Monday, November 16, 2009


Wednesday, November 28, 2007 

Five acts, five albums one killer idea; play them live, song by song. Since it's 2005 debut with The Stooges playing Funhouse, Don't Look Back has been making waves in an already saturated northern hemisphere summer festival calender. The accounts that have filtered back from blogs, websites and lucky friends only serve to inflame jealousies of those who did get to see Mudhoney resurrect Superfuzz Bigmuff and Slint meander through Spiderland. Who'd want to see an album canonised and further alienated from modern music like some soulless artifact anyway? Uh, me and anyone with a passing interest in music for starters.

When the news hit a month ago speculation was rife and imaginations sent into overdrive. A fortnight later when the lineup was announced, arms were flung high, tickets hurriedly purchased and all were impressed at the bands pulled for the February shows, many of which will have sold out by the time you read this. This, says organiser Barry Hogan of the mega lineup of Sonic Youth, Low, The Scientists, Died Pretty and Ed Kuepper, is just a sampler. "We're really just testing the waters and just introducing it to Australians, we're definitely looking at it becoming an annual event. There is already talk of more shows later next year." Though playing albums live is certainly not a new idea, to turn it into a traveling festival and bring it to Australia is something new and given the five albums on offer, it's hard to picture this coming summer without touching on at least one of these shows.

Founder of the legendary All Tomorrows Parties festival, Hogan is no stranger to Melbourne (his wife being from here), so for him it was just time till Don't Look Back would reach our shores. "It was a matter of finding the right partners to host the shows. Tim Pittman and Steve Castan from Feel Presents - we seem cut from the same cloth really, and the bands they'd worked with like Mogwai and Yo La Tengo are artists we promote in the UK, plus we wanted to come down with something quite special, and there's no doubt that the show that's coming is really amazing. You can be into Sonic Youth and stuff - but this will really blow you away," he enthuses like the fan he clearly is, sentiments backed up by those lucky sods mentioned earlier.

From walking up to your album rack, pulling some albums out and throwing them on the floor saying 'I want to see these played live'  (his account of coming up with the idea for Don't Look Back) to now, Hogan still speaks like a giddy teen, happily arrested in the first flush of love for the bands he talks about. "Tim approached most of the Australian bands because he's based there. We'd already worked with Low and Sonic Youth so we just put that out there and anyone in their right mind would be up for summer in Australia compared to the winter in America or in the UK." he laughs. Sonic Youth, were initially reticent, but according to Hogan, "They were really happy that they did join. As the tour progressed they were like: 'oh, I wish this wasn't ending,' it was like a book you couldn't put down."

"The Australian one will probably develop into something as strong as the UK one where there will be 10 or 12 acts per season, and it's really great to represent Australian bands like Died Pretty, Ed Kuepper and The Scientists and all genres of music really - hip-hop, electronica, avant garde, folk - I don't think there should be any boundaries there because the scope is endless. What we're trying to do is say 'these are great records and it's a celebration of the album'. People tend to ignore albums as an art form now with modern convenience of downloading single tracks. The gaps in between songs can make or break an album," he laughs, "no, seriously!"

Seriously is also how Hogan thinks some are taking the idea of Don't Look Back. "Some people do see it as sacrilegious, and whenever you do anything you're always opening yourself up to criticism. I think if you're into the record then come to the show, I think it's easy to take it too seriously, at the end of the day it's just music for people to enjoy."
Given that Hogan's personal musical passions play a huge part in Don't Look Back, what would he love to see in the future? "Pavement and Neil Young," he muses. "I'd love to see Pavement do one of their records, but the argument everyone has is 'pick Slanted And Enchanted' but I quite like Brighten The Corners (laughs) so everyone has their favourite album. Boards of Canada as well because they don't really play that often. We're really fortunate to have just reformed My Bloody Valentine and got them to play their first tour in 16 years, so if Australia wants it we could try and make that happen." I assure him, in no uncertain terms, that we would.

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