“The best advice someone ever gave me was hire someone smarter than yourself, because you’ll learn a lot more from them,” said Brian Bumbery, a veteran publicist in Los Angeles and founder of BB Gun Press.
Bumbery represents big name bands including Green Day and Metallica. He says humility, honesty and knowing when to leave the office is key.
On Monday morning at Raleigh Studios, Bumbery answered questions from a class of aspiring journalists taught by Los Angeles Times Senior Writer Lorraine Ali. Wearing a plaid shirt, black jeans and Vans with blue socks, Bumbery was very candid and made everyone smile with his infectious laugh.
What are your key roles as a publicist?
“I’m still a mouthpiece for all of these bands but at the same time technology has allowed it where I can either take a lesser role…when you look at social media these bands have millions of followers, so a lot of times it’s more effective for them to push out their own message.”
“I think the most important part is really like when you take an artist and you sit with them and you help them…articulate their story and the points they want to get across, and then broadcast them out…”
Who are you representing now?
“All kinds of music…we even do corporate events publicity for Citibank and Pandora…anything that moves us. It could be a book. It could be an artist.”
How often are you seeking out people you would like to represent?
“I don’t usually seek out people. A lot of people have publicists already. We call it flirting with each other’s clients. I don’t want to do that.”
What is your journalist pet peeve?
“When they don’t answer your f**king phone calls or return them, but they’re busy posting on their social media all day.”
Who is your favorite band?
“My favorite band of all time is The Cure (since he was 13). It’s the only artist that I will never meet because I don’t want to lose Robert Smith.” (Bumbery wants to maintain his perception of Smith as an iconic figure, not a “normal” person).
Have you ever lost your cool when you met someone famous?
“I’ve met enough of them (where you) realize they’re just normal people. A lot of times they’re not at all what you see up on that stage.”
If you weren’t a publicist what would you be?
“I would love to be in the secret service or work in the state department. I love to travel, and I love meeting people and I love absorbing other cultures.
What is your favorite place you have been to?
My favorite cities in the world are… Shanghai, Hong Kong, Paris, obviously, New York.” (Bumbery is from New York).
How do you handle damage control?
“When Billie Joe (lead singer of Green Day) had his meltdown on stage…I said, ‘we have to tell the truth.’ So the next day we just issued a statement that said he was seeking treatment for substance abuse…you can say a lot by saying a little.”
What kind of mentality have you adopted working in the entertainment industry?
“You have to have thick skin. You’re gonna get told ‘no’ a lot more times than you’re gonna get told ‘yes.’ You’ll have days where you’ll literally get three amazing things happen, and you’re like yes! Yes! Yes! Call it a day and go home, because after that it just all goes down hill.”