Guns N’ Roses insider, manager and consultant Vicky Hamilton (THE ART, Motley Crue, Stryper,Poison) talks shop with LRI

Guns N’ Roses insider, manager and consultant Vicky Hamilton (THE ART, Motley Crue, Stryper,Poison) talks shop with LRI
April 27, 2012 | By | 8 Replies More
Vicky now

Vicky now

Vicky's original GNR promo pic with Slash's new logo design!

Vicky's original GNR promo pic with Slash's new logo design!

Vicky Hamilton is no stranger to rock and roll personalities.  She’s made a career out of dealing with them, guiding them, supporting them and even at times, mothering them.  She’s also no pushover.  She’s worn enough hats that she knows what card to pull and when, having done everything from music journalism, venue booking and record store managing to Geffen Records A&R, artist management and consulting.  Vicky basically played a part in the careers of most every band I bought a concert tee of growing up but will always be remembered for being the only person in L.A. willing to take on Guns N’ Roses (which the band just thanked her for at their Hall of Fame induction).  However, there is way more to her than just that little window of time with GNR.  She had an interesting path leading to Slash and company and has had an interesting career since including her latest artist, a very interesting band called THE ART, who are currently making waves stateside and abroad.  We recently had the pleasure of talking to Vicky about all this and more, read on…

Legendary Rock Interviews:  Thank you so much for your time Vicky!  You are so busy managing and creating and all of this at a time when most people are just trying to get out of the biz!

Vicky Hamilton:  Thank you!  I guess somebody’s gotta do it (laughs).

Geffen exec Tom Zutaut's  letter to Vicky about GNR after seeing the band

Geffen exec Tom Zutaut's letter to Vicky about GNR after seeing the band

LRI:  Indeed.  I know you are originally from Indiana and we are based here in Illinois.  We are so stoked to be making a trip out west for some book business because if you’re from here and involved in entertainment at all it is MECCA.  How did you originally get involved with music here in the sticks?

Vicky:  When I lived in Fort Wayne, Indiana I wrote for a free press publication called Three Rivers Review and I did concert reviews and I worked at a record store called Apple Records and it kind of fueled my fire for wanting to work with entertainment and music projects.  I went to the Fort Wayne Art Institute because I thought I was gonna be  an artist or painter (laughs).  After doing that for about two years I realized it wasn’t really for me.  I had painted this landscape in purple and the teacher gave me a C on it and said it wasn’t realistic and I thought  “Well, it might be realistic if you lived on Mars”.  I just didn’t have the same ideas as they did, I was very into Andy Warhol.  I decided to move to California after interviewing Tom Petty (laughs).  I talked to him on the DAMN THE TORPEDOS tour and he said  “Blondie you should move to L.A., you’ve got the right look and attitude for L.A.” and that was basically all it took to get me there (laughs).  I started saving money and I knew one person who lived in L.A. who was a nurse who lived in Marina Del Ray and I came out and stayed with her for  a month and explored and then I went back to Indiana and saved money and moved out here.  It wasn’t easy but I’ve never regretted it.

Vicky classic pic

Vicky classic pic

LRI:  So you made the move in 1981 and I know that one of the earliest bands you worked with was Motley Crue.  How did you get involved with those guys to begin with?  That was a really, really exciting time in their career.

Vicky:  I was a management consultant for them.  I had become friends with Nikki really early on, even before the Leathur Record and I was hired by their first manager Alan Coffman as a management consultant.  I helped shop them to the labels and did a lot of their display merchandising for the Too Fast For Love album.  I lived in Hollywood so I sort of babysat the band and helped out a little bit.  I was also a really, really big fan of the music and was a record store buyer for a store out here called Licorice Pizza so I bought a LOT of Motley Crue records and pushed them heavily through their 30 store chain which really helped their career early on.  At the time they played the show they really got famous off of at the Whisky I had set up a huge display in the window of the store to promote it and the album.  I had included a lot of their personal items and whips and chains and Vince gave me a pair of pink panties to include in it which, by the way, were NOT clean but I put those on the manniquins in the window too.  We had fluorescent painted the MOTLEY logo and you could see it up and down the street so all of that in addition to moving so many records in the store was , I think,  at least some factor in helping them get signed.

Motley Crue New Years Eve show at Santa Monica Civic, 1981 by JACK LUE

Motley Crue New Years Eve show at Santa Monica Civic, 1981 by JACK LUE

LRI:  I just think that is the most pure and effervescent record they ever recorded.  It’s poppiness has never been matched and it’s  still my favorite.

Vicky:  Yeah, there’s a lot of cowbell!   (laughs).

LRI:  I know!  Did you have the sense that despite the rawness they were really tapping into something special?

Vicky:  Oh totally.  When Motley busted out it was all punk rock and European new wave stuff like Duran Duran or Psychedelic Furs.  So they just stood out with their duct tape, spandex and hair.   Nikki lit himself on fire and just everything about them was like “What is THIS???!!”  I was very curious by the time Nikki came into my record store and he had this German model girlfriend and I befriended them and started hanging out with them.  I was very curious about them in general and I just fell in love with the sound.  I think that being from the midwest is sort of a blessing and a curse all rolled into one, I don’t know if you’d agree but what it did for me was….my taste in radio was staunchly commercial.  I could see that despite the image and abrasiveness there was a commerciality in Motley Crue that was very different and new.  It was clearly marketable and I was ready to ride the train.  Nikki Sixx is a visionary and he knew from day one where this project was headed.  I think that I just really believed in him and knew that whatever he set his mind to was gonna work.

Nikki at the New Years Eve Santa Monica show in 1981 by Jack Lue

Nikki at the New Years Eve Santa Monica show in 1981 by Jack Lue

LRI:  Was it clear that Nikki had totally different influences than a lot of the other bands coming out around that time?

Vicky:  Oh yeah.  He was way into The Sweet, New York Dolls, Mott The Hoople and stuff like that.  He was into a lot of the European rock and roll template.  They were not afraid to put on a show or use makeup even if it meant Nikki getting his his ass beat a couple of times during that era because of the makeup and all that stuff.  What they were doing was really unique and totally a shot in the dark.  It was not guaranteed that it would work but Nikki believed and I liked that almost as much as the music.

Vince Neil at the Santa Monica New Years Eve show 1981, by JACK LUE

Vince Neil at the Santa Monica New Years Eve show 1981, by JACK LUE

LRI:  So you feel that Nikki was really focused on what he wanted not only in terms of image but also music?

Vicky:  Yes, he was the guiding force and wrote a lot and Tommy and Mick were sort of a musical powerhouse  but really the entire band was thick as thieves and constantly together back in those days.  I mean, even early on, Vince and Nikki didn’t really get along very well.  I really doubt they get along that great now only because they  are really two very different personalities.

LRI:  When did you get out of the Motley consulting deal?

Vicky:  Well, Allan ran off with their advance money and they got pissed and hired Doc McGhee and Doug Thaler and since I worked for Coffman I was sort of out of it .

Tommy Lee, Sept. 25, 1982 at the Roxy by JACK LUE

Tommy Lee, Sept. 25, 1982 at the Roxy by JACK LUE

LRI:  They dedicated a song to the Coffman affair called BASTARD on the next album.  He’s been pretty demonized ever since, what were your impressions of Alan?

Vicky:  He wasn’t really a music guy.  He was a real estate and money guy who was very crucial to their early success because he helped finance Too Fast For Love and helped them procure equipment and gear and stuff.  He was not, by any stretch of the imagination, a music business genius or rock and roll person.  He was just following his hunches.

LRI:  Then you got involved consulting for some of the bands on Enigma like STRYPER?

Vicky:  Gosh, you’ve done your homework John (laughs).

LRI:  I’m a huge fan of the band and to me they are really something special in the sense that they had their own unique sound and a pretty daring image and presentation.  I doubt there will ever be another Christian band that has that kind of breakthrough success, what did you think when you saw them all over MTV a few years later?

Vicky:  I wasn’t surprised.  The Sweet brothers had something very special and it was very evident to me that it was only a matter of time.  I don’t even think their success depended on the Christian angle but if that’s what they had in their hearts who am I to say “Don’t do it that way”.  When I first heard them I really was unaware as  to their beliefs.

Stryper in the Enigma days...

Stryper in the Enigma days...from Stryper.com

LRI:  Was that during the Roxx Regime days?

Vicky:  Yes.   I had no idea they were a Christian band, I just really liked their sound, I mean Roxx Regime was not really a Christian band.  I went down to see them rehearse one day and saw the Isaiah 53:5 thing and really didn’t think anything of it to tell the truth.  It wasn’t until I started seeing them actually putting their logo on Bibles and throwing them at the crowds that I actually got it.  They never came right out and told me “We’re doing Christian rock” so to me they were just a rock band.  I was a cocktail waitress at Gazarris during the Roxx Regime days and they were sort of regulars there at that point.  They came in from Orange County and played there every weekend.

Roxx Regime flyer from an 82 show with some little band Metallica

Roxx Regime flyer from an 82 show with some little band Metallica

Video of Roxx Regime performing the unreleased song “ROXX REGIME” at a Chapel in 1984:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JIzSOxyky8k

LRI:  Were you one of Bill Gazarri’s “FOXY” girls?

Vicky: (laughs) Umm no.  I never did the wet t-shirt contests or any of that.  During the Roxx Regime era I was living with a guy who worked for Van Halen and I put those guys on the guest list to come see Roxx Regime and Bill said “You’re dangerous Vicky…you think that you can run my club and be a bigshot (laughs).”  I never thought like a groupie or a bimbo, ever.  I was always very business minded and focused on the music and business end of things.  I booked Stryper opening for Bon Jovi at the Country Club which was their first show out here at Country Club.

Vicky is smiling because Bret just perfected the duckface years before teenage girls on myspace or facebook

Vicky is smiling because Bret just perfected the duckface years before teenage girls on myspace or facebook

LRI:  I know it’s been mentioned that your time managing Poison ended badly but you really believed in them at a time when few people did, isn’t that correct?

Vicky:  Pretty much.  They were really fresh and Pennsylvanian (laughs).  We had done a demo deal with Atlantic and they passed on the band.  Because of my association with Motley and Stryper I was very friendly with the Enigma people and we were offered a very small deal by Enigma, I think it was like 25,000 dollars or something and they of course took it.  At that point I was not getting along with Bret Michaels so I sold my contract to Howie Huberman who was my financial backer so he took over management from there.  They were released by Enigma and Capitol bought it and it blew up.

LRI:  Bret has made such a name for himself outside of Poison and much of it has to do with this easygoing, fan friendly persona but he must be at least somewhat difficult to deal with behind the scenes or creatively.  Is he headstrong?

Vicky:  I’ll put it to you this way John, everyone assumes that Axl Rose was the most difficult personality or character I’ve ever dealt with which ISN’T true.  It was unquestionably Bret Michaels (laughs).

Bret Michaels at the Palace, July 16, 1986 by JACK LUE

Bret Michaels at the Palace, July 16, 1986 by JACK LUE

LRI:  (laughs).  Wow…ok, that IS interesting.

Vicky:  (laughs).  It’s true.  Say what you want but at least Axl wears his heart on his sleeve.  You know where you stand because he’ll let you know.  He’s honest to a fault.   Bret is much more devious and just not a nice person in that regard.  Those bands were very much at war at one point with each trying to outdo each other.  It was very high school (laughs).  Of course, everyone knows that Slash auditioned for Poison and they were going to do it but he was not gonna do the bit in the show where he was like “Hi, my name is SLASH!!!!” and he said “I’m not gonna wear all that fuckin makeup”.  They ended up going with C.C. because he was a good fit and Slash was not going to bend to Bret Michaels “rules”.

C.C. Deville is friggin awesome and so is Samantha 7

C.C. Deville is friggin awesome,so was Samantha 7

LRI:  I love C.C. Deville, to me he is just so friggin awesome and such a massive part of their songwriting.  He is the explosive, fun, tuneful part of Poison.  What is your relationship with C.C. like?

Vicky:  I love C.C.  A few years ago I was teaching a class on music business management at Musician’s Institute and C.C. came in and guest spoke for me and he is so sweet and so funny.  He had us all laughing so hard we were all crying he was talking about he had signed up to do the Surreal Life and took out seven parked cars getting there because he assumed they would send a limo to pick him up.  He is so funny and so honest and he talked about  how he was court ordered to get sober on reality TV which is just crazy sounding to me.  I’ve been sober for about ten years now and I cannot imagine trying to get straight on reality TV.  I cried every day for about six months and can’t fathom being filmed while going through such a process.    He’s such a sweetheart and if you listen to listen to Samantha 7 you can hear that rhythm and sound he has all over it.  Matt Smith, their original guitarist was a really talented guitarist but the sound just completely changed when C.C. joined.

Poison with Matt Smith

Poison with Matt Smith

LRI:  I know what you mean.  That’s exactly how I feel, I have all the pre-Poison stuff as Paris and some of it has more of a straightforward, basic Motley cookie cutter sound.  Like they sat around and listened to Shout at the Devil on repeat.

Vicky:  (laughs).  All I can tell you is I went out to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania with them in the early days  they were doing Motley Crue covers on videotape.  I’m sure they cut those tapes up because I was like “Do not let anyone see this stuff!” (laughs).  It was pretty sad.

LRI:  There was some video on youtube real similar to what you are describing.  I think the video I saw was a  song  called  ”Rock like a Rocker” or something….Matt and Rikki and the band were solid but it was a pretty low budget thing and yeah there’s plenty of versions of them doing “Looks That Kill” as Paris.

Vicky:  Oh boy.

Vicky Hamilton and her old pal Slash

Vicky Hamilton and her old pal Slash by Lisa Marks

LRI:  When you and Bret had the falling out was that around the time you got actively involved in Guns N’ Roses?

Vicky:  Yeah, pretty much.  Well, I had always been a big fan of Slash and his playing.  I always kept an eye on what he was doing and I booked Hollywood Rose when i was an agent for Silver Lining Entertainment which I was also doing when I was working with and booking Stryper.   Axl and Izzy came into Silver Lining and played me their demo tape and it was amazing and I booked them sight unseen.  The first show was at Madam Wong’s with Candy and then I booked them with Black Sheep, Slash’s band at the Music Machine.  Around that point Chris Weber left Hollywood Rose and Slash entered the picture and I started working with them then.  I really liked both Chris and Slash.  I thought Chris was a really good writer and I’m still friends with him to this day.  It was so funny because our paths always seem to cross.  Well after those days, probably ten years later I was working with a band and in England and saw this band whose guitarist was….Chris Weber.   I was like “Holy shit!” (laughs).  Chris is a great guy and now he works at a recovery/sober living place.  He’s just a really good guy who was very important to that whole time and place.  No question about it.  He co-wrote a couple of those songs on Appetite so he’s a talented writer and a talented cat in general.

Vicky and Steven photo by Jack Lue

Vicky and Steven photo by Jack Lue

LRI:  You’ve mentioned a couple times that you booked bands at various venues in L.A. and I was just wondering how difficult that was.  From what I understand the deck was always stacked in the venue’s favor and it was very hard to get anywhere with the whole pay to play format.  Is that correct?

Vicky:  Yeah, it was generally a losing venture (laughs).   I figured that out soon after booking Guns N’ Roses a few times at the Roxy to full houses and barely breaking even.  You had to buy the beer from the Roxy, you had to buy security from the Roxy, the lights, even the dressing room and after you did the advertising or whatever there was just no way to win even if the place was packed.  I still had to pay the band a few hundred bucks too after all that.

Producer Mike Clink, photographer Jack Lue and Vicky with Chris Weber at the Marc Canter Reckless Road book signing

Producer Mike Clink, photographer Jack Lue and Vicky with Chris Weber at the Marc Canter Reckless Road book signing

LRI:  Was that ever an issue for any of the bands looking at you like “Hey, we just played sold out gigs where the hell is our money?”

Vicky:  Not too much because they could see how I lived.  It wasn’t like I was doing well at their expense.  I was hardly living well and in GNR’s case most of them saw that firsthand.  Booking bands was not very lucrative, that’s why I didn’t stay in the booking biz for too long, I said “Screw This”.  You had to find some kind of financial backer in order to finance the cool clothes, the cool gear and the cool stage elements cause you sure as hell weren’t gonna make any cash gigging.   It’s harder than ever today believe it or not.  I just got my band THE ART out here from Australia and they toured with the Pixies and Marilyn Manson and all these people but here they opened for Steel Panther and probably only got 70 dollars while their song is doing great overseas.  It’s still hard out there.  The cream rises to the top but it’s a hard fight.

Vicky and Michael Friggin Monroe

Vicky and Michael Friggin Monroe

LRI:  I didn’t see the band until the Illusions era so I can’t imagine what you saw at the Troubadour.  Did you ever see GNR in a bad show or a sloppy show back in the pre-Appetite days?

Vicky:  I wouldn’t say sloppy was the word maybe raw but even in the very beginning they were brilliant.  Everyone knew that you were watching a trainwreck but you couldn’t take your eyes off of it.  It was RAW.  It felt a little dangerous and there was just so much magic and brilliance in that original lineup.  Those five guys together were the magic ingredient.  It’s hard…..it’s hard to really describe what that band was like but it was amazing and it was pure magic.  Noone can take that away from them.  I went to go see Axl’s hired guns at the Forum this January.  All those guys in Axl’s band are technically great musicians but that magic and fire is gone, it’s just….dead and gone.  There was no fire.  It’s not what GNR was when they were young and living.  That was like real life to them, those songs were their lives, it wasn’t just a bunch of good musicians playing a show, it was REAL.  It’s those five guys or nothing, I mean Matt Sorum is a great drummer but it just wasn’t the same without Steven.  Steven had a way of playing that was stylistically important and his spirit and spark drove those songs where they needed to be.  Steven’s early friendship with Slash added a certain dynamic and then when Izzy left it was just OVER because he was such a grounding force to the songwriting and was childhood friends with Axl.  Those two being replaced by other musicians didn’t replace that chemistry.  When Izzy left that was when Axl really just lost his mind in a lot of ways.  By the time Illusions had hit I was so far removed from all things Guns that it was interesting.  Axl had this Elton John thing going (laughs) and keyboardists and background singer girls.  It just wasn’t the same rock band I had even worked with, not to say there wasn’t some brilliance on those albums because there clearly was it was just so radically different.  I mean the first time I heard him play November Rain on the piano I was blown away that the same guy who could write the stuff on Appetite could play such a beautifully arranged piano ballad but they were clearly headed in a different direction.

LRI:  Alan Niven mentioned that he feels that Axl’s lateness for gigs is sort of a form of stagefright or performance anxiety more than anything else…Did you see anything like that?

Vicky:  Well, first of all, nobody would have put up with that shit back before he got famous but yeah I could see what Niven is saying by that.  I mean a lot of people who are as super famous as Axl still get performance anxiety, they just learn how to manage it.  Axl is a complex character, bi-polar, there’s a lot going on there (laughs).

LRI:  I liked Chinese Democracy and actually went out and bought it full  price on Vinyl which is the only format I’m willing to pay for.  I know some people were snickering or making jokes about it being reduced to 99 cents by Best Buy or whatever but I was a little bummed out to see the brand fall so hard.  Do you think he still has something to offer artistically?

Vicky:  Hmm….I think that he could, but I think that he needs to make amends to four people in that band and I think that his anger has eaten him from the inside out.  That’s what I think.

Axl and Slash at the Roxy 3.28.86 by Jack Lue

Axl and Slash at the Roxy 3.28.86 by Jack Lue

LRI:  Marc Canter sort of intimated in our interview that the things holding back a Guns N Roses reunion were not that complicated, that they were in fact pretty simple and somewhat based on misunderstandings that could be worked out by a marriage counselor between two prideful personalities in Axl and Slash.  Do you agree?

Vicky:  Pride?  I think it might be more ego.  I’m clearly on the SLASH team and I know that Slash would do it but you know Axl is just…..I mean, he had people thrown out of the forum for wearing top hats (laughs).  I mean, it’s gotten to the point of absurdity and then some.  I just don’t know that Slash would ever bow down to Axl and I just don’t think Axl would allow a reconciliation any other way.   It’s become such a Guns N’ Roses spider web.  It sucks for the fans because not only can they not reunite but they can’t even all get on the same page to release this movie of the footage from the Use Your Illusions tour.  I find it really sad and the mere fact that they can’t get up onstage together and accept the Hall of Fame thing together was just SAD.  They made the greatest hard rock record of the decade and they should be able to all be on the same page about that and stand together and at least wear that badge proudly for one night.  The fans want it so much and it’s so sad that they couldn’t put their differences aside for even ONE song.

LRI:  Was the floor of the GNR “living space” really as bug infested and disgusting as its been described?

Vicky:  I wish I had taken photos John.  It was probably worse than it’s been described.  It was so bad that I left everything in that apartment when it was time to go except the wood table which I still have.  It was a beautiful wood table but it now has cigarette burns and water circles from all the beer bottles and stains from Jack Daniels bottles.  The table is just completely ravaged by GNR but I keep it because I love it so much (laughs).  It was a pretty rough place, this much is true, but we all survived.

LRI:  Did you and the strippers buy the vast majority of those cigarettes and bottles?

Vicky:  Oh, the strippers certainly chipped in.  I bought my fair share of cigarettes as well.  Mario from the Rainbow had a deal goin with me and would feed them pizzas and Marc Canter would give them pastrami sandwiches.  They managed to stay alive (laughs).

LRI:  You always stayed above the whole groupie scene but your bands obviously didn’t (laughs).  Did you ever see anything in regards to the girls that just made you ill or found revolting?

Vicky:  (laughs).  The 80s were a weird time.   It was actually considered “cool” to be abusive or degrading towards women and looking back it is amazing to me that in that regard I really came out of the era unscathed.   I truly believe that everyone is a volunteer in their own life and those girls…..they got what they asked for basically,  you know?

LRI:  I don’t know how many countless times you’ve had to answer this but in terms of your exit of managing Guns N’ Roses it was very ugly and unfair, and not necessarily in terms of  all of the individuals in the BAND but in the sense that you were truly STABBED in the back by Attorney Peter Paterno.  You hired the guy and he in turn fucked you over royally and started handling the band instead.  I cannot imagine what went through your mind or how you felt and you’ve had plenty of time to think about how shady it really was.  Steven said he still thought it was horrible when we talked to him, that it was one of the reasons he wanted to mention you at the hall of fame ceremony.  How do you put that whole Paterno thing  in perspective?

Vicky:  That’s a really good question and actually no one has ever asked me that before.  I am writing a book and really planning on getting very truthful because that is in fact what really happened.  The Sludge interview was the first time I ever mentioned it and this is the first time anyone has ever really asked me.  At the time, my main concern was that I wanted to make sure that the band was taken care of and I thought he was the guy to do it.  I never dreamed that in the process, he was going to fuck me over to the degree that he did.  The other piece of it is that, at the time, I knew that Guns N’ Roses would be successful but I didn’t know that they would sell 150 MILLION records.  There’s no way to really know to what degree someone is going to be successful.  I had seen Motley Crue and Poison do it but still, I had no idea that GNR would be as huge, huge, huge as they became.  I mean, in my opinion, every single band that I have ever dealt with has been that talented but they don’t all make it to that degree.  Guns N’ Roses was so volatile that I was surprised they all lived through it to see that kind of success.  It was really hard to predict and at that point in the game what I really wanted was a Record Company A&R job because as good of a job as I was doing as a manager it wasn’t paying my bills.  I craved the security of a record company job, it became a practicality.  I’m grateful to have the life that I have truthfully.  Of course I’m not gonna lie and say I wouldn’t like a Malibu beach house or financial security but I’m happy.  Even with everything I’m doing and have done it is all still financially challenging for me so it would have been great to have that security but I’m still out there and I don’t hear the fat lady singing.  I’m writing a book, I just wrote my Motley Crue chapter and it was so good that I felt like I was doing coke by the time I finished writing it (laughs).  I didn’t do coke for very long but when I did it was during the Motley days.   I started getting the nosebleeds, that was enough for me  but writing that Crue chapter brought that same feeling back for me (laughs).  I’m making a documentary, I’ve written a musical play that has a great director.  Done some screenplays and I’m managing a great band in THE ART who I think could be the next big rock band, they’re that fuckin good.  They live in Australia and it’s hard for me to manage a band that lives in Australia but they’re that fuckin good.  Someone said to me “God, Vicky you live in L.A. couldn’t you just pick a band in your backyard???!!”.  But THE ART doesn’t live in my backyard, they live in Sydney, Australia (laughs).

LRI:  Did you have a ear to the ground and decide to start working with Faster Pussycat?  They were always sort of underrated to me and I wondered how you came to be involved…

Vicky:  No, actually AXL brought them to me and demanded that they open one of their shows and I went to go see them and I basically agreed.  They were clearly a FUN band and it started from that show, I think it was at the Roxy.  I got them their record deal with Elektra.  I’m still friendly with Taime, I just hung out with him and Riki Rachtman at the Velvet Margarita about a month or so ago.  It was really fun (laughs).  I’m hoping to put my band THE ART out on the road with Taime and  Faster after this Great White tour they are doing this summer.  Taime loves the band.

FasterPussycat 1986 flyer

Faster Pussycat 1986 flyer

 LRI:  While you were at Geffen you brought in two acts that were incredibly good but just never reached mainstream success in Salty Dog and I, Napoleon .  ”Come Along” still gets played on the radio and Salty Dog remains something of a cult band but I, Napoleon really struggled to even get noticed.  Was that frustrating? 

Vicky:  Both those bands were acts that I thought were brilliant.  I only signed what I thought was brilliant.  I, Napolean was a group fronted by Steve Batky (Steve Napoleon) who was just so talented as a writer and musician.  He was from Ottawa Canada and he was just brilliant as a writer and singer but talking about performance anxiety with singers, it basically killed his career.  They didn’t even really get to promote the record other than one or two TV shows and it was really sad because he made such amazing music but with a name like Napoleon if you shake like one leaf on the tree it’s over.  A lot of people at Geffen actually were really into the record but it just died the worst death and it was largely because of that anxiety which I would have had no way whatsoever of predicting because in their live shows in Canada he was really comfortable.  It was also a tough time at Geffen for some of the younger artists because David Geffen was prepping the company for sale and really pumping a lot into the established artists in order to make it all look attractive.  Salty Dog was a little different somewhat.  I managed them for a while and they respectively sold 250,000 records which back then was nothing and of course today would be massive.  They were talking about dropping them because they sold that many units.  They came out here a couple months ago and played at key club and it was so much fun!!  I loved it.  It was so great to see them again and they sounded amazing.

LRI:  So tell me how DID you find out about your band THE ART?  I saw they were opening for Marilyn Manson and I saw the clip with their song “I Wanna Know” and “Dirty Girl” and it is pretty ambitious… 

Vicky:  I love them.  The song “Dirty Girl” is the new single and it’s about the lead singer Azaria’s relationship with Jessica from the Veronicas who dumped him for Billy Corgan.  They’re still friends but that what that song’s about (laughs).  He’s probably going to be mad at me peddling that information but you know…. it’s my job to break the band (laughs).  I found out about them when I was booking for a club called Bar Sinister.  They had decided to work in American with producer Nick Launay and while they were here decided to play some gigs.  I asked them without ever hearing them “What do you guys sound like?”  and Azaria was  telling me how he was really into T-Rex and David Bowie and old glam and stuff.  That’s like exactly the same stuff I REALLY love and we just hit it off immediately from there.  I got a T-Rex shirt from my friend Brian Perera at Cleopatra who got the rights to  license the slider image and the next time I saw Azaria I showed him the shirt and he just immediately ripped off his shirt and was grinning ear to ear while putting it on.

Vicky and her new band THE ART

Vicky and her new band THE ART photo by Lisa Paul Streitfeld

LRI:  You’re no stranger to rock and rollers so are you able to handle these younglings?

Vicky:  Oh, they are all super charismatic but at the same time super sweet.  They have a girl bass player named KJ who is basically their mother hen when I’m not around and she’s just fuckin lovely.  Jak, the guitar player is really funny and charming and they have a new drummer named Jordan who’s sort of reminds me of Bam Bam.  He’s a killer drummer and he’s always smiling and he tends to disappear and go for walks.  You’ll be looking for him and just find him somewhere walking around and twirling sticks smiling.  I love them all so much, there’s no one in the band that I don’t have the greatest respect and love for.  When I put them back on the plane to Australia they all circled me and hugged me and I just cried the biggest, ugliest crocodile tears.  I missed them like crazy and I’m trying to figure out how to move them to America.   Here in L.A. , Rodney Bingenheimer started playing them and has become a really big fan of the band and started playing them every show for a few months now. Rodney has this incredible ear, somebody should have hired him as an A&R guy because he sees stuff beyond the beyond.  I mean really, the success THE ART is having in Japan now on radio is really just on the heels of Rodney discovering them.  I’m so grateful that he’s gotten behind them because then the Japan thing happened, 94 X in Canada started playing them and we’ve been getting lots of hits from Canada now.  Rodney met up with us at Canter’s and introduced us to this DJ from San Fransisco and now they’re getting plays there.

The Art :  great song called Killing Time http://youtu.be/AWjvh9nnUzw

THE ART in a VIDEO for their song “I WANNA KNOW”: http://youtu.be/IuNFhgzs75M

 

LRI:  Before I let you go, what’s the status of the documentary and the glam rock meets surfer musical which either has to be genius or insane?

Vicky:  Oh, it’s genius (laughs).  My friend Robbie Quine is the perfect person for this project and I co-wrote it with him and he did the music.  He’s a glam rocker and a surfer to the extreme and one of my dearest friends.  I used to manage his band and I always told him that his songs were so far out and told stories so he should write a musical.  He went off to go teach surf in Hawaii and came back and said “Hey, let’s write that musical” and I told him “Too late, I’ve already turned it into a screenplay” (laughs).  That’s when we started Glitter Beach.  It has been test read and we are hoping to get it to the stage very soon, it will be a lot of fun.  It’s about a guy who is a surfer and has a mermaid muse who tells him he’s going to invent this music called Glam Rock.  It takes place on Glitter Beach which is nearby an abandoned glitter factory and there’s glitter mixed in with all of the sand.   Our director calls it the “Wizard of Oz” of the sea which is pretty appropriate.  As far as the documentary goes it’s went through some changes, it was originally a movie about how the industry was changed by the internet and our lawyer thought it should be more about me and my story so I’m having to get more comfortable being on camera.  I’ve done enough of these VH1 things and Bio things that I’m getting used to it.  It’s gonna be interesting, we’ve interviewed a lot of cool people for it.

http://www.followtheart.com

http://www.vickyhamilton.com

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Category: Interviews

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