Exclusive: Interview With All Tomorrow’s Parties Founder Barry Hogan

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Since its inception in 2000, All Tomorrow’s Parties has embraced its role as the alternative to traditional summer rock festivals. This September, ATP returns to New York keeping the three-day event’s focus much the same as last year. Friday brings the “Don’t Look Back” series, where artists play a seminal live album of their choosing. Saturday is set of bands curated by ATP, while Sunday has a set curated by the Flaming Lips. We talked with ATP founder Barry Hogan about the upcoming lineup, and his future plans for fest.

Flavorpill: What was your motivation for inviting the Flaming Lips onboard?

Barry Hogan: We try to pick people who have an interesting take on pushing bounds. The festival is not dictated by what’s trendy and what’s not, it’s more a case of trying to pick curators with interesting record collections. I feel like when you go to see the Flaming Lips, when they’re playing on tour, they have interesting support acts — from Deerhoof to Black Moth Super Rainbow. I felt like if they were curators on Sunday, they’d probably pick some weird and interesting stuff, and it seems to have paid off! [laughs]

FP: You’ve had Matt Groening curate a previous festival. Are you planning on having more curators outside of a music background?

BH: Yeah, there are a lot of people who have interesting record collections. I tell you who’d be great to curate (but I don’t know if he’d ever do it) would be Wes Anderson, because he has great music in his films. I feel like somebody like that could have an interesting take on the ATP curation thing. Bands are fantastic, but sometimes I feel like we can get caught in a trap because the same names keep reappearing. That was why we tried to use different people. We’ve had Matt Groeing; we’ve had Vincent Gallo; we’ve had the British artists Jake and Dinos Chapman. We’re trying to get people who keep ATP fresh and evolving so it doesn’t become like most other festivals.

FP: Are there any bands or acts that you’re particularly excited to see at the show?

BH: Black Moth Super Rainbow, which I’m really excited about because I love their records. I’ve never seen them live, but I hope they’re amazing. I’m also looking forward to seeing Boredoms. You know they did that serious Boadrum thing in 2007 where they had 77 drummers, and 2008 they had 88 drummers. Unfortunately there are only 9 drummers this year [laughs].

We’ve got Panda Bear and Animal Collective Saturday, and the Jesus Lizard on Friday, and the Dirty Three performing Ocean’s Song, so there’s something in there for everyone I think. We’re really happy with how the lineup has turned out. And the good thing about ATP is that the whole festival is indoors. We’ve got two stages indoors.

FP: I read that you had actually mentioned being interested in turning the show into more of a traveling Lollapalooza. Is there any truth to that?

BH: Well, it would be good to take the festival to different cities, but keep it at the same size. Take it somewhere like Chicago, maybe the west coast, San Francisco. When I say a traveling Lollapalooza, I mean without corporate sponsorship, or Ticketmaster, and just keep it intimate and all about the music and not about MTV or what Spin Magazine or any of those things says is the hot happening new act.

FP: Are there any plans to expand ATP further into different countries?

BH: Yeah, I’d love to go to Japan. We go there out on holidays and stuff, but trying to find the right site is difficult. I would rather wait until we find somewhere than just rush into it and do it. We found a couple of spots, so we’re going to try to pursue them. If that comes off then yeah, Japan would probably be the most logical place to go next.

FP: This is actually the second annual ATP event in New York. Is the format that you have now going to stay the same for the foreseeable future?

BH: Yeah, I’d like to continue doing it. We’re selling slowly, but it has picked up recently, and I think we’re going to sell out soon. I’d like to keep doing Kutshers [the hotel that ATP takes place at]; it’s a great place, and I like the format with the Friday being that bands playing interesting albums, and bands we pick on Saturday, and having the guest curate Sunday.

FP: Are there any acts that haven’t played ATP yet that you’d like to have at a future show?

BH: Yeah, I’d love to see Kraftwerk play, or Neil Young, but maybe that’s reaching for the sky. Radiohead have always shown an interest and they’ve come to the event a few times. Maybe those bands are too big. We’ve pretty much covered a lot of the people that we’ve ever wanted to do this, but there’s always something new coming up, so we’re excited.

Check the New York ATP 2009 lineup here, and purchase tickets here.