I’ve been more than blessed to be surrounded almost my entire life by amazing musicians and performers. From the time I was 12 I started learning how to work front of house sounds on a 32-4-2 Mackie VLZ board. It’s that clear in my mind still. And I remember when my mentor, in my first week, knew that I had got it. We were applying an Eventide Harmonizer to some vocal inputs that were being used for puppets. I was taught that the effects return had to be used in pre-fade so that we only got the effect and not the real vocal plus the effect. The pre-fade button was small and located towards the top of the board. My mentor was wondering for a few seconds why things weren’t sounding right when I pointed out what he had just taught me. The pre-fade button was not pressed in. I can still see the look on his face when looked at me and knew that I “got it.” I didn’t understand signal flow or how to properly mix a full band at the time but I had paid attention and learned.
In the coming years (from 12 to 17) I learned A LOT. I got cocky running sound for 1000+ person concerts in my early teens. I also got yelled at my fair share of times for being cocky. Hey, I was 15 and doing something really cool really well. I needed some humbling which at the time I didn’t appreciate. I pushed equipment to the limit and beyond (I caused a few thousand dollars worth of repairs during my “louder is more intense” phase. Until I learned loudness minus clarity is nothing). I learned to be a musician with faders and knobs. I learned how the engineer is a musician in themselves and how behind the scenes can be more gratifying than on stage.
Most importantly I learned to LISTEN. Mostly because it was my job but in the end because it made sense. I have no resounding epiphany at the end of all this. Just wanted to share. Now hit play below and listen to my very talented friend Bradley Gwinn.