Get to Know... a.P.A.t.T.
Get reacquainted with Liverpool's multi-genre veterans a.P.A.t.T., who join a particularly tasty bill featuring fellow local stalwarts Barberos and LA noise rockers HEALTH at the Kazimier next Sunday (25 October)
Formed in 1997, a.P.A.t.T. are something of a local institution within Liverpool's music scene. Between the core group and their wider Scratch Orchestra – a Cornelius Cardew-influenced collection of all-ability musicians who can come and go at any time – they've collaborated with everyone from members of Outfit to Ex-Easter Island Head. Pinning down a fixed line-up is nigh-on impossible, something that's reflected in the group's ADD approach to music, which veers from wonky Cardiacs-influenced guitar ostenation to a'cappella vocal segments, 80s-inspired synth pop and metal.
Although it's the likes of Godspeed You! Black Emperor and Deerhunter topping the bill at this year's Liverpool Music Week, the undercard contains some of the region's most enduring talent of the past decade, with Barberos, Stealing Sheep and Outfit among those appearing over several nights. a.P.A.t.T. are part of that too: they'll be joining HEALTH and spandex-clad local rockers Barberos at the Kazimier. We caught up with the group's General Midi over email.
a.P.A.t.T. have gone through an ever-revolving amount of personnel changes; who do the current line-up consist of and how did they come to form the a.P.A.t.T. of 2015?
Our current members are General MIDI, Dorothy Wave, Empress Play, D.C Offset, Col. Legno, Mr Phil Harmonic and Private Dancer. The current line-up consists of people that are available and capable of producing this stupid music.
After nearly 20 years do you feel that a.P.A.t.T. has almost taken on a life of its own beyond the members who happen to be involved with it at any one time?
Has it developed a character that would-be new members need to share an affinity with? Yes. a.P.A.t.T. started in 1997 and became a performing entity in around 2002. Luckily, the emerging idea for the act was strong initially. There have always been guests and collaborations and often it gets confusing, which I kinda like. Although there is no prescribed template for the music a.P.A.t.T. make, there does seem to be a coherent thread of experimentation, appropriation, manipulation and elation. Any kind of collaboration with new artists often brings new ideas and moods to a piece the self may never have noticed. In fact, it has been through collaborations that some core strategies and principles for a.P.A.t.T. have come about.
Tell me a little about your recent tour of Europe. How are you approaching playing live at the moment? Were there any notable shows?
We've just debuted our interactive film piece, Pinkfish across 21 dates in the UK, Belguim and France. We performed as a five-piece for a bit… and swapped a member after a few days. We played a Grindcore festival, a sausage shop in Paris, a circus tent in Arras, and drove all the way to Nice, stopping at R.I.O. Festival to pick up another member. Our live shows are always pretty intense and generally filled with lots of ideas so it can be a lot to take in for a first-time viewer. However, France really seemed to keep up with the pace… So that was nice.
You have a new album coming out this year, Fun with Music; did the creative process differ compared to previous a.P.A.t.T recordings? Can we expect a similarly genre-jumping style?
The process has been pretty similar in that there is no set 'process'. It's nice to create with many different catalysts and angles, I think it stops the rot setting in... Potentially Fun with Music is a relatively more focused record than our last two releases, however let's see what people think as I honestly have no idea anymore about anything.
Records like 2012's Ogadimma make it a habit to switch styles up so quickly. It partly feels like a reflection of the 21st century's playlist culture, but given you've been going for so much longer than that where does this drive come from?.
Everyone listens to lots of music, right? So why play one? And I guess ADD/OCD is rife in artisans.
Throughout every different genre you've gone through, one band who've always struck me as a more enduring influence are the Cardiacs — is that fair to say?
Well Cardiacs are just delightful! They should be like the The Doors or Led Zeppelin in the Rock Hall of Fame, we should all hear them when we're kids and stuff. However, I didn't really hear them until 2006 or 2007? But yes, great band and we are kind of chummy with the guitarist now and I hazard we have similar record collations. So it is fair to say and very kind too.
Is the a.P.A.t.T Orchestra still in existence and how does it differ from the 'core' band?
The a.P.A.t.T. Orchestra is a scratch orchestra meaning no fixed membership and comprises of players with mixed abilities. It may or may not perform again depending on the landscape.
You've been a band through a number of periods of change within Liverpool's music and cultural history, where do you think it stands at the moment?
The community weakens without a central hub and platform, I fear the O2 and Arts Village blahs do not fulfil these needs and I'm concerned what and where new music will flower in Liverpool after the loss of Mello and the future closure of the Kazimier. However those that do, do anyway… right?
As well as HEALTH, you're sharing the bill at Liverpool Music Week with fellow regional mainstays Barberos. How satisfying is it to see another band survive so many changes within your surroundings?
Amazing… I mean two thirds of those guys have played in a.P.A.t.T. on five week tours and things and we've worked with all three of them on many projects – they are brothers!