Chris: So how did you get involved with ATP?
Steve: Well, 20 years ago, ATP was getting started and they were proposing to change the way that festivals and concerts operated. At the time when we were starting out as a band all of us had unpleasant experience with the festival mentality and didn’t really want to indulge it, we didn’t really want to participate. So whenever anyone would ask us our stock answer would just be “no we don’t do festivals”. Then Barry hogan who runs ATP had acted as promoter for a couple of shows for us in London and he said he was doing this new festival that was going to be different from other festivals. We said “Thanks but we don’t do festival”, then he was very persistent and was adamant that ATP festivals were going to be different and that people weren’t going to be treated like cattle and the slate of music was going to be curated so the it wasn’t just going to be payola and whoever was just currently popular. Somebody was going to be vouching for these bands and give everybody a reason to come see them and it wasn’t just going to be who was currently popular. All that appealed to us and the on site accommodations and people having more of a normal life whilst at the festival that appealed to us. so we acquiesced, we were invited by Mogwai to be apart of their ATP, we didn’t expect to enjoy our selves. We were skeptical but we ended up having a great time and ended up seeing that ‘Yes’ this was a different way of doing festivals and since then ATP has literally changed the face of the touring scene in the world, festivals all over the world have had to live up to this standard that was set by those early ATP’s.
C: Are you following any Icelandic bands that are here.
I have to admit, I have fallen completely out of contact with the Icelandic music scene…
*Bob throws something at Steve*
S: why would you throw these at me, Bob?
B: they’re a present
S: I don’t want them
*tosses them off* whatever it was.
C: Have you seen Reykjavík at all this time around?
S: No we’re going into Reykjavík tomorrow, Bob and Todd went to the Blue Lagoon today, I slept today, tomorrow we’re gonna go into Reykjavík and toodle around. I’m totally fascinated by the way that this country has reinvented its self in the past 5-10 years. I’d really like to spend some significant time here and see how things are working and talk to the people that are responsible for all the political change just to see how that works on a personal level, but there isn’t time on this trip and that kind of makes me sad.
C: Are there any new album details you can offer fans.
S: We’ve had the music for our new record finished for over a year, for the last year we’ve been involved in the minutia of getting the manufacturing done, mastering done, getting the test pressings approved designing the album cover getting the album covers printed all of that is now underway and everything is physically being manufactured and our stuff should be in stores sometime in September.
C: Are you still releasing an update to “the problem with music“.
S: You know, that article was very much about the conditions at the time and I don’t think that there is as a monolithic approach to music and the music business now as there was in the nineties. In the nineties there was very definitely a specific way that the music industry that the music industry was behaving and now things have fragmented really dramatically. You could do an article like that regarding a certain aspect of the music scene lets say the streaming services or the 360 deals for the remnants of the old record labels or for the touring business or the companies like live-nation trying to monopolize venues or the ticket selling and reselling industry, you could do an individual article on each of those facets of the music business. It used to be that the music business was basically the record business, and so if you were talking about the music business you were talking about the record business and that’s not true anymore, I don’t think i know enough to write with any authority about any aspect of the music scene other than being in a touring rock band and making records in the studio, those two things I can speak about with authority, but basically everything else i’m not an expert on.
C: How did you find today’s gig.
S: Yeah, it was an unpleasant day, just a rainy and drab day, and so that can sometimes turn people off to doing things, but everybody here seemed to be having a really good time, very warm audience, the reception was tremendous, people were super nice, we’ve basically never had a bad time anything we’ve done in Iceland.
C: So you guys have been here before.
S: We’ve been here before, I was here doing a recording session for a band called Ensími about 10 years ago, Shellac had been here playing a couple of years prior to that, but we haven’t spent significant time here.
C: So is this part of a larger tour of Europe?
S: No we did some touring in May and we played a couple of shows in Chicago in July and then this is just a one off show and then we’re not really doing anymore touring until October.
C: For alot of people who might be based in Chicago, would you say that the rents in Chicago are still worth who artistically inclined to move there as opposed to New York?
S: Chicago is a very affordable city, during the nineties there was a big construction boom and there was an awful lot of apartment housing built and most of it was never occupied so there’s been a very depressed housing market, meaning that housing prices are very low. Buying a house, buying an apartment, renting an apartment, the prices in Chicago are quite reasonable. The other cost of living in Chicago is not so cheap, like public transportation is not great and its kind of expensive. Things like, it’s cold in the winter, so you have to heat your apartment and that can be expensive, if you need to do anything involving the city there almost always paper work and a filing fee. There are expenses to living in Chicago that you wouldn’t have in a smaller town, but Chicago as far as cities go is a very very livable city.
C: For bands getting started right now, do you think Europe is still a viable alternative in terms of touring as opposed to the states, I’ve been hearing that the basic costs of touring around the US are now so expensive that its not even worth it.
S: No matter where you are you can make more money touring now than you could ten years ago. The money is much better. Gigs are more expensive, tickets are more expensive, fees are higher, you get paid more, transportation cost inside the US is not terribly more expensive than it was, transportation costs between the US and Europe have gotten a little bit more expensive. But basically now is a really great time to be in a touring rock band, the fees are great and the internet makes booking shows and organizing stuff so much easier. You can organize a whole tour via email.
C: I had read that you had toured the Balkan countries in that way.
S: Yeah, that was done all using personal contacts, we knew a guy, he knew a guy, he knew a guy, it was all connected informally like that. But it’s possible to that anywhere now.
C: Well thank you for your time.
So if you want to read a little more about Albini’s prior ventures in Iceland checkout this article on Wim’s Icelandic music museum about his involvement with the Ensími album BMX back in 1999.