5 rules for dealing with the sound engineer at your next gig
If you’ve been to a gig in Sydney in the last few years there’s a good chance you’ve seen Mark Piccles at work. You might have caught him fronting the band A.D.K.O.B. at the Unearthed slot at Sydney Laneway Festival earlier this year or playing support set for The Preatures’ Gideon Bensen, Bad//Dreems, Montaigne and Sticky Fingers. Or perhaps you remember him from his time behind the drum kit with Tin Sparrow. But it’s most likely that you’ve run into him while he was working as the in house engineer at Oxford Art Factory Gallery Bar.
Ahead of a run of dates with A.D.K.O.B., Mark took a few minutes out to list five very important rules to remember when you’re next dealing with the mixer behind the sound desk. Follow his advice; it might just save your next gig.
Rule 1. Don’t ignore your soundie
You ignore the soundie at your peril. Seems simple enough but makes everything easier. You might be socially anxious, or moody, but at least say hello and find out if the soundie has enough mics, leads and other gear for your set. Ideally you have e-mailed your tech spec through, but that’s pretty rare at a local level so just come say “Hey!”. Kick things off right and the rest of the night should follow suit.
Rule 2. Don’t mess about with your setup
If you have a awkward setup, that’s fine. I couldn’t care less if you have eight keyboards and four guitar amps. Sure, I will make fun of you to no end, but if that is your thing back yourself in. Don’t listen to the grouch behind the console. That said it is a massive issue when you need 45 minutes to set that shit up in a 20 minute changeover. Find a space somewhere off-stage and have it set up ready to go. You will not give you extra time and if something isn’t set up or working you’re going to be forced to go without. Having a big setup doesn’t automatically make you a dick, but not having it sorted does.
Rule 3. Don’t call out your soundie mid-set
There are times when good soundies pull a bad mix; it happens. There are some plain bad sound people; that shit happens too. Sure, ask for more in the foldback or for a guitar to be a bit louder in the front of house but do it subtly. Don’t call your sound person out. They have the power to seriously mess up the rest of your set. Chat to them after the gig if you must, but do not sabotage your own set. Trust me here; the sound person will not forget it and you never know who they are, who they will tell, or when they will mix you again.
Rule 4. Don’t tell the soundie how to do their job
This one often comes from the band member who is studying audio or is “a sound person”. Just don’t do this. It leaves a very bad taste. Sure, ask for more guitar, or less bass… but don’t start talking about frequencies or compressor settings. If your bandmate really was an audio person, they would know not to do this. You will never hear a sound person tell you how to strum your ukelele. That would be ludicrous, right?
Rule 5. Don’t swing the vocal mic by the chord
You’re playing with fire here. Your mic has a massive chance of dropping out and you’re potentially ruining your local, poorly paid sound persons very limited gear. Also it makes you look about as cool as Roger Daltry – not vintage cool Roger Daltry, current old man Roger Daltry.
Thursday, May 26 – Moonshine, Manly
Friday, May 27 – The Brightside, Brisbane
Friday, June 10 – The Basement, Canberra
Saturday, June 11 – Brighton Up Bar, Sydney
Wednesday, June 15 – Beach Road Hotel, Sydney
Thursday, June 23 – RAD Bar, Wollongong,
Friday, June 24 – The Lass O’Gowrie, Newcastle
Friday, July 1 – Rocket Bar, Adelaide
Saturday, July 2 – The Workers Club, Melbourne