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"What It Means To Me To Play Jeff Mangum's ATP"
John Doran , February 15th, 2012 05:40

Mount Eerie, Low, Yann Tiersen, Olivia Tremor Control, The Magic Band, Mike Watt, George Hurley, Tall Firs and Lost In The Trees discuss why they are happy to be playing the next ATP

Jeff Mangum, the leader of revered indie rockers Neutral Milk Hotel, is the curator of the next ATP Festival held at Minehead. The festival runs between March 9 and March 11 and features Thurston Moore, Joanna Newsom and The Magnetic Fields. Here nine of the acts explain why they're happy to have been chosen and what Mangum's music means to them.


"It is an honor to be chosen. I like Neutral Milk Hotel. When all that stuff was happening in Athens in the late nineties I was too absorbed in my own little bubble of collaborative villagers in the North West to be aware of the Georgian version, but of course I heard In The Aeroplane Over The Sea and loved it, a million times. I'm not sure who we all are now and what of that age's energy remains. I mostly don't care, and I'm interested to see how artists hold onto that young urgent creative drive through the fluctuating waves of attention and money, into older age, new versions of life. Nostalgia is annoying to me, but so are teenagers, so I love to watch my favorites of 10-15 years ago morph and see how the initial spark changes. I myself still feel like I'm 20, still being knocked around by new ideas, ducking real work. I don't know if I was actually picked by Jeff Mangum or if it has more to do with tour scheduling, convenience, and numbers. If I was, I am honoured. If it was some kind of ATP committee I'm still honoured. It is amazing to have the opportunity to try my weird idea in front of people." Phil Elverum


"We met Jeff back in the mid-nineties at a house party in Shreveport. He was playing drums - really well - in the other band playing that night. I think knowing him just slightly made hearing Aeroplane a few years later just that much more exciting - a grand collision of, "What, THAT guy!?" and "I knew it!" From where I stand, it's the best record the DIY/indie scene ever produced, and ranks as one of the greatest ever. It's up there with Sgt. Pepper's and Bat Out Of Hell. There is a pure confidence in Jeff's voice and phrasing that slays the rest of us pretenders - I wish I could explain what I mean. The lyrics are flawless, the distortion is perfect, and they even manage to use a trumpet without ruining everything. Also, Rob Schneider's sick production is not mentioned enough - kids should check out other stuff he's done (Apples In Stereo etc). Mim and I have probably listened to this record more times than any other record we have. It's the high water mark that makes you proud to know." Alan Sparhawk


"I first listened to In The Aeroplane Over The Sea by Neutral Milk Hotel four years ago. I was hanging around on the web and just stumbled upon the album. I was so amazed and ashamed to discover it so late, why the hell had nobody talked to me about it before! Since that point it seems every conversation I have about music always leads in some way or another to N.M.H. and I now I now have every piece of vinyl they have released. To me ITAOTS is one of the rare perfect albums, living forever between you ears: those fuzzy acoustic guitars, the unexpected marching band. Now every month I set up a rendez vous with the ghost of Anne Frank, sit back and watch the needle singing. I'm so glad to be part of Jeff's ATP this year."


"The Olivia Tremor Control first played All Tomorrow's Parties in the winter of 2005. It was a glorious experience. The cozy chalets, the ice cold beach wind, the beautiful freaks, and of course, the bands. What a great line-up to see. So many great bands. And when you get tired of being on your feet, you can always retire to your own personal chalet to watch what weird wonders are on the closed circuit TV that has been programmed by your friendly neighborhood curator, which at that time was film maker, Vincent Gallo. This year, it's our old friend, Jeff Mangum. I can vividly remember the excitement stirred up by the 3:05 school bell at the end of the day which meant I was about to head over to Robert Schneider's house to meet up with Jeff, and Will Hart to spend the rest of the day four-tracking, listening to records, or just hanging out; busy doing nothing. From there, it was on to the college radio station, KLPI, where we all would pick the songs and albums that we loved to play for the town; well at least whoever might be listening! Now, Jeff has gone from picking records on-air to picking the line-up for the much revered All Tomorrow's Parties. What a great thing! And not only is my band, The Olivia Tremor Control playing, but also so many of my fellow Elephant 6ers as well, from Gerbils to Elf Power to A Hawk and a Hacksaw, not to mention The Magic Band and The Boredoms. What an exciting weekend, to be sure! I can't wait!" Bill Doss


"To tell you the truth we weren't that familiar with Neutral Milk Hotel six months ago, but we are now! They have brilliant lyrics sung with passion. We haven't heard everything yet, but so far 'King Of Carrot Flowers' and 'The Fool' just kill. The only reason we can think of for Jeff to have invited us to play ATP would have to be that he's a Beefheart fan, and we think his audience will "get it"! We're looking forward to meeting and hearing Jeff at ATP."


Mr Jeff is a brave man - that was what came into my head when I first heard In The Aeroplane Over The Sea. This was probably way after when it came out so I can't tell you the context from which it emerged but I can honestly tell you how I felt - that this Mr Jeff was a very brave man. That's how it struck me. It was a trip. It made me think of a young man but a sentimental young man in a way, if there ever could be such a thing. Of course, it's "aeroplane" not "airplane" which also made me think of him as brave. There are too many ciphers for me to get clumsy with words. This is my opinion so I will not risk fouling the feeling I'm trying to relate here - I'll use that one example. Actually I'm thinking now it was his sense to define his own context, which said to me he was very brave, that it seemed more Neil Diamond than Neil Young, that he was not afraid to do what he did - this is what he stirred in me. Mr Jeff, in a weird way (fuck, maybe it wasn't weird but in some unfathomable thinking of my own head) reminded me of some of the things that made me think of d. boon as a brave man. I can only speak of experiences with one man and then hearing an album of another man so please don't consider me even a glimmer of a yard stick but these were the thoughts the resonated in me. I'm sure they didn't sing about the same things… No, I can't say that in good faith I believe that for I am not that brave… And fuck, what am I myself trying to sing about? Mr Jeff, I feel, had to make this music he did and it made an impression on me that it was brave. Brave enough not to be fitted with description collars or definition ballast. This is what filled the cell between my ears and pushed up from inside, down lower. It was a brave presence - Mr Jeff, a brave man. I hope by saying this, I don't put a weight on him 'cuz I think he very much does not deserve that. Maybe I think it's more like when a certain amount of air blows across a certain kind of gap and this is the note I hear: a brave one.

Me and George Hurley are most grateful to have the chance to serve aboard this All Tomorrow's Parties gig later this year. We lost our man 26 years ago and we need all the courage we can muster to celebrate with two what was made with three but it seems the only brave thing we can rightfully do. Mr jeff has honoured us much with his faith in us to try. We understand it is a brave thing to truly believe everyone can have something to teach us. Thank you Mr Jeff." Mike Watt


"Jeff's catalog kind of missed us in a way. When the youthful buzz of the early nineties was starting to wear off, I think we were just so busy reaching backward for inspiration, that we didn't see some great shit happening in real time. We also came to New York City, and that can blind you too, being in the biggest small town in America. Anyway, I'm glad we finally made it to the party. We've done three dates with him in the last month, and I can't think of a better introduction to such an important artist, than to spend those evenings singing and playing for his devoted fans, and then joining them to watch his inspired live performances. It's so heartening for us to see a grown-up artist deliver such emotional material, night for night, without a hint of jadedness or insincerity. Where Jeff manages to stay perennially young, sometimes I think the Tall Firs started out old. Hopefully some of what he's got will rub off on us while we return to our roots as a duo." Dave Miles

"I met this guy Jeff in a pizza shop in Manhattan last year. Some friends introduced us; I didn’t know him from Adam. Outside he and I got to talking about legendary records that we had outright never heard. (Thinking back on that conversation I’m going to go buy him a couple records today I swear). Somehow this segued into discovering a shared love of antiquarian science book shopping etc. Later on I realized this dude I was chatting away with was had a couple of legendary records of his own which I had really only ever heard in passing. I bought the Neutral Milk Hotel LPs the next day. I gotta say: the records are killer but these shows have been mind-meltingly awesome. If you’ve got a ticket to one of these shows you are going to get everything you hope for and then some. If you don’t have a ticket, you need to start a letter-writing campaign or something to get him to play some more gigs." Aaron Mullan


"Playing at ATP will be a tremendous honor! Jeff's songs really helped me have the courage to untangle some really shitty stuff in my life. That music helped me learn a tremendous amount about myself and who I want to be. But more than that he also inspired me to share my experiences with others, in the hopes that my experiences would inspire others to become better people." Ari Picker

For more details including ticket prices, visit the ATP site