Tony Patoto: Life as the Delirious? Manager (Delirious.org.uk)
Last modified: 20 Dec 2005
Author: Dave Wood
Date: 20 Dec 2005
In 1997, Canadian-born Tony Patoto agreed to become Delirious' manager. He helped them set up their own record label, Furious? Records and worked to turn the band from a group of little known worship leaders in a small town in Southern England to the global band they are today. In the summer of 2005 he left his role as the band's manager and started a new career in the USA. Now, for the first time, he tells Delirious.org.uk all about his time with Delirious?
"I was the sales and marketing director for the Total Record company in London," explains Tony. "I remember just after I became a Christian at Holy Trinity Brompton in London a man named Andy Piercy [the producer for 'King Of Fools'] took me under his wing and felt I was meant to stay in the music industry despite its reputation."
"I was working for Total and was working with lots of dance acts like Technotronic, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Rozalla, a few soap stars like Malandra Burrows [Emmerdale] and Gladiators, and I was just telling Andy how I wished I could be working with bands that played 8 minute epics just like Led Zeppelin. Then he mentioned that he was starting to work with these guys from the south coast and was encouraging them to do just that and that they were a guitar band." As you've probably guessed, those south coast guys turned out to be none other than Martin, Stu, Tim, Jon and Stew - aka, Delirious?
With a little help from Andy Piercy, Tony and Delirious? quickly became aquainted. "He [Andy] said we had to connect and we eventually did on the phone, then met on a few occasions over a curry or a band meeting that Andy and I would have been invited to." Tony instantly gelled with the band and straight away both sides recognised the potential of their relationship. "Without question there was a connection that led to our legacy of what the last 10 years has brought. I was there when Martin came out of hospital [after breaking his leg in a car crash] and was challenging all the guys to leave our jobs and take this thing seriously. I thought I was coming down for a little meeting then a ruby [curry] and then was asked if the band had a future!"
Clearly Tony decided they did have a future, because before long he had quit his successfull, well paid job in the city, moved south and started working as the band's manager. Asked to describe a typical week with the band he says, "Typical week? There was never one!". He then proceeds to reel off a long list of what his job entailed: "Staff meetings with a prayer time. Business management meetings, marketing meetings, sales meetings, band meetings, finance meetings, bank manager meetings, artist meetings, publishing meetings, promotional meetings, design meetings, merch meetings, tour meetings, email, telephone calls, shouting at the staff - in fun of course! Sometimes wrestled with the staff on our floor, international meetings, plane flights, lunch, dinners on occasions, gigs, TV appearances, radio interviews, hotel rooms, early mornings and late nights, fantastic letters from fans - they still awe inspire me, and working with people I not only trust but love and admire."
Despite all the hard work, his job provided plenty of highlights. Describing the achievements he was most proud of he says, "The first lot of singles, White Ribbon Day, Deeper, Promise, just the anticipation of what the future may hold. Touring with Bon Jovi and Matchbox 20. Seeing the kid get out of the wheelchair all those years ago in Southampton, our first trip to the States and getting on a bus that we thought was really cool, only to realise on the next trip that it was probably better used for the scrap heap - naivity is great sometimes! Meeting so many people where a story from them would light up why you were doing what you were doing. But mostly being with my friends doing what we felt God was asking us to do. That sense of purpose that we were taking on the world."
But there were some things that Tony says he wished they could have achieved and yet somehow never managed to, such as "...a number one single, Radio One air play and a headline stadium tour"! But even though that level of mainstream success never quite materialised, Tony says he doesn't regret any of the decisions they made along the way. "We did what was correct at the time and made the decisions we had to make with all the information we had and where our faith had taken us", he explains. "I believe we have been obedient to God all along and done what we felt we needed to do. You just can't be more successful than that."
Delirious? have been together as a band for over a decade, but Tony says they still have a long future ahead of them. "There is so much favour for this band" he enthuses. "It's in their hands and the future is bright. Bands, musicians and industry folk all around the world have been inspired by our model and they can do anything. Their world is the one of influence and respect."
But like all good things, Tony's role as Delirious' manager came to an end this summer. His family played a big part in the difficult decision to up sticks and move to the USA, as he explains: "My wife is American and this year it has been a year of discovery. Being married and with kids, I have found myself trying to decide at what point do I need to honour my wife's dreams. One of her dreams was to move home to the States. So in wondering about that, God has made it very clear that he wanted us to move to Nashville and for us to start up a new life there. Without a doubt the biggest decision to leave friends, family, church, work - my own business no less, and what both my wife and I believed was where we needed to be."
Moving back to the USA doesn't signify a career change for Tony, rather a new challenge in a similar style. "I feel God has opened up a new chapter for the Patoto's to serve him in this new pioneering venture of setting up a brand new mainstream record label for EMI Music America, to break bands into the mainstream music market with a world wide point of view." Sound familiar? Clearly EMI were impressed with Tony's work in getting a popular Christian band from the UK heard in mainstream circles throughout the world. The fact that EMI head hunted him after a long search for a suitable candidate to take charge of this new record company pays tribute to what he achieved with Delirious? "They [EMI] apparently searched for months and through tons of people and wound up with me" he says. "The dream is really to break Christians artists and bands into the world market and to impact culture with a positive message. The new label is called rethink."
Perhaps one day Tony will help discover the 'next' Delirious? What ever the future holds for him, Tony will always be remembered as a critical part of the Delirious? story. Without him those five Littlehampton guys wouldn't be the band they are today. Delirious.org.uk wishes Tony and his family all the best in their new life in America.