Liverpool’s premier experimental electronic art-rock prog-pop avant-garde collective a.P.A.t.T. have been making an awesome film for us to show on our next livestream show on Thurs 10th December. I had an excellent chat with General MIDI about what they’ve been up to…
It’s been a little while since the last a.P.A.t.T. album (2015’s Fun With Music) and we’re all champing at the bit for more, what’s the news?
a.P.A.t.T. have quite a lot of new material ready, but it is not quite the right time to release into the wild. We’ve got about 19 tracks in varying stages of development and have been chipping away, leaving them for a while, chipping at them again. Crafting an album can be a really slow process, as working out when it’s ‘finished’ is as much about having the collection of songs that hang together, which only ever happens naturally when there starts to be synchronicity in your writing that brings it together. You totally know when something’s finished though. You just know.
We’ve just released a track ‘Cigarettes & Margarine‘, which is a track that Empress Play brought to the table that we’ve been working on since 2017. It’s taken 3 years to come to fruition but the great thing about that slow writing process is that when you’re ready to release it, you know it’s right. Anyway, this is a.P.A.t.T.’s take on a power ballad, see what you think…
Tell us about who’s in the band – who’ve you got and why you love them (you do love them, don’t you?)
We have a somewhat unusual arrangement in that the ‘band’ has operated with a revolving cast of members since inception and was kinda designed that way. We’re currently operating as: General MIDI, Empress Play, Bossa Nova, Boss DR-5, Dot Wave and Private Dancer – everyone has been involved in making the film that we’ve put together for you.
All members past and present often have multiple personalities and perform in their own projects. Notable bands in our family tree are: Barberos, Zombina and the Skeletones, Kling Klang, Ex-Easter Island Head, Outfit, Double Echo, Estradesphere, White Blacula, Horsebastard and Dyasono.
What’s been going on for you guys this year, have you got any other plans to play live / online coming up?
We’ve put out quite a bit of online material this year, especially our TV show on YouTube called The a.P.A.t.T. Lyfestyle Challenge Channel Show. It’s like a magazine show format with a Dada angle. Six parts of the worst hell television you can engage with! Let’s just say we’ve had mixed feedback, hahaha!
We’re thinking about doing a series of one-off releases like Cigarettes & Margarine, but that’s likely to be in the new year. We’re exploring the possibility of using the subscription service on Bandcamp – we’ve been on the platform for 10 years now and really rate the way that they do business (unlike companies like Spotify, who we’re no longer using).
There will also be another six parts of the Lyfestyle Challenge Show coming in 2021…
If you were going to try and convert someone to your most recent musical discovery, what track would you play them and who is the artist?
I’ll tell you the name now cos it’s impossible to say… Encenathrakh’s Thraakethraaeate Thraithraake
It’s what’s known in the biz as ‘ping metal’ – it’s Weasel Walter, who’s the drummer from the extreme jazz noise combo The Flying Luttenbachers, Mick Barr from Krallice (one of the best Black Metal bands there is!) and Colin Marston from Gorguts. They’re coming at it from a very non-metal direction, but it still sounds like this…
There’s no way you’d describe a.P.A.t.T. as a metal band these days, but when we started out as a live band, we were very often put on by adventurous metal promoters. The great thing about extreme music nights is that their audiences are really up for something different, and we were accepted as the ones doing the ‘different’ things on the scene.
Also special mention for The Evil Usses, especially their track ‘Grouse’.
a.P.A.t.T. wouldn’t exist if it wasn’t for…
Short answer: time.
Long answer: getting fed up with the conventions of being in a band. We were all in other bands and we liked being musical, we were experimenting with the stuff that we’d learned from being in other bands in different ways and deconstructing them and trying new approaches. And then eventually realising that that was the best approach and was way more rewarding, enjoyable and original. That was what we wanted to be doing, rather than just playing the same 8 songs all the time every week in a garage. There’s nothing wrong with that, by the way, but it’s just a different practice.
Who are your reliable sources for discovering new music?
PMS on Radio Merseyside is the longest running alternative music radio show in the UK, it’s been running since the mid 70s by a guy called Roger Hill. a.P.A.t.T. have had a really long standing relationship with that show and it’s an integral part of Liverpool’s underground music scene so I would be remiss not to mention it. They’ve been off the air for quite a bit of lockdown and have been making shows ‘in exile’ on Mixcloud.
If you don’t listen to Steve Davis’ Interesting Alternative Show specifically, you’re going to miss out on some stuff! Their understanding of world prog is way sophisticated, they could spend a whole month playing stuff from Italy that you’ve never heard.
I’ve also been running a Facebook group called POSTMUSIC So Post Music for the last seven years and get a lot of new music from that. We’ve got a ‘no doughnut’ policy so people aren’t encouraged to share their own music (else they get doughnutted!) but to share other people’s music that they’re enjoying. It’s not genre specific at all and its a really rich resource for finding stuff that you like and also working out what you don’t like!
Which track would you hold up as an overlooked classic?
The Thistle by Jesse Rae. It’s as good as it gets in the disco scene, made by a Scottish guy in Highland battle dress…
Which live band would you cross hell or high water to see?
It would have been really nice to have seen The Residents in their early incarnations. If you were in California in the early 80s / late 70s and saw some of those experiments, I think that would have been really cool. It’s the stuff of legends.
It would also have been nice to have seen the late 80s / Maresnest incarnation of Cardiacs, that would have been alright…
Is there any other art or culture outside of music that has made a big impact on you recently?
Most of the things I do are to do with engineering… I’m often watching engineering videos or reading manuals to work out whether one pre-amp is better than another pre-amp… Does that count?
Actually, I’ve been enjoying the All Gas No Brakes on YouTube. He’s a hilarious, unwitting reporter of serious incidents and gets himself right in the thick of things. If you want proper ‘on the ground’ reporting, this guy’s in the mosh.
General MIDI for a.P.A.t.T. joins us on our live stream show on Thursday 10th December along with New Ghost. We’ll be premiering the exclusive live session they recorded with us along with live chat and opportunity to ask your burning questions!
Tickets range from FREE (for low / no waged) to £10 (50% of these Scene Champion tickets to be donated to Theatre Deli Sheffield, as they would have been hosting the original gig) but you will need to register for a ticket at budsspawn.nutickets.com in order to receive the live stream URL. This link will also let you watch it back after the show has finished.