Dave McDonald – FOH Engineer For Adele – Interview

Dave McDonald adele audio engineer

In this video from Sidoti Sound, Joe Sidoti interviews Dave McDonald who is the FOH (front of house) audio engineer for Adele, Frank Ocean and Florence and the Machine.

Interview Text

0:00:00.7 –>
hey guys Joe Sidoti here thanks for stopping by for another video now this one is near and dear to my heart because i had the opportunity to interview dave mcdonald dave is a front of house engineer for some seriously big artists we’re talking adele frank ocean florence and the machine heir and and lots others and so this was an honor to be able to sit down with dave and just talk about his journey how he got where he’s at we talk about touring we talk about digital consoles we geek out on some gear and we talk about some of the mental capacities that you have to have when being a front of house engineer so this was a really awesome opportunity i hope you enjoyed as much as i did all right let’s dive in to the interview with dave mcdonald all right well hey hello david officially now we’ve been talking off camera but um i just want to kind of do a brief introduction um of you and then i’ve got some questions

0:01:01. –>
and obviously we’ll talk about that okay so um i know you’re not a big name dropper but i have to at least name drop some names here of some artists that you’ve worked with portis head air florence in the machine adele broken bells frank ocean just to name a few right is there any any other artists that you are especially proud of working with uh sega ross um yeah there’s probably a few of us but i kind of almost into one big sound right well yeah yeah you know i’ve worked i’ve been around a while yeah yeah you’ve been uh what 35 37 years you’ve been doing this yeah so you don’t look old enough though i mean you do have the white hair on the chin i know i know but that’s because you know i can’t get to the chemist at the moment

0:02:01.5 –>
pharmacy can not only sort that out you know people make fun of my soul patch what do you think is it an american thing or is it that’s just that it’s funny you call that soul patch we call that a soul chip so yeah i like i like the subtle patch because it’s bigger than a chip so yeah yeah it’s cool but you know you gotta kind of stay rugged you know it’s a workman look my wife doesn’t like me clean-shaven she likes a little scruff on her man yeah yeah yeah so um i kind of wanted to just talk about a little bit of how you got to where you are a lot of people may be like i wish i could mix for some of those artists someday you know i want to kind of talk about a little bit of your journey um and then towards the end we can geek out on some gear and whatnot yeah absolutely when when did you get started when did the bug bite you like to say this is it i i’ve this is what i want to do

0:03:02.4 –>
uh kind of in a strange way i mean as a child was very interested in in uh music and especially record players i was fascinated by record players and the way they worked and just the way that amplified sound and um i just had some basic ideas where i would just take a record player apart and put wires back together and sometimes it would work and and sometimes they would never work again um you know it’s just just a thing i was just fascinated by the sound of how how this all worked and so um when i was about 1718 a friend of mine had a local reggae and um he had a little tiny studio and we were working for a theater company at the time just a sort of a job creation scheme done by the government for kids who who really couldn’t find any work or do

0:04:00.7 –>
anything it was bad times at that period of time okay and um there was a little sound department and i was just used to hang around this sort of little sound department seeing what people were doing and this guy who had the reggae band you noticed i was always there and uh but i had interest in it uh and they did a gig and he said well why don’t you come along look what this guy does behind the desk and uh and um you know after a few sort of uh shows maybe maybe have a go yeah okay so i turned up at this one show and uh several hundred people turned up at the show and he just said go on then do it and that was it and i can still remember it was horrible it was absolutely penis and i was in shock for a long time but i just realized that’s what we wanted to do from that point but isn’t that funny that that if he hadn’t let you do that he had to you know not

0:05:01.2 –>
be prideful to say well this is my job you can’t come in here you know and he let you do that yeah it would be a different a completely different outcome uh and that’s one of the things that i i’ve always tried to do whenever i’m i’ve worked if i see somebody who’s interested i’ll always get them on board i’ll say look you know and try and mentor them and then you know and there’s a few guys that i’ve worked with over the years who have known right from their very start and they’re they’re blooming you know and i hopefully they do the same thing and that’s the way i think it should be done yeah yeah i mean schools are kind of whatever i’m more of the just learn on the job i mean i didn’t go to school for it you know to be an engineer and i know some people get good success with that but for me it’s it’s about literally getting thrown in the deep end like you did yeah yeah uh and uh you know for me it’s the only way really to learn you can have all the there’s so it’s such a complicated funny subject

0:06:00.5 –>
what we do um and there’s so much paperwork on it and you can be such an expert on that side of things and i’ve seen a lot of these guys when they actually go to do the job i think yeah but you haven’t got any years you know you know you’ve got a brilliant mind and a brilliant tongue but your you know i mean at the end of the day the the concert goers uh the the cd buyers they don’t they don’t care how smart they just know whether it hits them whether they’re engaged by it it invokes an emotion yeah and that and that’s mixing as well you know it’s everybody mixes differently you know it’s and sometimes it’s really understanding the music and how to play with it and how to actually use the dynamics of the music it’s a bit like a magician that you know i’m raising this hand and you’re all looking at this hand but i’m robbing you with this one you know and that’s how you mix you know

0:07:01.9 –>
you sort of you know you bring things down nice and low and you get that sort of sense of sort of security with someone and then you just bang you hit them with something you know before they can recover you take them back to where they were in that nice place again you know that’s right that’s what i call really good mixing you know you see guys who can do that it’s like yeah you understand the dynamics keeping keeping the dynamics moving and taking them somewhere you know i mean i want to leave a concert having felt that i just experienced something that i just couldn’t get sitting at home yeah absolutely and you know i think there’s linear you know with a guy who’s just too loud all the way through well why have you done that that’s just horrible you know this you know you’ve got a whole whole row of weaponry there that you can use and one of them is volume don’t don’t use the the same trick all the way through you know it’s you know and i think that’s part of the bug why i love it it’s that sort of you know that that thing ticking in your mind when you’re mixing and and then sometimes when you make a mistake i love when you make a

0:08:00.2 –>
mistake and you think oh it was really interesting and you sort of like to hold that hold that in the back of your head for you know something to develop later on yeah i don’t know if it was uh brian wilson or someone but they said if you if you make the same mistake every eight bars it’s no longer a mistake exactly yeah hey it worked go for it yeah i have a saying close the textbook and do what it takes to make it sound good you know yeah yeah yeah totally well you know with me being dyslexic and and not being the textbook guy that i i don’t own any right i don’t know there’s handbooks out there i’ve never read them to be honest with you so how long did it take you from from that time to where you know to where you felt really confident that you felt that hey i’m going to charge these people to mix and it’s going to sound great how long does it take okay so that was that’s a long quite a long process i mean it’s learning my trade as i say learning my

0:09:01. –>
apprenticeship and working with numerous uh individuals bands forms of music um so i would say it would have been 10 years of learning what i was i needed to learn to get to a stage where i felt i kind of know what i’m talking about you know and i’m still at that stage i kind of know what i’m talking about but i can sort of talk about it with a bit of age behind it you know but yeah at least 10 years of really really fooling around and not taking 100 serious but being very passionate about it and would you say how how important is it to you to make the mistakes early on like i mean you did you i guess it’s safe to say you learned from your mistakes and that’s where you get to a point where you say uh i know not to do this because i’ve made that mistake before yeah

0:10:01.2 –>
yeah absolutely and you know every engineer has to experience that walking away from the gig thinking that i’m in the wrong business you know you have to have about some nights where it’s just like my god that was appalling what did i do you know there’s nothing you know yeah and take it on the chin and that’s part of the learning process and you think right i’m not going to do that again you know you learn little things like don’t trust people yeah you know the amount of times over the years i don’t mean it in a bad way but you know you sort of like oh you get someone can you just take care of this when i’m doing this and they don’t do it and you think i’ve done it again i’ve trusted someone and they’ve done me you know a mic being not placed right or something or something not plugged in or yeah um so the mistakes are are so important so so important for the learning process

0:11:00.1 –>
you know yeah i feel like there’s some businessmen saying you you you know you’re not a real businessman until you’ve gone bankrupt at least twice you know yeah the old thomas edison light bulb thing yeah yeah yeah so uh yeah i learned i learned the hard way a lot of times i remember there was this one time i was mixing uh for an artist and uh the the guy who was in charge of the production company that hired me uh he came up to me said what are you doing sizzling bacon and it was his way of saying like your top end is off the charts you know you need to mellow it out and so i never made that mistake again like i always then from that point was mindful like how’s the top end on the lead vocal is it too you know is it too much am i sizzling bacon [Music] you know yeah but it’s quite easy you can get it that far without actually ringing off you know so i think that’s quite impressive that’s a skill

0:12:01.1 –>
just add more and more 10k that’s all you need that’s how you fizzle bacon by the way so um i want to talk a little bit about um your approach uh front of house um and uh system tuning yes i remember um of course um i was a system tech for an american tour with air and you were on front of house and i remember specifically this one time we went into this room i wouldn’t call it an arena but whatever it was a huge concrete room and to uh to kind of tune the system a little bit or wring it out you know you place the reference mic on the concrete and then you crank the pink noise and you looked at the rta and you made decisions based off of that data tel walk us through your thought process with the mic on the concrete i i i was probably hungover

0:13:04.2 –>
i can’t remember that it sounds like something i would have done but um well i remember i remember going okay this is unorthodox but you did a lot of stuff that is like uh panning the toms backwards from the audience’s perspective but you have a reason for it yeah i always do that i still do that now um for me they sound better a drum kit it just science sounds so much better when you when you have the toms in reverse and i don’t understand why when i put them the other way i think what it could be between the overheads and the toms maybe yes but this is i’ve i’ve discussed this not very long ago and i do think it is something to do with the overheads um and some sort of phase thing going on but you get such a dynamic swoop of the toms when when they when they roll around when you put them in reverse and and and to me and people really notice it they go wow cool do you hear those drums yeah but if

0:14:01.3 –>
you happen the other way they just can drums yeah yeah so it’s something that like i do and a few people pulled me up and i think oh you got good ears you spotted it you know um yeah i mean the the going back to the uh you know tuning systems and that i mean now itunes systems just just i use two bits of music and that’s it and i just know from i don’t need any electronic devices or anything i just know if i’m in in that ballpark right um one of them is weird is older donna summer i feel love which sounds absolutely terrible on anything but what’s interesting is the baseline is uh really interesting the way it’s put together if you pan the base to one side you only get one part of the base and if you pan the base to the other side you only get the other part of the base so you can tell something at a phase very very easily by just panning that track

0:15:00 –>
it’s an instant signal you should try it just on this area just what song is that from donna summers i feel love you know the earlier early giorgio morado sort of very electronic disc sort of track okay everyone knows it um and then pink floyd the wall is the other thing i use there and um that’s because of the spectrum of sound it was recorded in the period of time when it was done before we had like digital and really super high ends and super low ends right it’s like in a nice sandwich area if you can sort of sit it in that area you know the gig is going to sound really really nice and towards the end there’s a bell a little thing well um and it’s very it’s was it two and a half k i think um and you know if the system’s not right because it will either ring out miles or or it’d be really really cool so all you have to do is just just increase that just by little area and you’ve got that sort of your your sort of a higher higher end of the music scale

0:16:00.9 –>
in a really good position and that’s all i need nowadays i don’t use any other um technologies or anything else but it’s so important to have have a a handful of songs that that you know so well yeah you know it’s the same i have a i have a uh back i used to do a cd but i mean i have a playlist you know on my phone of songs that i will listen to and i do different songs for different reasons um time alignment for the subs i’ll listen to uh um billie jean michael jackson and i’ll just keep looping that that drum intro and i’ll know what if it punches right and then when this when the synth bass comes in you know i’ll do that i’ve got other songs so but yeah that’s a it’s a very important point is is not to rely on lights but to listen and to make sure that you’re listening with songs that you know okay this song shouldn’t sound this bright so that tells you there’s something you need to adjust in the rig

0:17:00.7 –>
yeah yeah yeah but it’s it’s the difference between you know having your computer and your software um which might cost a couple of thousand dollars and using your brain and your ears which i mean if you were to try and manufacture this up here you know we’re getting into billions yeah you know we still haven’t managed to right you know don’t get anywhere near that at the moment so that’s what you should be using yeah yeah but you have to have that experience that you know 10 years or more to know that your instincts are correct yeah yeah it’s it’s an age it’s an age and a confidence thing um and it’s you know your past experience the learning you know when when they all lock in you get to a certain age in life when things start to lock in your mind right i know what i’m doing kind of or you’ve developed the the confidence to say that you know what you’re doing yeah but i mean it’s like been there done that you know you you you just feel confident and that

0:18:01.3 –>
that only comes though from doing it over and over until you know i think um it’s really important tell me what you think about this i think it’s important to record your front of house mix and listen back to it you know in headphones or in your car or whatever how do you think that that’s helpful in someone who’s maybe mixing the same band every night to get their mix better do you think that the front of house recording doesn’t matter at all and just go with whatever no no it really does matter it really does matter and it’s quite funny because when when i do record them i i do record them quite often um and then when i put them on i find that i i your brain switches into this analyze mode you know and you’re analyzing it and you’re studying it and you’re looking at it from top bottom left right backwards forwards you know you’re looking at it from every angle and and you’re absorbing all that sort of stuff well i could have done that this was a bit pants you know all that you know yeah so yeah i agree that’s that’s you know a really really important thing and i’ve

0:19:01. –>
got years worth of material that i’ve recorded and you know yeah i still play back i was listening back to a load of stuff in the car the other day and um yeah yeah yeah it’s it’s it i do it because um it really kind of tells me especially the things in the mid-range keyboards versus guitars versus vocals how’s that balance um you know that sort of stuff yeah yeah you know i’ll find wow was was the snare drum really that loud yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah you know so another really interesting thing that i speak about quite often to a lot of people is the thing i call the approach um where you know you’re mixing the same band night after night after night but you’re not mixing in the same building night after night after night so quite often you can you know a classic example i was in italy turned up in the ring which was completely marble i mean completely marbled and and i would

0:20:01.1 –>
watch the other bands earlier on and i saw them all die right in there you know you’re just a huge reflective yeah yeah yeah and so you have to change uh change your approach to how you’re going to mix in that building uh and all these guys were just doing their same thing that they do every night you know and whereas what works for me it might not work for anyone else but i look at it as a thing of beauty these things are like a you know if you have a solo violin or a solo cello in there it would sound beautiful because you’re using the reflection of the room and and and the acoustics so what i tend to do is then i keep the band right down right the vocal is a beautiful thing if you’ve got a beautiful vocalist use the vocal and then the music is just a slight backing in the background you know you need to speak to the band about keep it down on stage and they’re part of them they understand what’s going on so you have a much more sort of intimate performance which

0:21:00.8 –>
the audience love and then when someone does their solo you know you can bring their solo right up you know and and approach it in that sense yeah um that’s true sound reinforcement at that at that point you’re just reinforcing what the room’s not giving you and if the room’s giving you a lot you need to let it because you’re just gonna fight it and it’s just gonna go nuts yeah and i’ve seen that i mean brixton academy is a classic i’ve seen young guys go and go there loads of times you know and there’s a thing there’s a sort of reflection in there i call it the growler you can give the pa a load of energy for a period of time but you don’t realize that energy is kind of building up and then all of a sudden you start to it’s think crawling at you and then you’ve got to back it down again yeah and then it then it all makes sense you know but you get these guys to go there and they they try and beat this thing and you can’t beat it you know oh i’ll overcome it i’ll just turn it up louder that doesn’t make any sense from a physical standpoint

0:22:02.8 –>
it’s all about approaches for different buildings you know you know you see some guys you really understand that and then sometimes you don’t so i i know uh you have embraced digital consoles walk walk me through you know switching from analog to digital and what is the main thing that you feel like yeah i definitely don’t need the analog anymore for for live well that’s not true i love analog and um if you can find the budgets and find exactly what i would still use analog um what i have noticed is my back doesn’t ache as much um

0:23:06.8 –>
um it’s just the ease with some of the digital boards um i mean i have a particular brand that i really really like i’m not gonna you know put put push the brand on there but uh it’s you know if anyone’s interested they can just look me up and find findings i’m into but um it’s all the effects that that were built into which are like classic effects from my analog days that i really really love um and the ergonomics of these certain boards works me like an analog board like proper mixing which is like a lot of hand movement and things flying around non-linear it’s a lot of movement um yeah and that’s ease of use i mean some of these boards now are just you just follow me and plug them in you know get your cat five a cat sits in bang you’re up you’re running you know yeah um which gives you a lot more other

0:24:00.2 –>
time to really be doing what you’re meant to be doing oh just so it’s mostly you’d say the ease of effects and not needing the outboard gear things like that yeah and i would say in the last five years they have become a lot better i mean they are beginning to sound so much warmer and so much you know some of the early ones were really horrible yeah um you know bacon machines they yeah there was uh you know yamaha was one of the first really into the whole digital market and what’s funny about about that company and is like there’s there’s make it sound good make it sound right or make it sound correct or make you know and they were more like this is correct you know this this thing converted to digital should be this thing but they weren’t they weren’t taking into effect the non

0:25:01.2 –>
linearity of you know harmonic distortion and things of that nature and and so they were trying so hard to just make the ones and zeros be correct that they forgot about like you got to dirty it up and that’s what makes it sound good but also i think that there’s also another angle that i’ve always looked at is in different parts of the world people have different hearing the way that they perceive music and hear music yeah are completely different and to me that that part of the world is very very high-end and very very precise um whereas when i go go to your partner or the states i turn on the radio and instantly i hear just bottom end radio in europe in the uk it’s mid-range you know so and if you find uh equipment which is produced in these parts of the world they tend to emulate where they come from and so that’s why i always feel like gamma always had that

0:26:00.2 –>
you know that precise um almost sibilant like like a child shouting in my ear yeah it’s not my thing you know annoying yeah yeah yeah so um but i think they’ve all got a lot closer now i think they’re all sort of you know getting much of a muchness yeah awesome yeah i mean i uh i had to embrace it because i worked for some places that that’s what they had and that’s what you used but you know there’s uh there’s still nothing like analog as far as the sound um having a knob for every feature on every channel you know you can start from nothing and get somewhere faster but when you’re talking about going from this venue to that venue you know or and you’ve got like a set list that’s got all these changes that’s when it really starts to shine and you can have a total different rack

0:27:01.5 –>
of effects for this song than you do for that you know you can also get yourself lost in muddles and you can yeah yeah well and i think it takes a certain wherewithal in your brain to be fast enough to to understand the pages that you’re flipping through and and so it’s you know it’s good to find um a live console that thinks like you think and none of us think the same so you know yeah for some it’s it’s alan and heath for some it’s midas for some it’s digico yeah that’s fine you know i mean you’re absolutely right i think at this point they’re all they’re all getting to the point where they’re sounding good they’re they’re not in the way it’s just now a tool that you can use but before it was like this thing’s getting in the way i need to figure out how to manhandle this thing now it starts to get out of your way and just let you do your thing yeah totally totally i mean that thing you’re saying on our pages and stuff like that

0:28:00. –>
i call that the pattern um when you work with a band or you’re you’re touring you learn the pattern of how the mix works i mean your hands automatically do it and that’s the pattern it’s like a martial art you know you learn that sort of thing your flow right and that’s why you have to have that you know you find the correct desk that works with your flow exactly what you were saying you know that that works for you yeah um i love the pattern i said you know something i’ll spend ages and ages like going through it in my mind you know this goes here that goes there’s a bit probably ocd i think you know yeah most good sound guys are yeah i mean kind of a control freak kind of yeah yeah yeah well you’ve yeah yes you do find that i mean from the house guys like me it’s like you know i like the thing that i can go to gig and be really anti-social i got a pen around me i could watch a gig and and then i had my little bags of ocd so yeah i’m probably really screwed up but uh do you um do you have any

0:29:02.7 –>
uh studio experience yeah um i’ve been watching studios for like 10 10 15 years so i did all the um the first uh three uh porter’s head albums um then i did loads of like uh punk punk bands before that and all kinds of stuff yeah yeah a lot of written studios on and off and sort of for how long can you incorporate what you learned in the studio and techniques that you use live or do you um i guess from a mix standpoint maybe or even or even a mic placement or selection you know anything that you think that you picked up in the studio is there anything that you would say sets you apart from other front of house guys because of your studio experience and how you implement that well i don’t know i wouldn’t say anything that

0:30:01.3 –>
sets me apart what what i have noticed and what i do like now is well in in the digital area era that we’re in is all of a sudden i have access to simulations of toys that i did have back in the studio days like you know you could never take an emt plate on tour right you know or you know and and you know the big akg springs you could never take on tour so all of a sudden i’ve got access to simulations of those things which are great pieces of studio kit yeah um so no i don’t think uh i think they’re they’re quite two different disciplines but what the studio does teach you is you spend more time analyzing um tone of instruments and frequencies and also you’re close enough to see how the musicians playing it so you learn things about the way they’re playing and their actions and and all that so but that’s

0:31:01.5 –>
yeah it’s a different side but you do learn learn a lot more about the instrument i think yeah or instruments yeah yeah things that things that they’re playing techniques that they’re using and and learning how which you never see that live because you’re a distance away and there’s a difference it’s a different kind of thing you know it’s an intimate thing the studio so other than plates and things like that is there any outboard gear that you still use are you completely no no side racks at all now no side racks no no side racks nothing nothing at all i mean well yeah it might be it might be because i’m getting older and lazier but um no i just turned up and they almost asked me you got anything to plug in there’s just no just plug in the desk and that’s it i just need you know one edison and uh that’s me done and then charge your cell phone yeah yeah yeah well you know i’ll do

0:32:00.3 –>
that for the desk yeah usb huh yeah it’s really great do you have a favorite venue that you’ve ever mixed at uh yeah there there are a couple um i should know the name of it the old one blew up there was a massive explosion the gas works blew up and took the actual venue out oh wow and they they rebuilt it and what they tend to do they have a lot of money from the government for arts in in in france so when they build these venues they’re acoustically incredible although some of their acoustic engineers out there i think that are the best in the world yeah um and you go into these places and just like my god this is just perfection you know whatever you do is just just go on the money um uh it will come to me um i do like uh the albert hall just to a show not very long ago in the albert hall okay or um a u.s new zealand band

0:33:01.2 –>
um an immortal orchestra and they’ve just put in a new uh dnb system in there and really done done it well they’ve done it so well because i’ve mixed in there so many times before and i just i’ve never been happy i went in this last time i was just like my god what have you done you know you’ve made this building into a beautiful place a beautiful place to meet him um the o2 in london for um an arena brilliant you know they did a really really good job there who who are you mixing for at the o2 uh the o2 last time i was there that was that was um brit awards i was doing okay and uh that was a bit of a controversial night it’s the night madonna fell over and i was doing kanye west that night and i would explain for her and every other word was a the f word so it was bleep the whole time on tv but uh it was fun it was really good fun so i got to rattle the uh

0:34:00.3 –>
drinks off of all the really rich people’s table that night so uh it’s a great signing room it does work well yeah um yeah so it’s going back a bit in that one um yeah was it was it it sounded killer that was adele you got me and my wife uh passes and we came and of course i came up to you afterwards and told you how good the tom sounded you said and you said yeah it’s not rocket science you know and it’s funny though how many people aren’t paying attention to enough detail i think they’re they’re kind of i think that your mix style if i could put a style to it it’s that you’re mixing from the ground and from 30 000 feet all at the same time you’re focused on these details clearly because they’re there but then the whole thing is just this is just

0:35:02.4 –>
this beautiful smooth there’s nothing that ever stood out to me you know and it’s like i hate going to concerts because the mixes are so bad i mean it’s really bad and some of them are so loud i’ll have to put like tissue in my ears because it’s like my ear my my eardrums are quite literally distorting i’ll ask my wife it’s like it’s loud i’ll use my phone and it’s like it’s 110 a weighted and i’m like this is ridiculous part of the magic this is this is what i was talking you know like being being a magician right part of our being the magician is creating that air of this is loud but it’s not right you know it’s because you look down here you’re running yeah you’re looking at 98 right you know with each of 103 right you know and the people going wow you know that’s a really natural range to hear things like right um yeah i like the tissue paper thing though

0:36:02.1 –>
a couple times yeah but yeah no i mean it’s so true the whole like somehow first of all i i don’t even i’m not like a fan of having an spl meter even at front of house i know when it’s too loud yeah and it’s not that it’s too loud i know when it hurts i don’t care what the meter says i don’t care how it feels and how it sounds right so i don’t care if it’s 105 but it sounds good or if it’s 95 and it sounds good i just want it to sound good yeah yeah you know and i mean sometimes you have to measure because literally there’s like you know city ordinances and things like that but we we have so much of that in in europe you know we have noise police for everything you know with a clipboard writing down every five minutes you know you’ve got a sign you’ve got to sign a waiver form you know if you go over this you’re liable for a two two and a half thousand pound fine you know stuff like this it’s just taking the fun out of things you know yeah i’d rather that than you know i did a

0:37:01.3 –>
show in in turkey with air many years ago uh i suddenly had a look to the side of me and the the local law official was waving a gun at me saying it was too loud actually yeah i mean literally like that yeah and then i kind of yeah okay and i couldn’t argue with you i took it down just a little bit and then he liked the next song and he was dancing it was just you know i just thought this guy’s a loose cabin his cheese slid off his cracker yeah absolutely yeah i think it’s important to to get the the warmth the depth the punch you know nothing that’s too you know and it’s it’s usually in the high mids where a guitar or a vocal can be shrill and rip your face off if you can get the high mids right you know 2k to 5k yeah everything else just kind of sits in there and you just let it you know for guitars and there’s always for that

0:38:01. –>
i mean you know that you have to look one of the things also i should mention is that it shows i do spend a lot of time talking to the musicians about their instruments um trying to build trust either way so i can go into make sure the tunings are correct on drums and you know have we tried doing it this way or looking at amplifiers have you tried this amp or have you tried this combination or maybe we can go here and this really works yeah for for the translation of your sango front you know it’s like building that whole you know we’re all on the same side in the same team and you want everyone to go away and go that band was killer right and that and that’s yeah being the fifth musician you know you’re just out at front of house but but yeah that’s it’s so important to have that um relationship because if you’re if you come off right away and just go hey your tone sounds like crap and you don’t know the guitar player he’s he doesn’t like you now and you’re you know so you have to be

0:39:01.1 –>
careful how you approach yeah but when they know that you care they know that that you’re asking these questions because you want the audience to hear them the best that they can be heard you know then it’s like okay now we’re a team now we’re a band and and we’re doing the best that we can yeah fixing it at the source obviously yeah well diplomacy as well as part of our job so you know it’s a it’s a really big amount of our job is there’s nothing worse than being that miserable saying guy you know no one likes that guy you know yeah well a guy in the club that’s got his feet up on the console he’s reading a magazine while the band’s playing we haven’t seen it yes i’ve been there i’ve never been that way it’s like you know so how do you handle big big um arenas when you’re talking about you’ve got the main left right but then let’s say you’ve got outfills that are covering way up you

0:40:02.4 –>
know way up high or delay fills way in the back how do you go about doing the best that you can to make sure that everyone gets the best sound that they can you know no matter where they’re sitting uh well this is a is to have a very good systems tech you know um you can’t be a jack-of-all-trades and it’s having a very very good relationship with your systems tech and explain to him what you’re trying to achieve and how to achieve it and spending the time you know when you’re sound checking and when when that pa is being rigged rigged and when you’re ringing stuff out going all around and talking to your systems engineer about can we spread this here can we do this can you know it’s having a vision and being able to translate that vision to people you’re working with yeah um one of the stress uh you know one interesting things recently was you know the last uh frank ocean things that i

0:41:01.2 –>
was doing though they were in 7.1 outdoors um and learned a lot you know what not to do what to do um and you know having really good systems guys and just you know you sit down after the end of each night and have a really good drink with them to the stage where you just fall over but you’re talking ideas backwards and forwards about how we can expand this and do this yeah yeah wow 7.1 i imagine the the audience would have to be kind of in a not not too spread out so that you can get around them it’s it’s it’s about 7.1 with a huge frost and this was at festivals wow so you turned up at a festival and literally take take take it over the night before and get your towers in and um you know uh yeah it was really really interesting and you learned things things that you could do where we

0:42:00.4 –>
had a string section at one stage on the thruster and um and they’re in front of your main pa which is left and right which is taking say 70 percent of your load of the mix left and right it’s your main hang but then you have an orchestra all mic’ed up in front of it so you know you have to come up with like crazy ideas on the hoof and i saw but why don’t i use my surround speakers for the orchestra pointing inwards you know and and just so you learn about placing things in different ways it was really really interesting experience wow that’s awesome my daughter loves frank ocean yeah he’s 15. i guess that’s it goes with territory okay what about let’s talk about mics real quick um maybe just um some of your go-to mics um i would say um do you do you have anything that you use that you like you you won’t really like that’s it that’s that’s all i’m

0:43:01.1 –>
going to use um i’m pretty flexible i mean i can use uh you know most things uh and i’ve gone from really high-end vocal mics a lot of you know used to be a real sennheiser nut um and use a lot of the really really high class sorry excuse me uh sennheiser mics but uh and really um not like sm58s and stuff like that but i’ve gone completely flipped on it and i’m back at 58s again i just just love their um how they got it so right so early you know yeah so um [Music] it’s a it’s a you know it’s an honest thing so honestly that i really really like um snare drums i’ve really become a fan of the bear dynamic um m201 tgg uh yeah absolutely for the top man it’s

0:44:01.5 –>
just it’s that’s the one on there um and i’ve tried a lot of things over the years on snares and you know 57 is a fantastic night again um and i’ve never really found anything better until 201 and i was just like yeah it just captures it just just perfectly um and guitar amps really big fan of the shaw ribbon is it three one threes i’m not sure uh the river mic red red grill okay yeah um they give a really nice tone to guitars they take out that harshness and just that real like yeah you know that’s how how the amplifier should be sounding right um you know and then like the old sennheiser um what are they called is it four four ones big old squares yeah yeah beautifully built yeah beautifully good mic um terrible

0:45:01.8 –>
clip um the squared off clip yeah yeah sounds great yeah apart from i’ll use anything in the studio the 441 is one of my favorite kick drum mics as far as getting that rock and roll smack you know but still have some bottom end i mean i have to usually couple it with something else but yeah that’s good uh who who was it that’s saying on that uh stevie nicks she’s saying on the 441 live a lot yeah i used to give give them to frank to use live yeah all the time they sound brilliant you know and if you ever look at the uh you know the the pattern uh projection for it it’s fantastic you know it’s a really really really well designed mic it looks like a like a space age ray gun yeah and it’s big yeah yes and it’s not a side address mic i’ve seen people think that it’s a side address that’s like no you gotta yeah yeah all right well i’m

0:46:03. –>
that’s cool i’m definitely gonna check out the buyer um yeah give it a go george really i’m really really big fan and they’re not that expensive i had someone turn me on to a while ago um telefunken the m80 which is just a dynamic vocal mic but trying that on the snare and it was like a 57 but with more low mids already turned up you know i didn’t add 200 all right i’ll check that out so what advice would you give someone who’s wanting to be an engineer whether it be live or studio um what advice would you give them of what they need to be able to do or need to learn in order to be successful um or just to be good because you can successful is a certainly a relative word to be

0:47:00.3 –>
really passionate i mean you know it’s not you have to be there for the right reason uh and it’s gonna be a long road and it’s gonna be hard at times really really hard um and you know and and it can be you can have a lot of relationships break up all the way through it it’s hard but if you’re really really passionate about it you’ll make it work and that’s that’s all i can say you just make it work yeah you know and you see that like some of the people i said i’ve you know spent time with you see those guys they’ve got something up there they’re really passionate about it they really really want to learn they really want to do this and you can tell the fakers between the ones you really want to do and who are fake yeah and that’s all i can really say you know and everyone’s got their own style everyone’s got a different way of mixing yeah but it’s whether or not they have that enthusiasm and that’s what i love yeah yeah it’s a it’s it’s i think it’s got to be a love of

0:48:00.4 –>
music you know yeah it is you know it is yeah imagine the world behind it you know i mean is there anything else that just the right combination of notes can literally give you you know make your hair stand up yeah i know i know just i just bring back memories and just give you a feeling and just you know yeah it can just can do so much just just by something in the air right sound like it’s moving your ears yeah it’s good it’s weird yeah i think it’s pretty awesome so um well you talked about 7.1 but just just to kind of get your official take on it what is your thoughts on mono versus stereo in live mixing a mono rig or a stereo rig well i’d use a stereo rig stereo you know but uh be careful with how you place things you know because you lose energy you lose energy

0:49:03.1 –>
but um yeah i mean it’s funny i can’t even remember using the mono red tele industry but it’s been a long long time since i signed some people still still swear by it i i’m i’m of the uh god gave us two ears for a reason one’s on the left one oh yeah well yeah yeah and that’s funny because that’s what i came back to the conclusion after doing the 7.1 is you know i’m back to stereo yeah because uh we have two years and that is that is a purpose for otherwise we’d have a whole row of them all around our head you know yeah yeah you know i mean we’ve got two ears two eyes and one yeah but but i say it so that we can we can watch and listen twice as much as we talk yeah you know because a lot of people

0:50:01.1 –>
are just kind of like the talk talk talk talk it’s like yeah but the proof’s in the pudding you know so i like to listen and and and watch twice as much as i open my mouth you know that’s that’s my that’s a really good way looking i like that that’s a good word yeah okay who is your favorite american engineer no kidding it’s you of course of course yeah no i was i was uh i was really excited to to do that small tour with you um you know it was uh it was great what’s that it was a great time well yeah i mean i i learned a lot um you know watching you and um i think not not that i didn’t learn anything technically but i did but what i learned most i think from you was your attitude and you would say to

0:51:03. –>
me like when something would get stressful you’d say joe look at my face am i bothered so you’re like dude just chill out you know it’s it is what it is you know you didn’t not care but you also just had a good perspective of like we’re gonna get through this it’s all good chill out [Music] there’s a thing i’ve spoken about a few other things i call the recovery rate something really goes wrong at the moment you miss a cue or something really happens your brain suddenly goes into like this weird like um fight and flight sort of mode you know like this right it’s your recovery rate from that how fast you can recover and get back onto track um is what really makes a difference in in you know being able to mix well and that’s sort of trying to have the percentage where you

0:52:00.4 –>
know something’s stressing you out just keep it calm yeah just keep it keep it level yeah it works right well you you definitely do it i think it comes across um in in your your art form of mixing i think it comes across just hanging out with you um nothing’s gonna get under your skin too much you’re just gonna kind of roll with it and you know and i mean yeah i had a great time so i was i was glad to be able to be on that that little tour but i wasn’t happy about the uh the coachella debacle but we won’t talk about that well there’s a classic classic example isn’t it you know that was no we won’t talk about it but uh um yeah i i i like the way that it was all trying to get pinned on us but at the end of the day even though we were way more probably stressed

0:53:00.1 –>
than anyone the audience still did get a good show and it just it just took a little while to get started but i’m sure the live recording came out really well it’s funny you kind of block those things from your memory to a degree don’t you yeah it’s like yeah it’s like i’ve had a trauma yeah i don’t ever want to go to coachella yeah oh i love it though though you know it’s funny i’ve done it i’ve done it so many times since it’s really all right yeah and it’s been great and you know not a problem that’s because i wasn’t there to screw things up oh no no no it was quite i mean how many coachellas have there been before that it was still relatively new wasn’t it um at least four or five probably yeah yeah i’d say yeah it’s a big one you know so last question i think would be where do

0:54:01.7 –>
you see this industry going in the next 10 years um i mean depending on when someone watches this uh you know they’re we’re certainly going through a lot right now but assuming things get back to kind of normal what where do you see the industry going uh the you know concert for concert goers uh for performance okay i i think well what’s happening at the moment is a lot of you know due to what is going on we won’t go too in depth into it but a lot of uh there’s a weeding out process going on at the moment and almost to a degree there’s there is always too many engineers and too many this and that uh in the business i i’m not being that guy who’s being god about it i just think that that’s the situation that we’ve got to um and i think a lot of people will be finding different directions in life

0:55:01. –>
um which you know it’s it’s like a weeding process isn’t it you know when you have plants you have to you know tend to them and then they grow again and so i think the industry will start growing again uh and really grow rapidly do you think 7.1 is going to be a thing or or no no no no i mean i worked on a show with air um and it was uh they were supporting kraftwerk just before uh the his fellow and crasher passed away um uh in dusseldorf and you had the tour de france actually running behind the stage and they were doing tour de france you know and that was in dolby atmos and i i i it was quite incredible i mean but i walked away from it and i i walked away with the feeling that i felt like a caged animal i was in the middle and i just had audio just coming from all directions at me yeah and uh and then it gets back to the

0:56:00.1 –>
two-year thing again you know um you don’t have a focus you know when you’re looking at band you have that focus at the band and you have that uh i i and that’s where i am i mean you have l acoustics with their lisa which i think is very very clever is very very good again um and i think that will be used in just different ways for actually just placing things behind you or placing things around um but it won’t be the main feature yeah because it can be kind of sensory overload if you’re doing dolby atmos live can it i mean where where do you draw your attention and to me that’s like you know from sound and lighting it’s like we’re telling you what you should be listening and looking at you know yeah and so if it’s everywhere it’s kind of like i mean i think it’s great for movies where it’s off screen but it’s still part of what you need to know is going on around you yeah totally but we could be wrong i mean we could be

0:57:00.7 –>
sort of like you know having a conversation in 10 years time joan goes joe we were so wrong [Laughter] well who knows yeah i think i think in the next 10 years i’d like to see um i’d like to see more smaller venues again where you know 2 000 3 000 seats to go see the food fighters instead of at o2 arena it’s a different experience i want to see dave gross sweat you know two and a half thousand three thousand capacity no more than no more than five thousand maximum but two and a half three thousand you just get that energy man you just get the whole the whole you know 99 cents of that dollar you know yeah you know you get every single bit yeah you’ve got the band you’ve got the sweat you’ve got the power you’ve got the you know the the tension in the room you’ve got everything you know and that is what show’s really about

0:58:01.2 –>
you know yeah yeah it’s big enough to be powerful but it’s small enough that in a very quiet soft moment you could bring it down and hear a pin drop you know yeah yeah but this is this is thing i always wanted you know fans to do if they got really it’s super super big is rather than doing the big arena in the time why don’t they spend a week in the time right now i know it’s all about money and you know this and logistics and all that sort of stuff but wouldn’t they be giving so much more back to their fans you know and their fan base would really you know really really adore them i really was excited to that you said that yes you’d chat with me because um i don’t know i i think i think you’re you know you’re obviously a successful engineer you’re beyond talented and so i i just really really truly thank you for taking the time to to chat with me and um you know i’m honored that that you

0:59:02.4 –>
said yes i i thought joe i you know it’s it’s i’m enjoy i just like talking to you i like you know i enjoy doing doing stuff like this i mean i went to india last year and i met a whole load of people that i’ve never met in my life and it was just such good fun and just talking about engineering and talking about mixing you know and then going out having drinks and this is what it’s about as a community and there’s a thing about sharing our experiences so that the next generation of us you know there’s a legacy you know yeah that’s that’s it’s so important i mean you know especially you know i’m real heavy into the studio side because that’s where i got my start and then of course it turned into live but my my real love is just the creation of music but yeah you know like the people that taught me they’re not doing it anymore and so it’s like it’s up to us now to pass this baton and and

1:00:01.1 –>
there’s a lot of bad information out there and so i’m trying to be one of the people that is passing down good solid information you know yeah yeah totally well you know you are so trained you’re you’re succeeding so you know yeah it always feels good when i see that you liked something or you know yeah yeah yeah you know it’s so hard because we have such sort of media overload nowadays there’s so much stuff just coming in continuously you know yeah and uh you know when i say your stuff come on it’s like yeah it’s good good well thank you that means a lot coming from you well guys as you can see dave is a wealth of knowledge and an extremely nice humble guy this man has been around the world and he has done a lot so it is an honor to have sat down with him dave thanks so much for sitting down

1:01:00.3 –>
with me it was it was a real treat it was fun catching up with you guys if you liked this video if you want to see more videos like it leave a comment in the comment section like the video share it with your friends start a dialogue with me i love the community that we’re building so let’s keep that going alright guys we’ll see you on the next video if you like this video then click that like button appreciate it and subscribe to the channel and help support sodory sound and click that bell if you want to be notified when i release new videos and of course you can find me on all sorts of social media so be sure to check that out if you’d like to work with me on an upcoming project then make sure to visit sodotysound.com for more information alright guys thanks a lot [Music] you

Other Engineers

FOH Engineer Garry Brown (Phish, Trey Anastasio Band, Oysterhead)

Behind the Live Sound of Coldplay with Daniel Green

Red Hot Chili Peppers Sound Engineer – Dave Rat 2016 Set up

Antony King – Front of House Engineer for Depeche Mode

Gavin Tempany – FOH Tame Impala, Mark Knopfler, Hans Zimmer, Kylie and Eskimo Joe

Analogue vs Digital, How to ‘Hear’ when Mixing with Andrew Scheps

Matthew Walsh FOH Audio Engineer War on Drugs

Bob Strakele Interview – FOH Audio Engineer Slipknot

Marc Carolan FOH Live Audio Engineer – Muse

Rival Sons FOH Audio Mix Engineer Neil McDonald

How to Develop Your Ears for Sound Engineering and Production

Audio Engineering Salary

Top 10 Jobs in Audio Engineering