VENUE | S6L 10K Tour in Scandoland

By in Live Sound, Music Creation, VENUE | S6L 10K Tour

For the next leg of the S6L 10K tour, my cohort Chris Lambrechts picked me up in Dusseldorf and we drove the van pretty much non-stop to Copenhagen, with a bit of a ferry in the middle. We arrived in the evening and loaded in. No fork lifts this time, just a moody lift! Our partners in Denmark, Cyber Farm, have a lovely studio kitted out with loads of cool analogue stuff, preamps and compressors etc. We set up our two unabashedly digital and proud consoles—one in the live room and one in the control room. We also had three S3L-X’s in the corridor to explore our “True Gain” preamp sharing without tears and gain tracking workflow.

You can now have three desks sharing the same analogue preamps and not really notice that there are any other engineers involved. We all have 10 to 60 dB gain control and a pad (even the slaves), so everybody feels like they are controlling the head amp. Your show file just has a gain value whether you’re connected to the stage box by yourself or with one or two mates—no programming, IP addresses, or whatever. Mixing, not IT networking!!

Reminiscing about Teppanyaki

We got everything up and running with tidy cables and gleaming touchscreens and popped out for a bite. Had some lovely Teppanyaki food near our hotel. I was telling Chris about this amazing place we always used to go to in Shinjuku where a couple of chefs would sit in the middle of a horse-shoe bar cross legged on the floor and cook amazing seafood, Kobe beef, and vegetables on a wood fired grill in front of you. When it was ready they’d put it on these huge wooden paddles and stretch it out to you maybe two meters away. These fellas would be dripping in sweat and had huge muscly arms from all that lifting and stretching. They served the large bottles of beer that way as well, so they got plenty exercise when we were in town. They could do an hour shift before they were broken, at which point they’d get swapped out for another couple of chefs. This changing of the chefs was very ritualistic and involved chanting and clapping for some very good reason no one ever explained to us. Also, when you arrived the bloke at the door would shout out something at the top of his voice, then the chefs would reply at “eleven” as well, then the door bloke would reply to that and finally they’d chant a little phrase together. We had no idea what they were saying so we would amuse our selves by making up our own translations. This is one of the few fit for polite company:

“New fellas arriving, look like roadies.”

“OK, better gets loads of beer in the fridge.”

“Looks like they like their food too by the size of their bellies.”

Then in unison: “No doubt, no doubt, ha ha ha!”

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It’s a little known fact but most roadies are foodies. It’s an occupational hazard. You might be your basic meat and two veg fella when starting out on your career, but I guarantee you will be a slow food, boutique olive oil, 25 year old balsamic and artisan Parmigiano-Reggiano lover by the time you’ve been round the world a couple of times. My oldest friend, Davey C, is no exception—in fact he’s the roadie gastronomic archetype. I remember our first time together in Japan, mid 90s, mixing a punk female duet who had a one hit wonder there that went nuclear. They had the same management as the Manics so I’d got roped in and Davey also joined the circus. I’d promised Davey that we’d have the meal of our lives in the above-mentioned restaurant. The Promoter would always take you there on a sold out tour as a thank you and treat. I’d been bigging it up the whole time until everyone involved—session band and crew—was in a frenzy. Finally we were heading off to the tour’s highlight, taste buds at the ready. We all met in the lobby, eyes bulging with excitement on the way to foodie heaven, to be deflated by some really bad news. The “artists,” when told about this exceptional and mind bogglingly expensive restaurant, had told the promoters rep:

“Nagh, we don’t like that foreign food crap, can’t we go somewhere normal?” They couldn’t be moved despite our entreaties and the worst dirty looks imaginable. We ended up, and I choke to say this, in some Rock Café—McDonald’s with guitars on the walls!! Never in the history of rock and roll have a gang of food loving roadies and musos been so epicure blocked.

At Cyber Farm in Denmark

S6L Comes to Denmark and Norway

Anyway, back to the here and now of the 10K tour. The next morning we headed back to Cyber Farm with our Nordic colleague and metal guitar legend, Michael Bohlin (check out his band Pain). We met loads of really interesting Danish engineers from broadcast, theatre, and of course touring. They all loved our new beast of a desk, even the guys who’d previously been fans of another brand. They had some great ideas, too. I’ve actually pinched one of them and sent it to the team pretending it was mine—thanks clever Scando brother engineer!

Michael Bohlin posing with the S6L

Next up Oslo and my top mate Ronald the Viking who runs our distributor there, Benum. The first time I met him he asked me where I was from and I said, “Scotland.” “Aagh, that’s OK then, it means you have some Viking blood in you!” We’ve been best of friends ever since. He’s the size of a moose and twice as loud, God bless him—top chap. Again, a great turnout and some very interesting discussions on monitor workflows. This tour has been a great way to show off a prototype and get some great feedback from our audio chums and hopefully use that feedback to make the desk work the way everyone wants and needs.

Esters on the E18

Crossing Borders

After a weekend at home swapping the Nordic wind and rain for some Catalan sun and light gardening, we reassembled in Oslo to drive the kit pretty much straight East to Sweden. This of course involves a visit to the Customs with our carnet, as Norway isn’t properly in the EEU. The customs building was a cute wooden house in a pine forest, as if Hansel and Gretel had grown up and decided to check export certificates for a living. What a blast from the past, back in the day every time you crossed a border in Europe you had to have your carnet checked and stamped. This would often involve pulling all the kit out of the truck in some freezing car park so that the customs officers could see a particular box they picked at random. Much of Europe is close together and we crossed borders most days; major pain in the “backstage pass.” We would also have to get what we called “schitters” each day—spending money in local currency. You’d end the tour with pocketfuls of shrapnel all mixed up and useless. Three cheers for the common market and single currency.

Customs House

Inside Esters Café

Oslo to Stockholm took a leisurely seven hours, what a lovely drive. Beautiful scenery, lakes, mountains, pine trees, beautiful wooden farmhouses and churches. Felt like we were on a driving holiday, pity about the rain. We stopped at what must be the cutest truck stop in the world: Esters on the E18. It looked like some girl who had been in love with dollhouses opened a roadside café that was modeled on one of her childhood toys. All cute furniture and dainty cups. They made all there own cakes and chocolate too.

Showing off the new system

Even Chris who’s in training for a charity bike ride had a rhubarb tart. Don’t tell his wife!! Anyway we’re an hour out from Stockholm looking forward to seeing Olof the owner of Arva (our Swedish partners) and another old mate who, as well as being a Ferrari driving speed nut and top businessman, has the distinction of swearing in the most original fashion of anyone I know. Next week we’re in Helsinki, Tallin, and Warsaw. May the road be kind to all of us.

With Kenneth Vadset from Benum

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As a live sound engineer, I have been lucky enough to work with some amazing artists including Coldplay, Massive Attack, Manic Street Preachers, Natalie Imbruglia, Richard Ashcroft and Lisa Stansfield. I have also mixed broadcast sound on David Letterman, Saturday Night Live, Jay Leno, the Brit Awards, the MTV Music Awards and the 2010 World Cup Kickoff Concert.