Will Blake – FOH Engineer Stone Broken & Dead Kennedys

will blake audio engineer

Will Blake is the FOH audio engineer for Stone Broken, Dan Reed Project and US punk legends Dead Kennedys. In this video interview he talks about his experiences when starting his career in sound, in a recording studio through to touring all over the world.

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hi guys thanks for joining us for another live engineers 101 this week we get to speak to will blake who is the front of house engineer for stone broken dead kennedy’s latest european tour and in this video he talks about his approach to working with these bands and life on the road so tonight we’ve got will blake a good friend of mine and a great sound engineer thanks for joining us so just start well can you tell us a wee bit more about yourself well as you said i’m will blake um i’m predominantly a front of house engineer for various bands i work for people most recently like the dead kennedys um dan reed network uh grandson uh stone broken and other bands like

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that sort of more predominantly rock and roll music kind of stuff that’s my main thing is just front of house for a whole lot of rock music but i do do some jazz as well um like bob reynolds and that kind of stuff um on occasion and some indie stuff as well but that’s kind of the main thing i do okay so it’s mostly the the rock side mostly rock a little bit of indie little bit of jazz that kind of stuff not to pigeonhole myself too much or anybody that pays you yeah basically that yeah okay and for those who are uh listening to this and want to get into the position that you’re in you know out touring with quality bands and you’re on the road and making a living from it how did you get into the industry um tells you kind of you process where you started from to where you got to know i kind of started quite early actually i started in a studio when i was about 11 or 12. um it was kind of my area it was about

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11 i started in the studio doing little bits of studio stuff with this just learning the basics of people so that’s kind of the key point is finding somewhere where you can learn the basics on what you want to do um obviously i got a very early start to it but then i went into doing like amateur shows and that kind of stuff um and just basically picking up a more technical background across the broad spectrum of how a show was put together technically um then from there really it’s you know the usual kind of thing of moving on to doing your mates band shows small pub gigs that kind of thing and shadowing other people on shows uh moving up then moving up into like crewing for events and various other things so the kind of way the advice for getting into it really would be do as many things as possible like small scale shows push loads of boxes ask loads of questions and say yes to everything and just get as much

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broad experience as possible because what you think you want to do you might actually hate and you might end up wanting to do a bunch of different stuff instead but even if you know you stick with the path you want you might get well you will get a much broader idea of what’s going on to put the whole show together not just the one bit that you want to focus on because there’s so much more than just audio in a show or just lighting in the show or just video or just stage crew that kind of thing so how i got into it i basically just worked my way up through the basics um and then went into small-scale shows and worked up from there and just kept saying yes to things and learning new stuff whenever somebody was doing something i just helped and just worked it out from there basically if i didn’t know something i asked and i always just got told there’s no such question as a stupid question you just ask the question we’ll tell you the answer and then you know how to do

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it basically that’s that’s kind of what i did really was just ask loads of questions and i got the chance to hang around with some really nice people who were like here’s how we do what we do and i kind of took it and ran with it really so that’s that’s that’s the main advice there is just take it and run with it basically just learn as much as you can about everything yeah it’s funny because a lot i was very much like that that i was afraid to ask questions because you don’t want to look stupid you know um yeah but i’ve learned over the years that it doesn’t really matter you know and you know when you turn up the venue and you don’t know the desk i don’t know i’m like yeah i don’t know how to work this but give us a hand we’ll figure it out you know stuff like that it’s kind of the norm really yeah so out of all the kind of artists you’ve mentioned there uh or once you haven’t mentioned twos can i uh your favorite or your highlight that you’ve been you’ve either mixed or been

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involved in yeah those ones that you you go i am proud of that i think it’s a difficult one to be honest of i’ve got loads of people that i’ve worked with a lot obviously it’s always kind of a highlight working with them i think some of my favorites have probably been the dan reed network shows because they’re always just they’re such good musicians they’re super tight everything’s always so good about everything they do that they just cannot mess up on stage they just play so well besides them um probably also she had a band from new zealand that i worked for right uh they’re huge out in new zealand and australia in that way um and they came across to do a uk tour and i ended up doing front house and they were lovely had some great times with them um dead kennedy’s we did a bunch of dates um which we finished up in europe with a couple of shows

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in italy i think it was it was italy or spain with the offspring and that was a really big kind of moment because i was kind of like oh [ __ ] like i i love the offspring yeah i i’ve been a fan of them since i was a kid so yeah doing that was kind of cool um and obviously again like grandson loving lovely guys from america um getting to go out on tour with them as their front house so the year was awesome basically because again brilliant guys just super lovely really good music you know it’s funny how you you get you just don’t realize and then you do have those moments you you’re kind of used to your job and then you have that gig where you suddenly go oh yeah this is this is why you do i remember holy [ __ ] yeah like last year doing monitors for living colour i mean i was yeah it was the best day in my life i was such a good gig and i was such a big fan and then to be able to do

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monitors for them and get paid you’re just like yeah yeah just amazing amazing bass player as well the bass player with this huge pedal board and his pow yeah he does that it’s just like oh what like he’s just like having a full-blown like conversation through his base and it’s mental that’s that’s what i like about dan reed is they they’re so similar to like living color in the aspect of like they really you know it’s not just music the way they do it it’s just something else above just playing the same songs every night it’s like a proper like full-blown feel good like feeling that comes out of it it’s not just they’re not just playing like they’re just ah it’s like a totally different thing it’s great um you just can’t you can’t you can’t describe it properly but it’s just a thing that’s just like better than just watching your band play live it’s mental yeah you mentioned you mentioned you

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were front house mainly um just for those who don’t realize i mean what what would you say is the difference between front house engineering and model engineering and how you approach them well the way the way you approach it really i approach it fairly similar but with slightly different aims i mean my main aim is always going to be make sure the artist is happy because if you can get the artist comfortable and happy and more so really actually having good monitors is more beneficial to front of house than a lot of people realize if they’re a front of house guy because you can actually spend less time on front pals and have less problems during the show um if your band are happy and they’re playing well because they’re going to make less mistakes they’re going to make your job a hell of a lot easier if they can actually hear what the hell is going on so the main aspects i mean i always

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the way the way i approach it i it’s very similar for front house and monitors for me because the my first and foremost aim is getting banned comfortable so they play their absolute best and they can hear everything they need you know i don’t want any feedback in front of house i want to make sure everything’s there it doesn’t need to be perfect but as long as it’s there and it’s feedback free and it’s at the rough levels it needs to be and i’ve marked any big issues then the main aim is making sure they’re happy with the monitors and they can hear everything so and the drummer’s super happy because then the singer can hear himself everybody else has their vocals at a decent level yeah and the drummer can play in time because he can hear what’s going on and everything else that normally ends up packing a stage out with chaos you know when the guitarist asks for 24 different things yeah across three wedges that surround them you know that kind of thing you kind of minimize that and it’s just for me it’s just really regardless of whether or not it’s front house or monitors it’s all about making

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sure that the band is super comfortable on stage yeah hear what they need to hear but they’re not over cluttering um front house wise it’s just making sure that everything’s there it’s feedback free and i’ve marked any big problems on stuff i solve any big problems and i marker any smaller issues where’s something getting boxy where’s the where’s the weird low end where does it punch you know where does it get a little harsh where’s the presence i mark all those things on the parametric and i kind of leave it i spend more time dealing with monitors to be honest um even when i’m doing front of house i want to make sure that i’ve got the basic specifics in on from the house but i want to make sure that i spend more time making sure the band are happy quickly so they can leave and then they’re not sitting tearing their ears to pieces during sound check while you muck around with stuff do you think that with um you mentioned that you’re doing front house and monitors a lot when you’re on tour does that come from uh a financial

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reason or is that just a wee bit more controller is everybody in ears so obviously that would make a lot of a difference it’s a bit of everything to be honest like so predominantly like a lot of the bands i work for so with dan reed network and we’re still broken and that kind of thing it’s like we’re touring a desk so we tour one of my desks um and we have everything set to begin with and then really we’re just kind of tweaking that overall mix every night with stone broken because they’re on in your monitors nothing really changes too much yeah the dan reed network they tend to use wedges on stage instead and that means there’s a couple more changes depending on the size of the room and how it acoustically changes but it’s not so much a financial thing a lot of the time is or a control thing but kind of like

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it’s the easiest way to do it a lot of the time you know adding on yes bands can’t always afford an extra monitor like a monitor engineer or somebody else on the road but sometimes you don’t always have space if you’re touring in split for instance and you’ve got to have a tour manager and a merch person and that kind of thing as well the driver it starts to fill up quickly especially if you’re in a band with more than like four or five members yeah you know it’s that you can start to get busy um if you’re if you’re traveling in a split if you’re traveling on a bus you know you might be sharing that with the support band that kind of thing so again it’s kind of like it’s not just the expenses to physically getting people there on small to mid-range tours it’s a lot harder um but it is nice to rock up a venue and go i’ve got my monitor mix i just need to adjust it yeah i’ve got my front house mixed i just need to adjust it you can get everything set up really quickly

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with the crew check through everything get the band on they can blast through something quickly check that they’re happy with everything make any adjustments and leave again and then the house guys can get the the touring support and that kind of thing straight away i mean that’s a great thing i mean even it does cut out a couple of steps but it’s nice to have a monitor guy but it’s not always financially or physically possible and imagine that festivals as well when you’re doing a festival that must be so much faster because it’s all self-contained and here’s everything done and you just you know you just have to work on it it’s amazing how you know working you and i obviously met from working in the garage together yeah and it’s amazing how many bands are now coming through the garage and they’re either doing their own monitor mixing you know they don’t have pretty big established rock bands i’ve seen coming through who have got like an x32 compact and they’re all on stage

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mixing their own in-ears and you know i’m standing there’s a minor guy going i’m here use me but hey but again they’re going to be comfortable are we even more controlled exactly at the end of the day it’s about the problem yeah that is the thing though like as i was saying like when i was said about comfort um it can to be to a degree it cannot always be the best idea like i prefer to have a monitor guy on stage because it means if something goes wrong you’ve got somebody with an audio head screwed on who can go and fix it yeah if there’s an issue without that it’s down to you having a really really really good stage tech or a house person that can go oh that’s the problem it’s nicer having a monitor guy you know if i could take you or saul or anybody else out on tour like every damn tour i do it’d be like it’d be great you know take a monitor guy out on turn yeah i’ve

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got somebody there that knows what we’re touring knows what’s going on and i don’t need to stress so much if there’s a problem you know it’s going to be very easily and quickly resolved whereas if i don’t have somebody on tour with me like that then i have to deal with it myself half the time yeah and there have been points on shows where i have to run from front of house to the stage fix something and run back so you just got to do it it’s one of those things well as a backup when the guys are using niners do you use any stage monitors as a backup just in case i have monitor mixes set up but i don’t normally tend to use monitors if the monitors are there and it’s not a problem to strike them we normally leave them but again it depends if we’re touring uh if we’re if we’re touring any kind of stage set up stone broken guys a lot of the time they’ll tour like their own uh they’ve got like geysers and a light rig and some other stuff with them that they do so a lot of the time with them we’ll just strike it because

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they’ve got risers and other things that they want out um and the light rig and stuff it takes up space so they’re just like oh just get rid of the monitors but ultimately that’s something i leave up to them i always kind of have the space there on the desk to do monitors if need be because then it always just means that it’s pretty quick to just go and plug a cable and i’ve got a mix sitting there i’ve got something i can throw somewhere um as opposed to having to then go and try and rejig the desk mid show so um i just always kind of have it set up as a backup so in terms of your obviously with some of these guys you’re using the sq5 for the dx168 you’re using isn’t it yeah yeah no yeah i’m using that mainly um and then d live sometimes as well how are you setting up are you setting up like maybe a bank which is the front of house channels and then another bank which is monitor so you can have different eqs and gates and stuff for the the monar mixes and stuff for the for the monarch channels are

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they just using the same eq it varies to be honest a lot of the times the way i mix it kind of translates quite well anyway um to what’s already going on so for instance again for like stone broken for instance um i will do my vocals and stuff same same with dan raid as well it’s like i do my vocals into a group so i have a room eq on the group that i can then adjust if there’s any big stuff and i can do my general corrective kind of tonality eq on the vocals on their own and tweak bits and pieces depending on the wedges but then i have a room adjust that doesn’t mess with the monitors right yeah so a lot of the time i’ll just do the channels and then i’ll put the channels in um with stone broken they have kenpos so they’ll be doing normally i put mics in front of the house i don’t like the sound of a lot of kemper patches in front of house so i normally tend to

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we do them through live cabs um and then i might the cabs and that but they like they quite like the level um kind of glued to their ears sound of the direct feed for the minions so they’ll normally take the direct feed in their in ears and we have that as a back up anyway um if the mic was to die we can throw that in front of house as well right um and we use mics in front of house but i kind of chop and change there’s no set rule with what i do of oh i’ve got a double patch set of channels i find for my brain that just complicates things i’ll end up grabbing the wrong fader and throwing in the front of the house one in there in your mix or whatever i’d rather just have my channels a lot of the time maybe on a higher channel count desk d live possibly if i had the time to rejig everything i would do it that way but the majority of the time i’ll mix and match but i’ll have certain specifics that will go to india’s uh usually just a double up of a channel or a slightly different sound

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that they want um other channel will go in the majority of the stuff that’s straight up what comes into and goes to front of house is the same thing that’s going to their ears so do you prefer would you class yourself as a front house engineer i’m an engineer are you are you both what would you prefer to be known as or want to do more than the other i i call myself a front of house engineer because it’s pretty much everything i get hired for is front house maybe in the year i’ll have i’d be lucky if i have five days of monitor gigs in a year wow you know the majority of the year it’s over in the house i do like everything’s from the house um some of those gigs it’s front of house and monitors i’m doing the majority of it is from the house um there was there was a few shows on the dead kennedy’s tour where we had a monitor engineer but the majority of the time i would end up doing it from front of the house because they’re quite particular about it i was

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your monitor i was once and entered here at the garage yeah that’s right yeah i did that gig that was that was a good kick that was actually the first show of the tournament especially when we went to europe because we did we only did a few shows in the uk actually um we did glasgow we did london um we did brighton i want to say um and we did a couple of other ones as well somewhere around the middle of england i think we did i think that that was awesome what i recall is and going back to the kind of monitoring um it’d be amazing it’s amazing how some bands come in and they’re so pernickety about their monitors that yeah you know you can be there for ages pair person which is fine i mean that’s what you’re there for but you get some vans in the sunscreen and they don’t ask for anything because i’ll say i go in my approach is if you’re a vocal vocal for the monitor vocal the monarch drums that kick snare

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as an absolute basis as long as i’ve got them all nailed in and you get your guys scott can you get a wee bit with a sweep of that and the sound checks quick fast done and then you get the ones that come in and it’s like they want everything everything through each wedge or i love it when they turn up and they’re all in ears to be honest with you i prefer mixing you know the 8 or 10 mixes of veneers because i’m like cool that you can zone in and you know you get to know what that person wants you know and it’s a more of a personal thing no it’s not you know it’s not going to run away as well that’s the thing it’s like in years is a specific thing it’s a difficult thing to hit but if you hit it right yeah it’s really really really good if you know how to specifically do things um the way they want because you’re basically just sitting in somebody’s brain trying to second-guess what they want what they tell you while listening to it yourself on in-ears it might not always be the same brand they might accentuate different things slightly

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differently so you’re trying to do your best to hear exactly what they’re hearing but you can’t just take them and pop them in so india is definitely they’re great but you know if you have if you have the knack with them they could be really really really good because they don’t run away you know once it’s kind of dialed in it doesn’t really change too much you know and then you would agree that you’re nicer than we’re just some degree you get the senior who does the the old they want to use their and ears and have wedges as back up and then they’d say take one out and then put one back in and one and now and then just screw with their their head and you’re just like please just uh they don’t realize how much they’re just screwing themselves over in terms oh yeah but again it’s a comfort thing isn’t it and you know at the end of the day if they screw themselves over and at least if they’re comfortable ah yeah it’s okay that’s the the end of the day that’s the way i see you know they can screw themselves over as much as they want if it makes them comfortable if they mentally go on stage and go you know what i’ve won with whatever i’m trying to do

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you know whatever they’re trying to achieve at that point in time to get themselves comfortable if they achieve that then sweet you know gig’s a good one because they’re going to do the outmost best even if it doesn’t necessarily make sense in the way of things as we would do it sometimes it just makes sense and then you’re just like right okay well if that works for you it works for you yeah i mean the amount of singers who who have on stage everyone else’s monitors they’re on the nearest and they go i just want my vocal and their nails and that’s it and i’m like man that must be so isolating but that’s they’re happy with it and i’ve listened to like that they’re in here mixing obviously you can get bleeding from everybody else but it’s a completely different not what i would do but that’s again it’s whatever we’re comfortable with but yeah now i think it was there was there was one band we were on tour with um and the drama i can’t remember him but the drummer basically only has the

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ambience it was actually black think it was yeah um the drummer has um basically just the reverbs for the drum kit in his ears so he relies on the ambience right so he’s basically he’s got the sound of the drums he’s playing around him he doesn’t really add much into that but then he adds on the ambience to remove the isolation of the fact that he’s not got it as much in his ears and it’s mental because if you listen to the mix standing away from the drums apparently it’s crazy um but if you actually stand and play the drums it makes sense against some things that don’t make sense from where you’re standing make perfect sense from that they’re standing yeah so sometimes you’re just going to try it and go you know what if it works for you that’s great because it might not make sense but if it works it’s right i think that’s an important one for engineers to try to learn that is don’t just don’t assume or make people

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do the way you think it should be done you know don’t force your your opinion on it and go nah i think you’re wrong you know it’s it brings me on a good subject it’s like how do you approach bands artists um first one like back in the days when you were a venue guy how would you you know ban walk into the building what’s your approach to them and how you you start working to be honest i just let them get set up um i’ll approach them i’ll introduce myself so i’m here to do such research if you’ve got an engineer um you know i’ll do the basic introduction but then you know if the stage is ready to go i said look guys get yourself set up cruise there if you need to hand with anything i’m here if you need to hand with her and shout on me you guys get set up haven’t blasted out make sure you’re happy with everything we’ll come up

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throw some mics and stuff on um have you got any specific things that we should know about but just let them get set up and do their thing because i mean if they’ve just rocked up at the venue the last thing they want is someone be good is this the right set list there’s this or is that that you know asking them a million questions they want to sit down for two minutes they want to go to the toilet they want to find out where the rider is and then when they get the stuff thrown on stage if you say look the stage is here throw your stuff up and get comfy you know it’s fine if then after they set their stuff up they want to nip off the dressing room for five and do whatever you know grab a grab a can of juice or whatever a snack you know that’s fine because then we can throw mics up we can check stuff as is all there generally we’ve already got half the stuff set up so really again approaching new artists that you don’t know them they don’t know you it’s just about getting them comfortable finding out if they’ve got anything that’s going to be complicated or any specific things they need you know have they got something crazy that’s going to be

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halfway through the show but they’ve not told you about you know the surprises everything they’ve got yeah make sure there’s no mad surprises and you know what if they’re nipping off to the dressing room for five minutes to grab a kind of juice and a snack if there’s a surprise generally that five minutes is enough time to pull it out and sort it you know it’s not it’s just about making them comfortable and you know straightaway sorting out making yourself comfortable as well after that they’re good okay they’re happy they know everything they need to know they’re set we’ll get our stuff set and then hopefully minimal amount of time involved on the soundcheck get them super comfy and go simple things like having the vocal mic working yeah and having it in the monitor before they come on so they don’t spend 20 minutes about trying to sound check a microphone it’s [ __ ] horrible you know a lot of the time i’ll just help even at the start of the sound check if we’ve put the basics in i’ll just tell guys to start cuddling around if we’re short on

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time or just let them just start do the thing and just start feeding stuff in it’s just knowing what to do it’s the experience of knowing what to do in specific situations just to make sure that they’re comfortable and they’re getting what they want out of it without you know screwing either party over basically but making sure everything’s comfortable you also don’t want to do that kind of if you mentioned that after if they’re short time you don’t want to be that forceful kind of way of like come on move it you know because it changes the atmosphere exactly you push somebody they’ll take twice as long they’ll push back so if you if you push somebody they will literally just push back even if it’s not deliberate just simply because you’ve had then had to go at them they’re going to be like oh you know it does it doesn’t help so you’ve constantly got to be the happy face and the positivity you know uh come on let’s get let’s get the gig going you know what can we do to make you happy you know how can we say that but ultimately not let people take the piss either in terms of um obviously that’s from a venus

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perspective now with you being on going on tour with bands and you’re going to be be away with them for months at a time how do you approach that so the first time you come in meet the band and stuff get pre-production you spend some time with them just getting to know them and i guess it just takes time to develop each person’s needs you know and what you need to do for them as an engineer yeah basically yeah i try and find all that out as quick as possible basically so generally on the first day you know there’s not always a lot of the time with me there’s not the luxury of a pre-production you know we’re flying out somewhere and we’re doing a show um and the pre-production is kind of the first show a lot of the time you know i’ll try and set stuff up in advance to some degree but i don’t always have the proper luxury of uh here’s a nice little pre-production space and we can sort everything out a lot of that just generally doesn’t happen um again

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there’s probably a huge amount of cost and scheduling and everything else involved in that it’s just not practical a lot of the time um so for that i kind of generally with a new band that i haven’t worked before i treat it kind of like a venue again and i i rock up and i do the same thing you know i try and get people comfortable but at the same time i’m doing the same thing with the venue staff and getting them comfortable because i want them to know that i’m not there to take the piss and i want them to be comfortable in my ability to get done what i need to do um so i’m trying to cover both bases at once and you know get the band happy get the venue staff happy i put the two together you know hopefully without pissing anybody off um i mean there’s times where there’s a venues you’ve turned up to and it’s been like pulling teeth in a bit of a nightmare oh yeah yeah there’s been absolutely loads

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there’s been loads um mainly a lot in the uk you tend to find europe’s actually lovely well a lot of uk venues you can find some difficult people uh generally on the whole it’s few and far between you know the positive experiences are better it’s it’s how you deal with the situation if you rock up and start shouting at people it’s never going to end well you know you know that yourself doing venue stuff if somebody rocks up and starts throwing the weight around you’re like okay well this car this this cable is getting coiled ten times slower on this on the setup and your your soundcheck time’s going out the window but it’s like things like that you know if i’m on tour with a band as well if we have to run on a little bit yeah it sucks if we have to run a bit on the sound check i hate doing it but sometimes it’s completely unavoidable yeah but i always make sure you know it very rarely happens there’s a run on and normally it’s the first damn show

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because there’s no pre-production if that happens you know it’s like even if it doesn’t happen i’m still generally going to be hanging around making sure that the venue guys are happy even when my band’s off stage just check that do they need a hand with anything is there anything that can help even if it’s just throwing mics up on stage plugging things in throwing stands up those little touches will help as well they pay dividends later down the line where you’re trying to get your band on stage and the supports have all played because you’ve you know you’ve gone in there and helped them out so they’re going to help you out when it comes time to be changing over to the headliner than that you know if you if you’ve sat there and helped throw the supports on stage and get the thing that gives the venue guy an easier day then they’re gonna they’re gonna help you back you know when it comes to swapping across and it makes your life easy because generally you’re going to be ready to go 10 minutes before you’d normally be ready to go so

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you’ve got time for a beer and a person whatever else in terms of um from doing bands that you’re just in a one-off compared to um doing a tour now if a band gives you a set list and especially when you’re on tour um do you do you find that helpful and how do you use the setlist it’s it’s a strange one to be honest like for a set list the main thing i kind of want to know is like obviously how many songs they’re doing what order stuff’s happening and if they’ve got any specific things that they think would benefit me you know do they have a specific effect they want on this song for something is there a specific solo part in this or a sample or anything else that needs to pop through at a specific point i can mark that down i can use it as a cheat sheet and basically go is there anything here that you need at these specific points and mark it down failing that you know

0:34:00.6 –>
i’m very busy with how i do things and i can throw up and then i just mixed what i hear so whatever’s going on whatever they give me i mix to that basically and i just use them and the set list there do you use scenes and stuff like when you’re on tour over the same band and stuff i hate them i hate them i hate them yeah yeah i never use scenes uh for bands ever like even even on stuff where i’ve got specific changes and stuff to do i always do it by hand i never do it by scenes because i’m always worried that i still mix very analog and i’m always worried if i recall something something else up because i really never want that to happen so i’m always like okay well that scene is that day that scene is that day that seems that day and i can go okay i said my size room d and b reg cool you know that that that looks like cardiff you know or that looks like birmingham bidder that looks like london did or that looks like book in amsterdam dead

0:35:00. –>
you know and bring myself up a rough starting point from what i’ve been working on on that too i’ve never i i never really recall scenes during the show ever i i hate doing that it scares me yeah it does scare me as well because i’ve seen i’ve seen people come through the venues and you know and everything like as a scene you know but that’s yeah it tends to be when they’re using video wall and lights as a big program of everything together you know and yeah which is fine but i mean that’s when you get loads of pre-production and you get the luxury of doing it but yeah it terrifies me sometimes i mean i’ve done it through theater work but you still have that in your head going i’m going to press it on button you know i was disabled i think i disabled the go button yeah i and the the the fire button and the sd’s you know uh disable that justin yeah encased in the fear i’ve seen that on uh on the pro too i’ve

0:36:02.4 –>
seen people before i actually had a front house guy in front of me and he was tapping the attack temper on the protein he was tapping away tapping away tapping the top and tapping next and literally the the pro 2 just mid song just goes the whole pa goes down and he shot himself like absolutely shout himself and i saw what he did and jumped across and went back and go and got him back up but obviously everything he’d done from the point where he unmuted yeah know everything he’d done because we still had to unmute actually um everything he’d done from the point where he’d basically stay for sanchez was gone so we didn’t have to dilute him back in so he was back to the point where the band walked on stage and it was horrible but it was the only thing he could do because he hadn’t saved any updates since he done muted so unfortunately we managed to go back

0:37:00.4 –>
and recall and just unmute again that got back up in a couple of seconds but wow you know if i’d not been standing there you know where he hadn’t saved then this had been scratched the importance of having somebody or the house guy being there beside you especially if that guy was on a protein that he’s not fully aware of then you’re there just to jump in and save his life you know it’s um that’s why we’re there isn’t it yeah it’s like that’s the thing in the house people as if if all those tips up we know the equipment in-house you know we can help just being there to just go up and fix it you know that’s you know if it saves their show then happy days we’ve done half of our job haven’t we yeah right today we’ve made the show happen now in terms of with it’s mostly as you’ve seen the rock bands and stuff like do you use the same um mic techniques and

0:38:01.1 –>
set up at the desk and everything for all these shows you you know that well this is the way i always do a kick this is where i always just a snare set up and so on or dual making guitar amps is your set yours anything that you eat classes that’s your thing not specifically i do change it up so but like bob reynolds for instance he’s got this great uh drama called shawn horton um and he’s very jazzy obviously so we started we we did everything predominantly with overheads and kick and then we filled everything else in with close mics so we still might have exactly the same way roughly but we changed some of the mic selections for different things based on his playing style and how he wanted things um and then we didn’t get anything at all and all the eqs were very different so there’s no gates on the whole kit so you’re doing the entire like full big kit with two snails and everything loads of

0:39:00.9 –>
stuff going on but no gates on anything then with other stuff i do you know it’s there’s varying degrees of stuff there is a kind of a rough idea of where i’m going but i never kind of glue stuff in stone and start to eq stuff in advance i just throw a channel list and leave it blank i never start pulling up presets anything like that i always mix to what i’m given as opposed to trying again it comes back to second guessing stuff and changing stuff you know until you know what that sounds like you can do it on the screen but it doesn’t it doesn’t make any sense until you actually hear it and see it in person i could throw up my basic show file layout but i’ll never start to actually eq gate compress anything until i’m actually at the show and i’m doing the sound check i’ll never kind of say it because i never know exactly which way i’m going to approach things depending on how they play so that’s obviously with them

0:40:03.1 –>
or a one-off band you’re talking about no if you’re on tour yeah you’re talking about i guess and in terms of um your desk setup do you have a specific way that you’re always doing the same kind of thing up do you use a lot of dcas do you not do you use groups a lot i use i use groups and they use dca’s for a couple of different things i’ll have the dcas there but i’ll normally never really use them that much uh i kind of use them as a master mute basically and that’s about it i’ll normally leave them zeroed and that’s it um i normally use four groups because that’s the maximum groups i can use on the sq yeah um well i’ll normally have like a drum squash group um sometimes i have that as a a push squash group and i have them go into the mains and then i have like a a heavily compressed group i can feed in

0:41:02.3 –>
sometimes i’ll have it on there at zero and i’ll blend between the wet and the dry on the compressor which is kind of depends how i’m feeling that day um i’ll have like a guitars and everything else group i’ll have a vocal grip and then i’ll have like a back bus group which is basically everything apart from drums um and that’s just so that when people stop singing stuff rises up and when they start singing it pushes it back down you get the vocals constantly glued in the forefront um it’s like real busting technique basically um so i’ll have that it’s just like an extra thing that i’ll add but whether or not i always use it it all depends on the venue sometimes you push stuff and you go oh no that doesn’t sound nice and you end up not using it that night sometimes you’ll end up blending or doing it slightly differently so i can’t i have a rough idea of how i set stuff up um the main reason i like having the groups is actually so that i can mute front of house but check monitors

0:42:01.2 –>
because then if i if i unmute the dcas they’ll unmute my monitors because everything’s in dcas but if i leave the groups muted then it won’t come through front of house which means i can still leave my house tunes running and everything else going and i can test stuff out of the desk into the house desk if i’m running to the house desk or into the second input on the pa if i’m running into like straight into the amps in-house um so i i have a rough idea of what my setup is going to be it’s normally going to be those four groups whether or not i use them all who knows and then i’ll have just dca’s just drums bass guitars misc which is normally like keys and other bits and pieces anything else that’s not drums bass guitars or vocals basically um and then effects um but again whether or not i actually use those dca’s to control anything i normally would just literally use them as a bait just to have the option and to have a

0:43:00.4 –>
big mute button okay do you that means i can mute it on me do you ever set up a dfa fader or anything like that for those weird ones it’s a weird one because i don’t technically agree with the dfa because it’s kind it is kind of apistic right it’s a it’s a good pistic it’s a funny pistol at times but i’ve never really found the need for dfa it’s weird because even if you have annoying people you can generally talk them around as you’re just doing something to get rid of them but a lot of the time i’ve actually found that i’ll get people asking for stuff and i’ll go and i’ll go to flip to the lair to do something they’ll see me look down and press something and then before i’ve even changed anything they’ll go that’s much better so i’ve not i can’t say i’ve specifically gone oh yeah dfa but i have accidentally dfaed on

0:44:02.4 –>
multiple occasions just because just the physical me looking to do something and looking to change to the layer yeah you know i see you look down and they go if they see you just moving moving your hands and they think oh yeah that’s certainly got to the subconscious yeah yeah it’s subconscious a lot of the time you know i’ve never really kind of sat there and deliberately done the dfa but on many occasions it’s happened by accident basically just just going to do what they want me to do and then of course at that point they go oh it’s much better because they see me go to do something you know and they expect that oh it’s that quick it’s done already there’s a show that i consciously think it’s better it’s a show that i look after and it’s lead singers and with the band and uh there’s always at least two singers every even though it’s the same desk same preset saved from every show

0:45:00. –>
and every sound check is they ask for the same thing again and go oh we’ve been worthy of this and i never touch it never because i know they go up yep that’s it yeah sounds much better yeah and again i don’t know if it’s just uh they feel like they’ve got a their stamp on it put something in yeah yeah a wee bit of an input but again i think it’s a it comes back to the soundcheck part of about making them comfortable exactly it’s a strange one i’ve got a lot of people now who’ll turn that like a lot of drummers and stuff actually turn and they’ll go they’ll they’ll go to ask for something and then they’ll go they’ll wait a minute we ask for that all the time and we always get it changed back so we just leave it where it is so is it just a comfort thing a lot of the time people i think people overthink it slightly it’s a subconscious thing where they’re kind of just obviously once everything kicks in it all changes again so and when they’re listening to it in isolation sometimes they go ooh i need a

0:46:00.1 –>
little bit more of that but then when they come on and they start building it out yeah it’s different and it changes and then you know again sometimes you just have to be able to work out whether they really need it or whether it’s something that it’s a case of it’s going to change during the show and they’re going to want to turn back down again you know and the last thing you want to do is throw them so it’s just it’s just knowing the right call to make and making sure that you know you’re not just doing it because they they want it but they don’t know why so again it’s just knowing the artist and getting them comfortable really so we’ve all had it but what’s the the the worst thing that’s ever happened gig or even before they get or after the gig one of the worst things i’ve had i’ve had a few bad things happen we had we had some equipment in spain on one of the tours i was on that there was a bit of a language barrier

0:47:00.4 –>
and they ended up taking all the equipment away to the opposite end of town so we basically had myself for the tour manager going to the venue to set everything up the band went to the hotel and then for some reason all the equipment was put in the car like in this people carry a van type thing which then took the equipment elsewhere and went on a jaunt around spain um and then came back and we found out at that point you know no problemo and spain basically means we don’t have a clue what you’re saying we’re just going to smile and say no problem so we spent a while getting this equipment back because they thought the equipment was to come back at the same time as the band arrived to soundcheck so this was before the game yeah and then we had a desk that did not sink um so i was i wasn’t touring a desk

0:48:00.6 –>
on that tour we had a desk that would not sync with the stage box at all but it would do it periodically it would kind of sink in and drop out again and they were having a meltdown about how to fix that we eventually found out that was a network switch um but i had a couple to be honest there was that one the worst one that’s that was pretty bad but that also turned into one of the best shows i’ve ever had in my entire career it was insane spanish crowds are mental um one of the worst ones was doing an outdoor show with two different stages to think it was uh it was two two three different little spaces anyway in one big stage um and somebody on the crew went in to do the d-rig while the main room was still running and pulled the wrong power out of the journey and put the whole main area into darkness and there was there was a good five ten minutes while we waited on the blinking avo

0:49:01.1 –>
lightning desk and what did i have at the time i think it was an m7 i had at the time so the sound came back almost immediately um but the lighting took a few minutes for the ava worked out it was a lighting desk and started doing things again wow there was a point where we had a band on stage play and we had security on the barrier waving torches around because there was no lighting because they basically dropped the power system is this during the night was this as well during the night it was pitched out it’s pitch dark in a bit a big like marquee so huge ass marquee i’m just imagining that feeling of pulling it out i’m just hearing the whole gig behind you go silent yeah so that that that was a gig that was that was a bit of a shame that way but you know that and then you’ve had the usual you know paint to a desk we’ve had that before

0:50:00.2 –>
as well that was actually we had one in garage where there was a pint went through the gld yeah well the touring guy was mixing the headliner and it was still passing audio to give alan and he’s the jew you know you can take your paint and just carry around looking dude nice so we completely lost control of it they had no no control of the surface at but fortunately there weren’t any weird effects or anything going on at that point didn’t have any delays of it and so we basically just went so i guess we just go to the bar so just let it run so we just laid it back and we can’t turn yeah you don’t want to know at this point if it’s going to come back on yeah yeah and what it’s going to come back on with you know if it even does switch back on so while it’s past the audio we just don’t touch it and that’s what we did we basically just sat there and

0:51:00. –>
we went went to the bar like i got an iron bro or whatever and that you got piper we just sat there and just watched the desk and just whether it’s not died yet you know we’ve mocked the most of the the beer off of it which is going really well he’s dead there’s still stuff on the screen definitely definitely a sound engineer’s nightmare is paints you know um oh yeah it’s not happened to me out of but i think everybody else i know has happened to i know and i’m like yeah yeah please don’t yeah i feel like you now with coverd you can get all these spit guards you know and it feels like we should just get them either side and behind you get the option you get the option at rock city of a guard you know you can have a guard if you want it but it’s it’s not nice they’ve kind of got

0:52:01.4 –>
some bits and pieces they set up but it’s not nice mixing in an enclosure like it’s no no we’ll keep that out of the way it’s horrible i don’t like that so in terms of you’ve mentioned obviously your sq and the live a lot um is that your kind of desks of choice if you had okay here you go you’re on tour money’s no object what would you pick daylife yeah 100 it does does everything i want and more to do live so that i can literally do everything i need to do and it sounds amazing so why would i are you i would have used to have said you know okay well you know i’ll take i’ll take a pro series i’d like a pro series i would still take a pro series but it would have to be a pro two because the bigger pro series the pro x and everything i’ve used them on to i absolutely bloody hate them they’re horrible deaths

0:53:01. –>
it’s like multiple protests tied together the d live small i can load it in the one hand and it does everything and anything i needed to do and it sounds bloody great so why would i take any the desk basically the way i see it the sq is awesome the sq is super compact it does everything i need just now for the small stuff so hopefully i’m kind of pretty sold on the allen and he stopped i think a lot of people are swaying that way yeah i mean i definitely when i bought my sd9 a few years ago it was just 12 between that or daylive and i went to an sd because it was like just a great deal and i don’t get wrong i love the sd stuff but i’m deaf i mean earlier this year i was about to sell minus the ability live before everything had covered attempt um but definitely that’ll be in the future because i’ve got so many sq desks and i’ve got the dx168 and it so makes sense from my perspective from a higher

0:54:00 –>
business um but yeah i love the the workflow of the the alan heath stuff um just became a big fan of it what what you see is what you get what you hear is what you see you know that’s the great thing i always kind of say like uh digico is very very surgical like overly surgical to a degree if you do the slightest thing it’s a huge difference um where desks like the pro series desk it’s a very squishy eq you know you kind of push it to here but it kind of springs back to here so you’re kind of pushing a lot to pull it a little you know it’s very musical it’s very flowy but it looks very aggressive if you look at the eq and it’s not a very good graph of what’s going on either you know it doesn’t really accurately depict what’s going on whereas alan he’d seem to have got that perfect ground between you know here’s what’s going on and here’s what you’re hearing you know it’s perfect or as perfect as

0:55:01.9 –>
it can be basically you know if you do something you can you can almost you can tell what it’s going to heal like oh you can tell what it’s going to heal like that’s bad you can tell what it’s going to sound like basically when you do it without even hearing it and then you hear it and you’re like oh yeah that’s pretty much what i thought it was going to be in which you can’t really do that on pros series and you can’t really do that on digico it’s just it’s a really nice intuitive interface and to me what you see and what you hear is very similar and that’s what i like about it now you’ve been into hundreds probably thousands of venues over the years and festivals and big shows to small shows and you’ve played sorry you’ve done sound through so many different diamond boxes what’s your favorite box that you’ve heard or played really you know elkis16b danley what would you say is your favorite d

0:56:02.6 –>
and b probably it’s always kind of been like the soft spot for me is d and b d and b always just before rock stuff predominantly it’s amazing l acoustics is nice but i feel that it’s lacking in the low end um it’s a bit weird it’s a bit like it goes super super low but it misses the musical lows that you would get out of a dnb rig and it’s one of the redeeming qualities that i really really really like in danley is the fact that danley has that really musical sort of low med and it’s super clear across the board so it it depends on what you’re mixing but i find most of the time the all-rounder for me that i really really enjoy is always just d and b um but a new sweet spot recently has been adamson as well so i really really like i really like dan lee because dan lee’s just got incredible clarity really even coverage sounds amazing it’s

0:57:01.3 –>
punchy as hell and it’s just super musical but i also the larger adamson rigs are incredible i’ve had some of them out in italy and spain and a couple other festivals and stuff um and it’s been brilliant uh we did i think it was gary sound festival and is it milan or something uh possibly a couple of years ago and they had a big adamson rig and oh it was amazing it was beautiful that adam’s digital at front house and i just didn’t even care because it was just such a nice pain adamson’s brand i haven’t mixed a band through i mean we tested adams adamson stuff when we were uh just before we bought the cara yeah and i did i liked adamson uh i did like the sound and danley i’ve only had the pleasure doing it once um ian mackie from alive had provided that doing that for ttf and brie hedowina and that was my first time of properly

0:58:01.7 –>
doing it and i i was quite surprised um loved it loved it crazy crazy clarity and power you get out of it yeah technology these days is yeah the larger addison stuff is nicer the larger edition stuff is definitely nicer than the smaller stuff i think the smaller stuff although it still packs a punch it’s it seems a little bit lacking i don’t know if that’s just a subconscious thing but i’ve not had as nice a time on the smaller adamson rigs as i have on the big stuff it seems the more they scale it up the nicer it sounds but again it could just be a subconscious thing i have had a few nice gigs on smaller rhythms and stuff so but it would kind of probably for me it would go d and b adamson and dan lee would be like my top three for my the main all-rounder being d b just because i love d b uh i’m the sucker for d b so being on the road a lot you’ve

0:59:00.6 –>
obviously you’re living out of a a very small case um and obviously with your peli yeah pele’s a very personal thing you know uh we’ve all got different things in it what have you got in your peli that you would say you’re you’re must you can’t live you need for every single gig or the ones the things that have saved you um and things you recommend engineers would would get for their belly i’ve not got a huge amount of things um i’ve got a sound bullet the sonic that’s incredible great bit of kit i absolutely love that i didn’t realize how much i was gonna need that until i got it and now i use it all the time so i never leave home without that that’s a good starter um multi-plug usb charger slash adapter thingy so i’ve got one of them and it’s when you push the button and it gives you a different plug every time you push a different lever so you’ve got it for europe all these things is great but then it gives you four usb ports a usbc charger and then it gives you

1:00:01.3 –>
uh like a reverse adapter to any style of plug on the other side of it so i can adapt from any country power supply plug to another one and give myself four usb ports in the usb c that’s an amazing hunter um and then bring a four-way to plug into it because if you bring a four-way you only need one adapter so i have the spare adapter for europe um i have a four-way i plug four-way in with my adapter and i’ve got four four 13 amp plugs and i only use one euro adapter so that’s handy at front of house if you want to charge your ipad you know charge your phone anything else plug anything else in good at a hotel room it’s handy on the bus because a lot of the buses are from europe originally so they’ve got european plugs in the bunks and stuff you know maybe you want to plug the four way into your bunk that kind of thing um or we stick water in your bunk uh bring loads of pierced socks um you know that kind of thing um but then

1:01:01.4 –>
i’ve got a nice set of audio technicas uh the audio technica kindly gave me actually when i was down in london not too long ago um they are super handy because they’re bluetooth i can use it on my phone but they’ve got the cable so i can plug them into the desk uh it’s the mth 80h m50 xbt i think is the thing for them but they’re great they’re awesome because i’ve always had the audio technica m50s um they gave me the bluetooth version which means like using the phone now in the bunk which is nice that’s cool um failing that ipad and a wi-fi router as well the amount of times that having a little wi-fi router even if it’s one of the little plug-in stick ones that the tp-link runs having one of them and an ipad gets you so many sticky situations if you rock up a venue you’re not to the desk and you’re stuck in a corner somewhere even if you’re doing like an sq5 or something oh wait a minute there’s no space up front the house to actually

1:02:00.1 –>
stick the desk up that’s fine take your ipad use your blanket i always have a route with my desk anyway but you know if you rock a venue that doesn’t have a ripper and you’ve got a digital desk plug your router and away you go you know you’re no longer mixing in a ship position you’re mixing in the great position in the other room so that’s super handy and then again like i’ve got like a torch i’ve got a little led lines of torches and i’ve got a rubber duck is that just in case you get a bath basically yeah if you get the luxury of a bath um also if the rubber duck starts to float during the night the bus is going off the road and is in the river in terms of um now moving forward obviously there’s no gigs really happening but once we start coming back to gigs um and

1:03:02.4 –>
the new norm or whatever uh in a post-coved world what can you see that’s going to change for uh for us as sound engineers because of covid because obviously we know we’re going to get people in our room again but it’s things like i was thinking about changeovers you know of cleaning things and having your own microphones and things like that what’s your thoughts i think it’s kind of a weird one like i’ve been lucky enough to be involved in a couple of shows during lockdown which are like streaming shows and stuff for planet rock um so a couple of the bands that i’ve worked with have been involved in them so i’ve been down there doing that in birmingham um it’s not been a huge difference like obviously everyone’s been a bit more careful in that there’s been regulations in place with regards to people mingling and that kind of stuff you know everyone’s not hanging around hugging each other and stuff um i think the majority of it’s going to come down to people not sharing

1:04:00.3 –>
equipment as much it depends entirely on the recovery though of the situation and how much eradication there is of the virus or whether or not we’re sitting there going everybody for you know people walk into the room and you go have you been you’ve been tested kind of thing um i think people will generally stop sharing equipment as much if it’s going to be a case but it’s still going to be a chance if you can catch it as much or if it’s going to die off you know i don’t think a huge amount of stuff is going to change i think there’s going to be more change not really in the way we do things but more in the infrastructure the damage to the infrastructure the recovery of the infrastructure is going to be much more severe than what we change it’s not really going to be a change of how we do things it’s going to be a change of how many places there are for us to do things and i think there’ll also be a change in the entire industry with regards to how people are paid for stuff as well you know like it’s it’s forever it looks like a good job until you break it down into an

1:05:01.4 –>
hourly rate and as soon as you break it down into an hourly rate you go oh [ __ ] you know it doesn’t look so appealing anymore you know how long you are away from home yeah so i think there’ll be a change to that i think people will want to change you know the condition of touring you know i don’t think people are going to settle for super low rates and stuff in the future you know there’s going to be a lot less price gouging and a lot more you know this has to be a viable job especially with things now without back to and stuff are setting up a touring branch you know that side of things is hopefully going to push stuff in the right direction to making it more financially viable in the long term because as we’ve seen you know there’s a small as a small virus goes around and starts eradicating everything in its path and the entire industry collapses in space above for me it was three days i lost everything yeah and you know we don’t have a huge chunk of savings or anything like that

1:06:01.6 –>
going on so i think that’ll be the biggest change will be in how people do things specifically in the industry and where they do it it won’t be so much towards things like you know they’re not going to start changing how we do changeovers or that kind of thing they’ll maybe share makes less but yeah i mean i think that’s going to be a massive change on that front i think bands will probably be touring more with their own mic packages especially vocals and stuff like that i mean uh associated and i was an amazed amount of singers who don’t tour with their own mic you know and i’m like oh yeah man just i think that has changed i’m really hoping that when they’re trying to cut corners or for tours and stuff like they don’t go we’ll put the band out and we’re going to cut send them out with a front house engineer or standing out with a monitor well definitely monitoring she’s usually the first one to go but i hope that’s not the case you know um i think it’s going to go in the opposite direction yeah i honestly think that it’s going to become more important to have a front house person because it’s going to be a case of

1:07:00.4 –>
you’re the front house guy it’s your job to make sure the [ __ ] mics have changed every day and everything’s kept clean so the singer doesn’t end up with the cupboards they’re halfway through the tour basically that’s going to be the thing is it’s going to be you know we’re going to be kind of the germ squad making sure that everything’s kept clean and to a degree you know it should be like that anyway you shouldn’t be walking into a venue and you go oh that’s a bit funky because hopefully you don’t need to pick up the the venue you make to tell but i mean there’s some venues you go into and it’s like lucky depth like what germa do you want today oh yeah you just sit in there and you’re like oh we’ll just we’ll just brush that off before the singer sees it that’s last year’s lipstick from the band that played here with the especially spitty singer that likes to eat the microphone or put the microphone in places yeah well i have i have seen people previously i’ve actually had artists where they’ve done stuff with microphones that you don’t want stuff to be done with microphones and they had their own

1:08:00.9 –>
specific microphone it’s like here is your microphone and when you break this one yeah it’s going in the bin and we get another one out of the case and we use that one until that one broke it’s amazing i mean it’s fair enough bantu like i’ll get i get the whole fans on stage when i wreck their own gear and stuff like that’s fine that’s their thing and we all grew up watching bands do that it’s a rock and roll stuff but it’s different when they do it to your gear or the venue’s gear you know i remember doing last year on our stage the yeah one of the bands who were great and they didn’t but the guys at the end just grabbed the the mic swung it off the bottom of the stage and broke one of my sm58s and i’m like yeah straight off i mean that was the last turn and they went off and i just went out to the engineer and i went he’s paid for that you know i mean yeah and that’s insane

1:09:03. –>
that’s ridiculous go to doing your own stuff absolutely fine no problem with it yeah but anyway it’s been a good chat we’ll end it there it’s been um yeah it’s been nice man it’s been a good catch up uh thank you for your wisdom thank you for your stories um i’m gonna do some other videos watch the stories yeah well thank you very much sir and we’ll talk to you soon cheers man it’s been lovely i’ll see you soon thanks guys thanks for joining us for this episode of live engineers 101 please remember to subscribe to the channel leave a like and leave a comment [Music] thanks [Music] you

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