When I was 14 my parents bought me a drum set. I'm pretty sure they regretted it almost immediately! But I was hooked - and I practiced hard, formed bands, and eventually started playing shows.
Even then, I knew I wanted to be involved in music as much as possible. Plus, I'm a total nerd, so when the time came for my bands to start recording I was the one who saved up some money, bought a couple mics and a cassette 4-track recorder (it was the 90s), and started my journey into the audio world.
As I got a little older, I had trouble making up my mind: studio or live? So, I just did both. I really enjoy recording and ended up building a studio in Chicago with some friends. And for a few years this was my primary source of employment.
But the live thing was always there. I got my first job at a small club (Gabe's Oasis, Iowa City) when I was 18. I was definitely too young to legally be in there! I got my first tour a few years later doing 300-500 capacity venues with Jimmy Eat World and At The Drive-In (right before either of them became well-known bands).
And from there, I just started working my way up doing bigger and bigger shows. I mean, I do know people who are fortunate enough to start their careers on the big stages. But like most engineers, I started in pretty small venues. And I see this as a good thing - it forced me to develop my skills so I can get the most out of any audio system large or small.
These days, I often get to mix on multimillion-dollar setups in some pretty cool places.
SOME VENUES I’VE MIXED ON TOUR AT FOH:
MADISON SQUARE GARDEN
COACHELLA MAIN STAGE
SYDNEY OPERA HOUSE
RADIO CITY MUSIC HALL
THE GORGE AMPHITHEATER
SO MANY MORE…
Even though I geek out on the technical aspects of getting good sound at all these venues, the main reason I love being involved in live music is because I love working with like-minded people. Every venue I work for, every artist I've toured with, it's all part of a larger live music community that’s full of amazing people.
But I'm also just a fan of music in general! So, I consider myself lucky to have worked with a ton of great artists.
ARTISTS I’VE TOURED WITH MIXING FOH:
matt and kim
the hold steady
the juan maclean
jimmy eat world
at the drive in
SOME OTHER ARTISTS OF NOTE I’VE MIXED (one-offs, short tours, etc.):
DEATH CAB FOR CUTIE
FOSTER THE PEOPLE
Touring has been an amazing experience, and I've been around the world many times doing it. Good thing I like to travel! But I also love spending time at home in the East Village, New York City. Of course, I also work when I'm not on tour, either for local artists, venues, or production companies. I really believe that keeping a balance between time on the road and time at home is important for longevity in this line of work.
Recently, I also felt compelled to work on an education problem in my community. The lack of quality training in live sound has been a much-discussed topic among myself and my colleagues for many years. And even though there are a few in-person (read: expensive) options out there, I felt a reliable online option would be incredibly useful for anyone trying to learn about this stuff.
And now that we've reached thousands of people around the globe, providing a free resource for the entire live music community, I’m happy that The Production Academy has filled that role. I’ll keep building more and hopefully it will continue to help anyone trying to get good sound at their shows!