ICM agent Mike Hayes has built his industry career around the music he knows best. While Hayes grew up in San Diego listening to West Coast rap and falling in love with grunge greats like Courtney Love and Nirvana, British rock has always held a special place for the SoCal native.
“I’m definitely an old school Anglophile. I grew up in a household with my aunts and uncles playing The Clash, The Smiths, The English Beat, The Cure, and New Order,” Hayes told Amplify. “My aunt would show up on a scooter with a boyfriend and they would play The Jam. Some of my earliest memories are of Paul Weller being blasted in the house.”
As Hayes became a teenager, he discovered his own British rock bands like Primal Scream, Manic Street Preachers, and Oasis.
“When I found Oasis, I dove down a rabbit hole of music they loved. So The Stone Roses, Happy Mondays, and obviously the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, and the Who,” Hayes said.
He added “I used to drive around to all the music stores in San Diego to try to find these import singles because they had all the cool b-sides. I never liked to call places to see if they had it. I liked to go and find it myself. It drives my wife crazy because I still do that kind of stuff to this day. When you search high and low for something and then you get it, you appreciate it a lot more.”
Hanging out at record stores and music shops gave Hayes the time to skim through British music magazine that weren’t widely available in the United States. He’d flip through magazines like NME, Fader, Q Magazine, and the now extinct Melody Maker learning about bands he would eventually come to work with.
“I remember reading crazy stories like the guitar player of Manic Street Preachers disappearing and now they are a client of mine,” Hayes said. “The trajectory of being an 18-year-old kid sitting in Tower Records in San Diego reading stories about ‘Where is Richey Manic?’ and now I talk to the band about it. Like ‘Where do you think he is, 20 years later? Probably not coming back.'”
Since those days driving around in San Diego, Hayes has worked in artist management with Bill Silva and been entrusted with building rock music rosters by Marsha Vlasic. He has worked at a startup agency, signed Courtney Love, Primal Scream, and even played a hand in helping reunite British superstars The Libertines and RIDE.
“ICM said we want you to build your business. We need more guitar bands and contemporary music,” Hayes said of his return to the agency he began at in the early 2000s. “They have been incredibly supportive.”
Amplify caught up with Hayes to find out about five shows that have shaped his career over the years.
Oasis at Wembley Stadium in London
July 22, 2000
It’s no secret to a lot of people, but Oasis are my favorite band of all time. I ended up playing tennis in college and one of my teammates was English. He also was a huge Oasis fan. After our sophomore tennis season was over, he invited me to England for a few weeks. I was 19 and had never been out of the United States. The trip was centered around seeing Oasis at Wembley Stadium. I actually bought my ticket on eBay. One of those things where you send the person the money and you hope they send you the ticket back. Well, it worked. I remember walking up the walkway at the old Wembley and thinking this was the greatest day of my life. We went with several of my friend’s friends. The concert itself was fascinating. It was the second night (they did two). Liam Gallagher must have been out all night because he barely finished a song. It didn’t matter though. The attitude, the power and presence of that band, on that night will stick in my mind forever.
Paul Weller at 4th & B in San Diego
Through my love of Oasis and my family, I was into Paul Weller. One of the most talented and prolific songwriters to come out of England in the last 40 years. He was supporting his acoustic album called Days of Speed. He played all of his hits acoustically, stripped down and with guest musicians. It was truly a magical evening. I got to hear songs like “Brand New Start” and “Town Called Malice” in their barest form.
Noel Gallagher and Gem Archer at Wadsworth Theatre in Los Angeles
Nov. 9, 2006
In support of their ‘best of’ album, Oasis’ main songwriter and their lead guitarist did a series of acoustic shows all over the world. I was lucky enough to win tickets on the radio and attend this life-changing show. We packed into this tiny theatre in west Los Angeles. Noel Gallagher was dressed in a classic leather jacket, black jeans and black shoes, hair in top form. Basically, cool as fuck. They played songs like “Listen Up,” “Whatever,” “It’s Good to be Free” and even covered “Strawberry Fields Forever.” These were songs I’d never seen live before. At that point, I’d seen them at least 15 times all over the world. After the show, my then fiancé (now wife) ended up at the bar where they had their after party. To say I was in awe would be an understatement.
The Verve at The Pearl in Las Vegas
April 26, 2008
I use to love to go see all the Coachella bands play in cities surrounding the festival, especially in Las Vegas. There would always be large contingent of fellow anglophiles who would travel in packs to these concerts. The Verve had just reunited (again). It was a religious experience. I can still see Richard Ashcroft holding his hand to the sky as if he was leading a sermon to his loyal followers while in the center of the glitz and glamour of Las Vegas. The setlist was perfect. I couldn’t have written it better myself. They finished with “Love is Noise” which was to be their first new single in 11 years. I had never heard anything like that song. It was an epic stomper which made the crowd bounce as if they were all on trampolines. One of the tightest bands to ever grace us.
The Pixies at Coachella in Indio, California
May 1, 2004
I probably shouldn’t say this, but I had never really gotten into The Pixies until I saw them live at Coachella in 2004. I loved “Where is My Mind” but I didn’t know much else. From the start of their set, it was all fire. The four members on stage. No tracks, no features, no gimmicks. Pure guitar music at it’s finest. My favorite moment of the show was when Kim Deal (bassist) performed her song, “In Heaven.” My jaw dropped. The simplicity of the song and the way they performed it was nothing like I’d ever seen. They were actually having fun on stage. With reunions, they can last another 20 years or that could be the last time you ever see them. Although they still perform to this day (but without Kim), they looked like they were having the time of their life. Another memory from that night was that they pressed their performance to CDs immediately after their performance finished. I still have it to this day.