The HU, Mongolia’s throat-singing heavy metal sensations, invade Download (just don’t mention The Who)

They are rock’s latest sensation – a group from Mongolia melding heavy metal with traditional throat-singing and hymns to Genghis Khan.

Now The HU are set to invade Britain with a special performance at this weekend’s Download Festival.

But despite racking up 28 million views for their music, the Ulaanbaatar band are keen to establish their name as a distinct entity from The Who.

Hu are you?

Gala: Lead Throat Singer and Morin Khuur

Enkush: Lead Morin Khuur and Throat Singer

Jaya: Jaw Harp, Tsuur, Flute, and Throat Singer

Temka: Tovshuur

Throat-shredding

Although Roger Daltrey, singer with the veteran rockers, shares a throat-shredding vocal style with the Mongolians.

Combining hard rock with traditional Mongolian instrumentation like the Morin Khuur (horsehead fiddle), Tovshuur (Mongolian guitar) and Tumur Khuur (jaw harp), The HU have swiftly captured a global audience.

Hu-man beings

Ask Alexa to play their music though and you’ll most likely get a blast of My Generation instead.

“The HU is not spelt like The Who. The HU is the root Mongolian word for human being. Hun means people” lead throat singer Gala tells i.

“We also play a very different style of music. We are Hunnu Rock, it’s our own combination of Western music, throat singing and traditional Mongolian instruments. We’re not gonna sound like them.”

Fortunately Who singer Roger Daltrey is a fan. “I’ve tried some of that throat-singing,” he told i. “They can be the Mongolian HU and they’re welcome to join our family and play a show with us.”

Big up Gengis Khan

The band’s lyrics include historic Mongolian war cries whilst The Gereg, title track of their debut album, is the name for a diplomatic passport used during the time of Genghis Khan.

“He is loved by Mongolians and considered the founding father of our country,” said Morin Khuur player, Enkush.

Throat singing can be painful. “It makes a rock music-like noise and it is very hard to learn the technique,” said Gala.

“We’ve been doing it long enough so that we don’t hurt ourselves. We are ready.”

Playing the Morin Khuur is “not easy but we’ve had 20 years of practice, we started at a very young age.”

Breaking down barriers

Speaking at the Mongolian embassy in London, where the quartet were honoured guests of the Ambassador, the band say hits such as Yuve Yuve Yu and Wolf Totem have a positive message.

“We want to include everybody in our message, without racial or national barriers and to something good in this world,” said jaw harpist Jaya. “We want to inspire people to love the earth.”

Formed in 2016 by degree-level musicians, The HU are on a mission: “We want to show Western audiences how beautiful Mongolian culture is.”

“We’d also really like to meet Metallica and Slipknot who were our musical heroes.”

:: The HU play Glasgow, The Garage on Friday and Download Festival on Saturday. Debut album The Gereg is released in September

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