[A guest post from Jeff Allen]
Unfortunately, it isn’t common to see eye-to-eye with your technical director or audio engineer. You usually have an idea how you want your band to sound. And the audio engineer has their own goal. They may have some comments or suggestions on your guitar tone. They may ask your keyboard player to play more right hand and less left so the keys cut through.
It can be frustrating. But one way or another you’re going to have to get along.
Here are a few tips to help you work through this:
1. Don’t take anything personally.
When the sound guy asks if you can try a different pickup or adjust the mids on your amp, he isn’t tearing your art apart. He’s simply trying to help you be heard. If your tone is full of mud then it will live in the swamp. Ain’t nobody livin’ in the swamp. Same goes for the epic battle of “turn the amp down”. Don’t you dare sneak the volume back up halfway through a set. That’s a sincerely jerkish move.
But sound guys, you don’t get off that easy. The same goes for you when we ask for a monitor change. Don’t do the fake knob turn.
2. Work together. Have a meeting.
Most of your issues can be worked out before you even get to rehearsal with a simple meeting before rehearsal. Talk through the set. Talk through the songs. Is there anything you want your engineer to know? Do you want him to feature a guitar solo? If he doesn’t know one is coming it’s hard for him to feature it. Encourage him to be a part of the band. Your band listens and studies the music before rehearsal. Ask your engineer to do the same.
3. Hang out.
Try to set aside a time for the tech team and the music team to hang out. They need to know each other. They need to know each other aside from their roles on your team. The guy that runs lights – he should know that the bass player is currently looking for work. The keyboard player should know that the lyric operator and his wife just had a baby. When they know each other that way, the little things are just that – little things.
The Key is Communication
At the end of the day everything you’re working toward involves communication. When things aren’t properly communicated, tension can set in. If communication lines are open and taken care of, things will be smooth as silk.