Will Sergeant Soundchecking at Echo and the Bunnymen Concert
Fox Theater, Oakland, CA
October 22, 2009
By Michael Molenda
I was invited to hang with guitarist Will Sergeant of Echo and the Bunnymen during his soundcheck for the October 22 concert at Oakland's beautifully restored art deco theater, The Fox. Will's tech, Matt Straw (who has also worked for Robert Plant for 13 years)admits he has an relatively stress-free job on this tour.
"Will is an easy guy to work for," he says. "I put up a basic clean setting on the amps, and he never even looks at them. Nothing is very challenging technically, and everyone in the band is cool."
For this tour, Will is using two rented Fender DeVille amps, a Roland GT-8, a Line 6 Delay Modeler (for reverse-delay effects), his Fender Jaguar (modified with Seymour Duncan mini humbuckers), an original Vox 12-string, and a Fender Stratocaster and Rickenbacker 12-string as spares.
"He has had the GT-8 setup for years," says Matt. "He has programmed everything in, and he just does his thing. It's a pretty great setup with the hired amps. When the show is over, we pretty much just pack up the guitars and go home."
As the soundcheck progressed,there were some problems with monitor levels, and the monitor mixer asked Matt to crank down Will's amps a bit, and they were hardly blasting before then.
"I think the volume is at 1 now," Matt announced. "Our amps go to 1 [laughs]."
He wasn't joking. Here are the knob positions on the DeVilles (I checked): VOLUME 1.5, TREBLE 4.5, BASS 7.5, MIDDLE 4, REVERB OFF, PRESENCE 2.5, MASTER 1.
The Fox is a huge all-time theater with a ceiling that reaches almost up to the sky, so ambience is a problem. In fact, try as they might, the crew never got Will's monitors rocking with clarity (the stage setup included a keyboardist, bassist, second guitarist, drummer, lead vocalist, and a string and horn section), and although the fuzzy sound didn't seem to throw him at all, he admitted after the show that he was still struggling to hear everything clearly.
Funny. You can be a big band with a full crew and still get screwed on the monitors just like a local band struggling with a crap mix in a poorly equipped club!