Rolling Stone story: ‘All Tomorrow’s Parties Turns Ten’, February 2010

All Tomorrow's Parties story in Rolling Stone, February 2009 by Andrew McMillenHere’s a story for Rolling Stone that I wrote while in England for the 10th anniversary of the All Tomorrow’s Parties festival, which was headlined by The Mars Volta, Explosions In The Sky, Modest Mouse, Battles and like a hundred other awesome bands.

I was there for the Nightmare Before Xmas festival curated by My Bloody Valentine the weekend before, too, and throughout the week for the In Between Days nightly shows. The entire experience was brilliant, but seeing Dirty Three play their album Horse Stories to around a hundred people on a Tuesday night was just something else.

This story includes an interview with ATP founder Barry Hogan. Check back for the full transcript of our conversation in a couple of days. Click the image to the right to take a closer look; article text is included below.

All Tomorrow’s Parties Turns Ten

“The ultimate mixtape” as Thurston Moore described it, celebrates a decade.

Indoor stages. Hour-long sets. Secure, comfortable accommodation. Rock trivia. Performers who favour watching bands with the crowd, instead of hanging backstage. An overwhelmingly positive, respectful community vibe.

These factors might not have figured into your last experience at a major Australian festival, but it’s reality for those who attend All Tomorrow’s Parties (ATP), which celebrated its tenth birthday in mid-December 2009.

Built upon a core ethos of respecting the concertgoer, All Tomorrow’s Parties (ATP) festivals are held in unique locales across a weekend. Bands are asked to choose the acts they’d like to see, which has resulted in artists like My Bloody Valentine, The Flaming Lips and Dirty Three curating for the pleasure of their open-minded fans. Like a balanced mixtape from a worldly friend, you’re likely to find a handful of bands you’ve never heard, but who you’ll soon love.

ATP’s UK home is the 6,000-capacity Butlins holiday camp in Minehead, Somerset. The 10 Years Of ATP line-up included an array of ATP friends, associates and past curators, including The Mars Volta, Explosions In The Sky and Modest Mouse. Between bands, founder Barry Hogan reflected on how ATP has evolved from a weekend festival to a label and a community of passionate music fans in its own right.

According to Hogan, the average ATP concertgoer is “the sort of person who, when they buy records, want to know the name of the producer and the studio where it was recorded. Not exactly record nerds, but people who actually give a shit about music. They don’t buy CDs in supermarkets, which seems to be one of the few places you can buy music these days.”

The artist-chosen festival line-ups allows Hogan and his team to sidestep hype and work on their own terms. “It’s good having a curator,” Hogan says, “because it means we’re working within their tastes and desires, instead of agents, magazines, and labels all going, “You must put this band on because they’re the hot new thing.”

Rolling Stone Australia cover, March 2010Hogan worked on the Belle and Sebastian-curated Bowlie Weekender in 1999. ATP – named after a 1966 Velvet Underground song – is based on Bowlie’s artist-as-curator concept. The festival ventured to Australia in January 2009, featuring a centrepiece weekend event at the off-season Mount Buller Ski Resort; day shows in Brisbane and Sydney followed. Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds were the inaugural Australian curators.

Hogan’s offshoot ATP Recordings label has released music by dozens of indie artists, like British electronic/noise duo Fuck Buttons and Australian rock act The Drones. “We put out a lot of records that don’t necessarily sell a great deal, but ATP fans are generally willing to take a chance with our artists because they know we’re not going to put out Coldplay or Miley Cyrus records.”

Memorable moments for the ATP founder? “I remember the first time that (Rhode Island experimental noise duo) Lightning Bolt played. Most people didn’t know their music or that they played on the floor; the great thing was seeing the reaction on peoples’ faces: “What the fuck is this?!”. And I’ll never forget the day Sonic Youth confirmed to headline our first event, curated by Mogwai. The minute they came on board, sales soared, and we never looked back.”

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