I’ve been a booker/promoter/agent/manager for 30 years. I’ve seen all sorts of events, both great and appalling, been involved in all sorts of situations (many which will go to my grave), and had all sorts of experiences.
I’ve been abused, had death threats on the phone and written on walls, received lots of thanks and shared life changing events with people.
I got involved in music because I loved and lived for music. The first shows I did were for John Cooper-Clarke then New Order. And I found out quickly that by helping the artist have a great day then they transmitted that to the audience.
And the 80’s was a time when it was us (the indies) versus them (commercial). Where bands being successful meant they sold out. The fallout from the Hoodoo Gurus sacking James Baker was like the family splitting. People wouldn’t go and see them because they disagreed with the change. It seems weird now that people wanted to deny bands a living.
Mind you it was a time where we allowed musicians to get away with all sorts of behavior, indeed condoned it. We worshipped at the feet of the fucked up. Drug habit, no problem. Let me score for you. And people bought into the myth. Let the party go on forever. Mind you heroin was cool back then. Watching Johnny Thunders play was a sport. Will he stand up? Instead of wondering at the staggering hurt that he must have been feeling. Thus has it been forever really. Charlie Parker influenced an era of musicians, both by his music and his habits. Did our condoning and abetting this keep the musicians in a cocoon that stopped them from being successful?
Mostly there was a sharp division between cool and mainstream. No blurring of the lines. People left home at 18 and made their way to the city. You couldn’t experience cool in the suburbs. Your experiences were guided by trusted filters. Record store people, record label, friends, the radio shows you loved.
Grunge changed things. Bands suddenly had record companies buzzing around, paying large sums of money. Bands had money, some recognition for years of hard work. A new generation was evolving. It was OK to be successful. Let us never forget that Australia’s underground scene influenced grunge in a huge way. The Seattle scene was influenced by Australian bands such as the Scientists, The Cosmic Psychos and The Meanies. Many of us don’t realize that Australian bands were, and are worshipped in places around the world. Bands whose name is hardly recognized in Australia, making a living in Europe.
Life had changed. The them (commercial) live scene died. Suddenly, us (indie) was the mainstream. Dave Graney was King of Pop. The sweet irony. The divide was now between dance music and live music. Never the twain shall meet. But of course it did. So these days rappers have added bands to flesh out their sound. Adding some humanity. DJ’s add percussion and evolve.
Suddenly come the new millennium and metal took over. Every kid is into nu-metal. How much pain is involved?
Then the renaissance of Jet, The Vines et al. Better management sees bands being successful around the world. Bands are more driven. Better choices get made and bands listen better to advice. Managers don’t allow the behavior of the past. You never know how long you are going to be on the ride. The problem is that you have so little time to develop. You get discovered and the rocket ship takes off. And you haven’t had the live experience to put on a good show. Playing live is a craft and with the instant feedback, you can be gone in sixty seconds.
It’s been a long ride. I hope that artists get the recognition they deserve. I hope that audiences get the experiences that drive them to love music.
And I hope that I stay involved with the same passion.