Published in The Music Network
Australia’s congested festivals market doesn’t scare Barry Hogan. The British promoter brought his boutique All Tomorrow’s Parties brand to Australia for a three-date trek in early 2009. Nick Cave curated those shows, which visited locations well-off the traditional festivals track. Though well received, ATP’s Australian leg lost money and the fest hasn’t been seen in these parts since. That will change in the near future. Britain’s MAMA Group last year bought a 50% stake in the company and ATP is again dipping its toes Down Under, this time via its sister event I’ll Be Your Mirror.
The Feb. 16-17 show at Melbourne’s Westgate Entertainment Centre and Grand Star Reception brings with it a killer-line-up that includes My Bloody Valentine, Einstuerzende Neubauten, the original line-up of Beasts of Bourbon, and the event co-curator, The Drones. TMN caught up with Hogan, who, with his Australian wife Deborah, runs the live events businesses and the label arm, ATP Recordings.
What’s the thinking behind the I’ll Be Your Mirror concept?
It’s basically the same format but it’s in a city and there’s no accommodation. It’s still ATP but we wanted to give it a different name because we didn’t want people to think it was a diluted version because there’s no accommodation. People can come in for just the day. It’s a sister event to ATP because when the Velvets released All Tomorrow’s Parties in 1966, the flip side was I’ll Be Your Mirror.
When you did those shows in 2009, did you get a sense that you were entering in a marketplace already rammed with festivals?
Well, it is. But the festivals that pay attention to detail with the line-up are the ones that will stand up. There will be things that fall away. There’s a lot of people there who think, “I bought a CD, I’m a promoter.” And they go out and hire a field and get a load of shit bands and wonder why it doesn’t do well. When you look at Meredith or Golden Plains who labour over their line-ups and they’ve got a loyal crowd, they’re the kind of festivals that will be around for a time to come.
Peats Ridge fest, which had a strong support base, has already fallen away.
It’s horrible when you see that. That’s a sign of the times. Festivals are falling down in Europe left, right and centre and it’s quite worrying. The key thing for us is that if we keep putting on quality line-ups, and people want to keep coming, then it’ll work out. But if we get sloppy, not that we ever would, people will see through that and they won’t take any interest.
Let’s talk about the Australian ATP shows in 2009.
It didn’t work out. We lost money. Quite a lot of money, actually. For various reasons. We learned a lot. Mount Buller is a very expensive place. It was a challenging spot to put on an event, as great as it was. They’ve since changed their management. We were keen to go back there and do it, but their quote at the time was, “the mountain isn’t ready to do anything in 2013.” When you’re already engaged with My Bloody Valentine, who obviously have a new album and haven’t toured in 21 years, you don’t want to miss out on that opportunity of having them as part of the bill so that people in Melbourne and Australia can get to see it.
When will you bring ATP back to Australia?
Maybe 2014. We’re looking around. We keep getting the question, why don’t you go back to Buller? I’ve actually discovered a number of other places. We’d like to do more stuff here. Australians embrace the music scene, especially in Melbourne. They’re so positive about everything. The problem with Britain is everyone is so jaded and cynical. If you think it’s congested here, my God, it’s much worse over there.
The ATP concept has always been sponsorship free. Will that continue?
Well, the costs are rising on festivals and expenses for suppliers all the time. You can’t keep putting up the ticket price because it’ll put the fans off. So with the changing times and the ways things are going with a saturated market, we are now quite open to having sponsorship. But we don’t want to turn it into the All Tomorrow’s Fanta Parties. We want it to be something that would align with the audience.
Are there plans to take ATP back to the States?
The market is quite soft there at the moment. We might just leave America for a while and wait for things to get a little better before returning. I’d rather look at South America and Europe, to be honest. Or doing more things in Australia.
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