ATP Week - A Beginners Guide

ATP Week kicks off with a little fact file...
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In May, All Tomorrow’s Parties will again take over Butlins in Minehead for two weekends of top-dollar alternative rock sets from the cream of the many and varied crop. For weekend one (May 8-10), The Fans have had their say, the line-up co-curated by those who’ve paid for their tickets; weekend two (May 15-17) is helmed by iconic indie foursome The Breeders, and the support bill flies pretty close to brilliant.

Ahead of these events, Clash is running a whole week (this week!) of ATP-related content to whet the appetite for the May double-header, and associated events beyond (including the ATP stage at Primavera Sound at the end of May, and the summertime Don’t Look back series).

Before we get stuck into interviews with the likes of Mogwai, Grizzly Bear, 65daysofstatic, HEALTH, Deerhoof, Fuck Buttons and many more – including ATP head honcho Barry Hogan – here’s a little Beginners Guide To ATP. Because there’s always a slow few at the back.

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• ATP’s roots stretch back to 2000 – the first weekender, curated by Mogwai, was held at Pontin’s in Camber Sands in April. Among the acts performing on this debut three-dayer were Sonic Youth, Wire, The For Carnation, Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Sigur Rós, The Delgados, Snow Patrol, Super Furry Animals, Stereolab, …Trail of Dead and, of course, the curators themselves. Suffice to say it was Quite The Bill, and ultimately the success of the first ATP has paved the way for all that’s followed, both in terms of its unique atmosphere – everyone stays on site in holiday camp chalet accommodation, including most of the bands – and the discerningly high-quality line-ups.

• 2001, 2002 and 2003 festivals were each curated by a musician or band – Tortoise, Shellac and Autechre respectively – but at 2004’s inaugural Nightmare Before Christmas event, artists of no little notoriety The Chapman Brothers took the reins. The NBC event – three days in December – has been held every year since. The second US ATP, held in 2003 after Sonic Youth guided the first festival to fruition the year before, was another with an artist involved, namely The Simpsons creator Matt Groening.

• Earlier this year, ATP presented festival events in Australia for the first time (REVIEW). The company – which achieves its goals without the aid of corporate sponsorships or partnerships – is also setting its sights on further foreign events, with Japan a possibility for the future.

• In 2004, multiple curators were involved in the Directors Cut weekenders – Mogwai, Tortoise, Shellac, Stephen Malkmus, Sonic Youth and ATP themselves. Each had a day to programme. This format was repeated in 2006, at the United Sounds of ATP events, which saw Yeah Yeah Yeahs, The Shins, Sleater-Kinney, Dinosaur Jr, Mudhoney and Devandra Banhart each tackle a day’s bill.

• In 2006, for the Thuston Moore-helmed Nightmare Before Christmas, ATP moved from Camber Sands to Minehead’s Butlins site, and has only returned to Pontin’s once since, for an event in association with US music site Pitchfork in 2008. The forthcoming ATP events are both to be held in Minehead.

• ATP spawned a record label in 2001. Initially it released compilations of festival participating acts, but now the label is home to acts including Deerhoof, The Drones, Fuck Buttons, Sleepy Sun and Alexander Tucker. The label’s next album release will be ‘Embrace’, the debut album from Sleepy Sun.

• ATP’s fanbase stretches into the music world, beyond regular attendees to the artists themselves. Shellac’s Steve Albini has said: "There are three things in the world that I endorse: Abbey Road ... Nutter Butter Sandwich Cookies, and All Tomorrow's Parties." When asked if they’d play the event again, Grizzly Bear’s Ed Droste told Clash: “If we could fit it in our schedule, no questions asked!” In other words, many an artist has much love for it. The mingling of bands and punters lends the festival a truly singular atmosphere – it’s relaxed, the line-up is always great, and you can dip in and out of the live action as you please, with plenty of other attractions to distract you/eat up your pennies.

• I have been known to buy the three bottles of red wine for £10 from the on-site supermarket and totally miss bands I’d been killing to see beforehand after consuming said liquid too quickly and basically wiping myself out. This is something that will happen to every ATP-goer at some point. Just accept it... if you’re lucky, said band will show up in someone’s chalet for an impromptu jam. Failing that... just feel the guilt burn.

• It is, all told, basically the best festival in the world. And that’s why we’re giving it a whole week of love. So, if you’re an absolute beginner to the weird and wonderful world of ATP, be sure to click back here each day for plenty of related action.

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ATP’s official website can be found HERE, where you’ll have access to full line-up details and ticket links.

An interview with ATP founder Barry Hogan will be published later today.

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