Noise-pop foursome Harts Barque get ready to add ‘a bit of grit’

PUBLISHED: 17:14 14 January 2014 | UPDATED: 17:14 14 January 2014

Noise Pop rockers Harts Barque. Picture: Joanna Robottom

Noise Pop rockers Harts Barque. Picture: Joanna Robottom


Of the many new bands drawing inspiration from early nineties shoegaze, none may do so quite as physically as Harts Barque.

"In a weird way, a lot of the new music we like – Drenge, Goat – circles back to our early love of grunge, so we do add a bit of grit to even the most harmonic numbers"

Harts Barque

As a live act, the South London ‘noise pop’ four-piece have become almost as renowned for their awkward eye contact and shoe shuffling as they have for their melodic, ambitious harmonies and psychedelic guitar solos. Not that it’s a problem.

Over the last year, the band have built up a steady rhythm in North and East London, winning over crowds with a sound that flits between Smiths-esque jingles to Brian Jonestown Massacre chord changes from song to song. For all the classic tones they will be bringing to Kings Cross’s Surya this Saturday however, lead singer Jay Bhatti is keen to highlight a contemporary edge indebted to a new, heavier breed of rock and roll.

“We all met at a school in Bromley,” he explains, “bonding over something like In Utero while everyone else was playing Red Hot Chilli Pepper songs. In a weird way, a lot of the new music we like – Drenge, Goat – circles back to our early love of grunge, so we do add a bit of grit to even the most harmonic numbers.”

There is, Bhatti continues, “too many bun-headed effeminates” in the group to ever send Harts Barque into full Sex Pistols angst-rock. Yet it is their opposing mixture of punk and slacker tempos that sets them apart from other indie hopefuls.

Trying to avoid “the dreaded love song like the plague”, their post-modern lyrics look at the commercial and corrupt aspects of British society that have been sidelined in music since the days of early Suede and Manic Street Preachers. For all the questions their music raises however, the one that crops up the most tends to be about their suitably, awkwardly-spelt name.

“Apparently in French it means Deer Boat,” says Bhatti, “but it actually comes from an old manor house around our town, Orpington. As far as we can tell, the place was destroyed years ago, but there’s still a sketch of it in a pub we go to just up the high street.

“There’s quite a local crowd in this place, and if ever they see anyone new sitting down they try to scare them by telling ale-fuelled horror stories about the manor. When we first went there, we got told it was owned by an ex-navy man who returned to find his wife in bed with his own brother and burned them all to the ground.”

As history goes, Harts Barque may never beat the folklore that surrounds their name. While they’re indebted to legends of the past though, this is one band that very much belongs to the future.

Harts Barque play King’s Cross’s Surya this Saturday. Doors are at 7.45, tickets are £6. For more information, visit

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