Pat Magnarella, Green Day manager (interview): Why not a rock ’n’ roll art world? (2009)

Pat Magnarella represents bands such as Green Day, the Goo-Goo Dolls, and Broadway Calls. Now he’s repping artists. Is this a breakthrough?

Pat Magnarella interview

The following is my interview of Pat Magnarella via telephone in late August.

R.J. Preece: What is your vision for signing on artists?

Pat Magnarella: This came about roughly a year ago. Roger (Klein, who works on my team) came into my office and said we should start looking into managing artists. And I thought about it a little and asked, "Why?"

Roger said, well, they’re basically like rock bands. Most of them are creating their art, but don’t know how to promote it, or promote themselves to get noticed. He gave me a couple of books to read, like a biography of Basquiat which was horrifying. And you hear all the horror stories of bands signing bad contracts—the same thing happens with artists.

So I said, "Great. Let’s do it."

We first came across an artist named Logan Hicks, a stencil artist out of Brooklyn. And we signed him. Then Roger found Charming Baker, and we signed him.

It’s interesting when we first met the artists. I don’t think they quite knew what we wanted, because we weren’t there to buy paintings. When we told them our vision, they each said, "Wow, I like that."

And off we went. So far, so good.

green day art show pat magnarella
From Green Day art show (2009): (Left) Broken Crow. Song of the century. (Right) Chris Stain. East Jesus Nowhere.

R.J. Preece: How does this work? I’m familiar with the gallery system…

Pat Magnarella: I’m not.

R.J. Preece: How does it work for an artist?

Pat Magnarella: Well, we just did our first show with Charming in London last month. It was incredibly successful. We got a lot of great press. Charming sold a lot of paintings. A lot of people visited the gallery. The BBC did a great informative piece on Charming. I think it really upped his profile.

R.J. Preece: For you is it different than managing Green Day, for example?

Pat Magnarella: I think the basic rules apply. You are helping an artist realize their vision. That could be music. That could be art. That could be whatever. So, I don’t think there’s really any difference.

About a year ago, I didn’t know much about the art world. And I still don’t. But I know what I like. And we sort of fit it into how we manage bands.

R.J. Preece: Did the press coverage go into music magazines?

Pat Magnarella: That initiative is to come. I need to talk to my music publicist. I have a guy here who did a ton of press for Logan Hicks in the United States. Some was in the music press.

I think it’s just educating people about what we are doing.

R.J. Preece: Did you get a lot of art press?

Pat Magnarella: Yeah.

R.J. Preece: So they were responsive to it?

Pat Magnarella: Yes, they were very responsive to it. People are sort of fascinated by what we are doing. I’m not quite sure why, because it’s a pretty simple concept. But people seem to think it’s interesting.

green day art show pat magnarella
From Green Day art show (2009): (Left) Sixten. Horseshoes and Handgrenades. (Right) Will Barras. Viva la Gloria? (Little girl).

R.J. Preece: It seems like a game-changer, or a whole, new alternative thing for artists. Would you agree? Or are you on the outside and you don’t see that?

Pat Magnarella: Like anything else, if you have something great, but no one knows it exists, then what’s the point.

R.J. Preece: Exactly.

Pat Magnarella: In terms of Charming and Logan, I want my friends to know who those artists are. I want to get them into art. I want them to buy a print for a certain price, or if they have more money then a painting for a certain price, hang it in their house, etc.

Roger and I were in London and we went to the Cans Festival, organized by Banksy. We were standing in a tube station, and there was amazing art of the walls. I turned and said to Roger, "If we had 15,000 kids from the Warped Music Festival, and they were standing in this tunnel right now, they would totally get this."

But they don’t know it exists. They don’t know it is there. So it’s about letting them know it is here. And it’s amazing. Then it’s something they can get into.

green day art show pat magnarella
From Green Day art show (2009): (Left) Jeremiah Garcia. American eulogy. (Right) Eelus. Last of the American Girls.

R.J. Preece: When I spoke to Roger, he mentioned that the pricing would be different.

Pat Magnarella: Yeah, I think every artist is different, every show is different, how many paintings and prints there will be. I think we have to decided show by show.

We don’t want it to be elitist. We don’t want people thrown off by the prices.

R.J. Preece: Are you also thinking of different kind of merchandising, like you might with a music band?

Pat Magnarella: Absolutely.

R.J. Preece: Wow. Is there interest in signing more artists?

Pat Magnarella: We’re always interested in looking at new bands, and we’re interested in looking at new artists. There are a lot of variables though. First, we have to love the music, or we have to love the art. We have to love the person, and they have to buy into what we are doing.

They have to want to have a manager.

R.J. Preece: What kind of art do you like—video, objective/non-objective, paintings…

Pat Magnarella: Obviously when we first got started with Logan, I got into graffiti art, stencil art, started with basics… Banksy, Nick Walker, etc. I love all that kind of stuff. And then there’s Charming who is more fine art but has that edge to it.

R.J. Preece: Sort of a side question here. You know, a lot of art people will be reading this, different ages, etc. Do you have a goal for this article? For example, do you encourage people to contact you—or where would they go? Or do you want to play it cooler?

For example, you could have thousands of people contacting you, sending stuff. I don’t know if that is what’s wanted.
Pat Magnarella: I’m surprised anyone would want to contact us. (Laughs.)

green day art show pat magnarella
From Green Day art show (2009): (Left) Ron English. 21st century breakdown grin. (Right) Lucamaleonte. Last Night on Earth.

Preece: Why?! Because you’re on the inside looking out (laughs). Is that it?

Pat Magnarella: Well it’s just what we do. We’re managers and we manage. We go to work everyday. And we work for our clients.

So when Roger tells me, hey, they think this is a really great idea, I’m flattered and it’s awesome. But for me, it’s just what I do. It’s my job. But I love it.

Preece: Different people will see this, from around the world. It might viral. What should they do if they are interested? Would they contact you like they would a gallery?

Pat Magnarella: No, no, they should just email us. They should contact Roger. He deals with this 24 hours a day now looking for new, up-and-coming things.

Preece: Are you facing resistance from the art world, because in essence, you are challenging its power structures?

Pat Magnarella: (Pause). Well I don’t know anyone in the art world.

We’re just a small management company, but we have great clients. We’re just doing our thing. I don’t really know anything about the galleries. If we’re doing something that needs to go into a gallery, then we’d go to a gallery. Every situation is different.

I think we are so under the radar…

Preece: Now. But that could quickly change. So you are outside of it… do you have future plans coming up?

Pat Magnarella: Yes. We’re planning to have a show with Charming in November in New York. So we’re starting all that now. We found a great space in SoHo. Logan’s working on new stuff. And he just commissioned a number of artists to make paintings inspired by each song on the new Green Day album. We’re have a show in London for this—with all of the art.

So right now I’m looking at a bunch of images for this in my office… And I’m looking at some pretty great stuff.

Green Day art show at artdesigncafe