Ben Findlay & Shon Hartman...
Meet The Soundmen: Ben Findlay & Shon Hartman
MEET THE ENGINEERS ON THE JEFF BECK TOUR!
If you have been reading the press lately, you know that the Jeff Beck Tour is being touted as one of the best sounding concerts out there. It takes a massive team effort to deliver high caliber sound on a live stage of this magnitude but when it comes to the mix of the sound on stage and to the audience, it always comes down to the front of house engineer and monitor engineer. In the case of the Jeff Beck Tour, that would be Ben Findlay and Shon Hartman and we would like to introduce you to them here.
1. Where are you from and tell us about your audio background
I Live in the south west of the UK near Bath. After a brief spell playing guitar in bands at school and college I began mixing live shows with a small PA system co owned with a friend. After working for other PA companies in the Bristol area I did my first tour in 1989 as FOH for a newly signed band The Blue Aeroplanes.
In 1991 I landed a job at Peter Gabriel's Real World Studio as an assistant engineer and after a couple of years frantic work and a very steep learning curve I became chief engineer of the studio where I worked in that role for four years. In 1998 I became freelance and carried on working at Real World as a client and in a variety of other studios and countries around the world.
Then in 2003 Peter Gabriel was looking for a FOH engineer for his Growing Up Live tour and at that time I had been mixing in the studio for him so he thought I might be able to mix the shows........ I wasn't sacked and as a result of the confidence gained mixing a large scale show like that, I took on other live work
2. Who are some of the groups you've worked with?
Well aside from Peter I have been lucky enough to work with, Massive Attack, Youssou N'Dour, Nusrat Fateh, Ali Khan, Robert Plant, Yusuf (formerly Cat Stevens) Goldfrapp and currently with Jeff Beck
3. It appears as if you do a lot of studio work - is the studio your primary gig, or is it live sound, or both?
This year I have suspended studio operations as I am touring most of it, but I did manage to squeeze an album recording in at the beginning of the year. I still think of myself as a studio engineer, but the bulk of the work I am offered at the moment is live, so I guess both would be the right answer.
4. Which do you prefer, studio or live and why.
I like them equally. They both have their different challenges. I like the documentary nature of an album project and they tend to be more artistically collaborative, which when you have a good partnership with the artist can be very rewarding.
With live work you have a lot of freedom to shape and sculpt the sound in the way you would like.
When I first went back to live work, it took a little while to get used to the lack of feedback from the artist because of course they never really get to hear what you do. Occasionally during soundcheck Peter would jump on his bike and cycle around the arena while the band played, but most of the time he just seemed to cycle past the FOH position with his thumb up! Not that I'm complaining, that is how you would hope it would be, but it took a bit of getting used to
5. When did you first hear about Audix mics
I first heard about Audix mics in 2004 when Dickie Chappell (Dickie technically looks after Peter during the tour) read about the D6 in a trade mag. We got hold of one and tried it loved the sound and used it for the rest of the Arena tour.
6. Tell us about the mics on the Jeff Beck tour
At the beginning of this year, Jeff had a change of lineup for his band, so we were joined by Rhonda Smith on Bass Guitar and Narada Michael Walden on drums. Narada was already a keen user of Audix mics and together we put a "Rolls Royce" of a mic package that includes the beautiful SCX25As, ADX51s, D4s and i5s on the drum kit. Jeff's Marshall has an i5 on it and Rhonda's Bass cab has a D6.
All the vocal mics are OM7s.
It has been a bit of a revelation for me, engineers are instinctively conservative in their choice of mics and when you find a set that works for you, you tend to stick with that. However thanks to the encouragement of Narada and Audix, we have put together a mic package that is giving the best results I have ever known in the live environment.
I have had more compliments about my sound on this tour, than I can ever remember! A coincidence? Probably not.
Looking forward to using them in the studio in the very near future.
7. What's in store for the future?
Using these mics in my studio!
1. Where are you from and tell us about your audio background?
I'm originally from a small town in upstate N.Y. called Elmira. Currently, I split my time between Southern California and Paris, France. I got my start in 1992 with a couple house gigs in Northampton, Mass. One was a very small dinner club that featured jazz and folk music. It was called The Iron Horse and the other was a rock club called Pearl Street. When I started I really didn't know anything about sound, so the learning curve was pretty steep. The groups that played at both clubs gave me some very good exposure to diverse kinds of music. Those clubs required very different approaches to doing sound. Luckily, I learned pretty quick. I got picked up by Ben Harper to do monitors in January of 1996. Ben opened for The Dave Matthews Band for a little over a month and also Pearl Jam that year for a handful of shows. I got to know the techs and engineers on those tours and kept in touch with the sound companies they worked for over time. After a year in France working with bands there, I came back to work for Rat Sound as a tech. I got my chops up mixing all the openers that didn't have an engineer on the bigger tours such as Pearl Jam, Chili Peppers and Offspring.
2. Who are some of the groups you've worked with?
As an engineer I've worked with Ben Harper, The Cult, Noir Desir, Chris Robinson, Jimmy Eat World, Tenacious D, Phoenix, The Offspring and Jeff Beck to name a few. As a sound technician I've worked with Pearl Jam, The Red Hot Chili Peppers, Foo Fighters, The Offspring, Weezer, Linkin Park, Blink 182.
3. When did you first hear about Audix mics?
Dave Rat and every tour he put out has pretty much used the OM7 as a vocal mic since I started working with him, so, my initial exposure to Audix was through Rat Sound.
4. Tell us about the mics on the Jeff Beck tour.
Well, initially, we had a very diverse mic package. I have to say there wasn't a single Audix mic in it, I'm afraid. Then we heard that Narada Michael Walden, Jeff's new drummer, had a very good working relationship with Audix, so Ben and I talked it over and decided to give them a try. I was a little hesitant to use almost all Audix mics on the stage at first (you tend to stick with what's worked best for you over time), but after using the mic package we have I like what I hear. Now we have a very diverse mic package but the difference is it consists primarily of Audix mics.
5. What's in store for the future?
Well, we've got a busy year with Jeff but after that, who knows, I'm open. I think I'll try to twist Ben's arm to let me assist him in the studio with these Audix mics...