Vicky Hamilton has balls.
Not just because of her incredible work ethic and passion for breaking musicians into the industry, but because sheâs had the unenviable job of managing and promoting one of the most notorious bands in modern music.
Hamilton was in charge of Guns âNâ Roses when they first started to make waves back in the 80s, and she doesnât mince her words when describing what it was like looking after them.
âWhen I was managing Guns Nâ Roses it was like herding catsâ, she said. âI lived with all of them except for DuffâŚ It was everything you could imagine and worse.”
Amongst all the sex, drugs and rock and roll, Hamilton has one of several interesting tales about the band for me â unsurprisingly featuring Axl Rose going off his nut.
âThe day they signed the contract with Geffen Records, we were three hours late because Axl had ran out of the house because he thought someone had stolen his contact lensesâ, she said. âThen we found him sitting on top of the whiskeyâŚand we eventually coached him down to sign the contract. I had the cops bang on my door a few times and there was all sorts of mayhem.â
While she occasionally bumps into all the other band members and texts with Slash, Hamilton hasnât spoken to Rose for almost 20 years.
âHeâs an interesting person: he has one personality like a sweet little boy, then another personality thatâs like a devil dog from hell.”
“I hope one day weâll see each other again and it will all be good.â
The Gunners are one of several bands on Hamiltonâs impressive resume, which has seen her become one of the most respected and trendsetting female artist managers in rock music.
Sheâs also credited with launching the early careers of Poison, Motley Crue and June Carter Cash, the latter of whom won a Grammy for her album on Hamiltonâs record label (she created it especially to release Carterâs album).
And now, Hamilton only has one band on her books – burgeoning Sydney-based glam rockers The Art.
So how on earth did a little-known band from Australia impress the woman who has previously looked after some of the biggest rock gods of the last few decades?
âI was booking bands at Bar Sinister in Hollywood while they were making their album and I hadnât even heard themâ, Hamilton said. âI said, âWhat do you sound like?â and Azaria (frontman) said, âweâre kind of like old glam rockââŚand we hit if off immediately.”
âThey write really great songs, I love them all as people, theyâre like my kids, theyâre beautiful people inside and out and really creative. The world needs another great rock bandâŚand they hit on all the things I like about rock bands, but they have their own originality as well.â
Hamilton is the sole manager of the band at the moment (sheâs looking for a local management partner as we speak) â and admits that coordinating them on the other side of the world is a struggle.
âItâs a little challenging with the time differenceâŚ We have to really coordinate with our Skype calls and that. But in many respects itâs a lot easier, because theyâre very career-orientated; theyâll do whatever it takes to get thereâŚ theyâre very organised and professional. I tell them what needs to happen and it gets done.â
âThe beauty of managing a band from Australia is if they do a track tonight, they can send it to me and Iâll get it tomorrow, whereas when they send me physical CDs, it takes usually 2-3 weeks to get here; thatâs the beauty of technology and the internet.â
Hamilton admits she is âa workaholicâ and is âmarried to her jobâ.Â On top of managing The Art, sheâs also currently putting together her own biography with poet Iris Berry and workshopping a surf-meet-glam-rock musical – Glitter Beach – with Robbie Quine.
However, her other main passion at the moment is her documentary â Until the Music Ends â which is âabout two thirds doneâ.
Until the Music Ends focuses on the rise of MP3s and illegal downloading, amongst many other changes that Hamilton has seen in her lengthy career in the industry.
âMP3s donât sound great, it doesnât have that warm feel of a 24-track, 2-inch tape recording, which is why I have at the end of my trailer âMusic Is FreeâŚ Now What?ââ she said.
âThe storyline keeps changing because as weâre filming it, more people are getting involvedâ, she said. âIt follows my life in theÂ music business and how itâs changed, also following The Art’s progress. Then weâve got interviews with Slash, Dick Dale, Crystal Method and The Veronicas; itâs a long list of industry people.â
Hamilton created the documentary partly to shed light on the struggles musicians have to go through to crack the big time â and also to dispel the myths that a qualification will immediately get you a job in the industry.
âThe reason I started doing it (the doco) was because I was teaching at the Musicianâs Institute and it was astonishing to me that they (the students) thought they would go to MI and get their degrees and immediately have these record business careers – because it just doesnât just work like that.â
âThe music business is about relationshipsâŚand itâs not an easy business, which is why I wanted to make the doco. I want to give something back to the music community to help them in their quest, because documentaries donât make much money either.â
With technology changing the face of the music industry everyday and record companies struggling to have the same impact they once had, Hamilton believes âitâs going to be a social media world from here on out”.
Sheâs reacting to it by creating a social media label and Merchandise Company based in Austin, Texas â which she hopes to launch in the near future.
It is these two areas (social media and merchandise) that Hamilton believes unsigned acts need to specialise in if they want to stand a chance of making an impact in todayâs musical landscape.
âI would say stay in your own backyard and develop a crowdâŚand get a great social media person because it makes the world very smallâ, she said. âJust get it out there anyway you can, donât wait for the record companiesâŚitâs as if they donât even matter right now.”
âI used to think you had to give away merchandise to sell records, now I feel you have to give away records to sell merchâŚitâs all in the merchandise and the live touring, sadly. But I hope it changes…and there will be some new system in the futureâŚand artists will get paid for their music.â