HIJK is an indie rock trio from Oakland, CA playing upbeat, quirky, prog pop.
HIJK was formed by Dave Tsui, Trevor Wencl, and Mike Mahony in 2007. In August of that year, they released their debut full-length album, "The Pen And The Letter" which was met with positive reviews in the press and blogosphere.
In early 2008, they created a campy DIY live action stop-animation video for the song "Paper Boat" with their friend, producer, engineer, and film buff, Enrique Gonzalez Muller. Shortly thereafter, the video won the SF Bay Guardian independent film maker's contest and was put in rotation at the De Young Museum in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park. This paved the way for Enrique being asked to present the video and speak about independent filmmaking at the Lago Film Festival in Italy. In July of 2008, Mike put the brakes on HIJK when he announced he was leaving the band.
Over the next year, Dave and Trevor took a breather to focus on other projects but slowly continued writing and experimenting with drums and guitar. In early 2009, Karl Tupper (formerly of Golden Birds) joined HIJK on bass. With a new lineup, the band just recorded a new batch of songs with Nate Heller from Wendy Darling.
Folks we've shared the stage with: Mother Mother, Straylight Run, Cloud Cult, Cold War Kids, Heavenly States, Birdmonster, Hard-Fi, Diamond Nights, White Rose Movement, Scissors For Lefty, The Velvet Teen, Sabrosa Purr, Cex, and Rainer Maria amongst others.
Dave Tsui - vocals & guitar
Trevor Wencl - drums
Karl Tupper - bass
RINR(heart) - EP - coming March 2010
The Pen and The Letter - full length - August 2007
:: released as Hijack The Disco ::
Center Of Things - split 7" - the restless press 2005
Working Is Easy - EP - the restless press 2004
Self-Titled - EP - self released 2002
West Coast Performer
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“The songs on HIJK’s full-length debut, The Pen and the Letter, seem to flow effortlessly together l...“The songs on HIJK’s full-length debut, The Pen and the Letter, seem to flow effortlessly together like a well-planned symphony”
East Bay Express
“It's rare for an independent rock band to put half as much time into an album”
“A supremely successful partnership”
The Bay Bridged
“110% into making unabashedly shiny, emotionally driven pop music”
“Their easygoing, effortlessly upbeat sound smacks of radio play and heavy MTV2 rotation”
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'The Pen and the Letter' is made up of dark, yet poppy indie rock. It's melodic and catchy, but full...'The Pen and the Letter' is made up of dark, yet poppy indie rock. It's melodic and catchy, but full of sudden twists and turns that make the listening experience somewhat addictive -- like reading a good mystery novel. - Nate Seltenrich
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The perky pop of HIJK is like the potato chips, lightly salted, and with a hint of vinegary dance-sy...The perky pop of HIJK is like the potato chips, lightly salted, and with a hint of vinegary dance-synth.
Word of mouth is spreading about HIJK's live show.
Devil In The Woods
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"Silly name, promising band. An Oakland, CA, three-piece featuring two male vocalists, HIJK create m..."Silly name, promising band. An Oakland, CA, three-piece featuring two male vocalists, HIJK create melodic math rock, resembling Pinback in their best two tracks, 'Elly And Iffy' and 'Way To Go.'"
West Coast Performer
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The members of HIJK must know that rock 'n' roll is inherently indulgent and brazenly carefree. They...The members of HIJK must know that rock 'n' roll is inherently indulgent and brazenly carefree. They must realize that even indie rock, notoriously detached from worldly concerns, has honored its share of hedonistic characters and hideous excesses. But they sure don't show it. Instead, they thrive on what we'll call the three D's -- discipline, diligence, and attention to detail -- and their rock 'n' roll fantasy probably involves more R&R than T&A.
In the fall of 2003, by the group's first and final act of chance, HIJK formed on the sidewalk outside Berkeley venue The Starry Plough. Two years and several recordings later, the Oakland-based trio is at last poised to issue its first official full-length. Members Dave Tsui, Mike Mahony, and Trevor Wencl have striven for a sound that they hope will bridge the divide between best-laid plans and the confounding reality of the music industry. It's a forward-looking, pristinely produced assembly of distinct styles: moody, danceable post-punk, high-energy instrumental indie rock, and emo/indie-pop balladry.
"This will be our true attempt, at the two-year existence of the band. This will be our stamp -- we'll finally have a product that we're proud of," says Mahony of the as-yet-unnamed new album, which should be mixed and mastered by February 2006.
Together (with Mahony on bass, keyboard, and vocals; Tsui on guitar and vocals; and Wencl on drums) they started writing songs back in May. Around September, they began a strict, six-nights-a-week rehearsal schedule with respected producer Enrique Gonzalez Muller (Metallica, Tina Turner, MC Hammer). "We've been taking apart all of our songs," says Mahony. "Determining what's effective and what's the point."
"What are the seeds of the song that are going to really stick with the listener", adds Wencl. "We know our songs really well, but we wanted to get an outside perspective. We're working with a producer that knows us really well personally. So his presence and guidance has been ..."
"... really cool," offers Mahony again. "It's been neat, but it's hard. We've all got day jobs, so you start working at 8:00, you get off at 5:30, you cram some food so you're at the rehearsal space at 6:00, and you're there until 11:30 or midnight."
Although HIJK has adopted Muller as a fourth member of the band, Mahony admits that it's been difficult. "These are our babies, that we've spent a lot of time on," he says. "So we've had to put that aside and be like, 'Let's give it a good, solid try and see how it comes out,' and they've all come out sounding better."
HIJK's songs recall Sunny Day Real Estate at times in their emotional directness and patient exposition. They also reference Pinback -- both come across best with polish and measure, favoring a clean, postmodern approach to mellow, pop-laden indie rock. HIJK's individuality is established through layered vocal tracks, remarkably memorable melodies, and a shift in the space occupied by each of their instruments. Wencl's drums are part-driven, moving with the music rather than holding down a backbeat; unafraid to expand its realm of responsibility, Mahony's bass can mimic a lead guitar; Tsui's guitar conveys rhythm as well as it does melody.
Ultimately, their songs are about not what the instruments are doing, but how they are interacting. This is a direct result of their democratic songwriting process. "The bottom line is that there's not one person writing our music," says Tsui. "We all put our two cents in to make it ... a group's music."
It takes more than a great album to make it as an indie rock band, and this band is prepared to take all the next steps. "We are putting too much effort into this to manufacture it and then start just selling at shows as soon as it's complete," says Wencl. The record will instead be shopped to labels, distributors, and press agents. In addition, HIJK may plan a listening party, or work to get a single on the radio in February.
On the touring front, HIJK have become their own best booking agents. A carefully charted schedule found them first covering the San Francisco/Oakland area, then expanding up to Petaluma and Santa Rosa, and then running jaunts down to southern California and up to Canada -- well, not these days. They've been banned from Canada for a year for trying to play a show without a work permit.
While HIJK are ready to move up in the Bay Area scene, aiming for weekend slots with bands they know and respect, they also realize that every show is another way for them to get heard. That explains a recent gig as the closing performers of the two-week APAture (Asian Pacific American) 2005 Festival. "We're very confused right now," said Wencl before the show -- they would be playing songs that, thanks to the help of their producer, were still works in progress. Still, they couldn't decline the opportunity. HIJK may be writing the book on how to succeed as an indie rock band, but an attitude like this ensures the best part is yet to come.
-Words by Nate Seltenrich
All original work: (45 min - 1 hr)
* Rest My Bones
* You're Upside Down, You're Funny
* Ba Na Na Na Na
* Mouthful Of Marbles
* We Are Free
* Sea Of Faces
* Admire You
* Smells Like Cigarettes
* The Dresser Speaks
* Elly & Iffy
* The Center of Things
There are no upcoming dates at this time.