An Oral History of All Tomorrow's Parties

In honor of next weekend's fete upstate, some wistful reminiscences and trash talk

Alan Vega (vocalist, Suicide): We're both guys that are constantly doing new stuff, so it's kind of real hard to hold back and go and do something we did in '77. We're bringing all the old equipment that we use, the same songs, very minimal, hoping to get it pretty much the way it was. We're bringing back the old drum machine. I think Marty [Martin Rev, keyboardist] has the old drum machine. I think he found it in a furniture store, of all places. It's a great old drum machine that started it all—Bar Mitzvah beats and wedding beats . . . We haven't rehearsed in 340 years. We know each other so well at this point that if we had to rehearse, we'd be in big trouble. I have to listen to the album, just to make sure what's on it.

Saturday will feature bands hand-picked by the ATP staff, including Animal Collective, Sufjan Stevens, the Melvins, and Shellac—whose frontman, Albini, will be returning to host late-night poker games.

Higgins: We have a "No Assholes" policy. You can play once because we don't know you're an asshole, but you can't play twice.

The Flaming Lips, only somewhat reachable via e-mail
J. Michelle Martin-Coyne
The Flaming Lips, only somewhat reachable via e-mail

Hogan: Killing Joke and the Butthole Surfers will never play ATP again, and they can both suck my balls. And you can put that in print. The Black Lips will never play again—they're assholes. They broke into a chalet and started stealing stuff.

Higgins: Liquor.

Hogan: [This year] Animal Collective and Panda Bear were the first bands we picked. I said, "I want Panda Bear as well." Noah doesn't play that often, but I made him an offer he couldn't refuse. [Laughs.]

Albini: I love the fact that they provided us with the executive card room called the Executive Card Room for our executive card game. I think that's fantastic. . . . It's like going over to somebody's house to play poker, but it happens to be a bunch of people who are at a music festival. "Oh, hey, there's the drummer from My Bloody Valentine! And he just lucked into a really huge pot."

Sunday has a lineup curated by headliners the Flaming Lips: 13 bands who represent what frontman Wayne Coyne describes as "radical psychedelic music"—including the Boredoms, Super Furry Animals, and Boris.

Hogan: We were trying to think of who would be a good headliner that would have an eclectic music collection, so we thought of the Flaming Lips.

Wayne Coyne (frontman, the Flaming Lips): There's a great joy, but it's kind of like raising kids. This is a big responsibility. It takes time. We would just go to the bands ourselves and see if they're interested. Our drummer, Cliff, has been e-mailing people back and forth, sometimes three or four times a day.

Hogan [Coyne] doesn't do e-mail. This is the first time we never dealt with a curator directly. We do it through his manager. I don't do Facebook or Twitter or any of that shit. But e-mail? Come on. What year is it?

Coyne: We had a list of 100 groups. . . . We sent something out to Thom Yorke to see if he wanted to do a solo thing. I think we considered asking Henry Rollins if he'd get Black Flag back together, just outrageous requests like that. . . . We always think of the most ludicrous things. We considered, at one point, inviting Tom Jones. Why don't we have some of the remains of Syd Barrett and bring it up? For me, it would never just be groups playing music. It would be: "We have the real Santa Claus here!"

Hogan: They wanted Modest Mouse, but they were unavailable. Devo are delusional. I love Devo, but if they took off a zero, then we'd be making it work. We've had some curators [ask for] Snow Patrol and Coldplay. Vincent Gallo—who I'm happy to shame—put down Christina Aguilera. He wanted to have sex with her.

Coyne: Some of [the bands, we picked because] if they would play, I would finally get a chance to see them. The Low Lows are playing, and I have no idea what they're gonna be like. I honestly don't even know where they're from. . . . This is the most self-indulgent shit you can get into: "I'd like to see them! Have them appear in front of me!" Oneida, Boris, Caribou—of course you're gonna get those. You see these groups and you're reminded: "Oh, yeah, music is so kickass."

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