  • Bree Tranter
  • Joseph Ireland
  • Mark Myers
  • Jack Saltmiras
  • Mike Haydon
  • Tim Barwise
  • Javed Sterritt
  • Jared Jones

The Middle East were an Australian indie folk band formed in Townsville, Queensland in 2005. The group played locally initially but grew to become a national and international touring band. 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 a compilation 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.

The Middle East’s first studio 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]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. 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][13]
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”.[14] 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.”[15] FasterLouder reported that the band thanked all in attendance, saying “it makes it special for us.”[16]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]

In March 2019, it was confirmed that the band would return for two nights only to perform at the Sydney Opera House as a part of Vivid Live to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Spunk Records. The band were joined by Jack Ladder, Holly Throsby, Machine Translations, The Ocean Party (playing their final show) and Emma Russack.[17]

Musical style[edit]

The Middle East has been described as playing within “a multitude of genres and styles”.[18] Elements of country, blues, punk, rock, folk,[18]chamber pop, psych folk,[19]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”.[20] 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”.[14]

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.[18]

The band’s song “Blood” is featured in the films It’s Kind of a Funny Story (2010), Crazy, Stupid, Love (2011), Accidents Happen (2009), Jeff, Who Lives at Home (2011) and A Perfect Pairing (2022).


Studio albums[edit]

Compilation albums[edit]

Extended plays[edit]


Awards and nominations[edit]

APRA Awards[edit]

The APRA Awards are presented annually from 1982 by the Australasian Performing Right Association (APRA), “honouring composers and songwriters”. They commenced in 1982.[22]

ARIA Music Awards[edit]

The ARIA Music Awards is an annual awards ceremony that recognises excellence, innovation, and achievement across all genres of Australian music.[24]

Australian Music Prize[edit]

The Australian Music Prize (the AMP) is an annual award of $30,000 given to an Australian band or solo artist in recognition of the merit of an album released during the year of award. It commenced in 2005.

J Awards[edit]

The J Awards are an annual series of Australian music awards that were established by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s youth-focused radio station Triple J. They commenced in 2005.

Queensland Music Awards[edit]

The Queensland Music Awards (previously known as Q Song Awards) are annual awards celebrating Queensland, Australia’s brightest emerging artists and established legends. They commenced in 2006.[26]


  1. ^ “Best of What’s Next: The Middle East”. Paste Magazine. 15 March 2010. Retrieved 16 November 2012.
  2. ^ “Interview with Mark and profile page from Slottsfjell”. Slottsfjell Festival. 18 July 2010. Retrieved 16 November 2012.
  3. ^ a b “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 26 July 2011.
  5. ^ Archived 14 September 2009 at the Wayback Machine
  6. ^ “BIG DAY OUT 2011 – Music Festival – Auckland, Gold Coast, Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Perth”. Archived from the original on 19 July 2011. Retrieved 26 July 2011.
  7. ^ “Big Sound 2009”. Q Music. Archived from the original on 24 July 2011. Retrieved 26 July 2011.
  8. ^ Marcus. “Homebake Festival 2009 lineup revealed – Festivals”. Archived from the original on 21 July 2011. Retrieved 26 July 2011.
  9. ^ “Doves, The Middle East @ Palace Theatre, Melbourne (28/07/2009) on”. 29 July 2009. Archived from the original on 21 March 2012. Retrieved 26 July 2011.
  10. ^[dead link]
  11. ^ “301 moved permanently”. Retrieved 26 July 2011.
  12. ^ Tweet. “Artist Tracks: The Middle East – Elbows Music Blog Aggregator”. Archived from the original on 12 July 2012. Retrieved 26 July 2011.
  13. ^ “The Middle East – Artist Profile”. Retrieved 12 February 2020.
  14. ^ a b “Forkcast: The Middle East: “The Darkest Side”. Pitchfork. 25 September 2009. Retrieved 26 July 2011.
  15. ^ “The Middle East release statement on break up”. Triple J. ABC. 4 August 2011. Retrieved 12 May 2012.
  16. ^ “Music Junkee on Facebook”. Facebook. Archived from the original on 30 April 2022.[user-generated source]
  17. ^ “Spunk Records 20th Anniversary feat. The Middle East”. Sydney Opera House. Retrieved 19 March 2019.
  18. ^ a b c 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.
  19. ^ “The Middle East – I Want That You Are Always Happy” Album Information”. 14 June 2011. Archived from the original on 7 June 2011. Retrieved 26 July 2011.
  20. ^ James Christopher Monger. “The Middle East | AllMusic”. AllMusic. Rovi. Retrieved 15 May 2012.
  21. ^ “The Middle East on Australian Charts”. Australian Charts. Retrieved 30 August 2020.
  22. ^ “APRA History”. Australasian Performing Right Association (APRA) | Australasian Mechanical Copyright Owners Society (AMCOS). Retrieved 25 April 2022.
  23. ^ “Voting Now Open For APRA’s Song of the Year Award”. Music Feeds. 18 March 2010. Retrieved 28 April 2022.
  24. ^ “The Middle East ARIA Awards Search”. ARIA Awards. Retrieved 30 August 2020.
  25. ^ “Winners & Shortlists”. australian music prize. Retrieved 22 August 2020.
  26. ^ “About the Queensland Music Awards”. Queensland Music Awards. Retrieved 21 March 2021.
  27. ^ “Past Winners 2011”. Queensland Music Awards. Retrieved 25 March 2021.
  28. ^ “Photos Queensland Music Awards 2011 Winners”. Music Feeds. August 2011. Retrieved 25 March 2021.

External links[edit]