Bryan Adams' Manager (of 30 Years) Bruce Allen on the Singer's New Album and Fellow Canadian The Weeknd's Rise
To hear Allen tell it, "Everything I Do (I Do It for You)" could have been written from his purview.
In the 31 years since Bryan Adams notched his first of a slew of hits (11 top 10s on the Billboard Hot 100, four of which went to No. 1), manager Bruce Allen has been a constant presence at the singer's side. Their latest collaboration (along with longtime co-writer Jim Vallance and producer Jeff Lynne): Adams' Get Up (out Oct. 30), his first collection of original music since 2008. "Bryan is so into this record, it's a thrill to work with him like this," says Allen, 70, whose roster also includes Michael Bublé and Jann Arden. "He has a vision, and he's following it through. I can't ask for anything more than that."
The last time you took on an unknown client was more than 10 years ago with Buble. Would you consider developing a new act again?
Honestly, I'm not looking around for new artists, and they don't knock on this door. If you go back in history -- Elvis Presley, The Beatles, The Police, Bruce Springsteen, Barbra Streisand, Celine Dion -- the one thing they have in common is one manager. Big rosters are like hamburgers at McDonald's. Personal management is exactly what it says -- personal management.
What is your management style?
It's all your waking hours. I don't believe in handing off artists to someone else in the organization. My guys, I deal with them every day. I take great pride in that.
What are your thoughts on Bryan's first original album in seven years?
This record could have followed Reckless. It feels like it comes from that time. So if a person is a fan of Reckless, this isn't a big jump to this record because it's a rock ‘n' roll record.
How do you reach his older core fans, who might not be on social media?
The biggest thing is we're trying to launch our [concert] tickets with the album. We believe people still want hard goods. Some people do it with codes for people to download; we send the product.
Bryan is a touring machine. When it comes to making a new record, do you say, "Hey, when are we getting a new album of originals?" or do you wait for him to get the itch?
He has a schedule. He's done 10 shows a month for the last nine years. So that's a lot of dates. That's 120 shows a year. When it comes to the album, Bryan and I know exactly how the business is these days. When the spirit moves him and he's got an angle, then we start working towards something, but he's strictly the guy behind that.
You can hear Jeff Lynne's influence. Could you go to country radio with "You Belong To Me" or "Yesterday Was Just a Dream"?
You're right in a lot of ways, but I know [John] Mellencamp is giving it a run; Bon Jovi has given it a run; Don Henley has given it a run now; it's a tougher nut to crack than you think. They don't take somebody who says, ‘Oh here's a country song.' It's tough.
Bryan recently accompanied Justin Bieber on "Baby" at Universal Inside in Berlin, which was fun.
"He went to Justin in the dressing room and spoke to him and Justin was all for it. Music to Bryan is fun and he likes to try different stuff. He learned the song pretty quick in the dressing room and it was a really good time. It was a good way to end that convention."
Bryan's reputation all these years is pretty constant. Nothing crazy has happened. He's not a tabloid guy. What's your view on Justin? Has he been able to repair his image as he takes his career into adulthood?
"He came up when he was a young kid, and the trouble is you do all your growing up in the public eye and that's difficult. If the public was viewing everything I was doing growing up, I'm sure that I would have some problems too. But he seems to be coming out of it. Every time I've met him, he's a great kid and he's a great talent, so hopefully he'll just get in adulthood now. Management has done a great job with him; they've let him grow up and that's important."
Another Canadian artist, The Weeknd, is kicking off an arena tour at Toronto's Air Canada Centre on Nov. 3. Any thoughts on his rise?
It's great to see a Canadian act break through like that. He has found his niche. And, again, the management -- what you're seeing from those guys [Amir "Cash" Esmailian and Tony W. Sal] is they don't have a roster of 10 acts. He's an artist who put out a terrific record, and he's got a tight little team that's focused on him, so everything is looking great.