Vicky Hamilton has balls.
Not just because of her incredible work ethic and passion for breaking musicians into the industry, but because sheās had the unenviable job of managing and promoting one of the most notorious bands in modern music.
Hamilton was in charge of Guns āNā Roses when they first started to make waves back in the 80s, and she doesnāt mince her words when describing what it was like looking after them.
āWhen I was managing Guns Nā Roses it was like herding catsā, she said. āI lived with all of them except for Duffā¦ 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 ā unsurprisingly featuring Axl Rose going off his nut.
āThe 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 lensesā, she said. āThen we found him sitting on top of the whiskeyā¦and 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.ā
While she occasionally bumps into all the other band members and texts with Slash, Hamilton hasnāt spoken to Rose for almost 20 years.
āHeās an interesting person: he has one personality like a sweet little boy, then another personality thatās like a devil dog from hell.”
“I hope one day weāll see each other again and it will all be good.ā
The Gunners are one of several bands on Hamiltonās impressive resume, which has seen her become one of the most respected and trendsetting female artist managers in rock music.
Sheās 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 Hamiltonās record label (she created it especially to release Carterās 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?
āI was booking bands at Bar Sinister in Hollywood while they were making their album and I hadnāt even heard themā, Hamilton said. āI said, āWhat do you sound like?ā and Azaria (frontman) said, āweāre kind of like old glam rockāā¦and we hit if off immediately.”
āThey write really great songs, I love them all as people, theyāre like my kids, theyāre beautiful people inside and out and really creative. The world needs another great rock bandā¦and they hit on all the things I like about rock bands, but they have their own originality as well.ā
Hamilton is the sole manager of the band at the moment (sheās looking for a local management partner as we speak) ā and admits that coordinating them on the other side of the world is a struggle.
āItās a little challenging with the time differenceā¦ We have to really coordinate with our Skype calls and that. But in many respects itās a lot easier, because theyāre very career-orientated; theyāll do whatever it takes to get thereā¦ theyāre very organised and professional. I tell them what needs to happen and it gets done.ā
āThe beauty of managing a band from Australia is if they do a track tonight, they can send it to me and Iāll get it tomorrow, whereas when they send me physical CDs, it takes usually 2-3 weeks to get here; thatās the beauty of technology and the internet.ā
Hamilton admits she is āa workaholicā and is āmarried to her jobā.Ā On top of managing The Art, sheās 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 ā Until the Music Ends ā which is āabout two thirds doneā.
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.
āMP3s donāt sound great, it doesnāt have that warm feel of a 24-track, 2-inch tape recording, which is why I have at the end of my trailer āMusic Is Freeā¦ Now What?āā she said.
āThe storyline keeps changing because as weāre filming it, more people are getting involvedā, she said. āIt follows my life in theĀ music business and how itās changed, also following The Art’s progress. Then weāve got interviews with Slash, Dick Dale, Crystal Method and The Veronicas; itās a long list of industry people.ā
Hamilton created the documentary partly to shed light on the struggles musicians have to go through to crack the big time ā and also to dispel the myths that a qualification will immediately get you a job in the industry.
āThe reason I started doing it (the doco) was because I was teaching at the Musicianās 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 doesnāt just work like that.ā
āThe music business is about relationshipsā¦and itās 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 donāt make much money either.ā
With technology changing the face of the music industry everyday and record companies struggling to have the same impact they once had, Hamilton believes āitās going to be a social media world from here on out”.
Sheās reacting to it by creating a social media label and Merchandise Company based in Austin, Texas ā 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 todayās musical landscape.
āI would say stay in your own backyard and develop a crowdā¦and get a great social media person because it makes the world very smallā, she said. āJust get it out there anyway you can, donāt wait for the record companiesā¦itās as if they donāt even matter right now.”
āI used to think you had to give away merchandise to sell records, now I feel you have to give away records to sell merchā¦itās all in the merchandise and the live touring, sadly. But I hope it changes…and there will be some new system in the futureā¦and artists will get paid for their music.ā
- The Art Frontman Wanted For Questioning By Bali Police
- ‘The Art’ Score A New Deal with Rocket Science Records
- Doing it the [Sm]Art Way…
- Trashed Milf will smash the Gaelic this Friday
- The Art Announces Australian Tour 2010