By LA Weekly
By Henry Rollins
By Weekly Photographers
By Shea Serrano
By Nate "Igor" Smith
By Dan Weiss
By Erica E. Phillips
By Kai Flanders
I take a risk and grab the seat. Of course, he turns around and wordlessly places some sort of piece of paper on my table in slow motion. I look at the photo on it, and I look at him.
“Andy Pratt,” it says.
Andy Pratt. Oh, if you only knew how I have hunted for Andy Pratt.
I first heard him while flipping around the radio dial one Sunday at 3 a.m. seven years ago. As it turned out, Jon Brion was guest-deejaying on KCRW’s The Open Road, playing something simple and bizarre and real. And beautiful. And incredible. And true. And it was Andy Pratt.
Jon Brion talked at length about Andy Pratt, and played three of his songs. He even put forth a theory of musical time travel, suggesting Andy Pratt’s influence on Radiohead and Beck. Because at one moment in history, Andy Pratt was the Next Big Thing. Andy Pratt was touted in Rolling Stoneas some kind of genius, and his song “Avenging Annie” was a hit.
After that, I hunted for Andy Pratt, ultimately special ordering one of his difficult-to-find albums through a record store. This was way before MySpace or iTunes. Andy Pratt sits at a piano on the cover, looking like a much taller Lindsey Buckingham. I didn’t hear anything on the record as amazing as that stuff on the radio. Yet he seemed a charismatic figure. I found out he later became a Christian. Sometimes the really gifted ones, the ones who really face the music, and madness, do that.
I’d always wondered what happened to him. So I’m in the coffee shop, and Mr. Andy Pratt places a flier on the table. I tell him I know his music; I have his album. He smiles oddly and says, “That’s out of print now. Write about it so they’ll put it back in print.”
He then tells me he’s doing a book signing, and he pulls out a book: Shiver in the Night, it’s called. A memoir. A psychedelic-looking photo of him on the cover. I ask him to sign it, and he does: For Kate, Love, Peace, and Power.
“So,” he asks, smiling, “you write up your daily report and all your fans read it?”
“Um... I don’t have any fans.”
“Okay, so no one reads it!” he says, chuckling.
“Yes, nobody reads it!” And then we both laugh.
And then he adds, almost off-the-cuff, “It’s okay. I do lots of great stuff no one knows about.”
Let me just savor that for a moment. “I do lots of great stuff no one knows about.” He says it without bitterness, but also like someone who’s not happy to be forgotten.
And nor should he be. His shit is incredible. And later, after a brief search, I find out that he has a couple of different MySpace pages. But right now I can’t ignore the irony of being stuck here in the mouth of the indie-hype-monster machine, this event that launches the short-lived careers of Next Big Things on an annual basis, and sitting at a café surrounded by young assholes in dark shades and cool haircuts, all of ’em hoping for that all-precious mantle of hype, and meeting this man with the crazed eyes and the unspeakably lovely music that not one in a hundred of these cats could hope to touch.
On the inside of the dust jacket, at the end of his bio, it says, “[Andy Pratt] is now happily married, and he is ready to rock.”
Read more SXSW coverage, including Kate’s ideas on how to get the music industry to backslap less and talk more about its crisis of survival at http://blogs.laweekly.com/rocknroll.