I saw this recent video from one of my favorite important “industry news” sources – The Hard Times, and wanted to share. I’m sure a few of you are either a) experienced this personally. Or possibly b) is the grumpy soundguy.
Being the soundguy is often a miserable thankless job. As a musician myself, I like to try to make it as easy for the soundguy as possible. I like to think about rule #1. That rule, don’t piss off the soundguy. But sometimes, it’s impossible to get the grumpy soundguy to be.. less grumpy. Let’s watch the video and discuss this on the other side.
Soundman: The Art of The Grumpy
When dealing with the soundguy, never think they’re there for you. I think that’s how they end up grumpy. When a musician (the artist) is being rude, annoying, difficult, high maintenance, etc. That will destroy a good hearted, hard working, enthusiastic new soundguy and slowly grind them into Mr. grumps. Don’t contribute to that. Start off by introducing yourself, asking for their name, etc. We’re all in this together, so let’s see how you can help to make everything easier for all parties. Having the sound guy on your side.. is a win in the end.
What are your thoughts? Comment below!
5 years ago
Nice! Even though this is clearly a staged video, emphasizing the tortured, under-appreciated, â€grumpyâ€ soundman, I completely understand their dilemma. Whatâ€™s even worse is the…deaf, grumpy soundman. .
Story number one…
Back in my band days, playing some local shows in Little Rock, AR, Dave was the sound guy at the original Juanitaâ€™s on Main St. I always tried to make it as easy as possible for him during set up and a brief check. We actually rehearsed in the space above the venue so we had a very good rapport with grumpy Dave and were called upon to play any time another band canceled, regardless of genre. Despite Daveâ€™s â€œdeafnessâ€, he always seemed to enjoy us playing. However, he vehemently despised many of the local bands. Many locals that played there had attitudes because Juanitaâ€™s was also a venue national touring bands would play, which gave some a sense of importance in the local scene. We just lived upstairs, so…big deal. (We did open for Russian Circles and Finger Eleven another time there, and Scale the Summit at Downtown Music…shameless plug , but great shows). So anyway, we had an inside understanding on how Dave liked and ran things. I miss playing shows there. Juanitaâ€™s â€œmovedâ€ downtown under new ownership, was wrecked, and the old Juanitaâ€™s building was reopened as a really nice jazz scene. Iâ€™m glad the place still continues to host music.
Story number two…
Another venue where pretty much all local rock, punk, and metal band played first shows is called Vinos Pizza Pub and Brewery. They have been making great pizza and beer since the mid 80â€™s long before any craft beer scene ever happened anywhere in the US. The dank hole in the back had a small stage which hosted many, many local, regional, and national touring bands. Little Rock has always been a stop over for SXSW in Austin, and has some other nice venues as well. Vinos still puts out great pizza and beer, but I havenâ€™t seen or played a show there in at least seven years.
The grumpy sound guy at Vinos was Lee. Lee was great! Long, grey haired pony tail grumpy sound guy. Lee was a stickler for set time. 30 was 30! Not a minute longer! 15 for set up was 15…not a f***ing second longer. I remember one particular, musically life changing time, Lee had some music playing during set up that caught my ear…a tune off of ISIS Panopticon album…â€whoa, what the hell is thisâ€? I stopped in the middle of set up, ran back to the soundboard and asked Lee, â€œhey Lee…What the are you play here? What the f**k are you doing back here, youâ€™re supposed to be setting up!â€ â€œYeah, whatever…what are we listening to?â€ â€œItâ€™s a band called Isis…you should check em out. Thanks Lee…â€Yeah, get your ass back up there and finish setting up…you got two minutes.â€ Understand, we had been playing there for ten years and Lee really liked us, and still we had the grumpy sound guy…but you gotta love and respect your local grumpy sound guy!
Story three…last one.Reply
My last show I played at Vinos was a solo, mix of written and completely improvised, on the fly, layered, instrumental looping thing, for which I had a 30 minute set. One of my most memorable shows…I made Lee forget time for 30 minutes! At the end of my well timed, not a word spoken, 30 minute set, I thanked the audience, and began to tear down my complex rig. Lee not only got on the monitors, but over the house P.A. said…â€thatâ€™s it? I said, â€œ Lee, that was 30â€. He replied, â€œoh damn, I did realize…Play one more…will ya?â€ If I could make Lee loose his sense of time, I could do anything.
5 years ago
Back… way back in my roadie days, I was the first roadie for Quiet Riot. It was 1975 I was 15 years old and we were in a baker bar called ” The Rock Corporation”. The sound guy apparently wasn’t real familiar with his own gear and didn’t understand you had to adjust the mic input before the actual mic level. So every time Kevin would do his Steve Marriot style vocal, his mic would overload the input and break up. The sound guy in turn would pull his level down to nothing. After several rounds of this one night Kevin plugged his mic into Randy’s guitar amp and announced that they couldn’t finish the set because “The asshole running the sound keeps turning my mic off”. That was it, the sound guy grabbed the nearest thing he could find (in this instance it was a pitcher of beer), charged the stage, launched the beer at Kevin and vaulted himself up on the stage. Just as he was about to pummel Kevin with the empty glass pitcher I tackled him. The pitcher came down on my head. We both went down, all 280 pounds of me on top of him. I was unconscious for a few seconds. When I came to I pushed myself off the now winded sound guy and had to deal with his assistant who had taken his place. I in no uncertain terms told him to get off my stage and threw him into the audience of bikers. To this day i contend the only reason we didn’t get our butts kicked is the bikers found the whole thing amusing.Reply