Some Words from Some Roadies

For years now, I’ve had my life figured out- career wise. I want to go into the male-dominated world of audio production. I’d like to be a touring Front of House sound engineer (FOH) or a touring monitor engineer. An FOH’s job is to mix for what the audience hears. The term “front of house” refers to any part of the venue where an audience can be seated: floor, top of bowl, pit, etc. Monitor engineers mix for what the band hears. Bigger bands will more likely than not use in-ear monitors; some use wedge speakers that sit at the front of the stage. I love music, traveling, and concerts, so i’m hoping that this is a good choice for me.

I’ve been fortunate enough to meet some of the bigwigs in the industry, including: Karrie Keyes, Tiffany Hendren, and Robert Scovill.

Karrie Keyes has 30 solid years of experience working as a live sound engineer for acts like Pearl Jam. She told me a story about how she would cringe when Eddie Vedder threw his microphone in the lighting trellis and swung down from it. She’s even mentioned how she almost got into a physical fight with Courtney Love. I met Karrie through a live sound camp for girls: Sound Girls. Karrie is the founder of the international organization. Her goal is to grow the percentage of women in the audio industry from about 7% to 50%.

Tiffany Hendren is the FOH at Delmar Hall, the monitor engineer at The Pageant, and a touring FOH engineer. She was also a part of the Sound Girls camp. She taught me something that is music to my ears, but not my parents’. She told us how she got into the position in her career she is now. She started college right after high school, but hated it, so she dropped out. She was working in a coffee shop near the Delmar Loop to try to pay the bills. She was offered a job to work at The Pageant, but not in sound. As time went on, she increasingly fell in love with music. She said that she didn’t have the talent to sustain herself by being a musician, so she started teaching herself sound theory. She taught herself through books and Youtube videos. One day a job became open: monitor engineer. She applied for that job and got it. Her boss gave her a chance, and she didn’t let him down. It’s good to know that you don’t need a formal education and debt to be successful in this field.

Robert Scovill is the FOH for Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. He has been with the band for at least 20 years. I got to meet him in Kansas City before the Tom Petty and Joe Walsh concert that night. He Allowed for some people to come see what it’s like to prep for a big show. He took us through all of the steps of the EQ process. There’s a lot that is involved in the process. One thing that he does that stood out to me was that he does a digital sound check. So, instead of dragging the band on stage, he uses pre recorded live tracks of the band. He sticks some monitors in place of microphones, then EQs. He then replaces the monitors with real microphones and finishes the EQ process.

All three of those engineers have told me that you will be in a starting position for the first ten years of your career. This career doesn’t pay well, but it’s my passion. My advice to anyone: go do what you want to do and make it work. Love what you do.

 

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