The Breakfast Meeting with Peter Mensch
Host: Dan Steinberg, Emporium Presents (US)
Self-professed ‘greatest manager in the fucking world’ Peter Mensch said he had two things to say before the Breakfast Meeting started in earnest. First off, he paid tribute to Brian Murphy, West Coast president of AEG Presents and Goldenvoice, and co-founder of Avalon Attractions, who died on 6 March.
Then he stood up and removed his jumper to reveal a Justin Bieber T-shirt. Five years ago, he revealed, he’d done a talk at the Royal Albert Hall in which he insulted Justin Bieber and his manager Scooter Braun. “I was wrong. I’m now a Belieber, and I think Scooter is OK.”
Breakfast Meeting host Danny Steinberg – standing in for Ed Bicknell who’d broken his leg – got the questions off to a confrontational start: “Why so angry?”
“Because if you manage bands you’re mummy bird and they’re baby bird and anyone doesn’t help you feed them…” responded Mensch. “You’ve got to lead or follow or get the fuck out of the way.”
The ‘mummy bird’ to Metallica, Muse, Red Hot Chili Peppers and others said he got into management after a stint as “the world’s worst tour accountant,” and in the office still sits next to his “best friend and only friend in the business,” QPrime partner Cliff Bernstein.
“You’ve got to lead or follow or get the fuck out of the way”
“The most important thing a manager can do is get the best music out of the act they can,” he told the room.
“I don’t give a flying fuck if they can play live. We managed Foals for two years and no one had seen them live. It’s all about the music. You always get better at live. Maybe you’re never gonna be God’s gift, but you’ll get better.”
Mensch said there’s one key to choosing the artists they work with: “It’s the music. Someone sends us music, we listen to it, someone says ‘it sucks’, end of conversation. Two of us listen and say ‘that’s a good record’ and on the way to Popeye’s Fried Chicken we decide to manage them.
“Like Muse’s third album. The first album sold 10,000 albums, second didn’t come out in the US. We listened to the third record [loved it], went to Bologna, went to see them and said ‘we want to manage you in America’ and they started laughing because they’d had zero success in America.”
He also admitted to looking forward to Mondays not Fridays “because I don’t work on Saturday and Sunday.”
"So what motivates one of the greatest managers in the world?" asked Steinberg: “I’m fuelled by hate! I’ve had the chip [on my shoulder] since I was ten.
“We’re the best in the fucking world. We want to shove it down people’s throats.”
So what’s the ideal fan experience for Mensch? “Three hours of my favourite band. I want to have a great time and great sound. I wanna bang my head and walk out feeling amazing.”
However, you’re not likely to see him in any small clubs looking for a new act any time soon. “Most music is crap for me. I don’t hear as much amazing music as I used to. I don’t listen to as much new stuff because I only care about my acts. Cliff listens to a lot more, my feeling is ‘If I don’t manage you, fuck you’.”