All Tomorrow’s Promoter: ATP Barry Hogan will present ATP in Asbury Park, NJ this weekend while staying in Johnny Cash’s Hotel Suite
From Led Zeppelin, Johnny Cash and of course Bruce Springsteen (as well as the Marx Brothers), the beach town of Asbury Park, New Jersey has serious music roots. This weekend All Tomorrow’s Parties, the critically acclaimed U.K.-based music fest, is helping the shore town recapture its former glory with acts that include Portishead, Jeff Magnum (Neutral Milk Hotel), Public Enemy, Bonnie Prince Billy, Ultramagnetic MCs and Deerhoof. Fest founder Barry Hogan gives .Biz the skinny on how he gets reluctant bands like My Bloody Valentine to play/reform, why it’s not about making a “shitloads” of money and staying in Johnny Cash’s hotel suite.
Billboard.biz: So who are you Barry Hogan?
Barry Hogan: I’m just some fucking idiot from London who should probably get a real job, but I’ve been doing this too long, I don’t know what else I could do.
What were you doing before All Tomorrow’s Parties?
I was always a concert promoter in London and then I used to put on shows with the likes of Tortoise, Smog and Belle and Sebastian — they are the ones who gave me my big break. They instantly became a big band, and I sort of grew with them. But prior to that I was booking bands in a club called Dingwalls.
That jazz place in Camden?
Well they do jazz, but I was booking indie rock during the height of Britpop with all these terrible bands like Placebo and the Lighthouse Family and all that kind of shit. And I said to myself “There’s got to be another way to present music in a way that people think it’s credible.” So I started a company called Foundation, where the policy was to only book the bands you liked. I took my records out and started with Tortoise. And they were the band that gave me my first break as a promoter on my own. I’m forever in debt to them.
Were the shows at Camber Sands camp the first big thing you did?
The first festival was with Belle and Sebastian was called the Bowlie Weekender. They wanted do an event at a holiday camp. Originally they were going to do it in a day, and I said “Why don’t we do a weekender? We were never really focused on the word “curation” or “curator”. It was just them picking bands they liked. It was going to be an annual event, and then they said “No, we want to keep it unique.” With their blessing I continued and renamed it All Tomorrow’s Parties and focused on the part with the curator and haven’t really looked back since.
How do you get bands to reunite? My Bloody Valentine, Slint, The Jesus Lizard and you’re doing it again this year with the reclusive Jeff Mangum?
Yeah, getting him out of the house. Okay, well the thing is the concept of a curator, when we invite people who play our favorite music. So when we have to find people who we want to perform, it’s kind of like we just get all of our records put them out on the floor and we’re like — me and my wife, — I’m always saying to her things like “Can you imagine getting….Jeff Mangum to Neutral Milk Hotel to play, wouldn’t that be amazing?” So we asked him this year. The way we present it to people is that it’s not really about money, it’s about doing something in an environment that they feel comfortable with but also in the capacity where they’re curating, which Jeff’s doing in England. So we’re giving him the opportunity to say “Hey this is the music I’m into and the books and the films” and it becomes more than just a show of a band reunited so they can make a shitload of money, it’s a different way. It’s in the way we approach it.
Does it help you to get a band to reform or stop being reclusive when you can say Portishead is curating and they would love you to play?
That certainly adds a lot of weight to it. But the good thing about Portishead is that, they’re more open to discuss things. Myself and Geoff Barrow were talking one day about getting Ultramagnetic MCs and he’s like “Yeah, that’d be amazing,” and he suggested Company Flow and I said “Wow I know those guys, I’ll try to make it work.” We’re really fortunate those acts are on the bill. I’m a huge fan of both. And also, Public Enemy
Borscht Belt Bonanza: Kutshers in Monticello, NY, which was allegedly the Castkills resort “Dirty Dancing” was based on, hosted ATP for the past three years but became “cost prohibitive,” according to Hogan. (Photo: Katie Glicksberg)
How has it been setting up a show in Asbury Park verses Monticello, NY (where ATP had been for the last three years)?
Kutshers is a great place and the owners were very supportive, but the place is difficult to get to. Asbury Park is a proper city. Obviously not as big as NYC, but the people are great for what we do. Madison Marquette, the people who invested in the boardwalk and own the Convention Hall and the Paramount, have been really supportive. Probably the most supportive people I’ve ever come across in my entire history of promoting.
When I visited Asbury Park ten years ago, it was in pretty bad shape.
It’ a great place that fell on hard times. Madison Marquette started putting a pulse into the area and I’m sure they’ve got a more they want to do. They’re keen for ATP to return every year. The whole place has got such a musical heritage. The hotel across the road, Johnny Cash used to live there and he owned it in the late 80s. There’s a Johnny Cash suite I’m gonna stay in. Obviously there’s Bruce Springsteen and the Stone Pony. There are a lot of bands there and a scene of people who appreciate us coming. I also think it’s good for the people, who come from Philly, New York, L.A., Japan.
How long is the train ride from NYC?
I think it takes about an hour from Penn Station and there’s another one that takes a few hours. Once you get here, it’s a 10-minute walk from the train station to the venue. There’s also free shuttle buses.
Look Familiar? Shepard Fairey who designed this year’s poster, is also having an art show, DJing the festival and painted a mural in Asbury Park.
What’s the capacity?
4,000. Saturday we’re probably going to get to 3,600-3,700, Sunday we’re aiming for 3,000. Friday is the slowest of the 3 days, that’s probably about just over 2,000. Overall, we sold more tickets than we ever did in Monticello
It sold more than Kutshers?
Kutsher’s never really sold that much. I only ever did just over a couple thousand. Once the combination of hotel and tickets sold out, people were like “Well I don’t want to go all the way up there and have nowhere to stay.” The difference here is we sold this show as a ticket and let people get their own accommodations. And in a city like Asbury Park, there’s a million hotels. People can come for the day or the weekend and still find accommodation. Kutshers had a lot of character and charm and served its purpose, but it became cost prohibitive and that was the main reason for moving it.
I loved how free and open Kutshers was and how security treated patrons like adults, will it be the same this year?
It’s the same security we had in the Catskills and we’re trying to give people as much freedom as they want. It’s at the beach and there’s going to be a bonfire. In the convention hall there’s a mezzanine that goes out to a patio overlooking the beach — it’s really beautiful. We don’t have Kutsher’s Lake, but we do have the ocean.
Greetings From Asbury Park: The Paramount, one of ATP’s venues has seen everyone from the Marx Brothers to The Doors, Led Zeppelin and The Rolling Stones.
What’s Asbury Lanes like?
Oh my god that place is fucking amazing. It’s like walking into “Happy Days.” All you need is the Fonz. It’s a 1960s bowling alley with all original fixtures and it’s got so much character and there’s all these rockabilly records and posters on the wall. It’s such an amazing place. Oneida are going to do Ocropolis there so people can just go in and out on Saturday.
Wait, is that their 6-hour long song?
It’s a 10 hour jam. And they have a revolving cast of musicians. You should see them by the end of it, they look destroyed.
Since Asbury Park’s not too far from Philly and on the way to D.C. are you marketing there?
Yeah totally. I see this as an East Coast event, not just an event in Asbury Park. We’re looking to get people from all over. D.C., Boston, Baltimore Philly, and New York. We hired street teams who are putting up flyers, posters and websites and what have you
What are some of the non-music events you’re having this year?
We’ve got Lord Sinclair to coming back for trivia. We’ve got the Rock ‘n’ Roll Bingo at the arcade, we’ve got the Criterion Cinema, with people like Robert Downey Sr, coming to introduce a Q & A on “Putney Swope” – a legendary experimental film from the 60s. Lapham’s Quarterly from L.A. is doing literary stage. The Brooklyn Flea is helping to bring in food stalls. There’s DJ sets from Awesome Tapes From Africa, Edan, Shepard Fairey. There’s also a Shepard Fairey exhibition opening on the Friday and he’s doing murals for the city which look amazing. The exhibition is called Revolutions. It’s all record covers and things like that. And he’s DJing the Sunday night at Asbury Lanes after the festival.
What’s up for next year’s ATP?
I’m working on something else…actually someone is getting reunited that I think some people will get very excited about. But I can’t say anything yet….