Interview: Barry Hogan, Creator of All Tomorrow's Parties
All Tomorrow's Parties New York takes place this weekend with approximately 6000 bands and My Bloody Valentine. Tickets are still on sale, though you better have a hook-up on housing because we just took the last room at the Liberty HoJo yesterday.
"We want to try to make [All Tomorrow's Parties] different than everything else. If you look at the line-ups of those summer festivals--good God, Jack Johnson! Who wants to see him? I don't even think Jack Johnson wants to see himself."
Pretty sure we screamed out loud when the first press releases announcing the line-up of the first All Tomorrow's Parties New York went out last spring. Dinosaur Jr.! Mogwai! Tortoise! Polvo! EPMD! Shellac! Built to Spill playing Perfect From Now On! And My Bloody Valentine!
The man responsible is Barry Hogan. Nearly a decade ago, the British promoter founded this egalitarian "anti-festival"--no sponsorships, terrific bands, reasonable drink prices, free parking (!)--as a stark contrast to the bloated UK corporate buffoonery of Glastonbury and Reading. Since then, Hogan's spun off the original ATP into selective events curated by the likes of Slint, Vincent Gallo, Matt Groening. Still, this weekend promises to be the stuff of Other Music rack-banter legend: My Bloody Valentine are not only headlining, but Kevin Shields handpicked Sunday's full roster (Brian Jonestown Massacre, Mogwai, Mercury Rev, Dinosaur Jr., and on and on and on). If the Feds were ever planning publicly to hogtie OiNK users en masse, this is their chance.
We spoke with Barry recently about why everyone's gonna lose their minds this weekend, why Echo & the Bunnymen never should have revived Ocean Rain, and how badly Jack Johnson sucks.
Do you still have a lot of things to do for the festival?
Oh, God, way too much. No, we're pretty prepared. But there're always loose ends to tie up, from getting wristbands sorted out to making sure that everyone's got the right riders--but that's just par for the course.
Have you ever been [ATP venue] Kutsher's?
The best way to describe Kutsher's is it's The Shining meets Cocoon. It's a great, great place, but it's one of those classic Borsch Belt resorts. Obviously, that area of the Catskills has seen better days. It's cool.
I think most people are wondering what it'll be like there--it's a festival in a country club.
Country club--hmmm. It is a country club, but when I think of country clubs I just think of people drinking Cristal champagne and riding ponies. There's a really amazing golf course there and stuff. It's a beautiful sight, you've just gotta remember that it's from a different era. The whole character of it hasn't been updated--it's not a contemporary place. Otherwise, we'd might've just hired one of those bullshit Schrager Hotels or something. That wouldn't have been the same. That would have been super-luxury apartments and stuff. It wouldn't have any character, it would be quite soulless.
But I think the whole nature of it, the bands that're playing and the audience we attract, they're gonna kind of there's a lot of kitsch value there. I think they'll be into it.
Do you know what the concept of ATP is?
Yeah, of course.
Sometimes I get talking to people and halfway through they're like, "What is ATP?" I think the best way to describe it is kind of like an anti-festival. We want to have drinks at reasonable prices, decent bands playing a lot of sets, free programs and brochures, no sponsorship. We don't have a merch rate for bands, parking is free, we treat people with respect, as you'd like to be treated. You know who I'm talking about, those out there who like to milk it to people. The way forward is to keep it boutique.
But also we want to try to make the line-ups different than everything else. If you look at the line-ups of those summer festivals--good God, Jack Johnson! Who wants to see him? I don't even think Jack Johnson wants to see himself. It's terrible. We're going for--about our bands, some people are like, I've seen those bands 100s of times. But you haven't seen it all together in one place! Especially not My Bloody Valentine.