Matthew Walsh FOH Audio Engineer War on Drugs


In this video from sweetwater we talk to Matthew Walsh the FOH audio mix engineer for American rock band ‘War on Drugs’ (as well as Julien Baker, Dehd, Chiiild and more)

Video Text:

0:00:00 –>
hey guys i’m forrest powell with sweetwater sound and this is matt walsh uh is it matthewmixes is my website kinda brand sort of thing so we gotta mention that [Music] i’ve been working with matt for about 10 years here um and i had the privilege he he threw me an email and invited me out to a show i was doing front of house for war on drugs and i came out here and and ran into just another guy rich maloney that i’ve worked with for like 15 years so basically my whole career at sweetwater so i’m i’m convinced of the the very small world that is professional audio production absolutely and matt is one of my longest-standing and like favorite guys to talk to so i’m just glad to get to come out and meet him again but yeah tell me tell me about this tell me about tonight so um i’ve been working with these guys for about five years at this point joined on with the deeper understanding tour in 2018 um as the stage patch tech so i was

0:01:00.6 –>
handling all the microphones all of the cables xlr power you name it if it was a cable on the stage that was what i was handling and making sure that everything got plugged in and was well maintained every day and then filled in on some shows doing monitors because our engineer lawrence lawrence thieves he wasn’t able to do a couple of the shows so i jumped in on that kind of seat and then this record cycle came around and i got asked to do front of house and so here we are and we’ve been on tour basically since the start of this year in 2022 we’ve done a bunch of u.s runs and a bunch of european runs as well so it’s been been a long long run so far this year still a lot of bunch bunch shows coming up yeah it’s been great and uh handling a bunch of different gear the band really likes to try out different things day to day so constantly trying new pieces of equipment new microphones uh keeping it fun for us as well um

0:02:01.7 –>
trying to change things up so and you you mentioned that like when we were on stage you said just kind of off the cuff about how and this is where you know it’s really honest you were just like saying how everybody has a lot of fun and they’re excited to be on tour totally that’s just kind of not always in my experience the case sometimes it can be a little bit of a grind but it’s just it’s really nice to hear that because yeah as just a consumer of that stuff and going to shows and listening to music and doing the amateur hour stuff like in the bedroom recording setup yeah i just i love coming out and seeing this kind of a professional rig and seeing you know like the master bus processor on a live rig and seeing these guys like take it up to uh just a a really really high end level um and which is just really evident in the sound too because as soon as they play a couple of riffs through and they’re you know singing the mics it just you can tell that there’s something to cut above about it um and i and i think that’s you know i mentioned in the email to you like calling you the fifth beatle like i really do think that the front of house mix just governs a huge amount of what everybody comes to hear totally um and it’s and it’s a big responsibility so i

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hope nothing you know nothing goes wrong but yeah but it’s it’s just it’s a lot of fun to see like the the glimpse into the you know on stage and everybody’s individual rigs and how you’re syncing that together it’s just it’s a beautiful thing man yeah i mean we all get into music i feel like because it’s fun and so it’s trying to make everything that’s happening on stage a really fun thing and everything’s super immediate so everyone’s trying to find pieces of equipment that it’s easy to manipulate something quickly but it also sounds really good and hopefully as a cut above what you know is just the default thing that you would buy in that level it’s trying to find either the vintage pieces of gear or the weird pieces of gear that like allow us to do something like you know syncing different guitar sounds together or um you using a higher quality microphone than normally you would use live we have a lot of microphones that traditionally you would see in a studio that are you know we try to avoid some of just like the general what everyone else goes for just partially cut for the fun of it because it’s just fun to use something that’s different um everyone’s you know doing

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using the same thing so it’s fun to try to try something else we’ll leave the brand out of it because i don’t want to impugn you know one of our manufacturers but they have this kind of game that they play with one of them where they they try to avoid like you know a household name of this brand on stage for this microphone like because that’s just what everybody does is they put this on a snare this on a cab this on this and so and that’s really cool because you get a lot of different like you know yeah if it’s if it’s a big palette on stage you have a lot more colors in like these different manufacturers and different types of microphones and it’s amazing how much that stuff can impact the overall performance of the venue and how it influences the band you know it’s it’s it’s almost like funny to me now funny because i don’t have to like deal with it every day but totally not not at being my profession i get to hear you know the kind of back and forth um between the musicians and between you kind of discussing that happy medium of just what what it’s gonna sound like and how we get there yeah and even just whether the amps are tilted back or whether we’re just going to cook everybody yeah you know it’s i like hearing those conversations too yeah at

0:05:01.2 –>
the end of the day everyone’s trying to have you know the band’s trying to have a good time we’re trying to you know let them have a good time while it also you know sounds good and they they can hear what they need to hear that’s a whole other portion of you know the whole stage monitoring side of things they got to be able to be happy to play well so i always you know it’s leaning on a monitor engineer to make sure that they’re happy and then you know hopefully if everything’s all comes together it’s it’s the perfect situation but it’s fun with these guys because they change it up so it’s never the same situation you something’s different every day somebody goes out and buys a new piece of equipment new pedal something and we’re implementing it fun that’s good yeah well it’s you know it keeps you’re just dying up the same thing every day it gets you know kind of mundane almost and so it’s fun to kind of constantly have little pieces of equipment that make stuff fun to try out i mean there’s so much gear too it’s it’s fun to try a different piece of equipment every day a different microphone whatever yeah guys thanks so much for your time um matt it was really a pleasure to see you i can’t tell you how much i appreciate the

0:06:00.8 –>
invite absolutely and nick are going to have a great a great time watching it sounds ridiculously good as i expected and i hopefully we can do like a zoom or something like that soon and just kind of i know we ran out of time yeah this guy cut the pa for us so we could do this little outro here which just you’re you’re an accommodation you’ve got to open the doors but yeah absolutely it’s pleasure having you guys here and i’m really yeah really pumped thanks so much and we’ll let people come in and see the band now they didn’t come to see me and appreciate it awesome very much yeah yeah thank you all take care

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

How to clean microphone grills