Antony King – Front of House Engineer for Depeche Mode


Antony King is the fingers behind the faders behind Depeche Modes’s epic Global Spirit Stadium Tour that spans 2017 and 2018. He has also worked with Nine Inch Nail, The Cure, Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds, Prince, The Weeknd, Lana Del Rey, Toto, T Bone Burnett, Kanye West, Band of Horses, Zayn, Beck, Marilyn Manson, The Faces, and Simply Red.

In Part 1 of this interview he talks about his own background and how he prepares for a tour like this, as well as offering some insight into the technical and creative aspects of a Depeche Mode gig, and how you get that kind of gig in the first place.


0:00:15. –>
I got into audio forget years ago and I was in a really terrible band as a kid yeah I guess a lot of people start that way and had no real operations to be a rock star is more interested in the process of audio and I got a little four track as a kid which I thought was really good going no really exciting very interesting too you know just just the process of recording it and it was more fun than sort of pretending to be hit rehearsals metal are going to work out so that’s how I originally got into it and then I’m going to university and they had a venue which you know you got paid to mix and sound it was great you know he got used to get ten pounds back then to mix the show up because here we you know 50p a beer and that wasn’t you

0:01:00.1 –>
know you get a sandwich in’ it was quite good it was good money and it was really fun because they had all sorts of like really bad cover bands that came through so you got to experiment and try things all day long I just remember going in there and I can afternoon him setting up of you know CD and playing with the PA I’m just going I’m stop button do you know what does that one do and then you sort of figured out how it worked and then from there I got involved with some more more and more people expressed an interest to fans that were coming through and different sound companies that have provided gear over the years and ended up landing and Britt Rose door and I was like hi oh can I go over gift li i know yet so they put me out on a few other things and learn from there detects our oasis it was a quick I mean it was crazy it was at the height of all the chaos so yeah it was quite intense

0:02:03. –>
the first one to start with you can keep on the bus and everyone’s completely bonkers big enough you know 20 year old kid going wow this is exciting we’re at where you know Wembley Stadium in the doing very nice it was an interesting way to start yeah I mean I’ve done other little little tours for other other companies but you know when you drive the van around the countryside with the with the gear in the back and you when you start out at the very beginning be enough so yeah first gig for Brit row they put me out and that’s the yeah there’s the stage two extra voices I know Toto quite early on which is very interesting as I learn a lot from salmon Phillips was a great friend you know very friendly but very studious a very interesting guy you know it’s very aware of the whole picture of what’s going on he’s he’s way more than a drummer and he’s probably the best drummer alive so

0:03:00.5 –>
that was a really interesting way of treating drums I learned a hell of a lot from from Simon Mann involved with like Pet Shop Boys first and we did a good accurate or what made a lot of cure tours actually that was great I mean Roberts of very into again very interesting guy and very involved in the whole process same with with tren residue from Manish nails yeah very very involved and very very interesting going to work with you learn a lot from people like that who have a huge input in what the sound should be and and they have a good control over the stage every aspect of it is is well planned is well thought out you know there’s nothing’s it’s not left a chance it’s very well thought-out process of getting it you know the whole thing is towards a good show you know the delights of video the sound everything is geared up towards that yes and yes and no I guess it’s to two different things I think most bands at

0:04:00.7 –>
some point having in have an interest some are more vocal than others I think I’ll you know when you start with any burn you have to gain their trust and so they’ll as it goes along I guess they get less involved not knowing that you’re going to do it the way they want you they want it to sound but now I mean yeah it’s interesting to to talk to people I mean like talking to Barton more Dave about how they want it to sound is very interesting because they wrote the songs in a song yeah Martin spends a lot you know consider amount of time getting all these thin spots and drum parts together and you know you want to do them justice and it’s interesting talking to him about how he wants it to come out of the PA you know you learn a lot from people that have spent a lot of time making that particular sound because they’re involved in all aspects of the music yeah and as with verse of markings that they’re everything in this the music got stuff in his Studios from the 80s and stuff but it was not released yet you know he’s got a full spectrum of gear that is as modern as you can get and as

0:05:01.4 –>
vintage as you can get so you know there’s some great 80s sound we’ve got these got some great 80s 90s 2000 and he’s making sounds from gear he’s been lent there’s not people haven’t got yet you know so it’s continuously evolving which is really interesting and they’re putting the way you know Depeche Mode sound now from what they did back then it’s the same band and it’s the core it’s the same same people same writing process but it’s evolved with technology and what’s available oh wow how’s that you had a really romantic story if the hot tip with them I’d done a cure to a long kill tour with Tony Giddings in production manager and and he was he got the Besh and needed a finance guy so he called me and I got invited which I guess is a lot in this business a lot of R’lyeh you get offered a lot of shows because of the relationships and how you behaved on a

0:06:01.5 –>
previous tour and if they liked you then and they asked you to do the next one well I mean some Bansal you can be targeted because they’ve seen you mix or you’ve makes the band that they like and they’re that’s that’s the direction they want to go in but now young 80% of the time it’s a phone call from a friend which which you know make make friends it was hard to tell what I to the show you to think you’re I mean I thinking in special something this size you have to be reasonable and understanding of your surroundings because if someone wants to put a hot dog tent in front of one of your delays at the end of the field you know you have to it’s a negotiation process you can’t have some marching around being a nuisance you have to there’s a process to this whole to the show so oh yeah I think you just to be understanding and reasonable and obviously it’s got to sound good or you you know you don’t last that long to know even if you’re a

0:07:00. –>
nice guy step up to deliver so a lot of you start with research figure out what the band you know how they’ve sounded previously what they want to sound like what it sounds like on the album how they achieved that what they do in the studio see what the process is of particular things that they use it they like so I think a lot of research to start with to see and to understand a deconstruct every song in your head so when they start playing okay call that sense parts from from Pete that one comes from Fletch you know on that particular guitar part or they may not even sound like a guitar part is from arts in and sort of deconstructing so you know when they start playing what what it should be but you’ve been you don’t have to put all the ingredients back together from the stage so wait yeah mainly research and then it trying to be as transparent as possible said I wanted to sound like me I wanted to sound like Depeche so I don’t we

0:08:00.1 –>
shouldn’t start I shouldn’t have an influence on the sound I should all think I’m a translator I just happen to know what these buttons do so I’m just trying to translate it as clearly as possible to the kids it’s like portray some of this some of the energy and the excitement is coming off the stage try and turn it into buttons and faders and have it come come through you know the same without without over affecting it you know with with you know because I might like a particular sound I don’t want to change how the pitch bugs out it’s not going to make them into a you know whatever the spectrum of bands that they have to sound like themselves I think on stage we have 8 32 32 boxes which are the main split so everything comes from stage goes into the ssl splits into the black light box and then down to me and we also use this as cell as a because they’re really clean and nice sounding boxes we use them as the

0:09:00.2 –>
main stage box so there’s no analog split as such everything uses the ssl as the first entry point and then the out about the back of the the 32 outs on the back of it that are that is completely through they’re not unaffected by me go to the monitor console an analog split we’re just get in the way when you got something you know you’ve got great quality pre amps from ssl because that’s you know he goes have have a better reputation for making incredible free ms since the you know start of time so i didn’t want to affect that so we’re gonna go straight into that box and then back out to me and the backlight systems been great because it just combines everything and i’m running the whole show off of two optical so our 9 g 8 inputs obviously yeah it’s it’s about ninety eight point inputs right now there’s a lot of drums christian has a really large drum kit all the microphones are biodynamic fantastic user should like yeah i can go through them all if you want but there’s a like d7 TD 71 on the kick drum which makes a great combination d 50s on

0:10:00.8 –>
the snare d thirty fives on the all the Tom’s to really nice because we clamp on just sit right kind of when it’s everything is clamped to the drum kit so it’s nice and tidy isn’t mic stands everywhere there’s a Pete has a main keyboard which is a roland controller a virus and a Moog she does a lot of bass lines and solos on Andy Fletcher has a virus and a main controller as well which is all run from a side stage computer which has all the samples and sounds and the library they’ve built up over the last you know thirty years they’ve been doing this will triggered so they come like six inputs from there four inputs from Andy we have another four from Martin we have four from his guitar rig which is a Rivera virtual amp and it also runs through a camper so there’s so we can blame the two sounds together it’s quite nice that she

0:11:01 –>
because you can do something really crazy things in the Kemper and keep the Rivera’s like the solid guitar sound so you can blend it you know depending on the on the song you can go more crazy more guitar this is another four inputs from that obviously dave has a TG 1000 with a V 70 cap seal on it just worked out really well it captures that kind of the huge bottom end he has in his voice thing he has a real Tennant you know incredible low-end in his voice that that he captures really nicely especially on some of those songs like stripped or that have that bit need that low-end you know they kind of grunty low-end that he has in his voice beep things as does Martin Martin there’s two stations because already played on some songs he plays keyboards and some he plays guitar so you have two different our two sets of mics on that but there’s a lot of yeah there’s about thirty channels of drums with the tone with all the Tom’s is to kick drums to snares to hat cymbals everywhere and we have another pair of eight fifties they are a

0:12:03.2 –>
50s behind Christian which goes straight to his ears so he’s got like a very natural sound in there and also put two M one 60s at the front just because they’d have a just a great sounding cymbal sound to them and kind of all dirtier sounding sure I like a lot so I have access to loads and loads of channels I mean it also is great because my um my assistant Terry can do like turn off the TV cameras he can he can get involved on this side and do things while I’m mixing which is really handy most of its on the top because I’ve done them in there in banks so I have all my banks here of all the channels that I need some stuffs underneath that I don’t need to get to everyday for but for the

0:13:00.6 –>
bulk of it in these eight banks got most of what I need to get to in stereo channels there’s a lot of stereo channel all the keyboards and stuff for stereo channels only need one fader so it bunches it down to a fairly manageable amount so I like having them all I always have all the inputs here in the variable banks like you have the drums all the keyboards and the guitar are the vocals on that one some of the playback stuff on here and I always keep the effects up here so I can always so I can see that I can see what’s going on which is quite handy and obviously out of all the VCS on there all the time all the input channels come in and then they go through the VCS I also have a whole bunch of stems I’m quite cool the stem feature is quite cool the way you can do the effect on one channel that’s quite a nice one stem channel so you can use it as a send in a return that’s a pretty cool feature that I’ve come up and keeps things tidy you know you don’t need too much too much stuff but I’m also feed

0:14:02.2 –>
with feed like the broadcast outputs which feed video like if they’re recording for a TV channel or something I have 16 outputs that I can feed to them here’s no one wants 98 channels into the video track it doesn’t really help them so I’m using a lot of stems too to break it up but yeah the bulk of it goes input channels out the master and using the VCA not the challenge of the drum kit for example is that he has some yes the drums quite close together so obviously fitting mics is a took awhile and Russell’s getting them in there and some of the Tom’s are these delicate I need Chinese Tom obviously you can’t put a big fat mic in the middle of it or you it’s going to get in the way so that we went through a few four mics a few different ways of doing it just to get you know we had now we have a D 35 with a long neck which comes off of a drum arm we and we added so

0:15:01.9 –>
it’s across and just got a little tiny head that sits right on the drum so things like the working out placement and and a like noise is only as a sub behind in which is quite a lot so you have to be careful with that to not get any feedback but the rest of it I mean the keyboards it’s not real challenges in the the more it was more going through the rehearsals and making sure everything was at the right level so it basically the I like doing rehearsals is trying to make the band to mix itself so if you go through everyday in rehearsals and go okay cool that keyboard part needs to D be less to more there and trying to keep everything super flat so it’s all everything comes out in the right place more that as a challenge rather than thing I guess with this we have the luxury of having a we have carry hop which is a great programmer so everything comes in very good shape but the you know it starts in good shape so it doesn’t need to be beaten into shape it’s already in a you know great

0:16:00.4 –>
slightly in great shape when it gets here so a lot of that it’s more like tweaking and refining and okay that sounds a little bit much all that one’s you know it could be a beefed up a bit it’s a process I get work me and carry in the band we all all get involved in rehearsals it’s quite fun because you just sort of fire ideas at everyone and we should have worked it out together because everyone’s really cool so it’s like it’s not a it’s a very natural organic dumb democratic process you know it’s not a painful democratic process or some can be you know what you have to not we’ll try and no one’s like trying to skirt around each other you can go okay I don’t like that you know and I go why and we look at we know we talked about it so it’s not a they can take they can take criticism and they can which is nice because it gets more done like you can say hey I don’t like that and they’ll go through it we’ll work through it which is course it’s not enough to go on he’s going to go crazy if I say something you know we can all talk about it in megundal’s and figure it out which is nice because

0:17:01.7 –>
it all comes to a better finished product which I guess is what we’re all here to do get make big hopefully kids have fun and they do they notice I don’t ever know but I hope it easy spend three days on a little sound and kids again I love that one but because you got to do it got hurt enjoying yourself haven’t you you

2nd Video

In Part 2 of this interview, Depeche Mode’s Front of House Engineer Antony King talks about his choice of SSL Live L500 consoles, how he sets up and uses those consoles, and offers some real world advice on live drum production, reaching the back of the stadium, as well as spilling the beans on Dave Gahan’s vocals.


0:00:15.3 –>
yeah I heard a lot of friends talking about it and I knew like people you know companies have started buying them and I heard friends talking about you know how they were good and and then I was coming to I was approaching it was a couple of tours last year XSL really seemed like the only serious option really and also the red you know with a company like ssl you’re not taking risks you know and you know when you’re building like this risks on you know what production want you to take you want something that’s going to work everyday it’s going to sound good I’m just going to travel on the track because you know so it’s SL was really the only choice I think at this point

0:01:01.5 –>
the thing with that the ssl is it’s so modular but it can do you can do anything that’s what the thing is you think what do I want it to do you know it’s a different process of thinking because a lot of desks previously had a fixed amount of channels with a fixed amount of losses and and you had to work around those limitations and you found like interesting ways of doing things within the limitations let’s think and do anything you want so then there’s no there’s no challenge to try to figure out how to get round something you just keep adding bits to it to do what you want so your imagination is sort of the limit of it really there isn’t a you just make it you just make it do what you want it to do exactly which is quite nice because it has no it’s nothing’s fixed so I want that channel here not channel there and I want to move this around there and you just clicking and dragging them on the screen until you got them in the right place and you can keep moving them around all day in Russells so it’s yeah I guess it’s the lack of limitations that make it so much

0:02:01.3 –>
fun to use because you can do whatever I wanted to do it never says no it never stops you know I think the main fun fun ball a bit of it I mean beyond the fact that it sounds great obviously which is the whole point of choosing SSL in the first place is its long history of great audio is what you guys have been doing forever so that was best the main reason you choose there’s a lot of consoles on the market but there’s SSL as by far as the reputation and the preamps you had it all already so I also like the fact the snapshots are super easy to use that’s a snapshots over the years of so many consoles of extremely complicated to prison systems they’re just drive you nuts this thing to see this store it’s just there it doesn’t do anything stupid and it yeah I think there’s a big part of it the snapshots just work and that’s really important because I don’t want anything weird to happen and honor hit

0:03:00 –>
you know you don’t to be twitching when you hitting the but anything is it going to do something I don’t want it to do in turn everything off so that was a very important part of it is having the very clear easy-to-use snapshot system and it’s also this the it triggers the MIDI into my rack so it changes a lot of the like all the delays change for the songs and the reverb changes so it’s quite nice to know so you have it all set up and it’s just super simple you just tell you what to do keep clicking on it and it does everything you needed to do it’s just cool and they don’t yeah that’s they’re easy to reorganize they easy just add another one it’s some it’s a very simple process that I like poor Giri like all these extra I like at least toys or just I like buttons or someone differently I like pushing buttons so we have all this yeah have a little outboard but I use yeah the embalm what effective pretty cool are using a few of the reverbs a

0:04:01.2 –>
couple of plates some simply an answer on the keyboard some of the piano sounds just to make it sort of sing a bit more in the in the arena the saturate is pretty cool you want to go easy don’t go don’t go crazy one of those things that can bite you if you go too crazy with it but it’s quite nice on the vocals just gives it all so extra you know something just put a little distortion that’s quite nice without going crazy and it’s really good the cool thing I will see being an SSL you have the buss compressor on board which you know the legendary thing for years anybody sounds amazing in the box I wasn’t wasn’t expecting you know anything can’t be as good as the can’t be as good as the real thing it’s a you know it’s a piece but yeah the actual the on-board buss compressor sounds fantastic so I use that a lot just keeps things keeps things they just sit together as it’s mentally not as it has done with every mix over the years it just sticks things together I just the

0:05:02.1 –>
channel strip sounds great so I’m using all the gates are off the channel stream or a lot of the compression is straight off the channel strip because they just sound they sound great there’s no no need to overthink it they all the stuff internally is what is good so no and feel the need for any extra extra on a lot of it I mean I’ve already got I mean looks like a lot but it’s not that much in there there’s only a few compressors and and they get yeah the gates are really fast and sound great on here having to to insert points that’s great like I can insert the outboard on one and have the plugins on the other and punch them out if anything happens and also the Madi because we’re recording everything everything comes Maddie out of the board and I can I’m using them the straight Madi to record and then I’m also printing a mix that has all my eq’s and compression everything onto another machine and I’m using second output for that which you can

0:06:01.2 –>
move which is great so you can move in and you know you can put it anywhere you want in the signal flow so you just sort of click and drag it to the end I’m thinking okay cool it’s going to pick up my my entire signal chain so I can print a pre eq’d mix so it’s quite as if someone says head flock this TV wants a this song tomorrow you know and go okay cool I’m halfway there you know I can just jump on the bus with my headphones and that’s got a pre EQ pre compressed mix that I can start with which which helps fur it helps out the process the panning thing is kind of cool as you can do from spatial map to the panel you can move things in and out and then the stereo channel you can flip them and that’s kind of nice yeah I think I mean because the drums especially in live music of the foundation of a lot of this system you know if you think especially in a stadium the the guy in the back you know

0:07:01.7 –>
you’re 200 and so meters away wait at the back of Stadium you want to kick snare and you want the value on the vocal and you want some form of recognizable melody and you can probably live without the rest you know but as long as you can hear the kick and the snare and the singer you’re going to dance around and enjoy yourself you know and so the foundation is a good kick in a snare because that’s what gets people dancing it’s not necessarily how you’d approach an album I thing but we like music if you’ve got a solid chickens they’re gonna get people are going to get excited and that also comes back through to the band and then a you know it comes around and then they play a great show if they’re having a good time but specific with Simon was a lot of um it was tuning history the tuning of his drums was really important and he said do not gate my drum kit and at that point sort of I was kind of getting a lot of drum kits I thought is what you do you know any tolling you do not get a single one of my drums enough and if you think anything is making a binding noise

0:08:00.3 –>
or anything is needs changing to come talk to me well tune will tune it out to make it right that was that was a big the big eye-opener I was like okay everything all the gates are off everything’s just flat okay let’s see what happens and then it started from there I was at they on a lot from about tuning drums specifically telling is the main part of those main part of it so if you got a well tuned wrong with a good mic you need to mess with it yeah and it’s also having the experience to go to the drummer and go hey a couple more couple more turns on the snare or I think it could go up you know the snake could go up a bit because it’s not quite fitting in the song then with the kick it so can you maybe take it down a bit so I can get a little more in the subs and anyone get in the woman to fear with the bass sort of working out that process of he was very good at figuring that out and it was great explaining that to me

0:09:02.8 –>
fly the subs you can see we have 12 subs 12 K or 28 in the air and that will travel a long way yeah quit your subs in the air because otherwise it’s just killing the people on the floor if you get it tuned right and he’s got the nice and veena they have so anyone in front of it I don’t do much – I don’t know if you do a whole lot to it I also found that years ago because I was and I was studded out babysitting and looking after engineers I remember finishing a gig my really engineer was I thought sounds great I was like I’m going to write this down there’s gonna be amazing I’ve got my kick drum sound forever you know looking at the board was flat don’t you think you know three quarters of the board was just flagging to put a few hypotheses in I guess there’s a lesson in not actually just because you have all these buttons you don’t need to touch all of them it was really a moment quite eye-opening moment I was like right

0:10:00.2 –>
Korea’s made here I’m gonna write all those things down I’m gonna copy the next gig I do and then most of the board of slaps there was nothing he hadn’t done anything exceptional he’d just I think it comes with working with the band and not getting in the way of yourself you know if you just start digging every single you know every single thing you end up in a mess just leave it alone you know it sounds good don’t mess with it all the great bands if the band sounds great it’s malaria a lot to do with how the band sound on stage if all the instruments and the sounds are gray then it’s all it’s so hard just hard to mess up you know you know and don’t put anything stupid in the wailing try keep the signal path clean like going straight into the SSL 32 boxes straight out of the console I’m not having too much in the way you know because it just goes straight through here into the lake and out to the PA listen oh there isn’t a huge amount of stuff in the way I know I have a lot of outboard but most of that is inserts a couple of you know a couple of

0:11:01.1 –>
bits on the vocals but not much there’s not that much there’s nothing you know in the way on the mix buss except for the buss compressor Oh how’s things it’s tough because you think I should I feel like again I should have a bit of story for Dave’s local but David just sounds like Dave heat anymore and he sounds like Dave so I mean I I know I had a little bit at 12 K to get a little bit of air you know a little bit of fluff and air through the back of the arena I’m taking out there’s a little bit of 100 Hertz which in some places like this when the roof is closed it can build up and sort of get in the way of the base and stuff but for the most part yeah trying not to not to mess with it you know sounds good as he is but also I mean a reverb every every singer needs a nice nice tasty read over quite I like quite long reverb I think it gives voice

0:12:01.1 –>
nice color too to his voice and you know he likes a lot of slapback delay to the thing days used in the studio for years so there’s always a very tight slap back delay on his voice but she’s used on the album’s for years which I do which I do replicate live which that way which is works well for his voice it sort of makes him even bigger than he already he’s already got a huge powerful voice for adding that to it makes him you know really think yeah I mean there’s a lot more I guess live element I guess to the to the show cuz they’re in there an electronic an electronic band and have always always been and they’ve used there’s I mean there’s live drums on the album but a lot of its processed and you know it sort of sounds like depression on stage now you have a live drummer who’s going full-tilt on you know so that that in itself is obviously a big change from what the album would be so it’s a lot like it’s not heavier some more you know

0:13:01.1 –>
heavier an intense live because you do have the extra note the drums and compete as well as the keyboard player adds a lot to that playing a lot of life a lot of the bass lines he’ll play live which again if you add it sequence gives it gives it a little movement that can go with the crowd which is really nice so yeah so more is harder it’s a harder hitting experience than then you probably get on the albums because they’re you know as they get a lot of bands live end up that way but I think especially with the fresh mode because there isn’t you know the drama going full-bore during the most of the recordings and it also brings a lot of it a lot of excitement that I think you need life you know so you need movement on stage and Dave’s running around everywhere others moving around in your 18 Fletch you’ve got his arms in the air and then you’ve got Christians with pounding everything it’s just the kids get behind it becomes quite exciting in it gives an energy to especially when a huge building like some of the stadiums of the day it just gives it a great energy.

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