I’d like to welcome you to MixMasters Podcast and thank you for checking out my humble production. The goal of this podcast is to share information and experiences from the live sound touring industry by getting you up-close and personal with legendary engineers from around the world.
Why start a podcast?
I fell in love with live sound at an early age. It was 1984 and I had just used my lawn mowing money to purchase my first piece of audio equipment – a Sansui boombox. I immediately started creating my own mix tapes with songs that I recorded from the radio, doing my best to capture clean recordings without any of that DJ talk-over drivel.
When I entered high school, I convinced my music teacher to purchase a mixing console. In exchange, I offered to mix the school’s live productions and before long, I was mixing school plays, the high school jazz band, commencement ceremonies and the high school choir. My system consisted of a 16-channel Peavey powered console, two Shure column speakers, and a handful of Radio Shack and EV microphones.
In college, I was asked to mix sound for a popular bar band that my friend played drums for. We played a number of shows across the northwest portion of Wisconsin and parts of Minnesota. The band even recorded a demo at a professional recording studio; for an 18-year old me, that was a dream come true.
Everyone eventually graduated from college, and believe it or not, the demo tape didn’t lead to any record deals. I continued to mix sound for bar bands, small local festivals, and regional events.
Fast forward 20-ish years to 2013, and I found myself mixing shows for a house concert venue. Yep, you read that correctly – I was regularly mixing live music in someone’s basement. But this wasn’t any ordinary basement. Madison, Wisconsin plays host to Kiki’s House of Righteous Music – a legendary venue in the underground house concert genre.
Before long, I was working with artists such as The Minus 5 (featuring Peter Buck and Mike Mills (both of REM), Scott McCaughey, and Linda Pitmon), Tommy Stinson (of Guns ‘n Roses and The Replacements), Kinky Friedman, Gurf Morlix (played with Warren Zevon), Kevin Kinney (from Drivin’ and Cryin’) and hundreds more from around the world. I still mix there today, and the experience is priceless.
In 2016, I started my own production company and provided world-class sound and lighting services for festivals, concerts, bands, and corporate clients throughout the upper midwest. We did more than eighty shows per year and worked with even more amazing artists and performers. Eventually the burden of running production on a full-time basis while trying to maintain a day job and a home life became too much, so I drastically downsized the production company.
I figured the time had come to kick-back and relax, and to start attending concerts for the purpose of enjoying them rather than ogling all of the equipment, studying the FOH console and gear, and evaluating coverage angles from the speaker hangs.
But best laid plans often go to waste, because in 2019, the chance of a lifetime landed in my lap – I was asked to run sound for Stitched Up Heart, an alternative metal band from Los Angeles who had just finished a North American tour with Godsmack and Volbeat. I couldn’t believe what was happening – I had always wanted to tour, but never thought I’d get the chance. Who knew the opportunity would present itself some thirty years into my career.
I flew to Los Angeles and hopped on a tour bus with Mixi, Merritt, Randy, Decker, and our driver, Allen. We teamed-up with Steel Panther and played 34 shows over 41 days. We put on more than 12,000 miles and visited most of the United States and parts of Canada. It was a dream come true and I loved every single minute of it. So much so that I quit my professional career as a project manager so that I could focus on touring full time.
And then COVID-19 hit. Unbelievable. Everything stopped suddenly in its tracks; our upcoming tour was canceled just days before I was supposed to fly to LA. A real nightmare.
I felt helpless as I watched so many of my fellow sound engineers lose their gigs; many were out the road when the pandemic struck and had to immediately drop everything and return to their homes. Thankfully, we’ve all stayed healthy, but this unanticipated “vacation” has been anything but enjoyable.
So I decided to make the most of our downtime by starting this podcast. I’ve gotten some of the most amazing FOH engineers in the world to talk about their lives, their careers, their mixing philosophies, and about life on the road. I’m so unbelievably humbled and honored to spend time with them, and I’m thrilled to be sharing their stories with you.
I hope that you’ll enjoy this podcast series. Download all of the episodes, binge on them, and share them with your friends. Please do me a favor and be sure to subscribe. And if you enjoy the podcast, please tell others about it.
Please also excuse my Wisconsin accent and mannerisms. I’m sure you’ll hear a few too many “ums” and an “ope” or two along the way. Keep in mind I’m not a professional broadcaster – saying the occasional “Check One Two” before soundcheck is about the extent of my microphone experience.
Best wishes and thanks again for listening.