A well run soundcheck can make a world of difference in your show.
Wouldn’t you love to start the show with a great mix instead of spending the first several songs trying to pull it together? What can you do to get the most out of soundcheck?
Prior to doing a soundcheck with the band, it’s very beneficial for the audio crew to run through a line check of all the inputs. This can be done with the band technicians or another audio tech. During line check the house and monitor engineer should be making sure all of the inputs are patched and working correctly, no buzzes, crackles, or pops. Listen for things like bad cables, noisy lines, interference, etc. repair or replace as needed.. Line check is also time to work on getting inputs dialed in.
Line check has several purposes-
1- To make sure all inputs are working correctly. All signals should be clean and strong and patched in the right channels.
2- To set input...
Many of us in the world of concert touring are working freelance. Some touring professionals have house gigs or local work when they are not touring and other’s income is solely from touring. Regardless of how your make your living, if you work as an independent contractor or freelance, there are some things you need to consider when it comes to your finances.
Even though we are in essence working freelance, unless we are incorporated or an LLC, we are paid as an employee for the duration of the tour. Most who work directly for the band or artist, (the sound engineer, lighting designer, backline technicians, PM, TM, PA, etc.), fall into this category.
Although we may be paid as employees we usually don’t enjoy the benefits that most employees enjoy such as health insurance, 401ks, bonuses, paid vacation and more. Most don’t even think about these matters until it’s too late.
After all when you are in your early 20s retirement is the furthest thing from your...
I recently got called last minute to mix a few shows for Janet Jackson. The gear was already on the truck on its way to the first gig and I would be mixing on a Digico SD7. I have mixed on Digico a handful of times over the past several years but the Midas ProX has been my console of choice and where I have spent the majority of my time. Needless to say the Digico and Midas platform are quite different.
This is a fairly involved production with 80+ inputs so it was going to require some serious thought. If you’ve read my previous blog about console workflow, you know that proper layout of the console is very important to mixing a show of this size.
So I needed a crash course in Digico.
Here’s what I did-
I downloaded the SD7 offline editor and started building my file while watching the videos and scouring the manual whenever I needed...
My recent conversation with Jed Parle who was the soundman for Bruce Dickinson (Iron Maiden) and his solo band Skunkworks, when they played a concert in war-torn Sarajevo in 1994 during the Bosnian war.
We talk about all the craziness that went into pulling this off, how you mix a show knowing the venue could be bombed at any time, and more.
Be sure to check out my previous Blog where I talk to Chris Dale, who was Bruce's bass player at the time, about the film 'Scream for me Sarajevo' which recounts the events leading up to and following this very unlikely and incredible concert.
I recently caught up with my friend Chris Dale who was the Bass Player for Bruce Dickinson (lead singer for Iron Maiden) in the mid 1990s. During that time, Bruce was asked to do a concert with his band Skunkworks for the people of Sarajevo while the city was under siege during the Bosnian war.
Chris recounted the whole experience to me when we were on tour together in 2009. Since then, a documentary has been made about the whole event- Bruce and his band making this impossible journey to Sarajevo, the concert, and what it meant to the people living in the city during the siege. You'll find our conversation in the video above.
Scream for me Sarajevo is an intense and eye-opening film. I encourage you to see it if you haven't already.
In my next blog, I'll be talking with Jed Parle who was the soundman for Skunkworks at the time. We'll get his version of events.
See you there!
A few years back I was on tour mixing the Goo Goo Dolls and encountered this peculiar problem. When we arrive at our gig in Birmingham England, we find that it’s on the third floor of a large building. I take a preliminary walk around the venue to scope out the FOH mix position and find a small booth in the middle of the room. With just enough room for the house lighting desk and their digidesign console, I quickly realize that there is no way my Midas H3000 analog beast is ever going to fit in this booth. The house audio tech tries to convince me otherwise and begins preparing to remove his desk.
At the same time, load in is beginning at the back of the building and it is a brutal carry straight up a long staircase. Did I mention this was on the third floor and there is no elevator? Goo Goo Dolls do not travel light. There is an entire semi-truck packed full of gear that the stage hands are hefting up the stairs to the...
I want to talk about setting up your workflow on the console.
Once you start mixing more than a few shows, you’ll start to find that you have some preferences in how your console is laid out. Everyone has their own particular way of doing things and it’s all a matter of what works for you.
For instance: How you do your input patch will determine where things show up on the surface. It doesn’t have to be 1-1, you can patch inputs to come up in whatever channels you like.
If you are mixing on a digital console with a limited number of faders available on the surface, you’ll have to think about how you want your inputs to populate them. If you have 42 inputs and only 16 input faders/layer, how do you want to build your layers?
It’s a good idea to have all of your drums on the same layer or page so you can easily make adjustments to the overall drum mix.
Likewise, if you have numerous inputs for keyboards and tracks.
“What made you want to get into live sound?”
I’ve been getting that question a lot lately.
It all started with music, an unrelenting passion for music.
I’m writing this in a coffee shop across from Amoeba in Hollywood on Cahuenga and Sunset, where having just walked the endless rows of CDs and vinyl, I’m reminded of my teenage years when my friends and I would frequent the record store at our local mall (now I’m dating myself) anxiously waiting for the next release of our favorite band. (If you don’t know- Amoeba is one of the largest independent music stores in America with possibly the most diverse collection of music under one roof.)
This is an entire experience that many born in the 90s or later have missed. While the internet has given us instant access to an incredible variety of music, there was something about saving up your hard earned cash for your favorite band’s new album and racing home to...
So you think you want to make a career out of doing live sound. Are you sure?
I’m not saying it’s a bad idea, I think it’s fantastic as long as you are doing it for the right reasons.
I have been working in live sound for 30 years and even though it can be grueling at times, I’ve never felt like I was ‘working’. My passion for music is what drives me. The camaraderie of my fellow touring crew and the opportunity to travel to and experience different places and cultures are all perks of the job. When I first discovered my desire to get into this crazy business, it was so strong that nothing was going to convince me to do anything else.
That passion and desire have helped me through the struggle of the early years. Years of building my skills and experience, hustling to get enough work, the jobs that weren’t my dream job but essential to learning what I needed to know for my next job.
We are in the midst of summer, the height of touring season here in the US, throw some festivals on top of that and there is plenty of work to go around.
In previous blogs, I talked about how to prepare for a tour from the technical side of things. For this blog, I am going to talk about preparing for your first tour from the practical side of things.
Before leaving home
Get yourself a passport and if you have one make sure you have enough blank pages in it and it’s not about to expire. The last thing you want is to be in the middle of a tour and find out you can’t get into Canada for example, because your passport is expired, or spend a day off at the consulate in a foreign country getting blank pages added to your passport.
If you live in one of the states whose Driver's Licenses are not valid with TSA, you'll need a Real ID if you don't have a valid passport and plan on doing any air travel.
If you are not already a member of the major airline's frequent...