Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Getting to Know Your Sound Guy - Mathias Aduke

Have you ever went to see a band that you liked live and it sounded horrible and ruined the experience for you? I've had that happen more than once and it has taught me how important a good sound guy or gal can be. A good sound engineer can make or break a band's performance, which gives them a lot of power and puts a lot of pressure on them at the same time. I have quite a few friends who make a living doing sound and I have been begging them to talk to me about their job. My friend Mathias Aduke works at a few different venues in Metro Detroit and plays music himself. He finally agreed to let me ask him a few questions about his profession including how he got into doing sound in the first place. I think he gives us a little behind the scenes look at what it's like to make a living doing sound and making music.

He will also be playing with his band The Bobby Electric this Friday at The Old Miami. He is not only a behind the scenes fixture of the Detroit music community, but in his spare time he's out their playing music himself. Check out what he has to say and head out to The Old Miami this Friday, January 24th to see his band perform alongside Duende, The Oscillating Fan Club, and Mirror Moon.

Hip In Detroit- How did you become a sound guy and why?
Mathias- "I went to The Crofoot in Pontiac one day, with a resume held together with sticky tack, because I didn't have a stapler. I asked for ANY job they'd give me. They, being the nicest, best people EVER, took serious pity on me, because I am really good at looking big and sad, and they offered me a security position. When that didn't work, after a week of me being too nice, and getting bullied, I started making friends with Ryan Thomas and Kyle Tewell, the dudes whom I owe my live sound career to. Ryan took me under his wing, taught me 70% of all he knows, and 10 months later, I was getting paid to do it. I blossomed and expanded and got other jobs at other venues, still mostly through Ryan, from there on out.

I became a Sound Guy because recording my friends' bands in my basement doesn't pay the bills. I went to recording school, right out of high school, and then all the whole crazy digital home recording frenzy occurred, leaving me hopeless and jobless. That makes me sound old. Haha!"

Hip In Detroit- What is the most difficult part about your job and why?
Mathias- "The most difficult part of my particular job is sometimes not having any sort of clue, almost day to day, what my weekly schedule is going to look like. I try to be available most evenings, but venues can have a difficult time with scheduling, because there are changes made, daily. A show pops up, someone has to cover it. I get called in the middle of doing cool-guy stuff, and I've gotta be at work in 45 min.

However, I've just made my life work around this sort of schedule, so I can maintain some sort of sanity and freedom."

Hip In Detroit- What is your favorite part of your job and why?
Mathias- "My favorite part of my job is working at different venues every night, different bands every night, different venue staff every night, different scenery every night. I work at 4 different venues right now, so variety is truly the spice of my life."

Hip In Detroit- What is your favorite band that you ever got to do sound for?
Mathias- "I got to do Break Anchor for Black Xmas in The Garden Bowl, a year or two ago. Jay Navarro is the coolest dude I've ever known, and that band puts on a hell of a show. People in the crowd ripped apart a decorative Christmas tree, and crowd surfed it all around, making a mess that I didn't even have to clean up. It was a rock 'n' roll fantasy dream night, come true.

I should make a quick addendum that my VERY favorite band that I've ever done sound for was Reverend at The Loving Touch, last year. They are my very favorite local band. Every element of that band is near perfection. I absolutely adore them.
The Break Anchor story is a little more interesting, but the Reverend story is my official final answer."
Hip In Detroit- Who is your dream band to do sound for?
Mathias- "My dream band to do sound for would be the make believe Sonic Youth reunion tour in 2020. As long as they provided a monitor engineer. Those dudes are noise machine monsters. I imagine that dealing with monitor mixes for their vocals, would not be too much fun. BUT, I'm sure I could still be convinced do their monitors, if need be..."

Hip In Detroit- How do you keep up with the equipment that it takes to do your job? I know that it's always changing.
Mathias- "I am seriously reading all day, everyday. While at home, while at work, while at school, while on the bus, while in traffic, and while in the bathtub, or the Secret SoundGuy Sauna Steam Room, in the basement of the Alamo.

I try to learn vintage equipment as much as I learn new modern equipment. Most places that I frequent, still have older equipment. The old stuff is just as valid and important to keep fresh with, because more times than not, it's just BETTER!"
Hip In Detroit- What is the worst thing that has ever happened while you were doing sound?
Mathias- "Well, aside from having my car stolen, on my way into work, I'd say, in general, getting tricked into working a dubstep show that didn't end until 4am, and then having to drive an hour home, on the snowy icy roads.

Panic attack inducing music, followed by panic attack inducing hazardous driving conditions. Christmas Night 2013. Pinpointed the day. It was less than a month ago."

Hip In Detroit- What is the most annoying that a band can do when you're doing sound for them?
Mathias- "Have a drummer that sings. Try to place microphones, yourselves. Hit drums or play screaming guitar whilst my ears are nearby. Not know how to hold a microphone. Not know how to sing with monitors in front of you. Have exceedingly superfluous ridiculous equipment. Want to load in at like 11am. Somehow have a touring FOH engineer that has never mixed on a mixing board before. Et Cetera..."

Hip In Detroit- What is your favorite venue to do sound at in Detroit?
Mathias- "In Detroit? The Old Miami. In the whole Metro Area? The Pike Room in The Crofoot, in Pontiac."

Hip In Detroit- Do you have to load in the bands too?
Mathias- "It depends on the day, and the venue. More than likely, no. Venues have their own loaders. They would have to pay Sound Guys WAY too much money for one day of work, to load too. Plus, we have important Sound Guy stuff to do. Always. Haha! So, they normally don't even ask us."

Hip In Detroit- Do you also record music or own your own studio?
Mathias- "I actually do. Red Wiggler Recording is my lousily named basement Lo-Fi to Mid-Fi dungeon studio of rock n roll heavenly tasty treats. I have lot of cool stuff. And, do records for way cheap.

Hip In Detroit- You also play music, how do you think being a sound engineer influences your personal music?
Mathias- "Well, how many Sound Guy bands do you have on your playlists....? One? The Bobby Electric. That's what I thought. Ha! Jk.

Most Sound Guys are too serious, picky, and finicky to play in real bands, or they've quit, years prior to doing this job. It is a challenge. Not gonna lie. We all have control issues, I'm sure. So, it's difficult to enjoy yourself on stage, at a club with a lousy PA, monitors, or engineer. I try really hard to separate my thoughts away from Sound Guy stuff, when my bands are playing shows.

However, I also have been known to run sound for shows that my bands are playing. I don't care. I'll work extra hard, anytime, to make sure that everyone is happy."


1 comment:

  1. I've been lucky enough to have you as the Sound Guy at a couple of shows i've played. Always a good mix!