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The Architect of All Tomorrow’s Parties

The Architect of All Tomorrow’s Parties (photo)

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Barry Hogan is the founder of All Tomorrow’s Parties, the now-infamous festival that began in 1999 as the U.K.’s answer to other commercialized, corporate-sponsored festivals. Another key difference from those other festivals is the location — ATP takes place at unique locations like the holiday camp at Camber Sands in Sussex where it first started and, as of last year, Kutsher’s Country Club in the Catskills, which has become the festival’s home in New York. Recently, Hogan told me all about how corporate douchebags have ruined music, the film he executive produced about ATP, why he and his wife have their hands all over everything, and I also put him on the spot about his dream guest curator for ATP… and it’s not a musician.

How does it feel to have All Tomorrow’s Parties celebrating their 10th anniversary as an organization?

It’s interesting because when we first started doing the first one in England, there was no alternative festival, so it was just like Glastonbury and Reading. They’re pretty commercial festivals and they had huge rock acts, and when we decided to try and do this in a holiday vacation camp in the U.K., I think a lot of people thought it was going to fall flat on its face. But it was an oasis for a lot of people who were into alternative music, but didn’t really have anywhere to go and celebrate, seeing all these bands in one place. So I guess it’s a good milestone to reach after 10 years, something that some people didn’t have any faith in.

Why did you pick Kutsher’s for the New York destination? Is there a kindred feeling with Camber Sands?

Yeah. It was actually the manager of Dinosaur Jr., Brian Schwartz. He used to go there as a kid and he suggested that we try and do something in the Catskills because there’s so many beat up holiday resorts [there] and he suggested Kutsher’s. I think it’s the closest thing we’ve got to the U.K. edition and it’s also a unique spot. I think it’s a bit different from standing in some field somewhere and going home the next day. This is like an adventure, you can go there for three days and hang out and watch all these bands and DJs and have a drink ’til four in the morning, if you want.

I’ve been known to do that.

[laughs] Me too!

One of the wonderful things that separates ATP from other festivals is the lack of corporate sponsorship. But you’re British, I’m American, we’re representatives of two of the biggest hegemonic societies of the last few centuries. We generally like our domination, our branding. Why do you resist?

I just find that when you get branding sponsorship involved, you get all these douchebags in tracksuits — you get people that have nothing to do with the festival or have no clue about music trying to dictate who you present and what you present. The whole thing about ATP is I’m making a mix tape — we pick some of the bands and then we have a guest curator and we’re not willing to compromise the music just because some company feels that it doesn’t fit in with their company ethics or whatever it is. Everyone says, “oh why don’t you do it ’cause you’ll make loads of money,” but we just we just want to be an alternative to everything else and I think every festival is gets ruined by sponsorship. Look at what happened to Lollapalooza. That was a cool thing in the ’90s and now it just seems to be like a huge Wal-Mart by a lake, and seems to be getting progressively worse.

You’re right, it’s horrible. It’s like a shadow over everything at best and at worst, it just sucks all the life out of an original event.

Yeah, exactly, and it’s all about money. That’s what it all comes down to. The thing of it is the early editions of Lollapalooza were an influence us. But like a lot of things, Lollapalooza got to the point or a certain age and it’s time to kind of tell her off. [laughs]. We’re fortunate after 10 years we still remain true to the concept that we don’t need sponsorship. We just want to work on presenting good music.

09082009_All_Tomorrows_Parties1.jpgBy one count, you’re already kind of a large organization yourself –there are worldwide festivals now, a record label, and even a toy company. Is there a danger in growing too successful or can you balance these endeavors with keeping it real?

I run the festival with my wife Deborah and the record label and the toy company, as you said. Maybe we’re control freaks because we like to be involved with everything. We’d like to try and recreate the New York festival and the Australian one like the English one and we’ll be there hands on deck and trying to keep it as a bespoke thing. We’re not trying to franchise it out and just get someone else to run it because that, I think, is where we’ll lose the integrity of what the festival’s become kind of renowned for, really. There are a lot of events that we do, but we’re involved in them all.

Additionally, there is an increasingly noticeable film component to the festival this year, with Criterion presenting film programs in New York and Jim Jarmusch in attendance.

Yeah, that’s fantastic. It’s actually Deborah that came up with the idea of bringing Criterion on board and I think it’s a perfect match for us because just like the way they handle the films and the catalog they have, again, I think it’s definitely quality over quantity. And all the films that they’re going to be screening are things that we, as ATP, are the films that we would want to watch. And that was the whole thing of setting the festival up when we started. We wanted to present things that we’d actually like to go to, whether it’s films we’d like to see or bands we’d like to like to go and check out.

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The Best Of The Last

Portlandia Goes Out With A Bang

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The end is near. In mere days Portlandia wraps up its final season, and oh what a season it’s been. Lucky for you, you can watch the entire season right now right here and on the IFC app, including this free episode courtesy of Subaru.

But now, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the new classics Fred and Carrie have so thoughtfully bestowed upon us. (We’ll be looking back through tear-blurred eyes, but you do you.)

Couples Dinner

It’s not that being single sucks, it’s that you suck if you’re single.

Cancel it!

A sketch for anyone who has cancelled more appointments than they’ve kept. Which is everyone.

Forgotten America

This one’s a “Serial” killer…everything both right and wrong about true crime podcasts.

Wedding Planners

The only bad wedding is a boring wedding.

Disaster Hut

It’s only the end of the world if your doomsday kit doesn’t include rosé.

Catch up on Portlandia’s final episodes on demand and at

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The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

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Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

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